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ACM SIG Heritage Workshop
Jeffrey Yost welcomed the group

On May 20th and 21st CBI hosted the inaugural Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group (SIG) Heritage/History Workshop. The ACM has more than 100,000 members, and its 37 SIGS, each focused on different technical and application areas of computer science, are the organization’s lifeblood. The SIGs are key to ACM’s critical work—in publications, conferences, and other efforts. The largest ACM SIGs, such as SIGPLAN, SIGHPC, and SIGGRAPH, have many thousands of members and some have more than 10,000 attendees at their conferences. The workshop was followed by the annual meeting of the ACM History Committee on May 22nd. Both events were funded by the ACM History Committee.

The ACM History Committee, chaired by Barbara Owens, is committed to preserving and advancing the history of ACM and sought a specialized workshop to teach leaders in ACM SIGs interested in history about archiving, digital records preservation and management, oral history, and other topics. Jeffrey Yost serves on the committee and offered to have the Charles Babbage Institute host the workshop. The committee developed programmatic sessions and a forum for feedback and invited fourteen representatives from 12 different ACM SIGs. Each had a project that they outlined in response to our call for papers. Day two of the event was devoted to these participants presenting and getting feedback on their heritage/history project.

On the first day, UMN University Libraries Director of Special Collections Kris Kiesling gave an opening welcome. CBI Outreach Historian and Admin Juliet Burba served as MC to orient attendees to the program and introduce speakers. Next, Jeffrey Yost gave a brief overview of CBI programs, collections, and its history prior to the main instructional program. CBI Archivist Amanda Wick followed providing an hour-long crash course on key archival principles and methods. She arranged for three archivist colleagues in University Libraries—Carol Kussman, Valerie Collins, and Kate Dietrich—to speak on digital archiving and institutional matchmaking (between record creators/holders/organizers and archival repositories).

Jeffrey Yost invited University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Professor of History Thomas Haigh to co-lead a session with him on oral history theory and practice, and the two briefly discussed computer scientists publishing history (outlets, opportunities, mentoring, etc.). ACM History Committee’s own Vicki Almstrum addressed oral history, as well, presenting on the committee’s longstanding oral history effort with SIGCSE. Following each of the presentations there was extensive time for discussion, which proved quite rich. To round out the work of day one, two of the SIG representatives presented. This was followed by a tour of the underground Andersen Library climate-controlled Caverns (home to the CBI Archives and other special collections units), a happy hour, and then dinner in the Dale Shepherd Room of The Campus Club.

Amanda Wick teaching archiving principles

On May 21, the remaining ten SIG representatives presented, and the workshop concluded with a fruitful discussion and next-steps brainstorming session on future SIG heritage/history/archiving/oral history efforts. The ACM History Committee Members then went to the Bakken Museum for a special tour by Curator Adrian Fischer, arranged by Juliet Burba, the former Director of Collections of the Bakken before joining CBI last year. In the evening, the committee had a special dinner at 112 Eatery in downtown Minneapolis. They were joined by VIP special guest, UMN College of Science and Engineering Associate Dean for Research and standout HCI computer scientist Joseph Konstan.

The ACM History Committee had its annual face-to-face meeting at CBI on May 22nd. Ten of the twelve members of the committee attended in person, with another participating through video conferencing. Eight of the ten members were already in attendance as participants in the SIG Heritage/History Workshop. Members discussed policies and practices with the committee’s fellowship program, the Turing Award Biographies site, the Turing Award Video Oral Histories, and the new project to video interviews with a broader spectrum of ACM awardees. They also focused on follow-on efforts to maintain and extend the momentum built during the highly engaging workshop of the two prior days. Greatly adding to the expertise on the committee, Amanda Wick accepted an invitation to join the History Committee. She will play a critical role with extending the SIG heritage and archiving efforts.

Jeffrey R. Yost

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