After today's syllabus session at SHOT it seems like an ideal time to remind folks that we have a great repository of syllabi in the history of computing, information, and technology here on the site. Go to www.sigcis.org/syllabi or navigate down to "syllabi" in the bar on the left hand side.
It is also an opportune time to ask for more contributions. If you have a syllabus that you'd like to share that deals with history of computing, history of technology, history of communication, or anything else that fits with the SIGCIS's mission and interests, please post a link in the comments section on the syllabus page, and I'll add your syllabus to the list. Or, you can email your syllabus to me at email@example.com in a PDF file.
We're also making efforts to link up our syllabus resources with the main SHOT website, potentially in a way that creates new searching and sorting capabilities, so keep an eye out for that!
SIGCIS offers an integrated program of travel awards to broaden the base of participants in its annual workshops. Maximizing our support here is the top financial priority for the SIG, and a highly cost effective investment in the future of our field.
SIGCIS Travel Award Programs
Our awards are named in recognition of their various sponsors, but the eligibility criteria and application process is the same for all of them.
We have four ongoing awards programs:
Apologies for my recent radio silence, and thanks to Marie for picking up the slack. I still don't have anything terribly profound to say, but I wanted to point out a wonderful on-line historical resource that went up a couple of months ago: MIT's 150th anniversary interviews, dubbed Infinite History.
In a sad but expected follow-up to Chris's post from a little over a month ago, this entry marks the passing of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, who has died at the age of 56.
While many renowned leaders of industry are remembered for one big thing, or can have their accomplishments summarized in a cohesive way, Jobs had a career that can hardly be characterized by one--or even two, or three--major accomplishments. From the Apple II, to the original Macintosh, to Pixar studios, all the way to the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iTunes Music Store, Jobs continually reinvented himself and created new technological landmarks. Perhaps the one thing that these all have in common is the way in which they encourage us to take technology for granted, with the goal of elevating the user experience. As many pointed out during his lifetime, and continue to point out after his passing, this approach was a double-edged sword that often cleft away useful functionality right along with the cruft. But, I think it is also undoubtedly something that will cement Jobs's legacy and importance to the field of computing long after his death. What do you think?
The Washington Post has a very lengthy and insightful obituary of Jobs, and the obituaries in The Guardian and New York Times are also worth a look. It's interesting to compare them with the premature obituary of Jobs that was accidentally published in 2008. You can also read what Jobs himself had to say about his life, and a short but telling piece from an Apple fan on ZDNet.
Recently, the BBC reported that the London Science Museum plans to add to its collection in the history of computing by digitizing Charles Babbage's huge store of design notes on the Analytical Engine. Though the 19th c. Analytical Engine is often pointed to as a machine that presaged the modern computer, a working version was never fully built in Babbage's lifetime (although the notes on the potential machine resulted in the first computer program, written by Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace). And historians have not been the only ones fascinated with this machine--alternate histories in which the Analytical Engine was successfully built form the bedrock of a significant amount of science fiction, particularly in the steampunk subgenre.