[SIGCIS-Members] SIGCIS Mahoney Fund launch - donate today and get 100% match

Thomas Haigh thaigh at computer.org
Fri Dec 5 12:51:14 PST 2008

Hello SIGCIS members,


Today we launch the SIGCIS Mahoney Fund. Please read on for a chance to help
our graduate student members, honor a great historian and have your tax free
donations matched 100%.


At the 2007 lunch meeting SIGCIS held its first auction of donated books as
a fundraising tool to support our initiatives and bring some fun to the
event. Mike Mahoney served as the auctioneer, doing great job in driving up
prices and generating a relaxed and festive atmosphere. 


As you all know, Mike died unexpectedly over the summer. (See
https://blogs.princeton.edu/mahoney/ for the official tribute page). So this
year when we met in Lisbon last month David Anderson took up Mike's
(virtual) gavel and did an equally fine job auctioning the impressive volume
of books donated by our members. This included an entire suitcase of
in-demand books personally transported to Lisbon by Marguerite Avery, the
MIT press editor responsible for its history of computing series. Between
the auction and an appeal for donations in Mike's memory we raised more than
$700 at the Lisbon meeting, even as the global financial system collapsed
around us. We made the first presentation of our new graduate student travel
award to Honghong Tinn of Cornell University, as the Michael S. Mahoney/MIT
Press Graduate Student Travel Award.

After the meeting I was relaxing and enjoying the prospect of making two
partial awards for student travel costs for the 2009 Pittsburgh meeting when
Ann Johnson, one of Mike's former Ph.D. students, did something that
challenged me to shift my ambitions for the program into a higher gear. Ann
made an annual giving pledge of up to $500 to match 100% of online and
postal contributions received by SIGCIS. The money will be used to establish
a capital pool for SIGCIS known as the Mahoney Fund. This is intended
primarily to provide ongoing support for the new Michael S. Mahoney/MIT
Press Graduate Student Travel Awards. Money held in the fund will grow
proportionally with SHOT's own endowment.


Mike's name sits very well on this award. He gave his time generously to
SIGCIS, chairing our session on "50 Years of Computer Use" at last year's
meeting and presenting his paper on "The Many Histories of Computing" in
another session on "50 Years of Computing Historiography."  When the
graduate-student dominated SIGCIS panel proposal that included Mike as a
commentator was rejected for the 2008 meeting he sent to the participants a
message that "It was an interesting set of papers, and I would have enjoyed
the opportunity to comment on them, and indeed to meet the authors.
There'll be another opportunity, I'm sure." Sadly this was not to be, but
just before his death he did perform one final act of service to the SIG as
a member of the ad-hoc committee set up to establish policies and procedures
for our forthcoming book prize (more on this soon). 

Mike was an important influence on the development of our field and on my
own growth as a scholar. While a graduate student at Penn I was lucky enough
to be able to enroll as a visiting student at Princeton solely for the
purpose of making the journey up to Princeton once a week to take the
"Computers and Organisms" course taught by Mike and his newly arrived
colleague Angela Creager. (Princeton's alumni mail has followed me over five
moves since then).  In the years that followed I served with Mike on the
IEEE Annals board and the ACM History committee. About three times a year we
would see each other at one event or another and I always learned something
from Mike's presentations or contributions to the discussion. While his
training and instincts differed from my own in almost every respect he was
always curious about the latest work in the history of computing. He
sometimes shocked me by praising work or calling attention to topics far
outside the boundaries of his personal interest in the intellectual history
of computer science. This is because Mike was one of very few senior
historians with prestigious academic appointments deeply committed to the
evolution of the history of computing as a field with its own scholarly
agenda and identity. He grappled with the scholarly shape and challenges of
the field, ultimately producing what I think will be an influential call for
its reconstitution not as "THE History of Computing" but as "The Histories
of Computing(s)."

We hope to celebrate Mike's intellectual legacy with a special day of
supplementary programming at the next SHOT meeting. In the meantime this is
your opportunity to recognize and honor his exemplary contribution to the
SIG and his inspiring commitment to the discovery of new scholarship in our
field by matching part of Ann's challenge.
Donations can be made online at
https://associations.press.jhu.edu/cgi-bin/shot/shot_donation.cgi. Online
donations will receive an online confirmation for your tax records - as a
non profit organization donations to SHOT are tax deductible for US tax
payers (subject to the usual disclaimers). On the online form please select
"Other" in the section "Designate a Priority" and enter "SIGCIS Mahoney
Fund" in the adjacent box marked "Please Specify". SHOT's treasurer has
confirmed that all donations marked in this way will be placed in our
account. If you are able to follow Ann in making this an annual pledge
rather than a one-off donation then please check the "Make this an annual
contribution for X years" box.

I am starting the ball rolling with a $100 annual pledge for each of the
next five years. So that leaves at least $400 we need to find from other
SIGCIS members to ensure that we rise collectively to Ann's challenge. In
this time of academic cutbacks and rising travel costs, making it possible
for graduate students to present at our annual meeting is a highly effective
investment in the future of the field. In the meantime all of us could
profit from another look at the articles and syllabi on Mike's own web page:
http://www.princeton.edu/~mike/ and particularly

Best wishes,


Tom Haigh


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