Oral History Workshop a Success

By Mary Whitton and Carol Hutchins

A group of 16 individuals, each interested in preserving some aspect of computing history, met May 12 and 13 in Chapel Hill (NC) for the ACM History Committee sponsored workshop on Doing Oral History. In addition to being of diverse age, gender, and national origin, the attendees were interested in a broad spectrum of projects. Examples mentioned include an oral history of a specific computer company, the stories of the comparatively unknown members of architecture teams who designed important processors, or gathering an oral history of a online game company by talking with many of its former employees. Representing the UK, Italy, and the US, the attendees shared the goal of learning to do a better job of taking oral histories so that the materials will be of maximum value to future researchers.

The workshop covered topics such as best practices, e.g., what types of recording devices to use and types of tools that can help identify themes in and across interviews, and hands-on activities such as interviewing and critiquing interviews of each other. The group practiced preparing a blueprint or plan for a given OH project. The history committee itself is benefiting from the workshop, as what we learned leads us to reflect on how we can do a better job on our major project–insuring there is an oral history for each of the Turing Award winners.

The workshop organizers were extremely pleased to have as the workshop leader Mary Marshall Clark, Director of the Center for Oral History Research at Columbia University. All were grateful for the work of our gracious host, Mary Whitton, along with the staff of the CS Dept of UNC.

Group Photo

Here is our crew at the end of the workshop:

Backrow: Mary Marshall Clark (workshop leader), Kim Tracy, Vicki Almstrum, Alex Magoun,
Mary Whitton, Laine Nooney, Roy Levin, Mate Szabo, Andrew McGee
Middle: Elisabetta Mori, Helen Carter, Hansen Hsu
Front: Martin Campbell-Kelly, Kevin Murrell, Carol Hutchins, Joe Greathouse

Review of Book “Ada’s legacy” by Yishai Feldman

Yishai Feldman from IBM Research Haifa wrote a review of book “Ada””””””””s legacy” for the ACM Computing Reviews May 13, 2016 issue:

“Known as the first computer programmer, and popularized by the programming language named after her, who really was Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace, and what does she signify for us? Ada’s legacy, a collection of papers based on a 2013 conference, gives a number of answers from different points of view. …”

The full review can be found here

Call for Participation: 2016 ACM Workshop on Oral History

The ACM History Committee is sponsoring an oral history workshop to help diffuse knowledge of professional oral history practices into ACM’s membership and others with an active interest in preserving our computing heritage through the medium of oral histories. Applications are invited to a 1.5 day oral history workshop, to be held Thursday and Friday, May 12-13, 2016 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina. For each successful application, one person’s expenses for workshop travel, lodging, and meals will be paid by the ACM History Committee.

An announcement of 2016 call for participation can be found here (also as a pdf-format document here). Proposals are due by January 15, 2016.

Call for proposals

Call for Proposals: 2016 Fellowships in ACM History

The Association for Computing Machinery, founded in 1947, is the oldest and largest educational and scientific society dedicated to the computing profession, and today has 100,000 members around the world. To encourage historical research, the ACM History Committee plans to support up to four research projects with awards of up to $4,000 each. Successful candidates may be of any rank, from graduate students through senior researchers. The current and past winners of the fellowship can be found here.

An announcement of 2016 call for proposals can be found here (also as a pdf-format document here). Proposals are due by 1 February 2016.

Call for proposals

2015 ACM History Fellowship Winners Announced

Congratulations to 2015 ACM History Fellowship Winners: Ismail Akturk (University of Minnesota), Sebastian Dziallas (University of Kent ), Rajeev Agrawal (North Carolina A & T State University ), Scott Campbell (University of Waterloo), and Janet Mary Toland (Victoria University of Wellington)! The current and past winners of the fellowship along with their project information can be found here.

Call for Proposals: 2015 Fellowships in ACM History

The Association for Computing Machinery, founded in 1947, is the oldest and largest educational and scientific society dedicated to the computing profession, and today has 100,000 members around the world. To encourage historical research, the ACM History Committee plans to support up to four projects with awards of up to $4,000 each. Successful candidates may be of any rank, from graduate students through senior researchers. All awardees must be willing to present a paper to the ACM history workshop held in conjunction with the SHOT and SIGCIS annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico during 8-11 October 2015. A supplement for workshop travel, lodging, and meals will be provided—in addition to this research project award. The current and past winners of the fellowship can be found here.

An announcement of 2015 call for proposals can be found here (also as a pdf-format document here). Proposals are due by 1 February 2015.

Oral Histories with Pioneers of European Computer Networking

July 28, 2014

by Andrew Russell

The Charles Babbage Institute oral history database now has transcripts available of oral histories with pioneers of European computer networking. These transcripts include several interviews conducted by Andrew Russell, as well as additional interviews conducted by Valérie Schafer and Tom Misa. As a collection, these interviews complement existing interviews with American pioneers of computer networks such as the Arpanet and Internet.

Insights from these oral history interviews have already been used in published work, including Russell’s 2014 book Open Standards and the Digital Age: History, Ideology, and Networks and an article by Russell and Schafer, “In the Shadow of Arpanet and Internet: Louis Pouzin and the Cyclades Network in the 1970s,” which will appear in the October 2014 issue of Technology & Culture. The travel and transcription costs of Russell’s and Schafer’s interviews were supported by a 2011 grant from the ACM History Committee.

Interview list (transcripts are available from http://www.cbi.umn.edu/oh/):

John Day (OH 422) http://purl.umn.edu/155070

Andre Danthine (OH 428) http://conservancy.umn.edu/handle/162412

Rémi Després (OH 421) http://purl.umn.edu/155671

Gérard Le Lann (OH 420) http://purl.umn.edu/155670

Jean-Louis Grangé (OH 419) http://purl.umn.edu/155669

Michel Gien (OH 418) http://purl.umn.edu/155668

Louis Pouzin (OH 416) http://purl.umn.edu/155666

Najah Naffah (OH 415) http://purl.umn.edu/155665

Marc Levilion (OH 417) http://purl.umn.edu/155667

Tilly Bayard-Richard (OH 414) http://purl.umn.edu/155221

2014 ACM History Committee Archiving Workshop

The ACM History Committee”s archiving workshop met for two days at the University of Minnesota”s Andersen Library, with Charles Babbage Institute archivist-curator R. Arvid Nelsen leading the sessions. The workshop brought together a diverse group of people from computer science, libraries, archives, national laboratories, and museums. Hands-on exercises, lectures, discussions, tours, and social time contributed to the workshop”s success in disseminating professional knowledge about archival policies and procedures to the ACM members and other attendees. Focused discussion of attendees” own archiving projects highlighted the importance of archival “users” in forming archival collections. Examination of digital archiving practices (at the University of Minnesota and elsewhere) led workshop members to consider similarities and differences between traditional paper and born-digital archiving. Software tools for archiving (including Greenstone, Omeka, Collective Access, and others) were discussed. Among the workshop”s outcomes, in addition to re-doubled emphasis on the centrality of ACM SIG activities, were three specific recommendations for the ACM History Committee [see here]. See here for a list of workshop participants and the workshop schedule. (Arvid Nelsen”s post on the Libraries” blog Primary Sourcery is posted here.) The HTML version of the workshop report can be found here, and the PDF version of the workshop report can be found here.