SHOT 2017



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SHOT 2017

The Society for the History of Technology held its annual meeting on October 26th to 29th in the historic district of Philadelphia. Kicking off the conference, there was an Opening Plenary session at the Chemical Heritage Foundation on “Technology, Democracy, and Participation.”  Past CBI Tomash Fellow Indiana University’s Nathan Ensmenger gave an insightful talk on information technology and the environment, exploring the impact of bitcoin “mining,” manufacturing IT, and hardware disposal. This special talk was one of the many on the history of IT at the main SHOT Conference, as well as at the Sunday SIGCIS Workshop.

On Friday, SIGCIS held its annual lunch.  Everyone briefly introduced themselves, while new attendees took the opportunity to speak a bit more about their research interests in the history of IT.  SIGCIS Chair Andrew Russell spoke about recent issues with SIGCIS governance and Thomas Haigh headed the annual book auction.  The auction is a key fundraising tool of SIGCIS and helps provide resources to support graduate students’ travel to present at SHOT and SIGCIS. 

On Saturday, editor in chief Nathan Ensmenger held a late afternoon editorial board meeting for IEEE Annals of the History of Computing.  The board discussed recruiting content and logistical steps and tools for the journal moving forward.

The Sunday SIGCIS meeting, “Measure, Model, and Mix: Computer as Instrument,” began with brief comments from Andy Russell followed by the awarding of the Michael S. Mahoney Prize for best article and the Computer History Museum Prize for the best book (both prizes are for publications from the trailing three years).  CBI’s Jeffrey Yost chaired this year’s Mahoney Prize (working with fellow committee members Jim Cortada and Melanie Swalwell), and presented the prize to Erica Robles and Patrik Svensson for their article “‘One Damn Slide After Another’: Powerpoint at Every Occasion for Speech,” (Computational Culture V. 5, 2016). Joy Rankin chaired the CHM Book Prize committee and presented the prize to Elizabeth Petrick for her book Making Computers Accessible: Disability Rights & Digital Technology (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015).

Joanna Radin (History Department, Yale University) provided an excellent SIGCIS keynote entitled, “‘Digital Natives’: Why Indigenous and Medical Histories Matter for the History of Computing.”  Drawing from history and anthropology, she presented a case study of the Pima Indian Diabetes Dataset (PIDD), and explored cultural, social, political, and ethical issues regarding indigenous populations and big data. This was followed by concurrent sessions for the remainder of the day.

Papers on IT history on the regular SHOT program:
Fallon Samuels Aidoo (Northeastern University) “The ‘Public History’ and ‘Hidden Figures’ of Data Storytelling,” Kera Allen (Georgia Institute of Technology) “The Fiction of Meritocracy: Race and Gender in the Computing and IT Workforce,” Ekaterina Babintseva (University of Pennsylvania) “Trading PLATO: US-Soviet Cooperation in Computer-Based Education,” Margarita Boenig-Liptsin (Harvard University) “The Information Society and How to Live in It According to the United States, France and the Soviet Union,” Simona Casonato and Luca Reduzzi (National Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci, Milan) “Embedded Social Thought and Italian Computer Technologies: The Case of Olivetti’s ELEA 9003,” Eileen Clancy (City University of New York) “Sekiko Yoshida: Scientific Computation with an Abacus in the Early US Space Program,” Gerardo Con Diaz (University of California, Davis) “IBM and its Patent Portfolio: Antitrust and Intellectual Property Law in the History of Software 1956-69,” Jonathan Coopersmith (Texas A&M University) “Forging the Fax: From Astroturf to ‘Alternative Facts’,” Colin Garvey (RPI) “The Evolution of AI Risk in America, 1956-96,” Bernard Geoghegan (Coventry University) “Representing and Sensing: Insufficient Metaphors for Scientific Observations of What Got Caught in the Whirlwind? Environmental Techniques and Mid-Century Digital Computing,” Thomas Haigh (University of Wisconsin) “The Other Women of ENIAC: Gendered Labor in Historical Memory,” Martina Hessler (Helmut-Schmidt University, Hamburg) “Thinking Machines? How the Computer Changed Concepts and the Practices of Playing Chess,” Andrew Iliadis (Temple University) “Upper Level Ontologies: The Contested Languages of Artificial Intelligence,” Meg Jones (Georgetown University) “A Right to a Human in the Loop: A Comparative Legal History of Automated Decision-Making and Personhood from Data Banks to Algorithms,” Shreeharsh Kelkar (University of California, Berkeley) “The Unreasonable Success of Intelligent Tutoring Systems,” Devin Kennedy (Harvard University) “The Machine in the Market: Computing and Financial Techno-Regulation at the New York Stock Exchange 1963- 75,” Kira Lussier (University of Toronto) “Intuition, Automation and Corporations: Debates over Artificial Intelligence in Corporate America, 1970-90,” Mi-seon Maeng (Seoul National University) “AlphaGo Shock and AI’s Effect on Korean Society,” Andrew McGee (Carnegie Mellon University) “Computing’s Promise, Bomb’s Peril: The Culpeper Computing Switch, the Federal Reserve’s Nuclear Bunker and Concomitant Narratives of Technological Transformation of American Society, 1969-89,” Christopher Miles (Indiana University) “Democracy Must Be Made Safe for Computing: On the Cultural Origins of Computer Security,” Aaron Plasek (Columbia University) “Constructing Words: Material Computing Devices, ‘Tractable’ Problems and the Origins of the Belief in the ‘Unreasonable Effectiveness of Data’,” Ginevra Sanvitale (TU Eindhoven) “From Computerphobia to Cyberpunk: The Role of Fear in Personal Computer Acceptance and Use,” Martin Schmitt (Center for Contemporary History, Potsdam) “Banking the Future and the Future of Banking: Why German Savings Banks in the East and West Entered the Digital Age,” David Schmudde (Stevens Institute of Technology) “Business Machines in the Mainframe Era: Making the Future Tangible,” Youjung Shin (KAIST) “The Brain and the Computer: the Meaning of Hangul for AI Researchers in South Korea in the Late 1980s,” Youjung Shin (KAIST) “Let’s Learn from AI Winter! The History of AI and Its Discontents in South Korea,” Miroslaw Sikora (Institute of National Remembrance Katowice, Poland) “Imagining the Future Role of Computers in the Shadow of Communism: The Polish People’s Republic from the Early 50s to the Early 70s of the 20th Century,” Rebecca Slayton (Cornell University) “Governing by Numbers: Metrics and the Irreducible Uncertainties of Cybersecurity,” Ksenia Tatarchenko (Geneva University) “Man-Machine Dialogues in Image and Print: Circulating, Interpreting and Appropriating Representations of the Computer across the Iron Curtain,” Janet Toland (Victoria University, Wellington New Zealand) “The Social Impact of Computers in New Zealand, Anticipations and Concerns 1968-78,” Dick van Lente (Erasmus University, Rotterdam) “Society Transformed by Computers: The Netherlands in the 1950s and 60s,” Barbara Walker (University of Nevada, Reno) “Too Many Mathematicians? How the Soviets Lost the Cold War Computer Hardware Competition but (maybe) are Winning the Hacking War.”

SIGCIS Papers on IT history:

Kera Allen (Georgia Institute of Technology) “The Politics of Spreadsheets: Bringing VisiCalc to Tunisia,” Morgan Ames (University of California, Berkeley) and Nabeel Siddiqui (College of William and Mary) “Creative Inequality: Seymour Papert and the Thinking Machine,” Ekaterina Babintseva (University of Pennsylvania) “Technologies of Creativity: Psychology of Thinking and Computer-Based Education in the US and Soviet Union,” Kevin T. Baker (Northwestern University) “‘The Computer that Printed Our W*O*L*F’?: Representations of Computer Simulation and Modeling in the 1970s,” Michael Barany (Dartmouth College) “Ranks and Files: Secretarial Labor, Tabular Thinking, and the Bureaucratic Production of an International Mathematical Elite,” Solon Barocas (Cornell University), Kate Crawford (Microsoft Research), Aaron Shapiro (University of Pennsylvania), and Hanna Wallach (Microsoft Research) “The Problem with Bias: Allocative Versus Representational Harms in Machine Learning,” Sarah Bell (Michigan Tech University) “From Electronic Throats to Automatic Mouths: The Development of Software for Speech Synthesis,” Daisy Charles (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) “Pokéquality and Public Space,” Patrick Davison (New York University) “Computerized Delphi: From Rationality to Anonymity,” William Deringer (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) “Michael Milken’s Spreadsheet: Finance, Computing, and Supra-Rationality in the Go-Go ‘80s,” Theodora J. Dryer (University of California, San Diego) “Probability Tables and Bombsight Optics in Building the Destruction Data Economy, 1942-1945,” Quinn DuPont (University of Washington) and Alana Cattapan (University of Saskatchewan) “Alice and Bob: A History of Cryptography’s Most Famous Couple,” Jillian Foley (University of Chicago) “Encryption for Everyone?” Jacob Gaboury (University of California, Berkeley) “Z: Depth, Distance, and the Limits of Perception in Graphical Simulation,” Alexandre Hocquet and Frederic Wieber (Université de Lorraine) “‘Only the Initiates Will Have the Secrets Revealed’: Computational Chemists and the Openness of Scientific Software,” Shreeharsh Kelkar (University of California, Berkeley) “Engineering a Platform: Constructing Interfaces, Users, Organizational Roles, and the Division of Labor,” Peggy Aldrich Kidwell (National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution) “Punch Cards and Communities: Evidence from Surviving Objects,” Matthew Kirschenbaum (University of Maryland) “Edges: Thinking Through the Digital from Inside Your Laser Printer,” Evangelos Kotsioris (Princeton University) “Automating Soviet Design: The Case of ASPOS,” Andrew Lea (University of Oxford) “‘The Total Patient’: Keeve Brodman and the Medical Data Screen,” Karen Levy (Cornell University) “Digital Surveillance in the Hypermasculine Workplace,” Ling-Fei Lin (Nanyang Technological University) “From Conveyor Lines to Robotic Systems: Flows, Linesickness, and Disruption in Laptop Production,” William Lockett (New York University) “Race in the Cybernetic Fold,” Katherine McFadden (University of South Carolina) “Computerizing the Garage Workshop: CNC Machines as Consumer Goods,” Cynde Moya (Living Computers: Museum + Labs) “Exploring Software on Time-Sharing Vintage Computers at Living Computers: Museum and Labs,” Dylan Mulvin (Microsoft Research New England) “Embedded Dangers: The History of the Year 2000 Problem,” Anne Pasek (New York University) “Thinking Carbon Through Silicon: The Digital Revolution as a Conceptual Model for Bright Green Futures,” Elizabeth Petrick (New Jersey Institute of Technology) “Curb Cuts and Computers: Arguing for Accessibility in the 1980s,” David Schmüdde (Stevens Institute of Technology) “Jack and the Machine,” Kate Sim (Oxford Internet Institute) “Touching Safety: Anti-Rape Technologies and the Politics of Safety in US Higher Education,” Alana Staiti (Cornell University) “Theorizing the Body Model for Histories of Computer Graphics,” Ed Summers (University of Maryland) “Appraisal Talk in Web Archives,” Miriam Sweeney (University of Alabama) “Honey Trapped: Gender, Virtual Agents, and Information Gathering,” Ezra Teboul (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) “Instruments as Computer: A Dialogue with Handmade Algorithmic Sound,” Gili Vidan (Harvard University) “‘Nothing in the Middle’: Escrowed Encryption, Crypto Anarchy, and the Colonization of the Future, 1988-2001,” Kevin Walsh (University of California, San Diego) “Engineering a Research Agenda for the Study of a Computing Community: The ACM/IEEE Supercomputer Conference 1988-2018,” Jacqueline Wernimont (Arizona State University) “We Don’t Do Body Counts, But We Use Tables to Count Our Dead,” Mingyi Yu (Harvard University) “Algorithms in the Age of the Color Laser Printer.”

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