[SIGCIS-Members] Reply to an odd tweet

Andrew Russell arussell at stevens.edu
Tue Apr 12 07:43:26 PDT 2016

All -

To clear up any confusion: I sent the tweet in question from the SIGCIS twitter account, which (as Martha and others have noted) violated acceptable standards for tweeting and for professional discourse.  It was a poorly executed attempt to build a conversation between historians of computing and the broader community of scholars and thinkers, such as the good people at Data & Society, who work on computing in contemporary contexts.

I have since apologized to Martha, who continues to do some *very* interesting work.  I have also added my name to the SIGCIS twitter account, to avoid any confusion in the future.

Sincerely yours,

Andy Russell

On Apr 12, 2016, at 10:01 AM, Martha Poon <martha.poon at gmail.com<mailto:martha.poon at gmail.com>> wrote:

Looks like this message got caught up somewhere. In the week since I sent it the issue of the mystery tweet has been resolved...! It's good to be in touch with the list. Thanks to those who have replied.


On Tue, Apr 5, 2016 at 5:17 PM, Martha Poon <martha.poon at gmail.com<mailto:martha.poon at gmail.com>> wrote:

Last weekend at the Business History Conference, an odd tweet came off the SHOT-SIGCIS handle: #bhc2016<https://twitter.com/hashtag/bhc2016?src=hash> Speaker from @datasociety<https://twitter.com/datasociety> loves history of comp. literature, but sees nothing in it to explain big data or social networking today.

What gives computer historians? If someone actually said something so silly at a conference, would it really be worth tweeting?! And why direct the message @ the speaker’s employer??

Let me take this opportunity to introduce myself to the list: My name is Martha Poon. In my research, I track how changes in economic thinking, documented by Philip Mirowski in his book Machine Dreams (2002), have been implemented, through networked information systems, in financial markets. I’m trying to draw a link between networked computing and today’s debt-driven capital markets.

My key piece of empirical work showed how automation of mortgage underwriting in the 1990s allowed the shadow banking sector to fund US subprime loans: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0361368209000270
But I published my very first article in an edited volume through SIGCIS (Technological Innovation in Retail Finance, 2010) when Bernardo Batiz-Lazo kindly invited me to participate in this working group: http://www.sigcis.org/node/9

At the BHC in Portland, someone asked why I hadn't mentioned the history of computing. In the context of my paper on 19th Century life insurance markets (Big Data and the Growing Power of Corporate Capitalism, I’ll attach it), on a panel that paid tribute to The Age of Fracture (2012), I quickly replied that computer history and Internet studies were not [as] well equipped [as business historians] to tackle the question of financial value. I would have welcomed the opportunity to converse further with SICGIS members, but nobody from the organization spoke to me after the session. Just this Dadaist tweet addressed to Data & Society’s communication’s team back in New York…!

I’m looking forward to attending SHOT and meeting the network properly. In the meantime, should list-members run into me elsewhere in the world, please, come talk to me! I juggle a number of disciplinary interests but I have long been a great admirer of computer history. Those of you in the New York area will find me here, next week, at Laine Nooney’s Mistakes Were Made: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mistakes-were-made-20-computer-history-decompiled-tickets-23017718616

With warm wishes,


Martha Poon|martha at datasociety.net<mailto:martha at datasociety.net>|Research Fellow | Data & Society Research Institute| www.datasociety.net<http://www.datasociety.net/>

Martha Poon|martha at datasociety.net<mailto:martha at datasociety.net>|Research Fellow | Data & Society Research Institute| www.datasociety.net<http://www.datasociety.net/>
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