[SIGCIS-Members] What can SIGCIS learn methodologically from the history of science, environmental history, etc?

Thomas Haigh thaigh at computer.org
Wed Oct 14 15:32:08 PDT 2015



We just had a wonderful meeting, which I could enjoy all the more as it was
the first of the seven SIGCIS workshops where I had no operational
responsibilities. Nathan really did a great job with the keynote, and it was
splendid to see so many people making the transition from list membership to
physical participation at SHOT and SIGCIS for the first time. Better still
were the people who had been "first timers" in 2013 or 2014 coming back for
a second meeting, as this proves they found the experience useful. I think
we accounted for a very significant fraction of the overall graduate student
attendance at SHOT.


My impression was that the research and delivery of the SIGCIS papers held
up pretty well against the quality of material in most parts of the main
SHOT program. However I also heard a suggestion from one person that many of
the papers in both venues tended to be very narrowly framed, telling a
particular story without really engaging with a broader literature or being
explicit about what general lessons or methodological implications the work


To the extent that this is true, one could see an aversion to explicit
historiography and to the drawing of broad conclusions as a kind of
aesthetic preference rather than a failing of craft or scholarship. Still, I
was wondering if list members might be able to suggest recent (say
post-2010) papers from other traditions that are effective in using a
focused historical study to make a compelling case that we should think
differently about a topic of broad interest to the field in question. I'm
not thinking necessarily about work related to IT, since the literature in
many areas of history of science, environmental history, history of
medicine, and other fields is more mature and appears to have developed a
clearer sense of what the "big questions" are. However I have had few
opportunities since grad school to read systematically in other literatures.


So list members, please post away with your nominations of recent articles
from other fields with an explanation of what cool thing you think the
article is doing methodologically that those of us writing on the history of
computing could learn from.


Best wishes,







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