|Cortada named CBI Senior Research Fellow|
The Charles Babbage Institute is pleased to welcome James W. “Jim” Cortada to a new position as Senior Research Fellow. On December 31, 2012, Jim retired after nearly four decades working in a variety of positions at IBM, most recently as a consultant at the IBM Institute for Business Value in Madison, Wisconsin.
Readers of this newsletter will be familiar with Jim as prolific author in our field. In 2004-8 he published a major three-volume study with Oxford University Press, entitled The Digital Hand, which examined the experiences of nearly three dozen American industries with information technology. The study ranges across manufacturing, transportation, and retail industries (volume 1); financial, telecommunications, media, and entertainment industries (volume 2); and public sector industries such as federal, state, and local governments as well as K-12 and higher education (volume 3). Jim’s detailed research files for The Digital Hand are available at CBI, and many researchers have found these an essential first stop. He also published in MIT’s Essential Knowledge series a concise treatment of Information and the Modern Corporation (2011) and the lively History Hunting: A Guide for Fellow Adventurers (M.E. Sharpe 2012).
And did I mention that Jim, a PhD in European history, has a side career in Spanish and diplomatic history including such works as Historical Dictionary of the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 (Greenwood 1982), Spain in the Nineteenth-Century World: Essays on Spanish Diplomacy, 1789-1898 (Praeger 1994), Modern Warfare in Spain: American Military Observations on the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 (Potomac Books 2011). He has been active in the IEEE Computer Society, the American Historical Association, and the IT History Society.
Jim’s most recent book for Oxford University Press is The Digital Flood: The Diffusion of Information Technology Across the U.S., Europe, and Asia (2012). It is a pioneering global history of information technology, which will hopefully spur additional research in our field. Jim drew on his extensive IBM networks as well as reports from the World Bank and other NGOs. His research for this wide-ranging volume, with detailed case studies of 14 countries including entirely fresh treatments of India and China, among others, has kept booksellers around the world happily busy. As one of his dust-jacket blurbs notes, “The 333 information-packed footnotes on China and India alone make this a must-own volume.”
In the still of a Minnesota winter, we moved quickly to have Jim begin his new position on 1 January 2013. We are looking forward to collaborations with Jim in publishing and research. He is leading an effort to gain a wider audience for computer history. For instance, computer history is gaining prominence in Technology and Culture (T&C), the leading history of technology journal. In the Fall 2012 issue was Nathan Ensmenger’s essay on “The Digital Construction of Technology: Rethinking the History of Computers in Society.” And in the Spring 2013 issue of T&C you will find Jim’s essay provisionally titled, “How New Technologies Diffuse Around the World: Lessons from Information Technologies, 1940-2010.” CBI is pleased to facilitate Jim’s ongoing research in the history of information technology, and we hope to draw on his wide-ranging professional, scholarly, and publishing experiences in further developing our field.
Please direct email to Jim at his new address <email@example.com>.
Thomas J. Misa