[SIGCIS-Members] Video, transcript, and storify of "Working on ENIAC: The Lost Labors of the Information Age" at MITH

Thomas Haigh thaigh at computer.org
Tue Mar 1 10:56:09 PST 2016



I'm trying not to spam you, but did want to let everyone know what a great
job the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities
<http://mith.umd.edu/>  (MITH) did with preserving the talk I gave there
with Mark Priestley last month. Thanks to Matthew Kirschenbaum and his
colleagues at Maryland for inviting us.


As well as a video of the talk "Working on ENIAC: The Lost Labors of the
Information Age (https://vimeo.com/156284034) there is also a transcript of
the whole thing, including discussion
ion-age/) and a storify to capture the tweeting


One of the aspects of the book that we try to bring out in this talk is the
variety of kinds of work that went into the ENIAC project. At the end of the
talk we challenge the tendency to remember the first six ENIAC operators,
hired in mid-1945, only as "programmers" which seems to implicitly dismiss
most of their work as not worth remembering. We also remember the dozens of
women who actually built ENIAC in 1944 and 1945, whose names are preserved
only in the project's accounting and personnel records.  There's also some
bashing of Walter Isaacson and his "hackers, geeks and geniuses" view of
history, which ties in with the new "Maintainers" project that Lee Vinsel
and Andy Russell have been advancing.


I'm not claiming that this focus on computing as work breaks any new ground
in the history of computing as a whole, but (with the notable exceptions of
Jen Light's "When Computers were Women," Atsushi Akera's Calculating a
Natural World, and the opening chapter of Janet Abbate's _Recoding Gender_)
work on ENIAC and the other early machines of the 1940s was mostly conducted
early in the development of our field and is concerned with firsts and
inventions rather than labor and use. The era seems to loom ever larger in
popular awareness (Isaacson, Dyson, and millions of inspirational tweets)
even as our community has largely moved on to later time periods.


We're also excited to learn that a Japanese translation is well underway,
and will be published soon with Kyoritsu Shuppan. Also, while Amazon is not
currently discounting the English edition, Barnes and Nobel will sell you a
copy for just $29.22 with free shipping. Full details on the book at
www.eniacinaction.com <http://www.eniacinaction.com> . 


Best wishes,





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