[SIGCIS-Members] Importance of history to practitioners

Paul Fishwick metaphorz at gmail.com
Thu Nov 10 20:05:25 PST 2016


> On Nov 10, 2016, at 9:46 PM, Len Shustek <len at shustek.com> wrote:
> At 09:59 AM 11/10/2016, McMillan, William W wrote:
>> I thought you might like to hear the following.  In a meeting with a small software company in Ann Arbor that emphasizes user-centered, agile development, a colleague and I asked what subjects should be included in an academic program in interaction design.  The firm's chief designer, who also has a programming background, said that the most important course would be history of computing!
> Even better would be to have the history of computing embedded in academic computing programs. Physicists learn about Newton, and chemists learn about Lavoisier, so why shouldn't computer scientists learn about Babbage, Turing, and Von Neumann?

+1 on this concept, but I would go further. What about analog computing? I am unsure how to solve
this problem of ahistorical computer science. I would guess that part of the problem is that engineering
(where many computer science departments are situated) have programs that have few electives, and
are geared heavily towards industry, as driven by student demand (they come by droves to get CS
degrees, for utilitarian purposes). Maybe this is one of those liberal arts vs. vocational debates?


> My frustration teaching computer architecture at Stanford in the mid-1990s with a required syllabus that avoided history led me to start a museum nearby, because I knew I wouldn't be able change the curriculum. If you are interested in the story of how that happened, see
> http://s3data.computerhistory.org/atchm/documents/Personal_Reflections_on_the_History_of_the_Computer_History_Museum_09-26-14.pdf
> which is referenced in my blog article on the Computer History Museum's 35th [sic] anniversary.
> http://www.computerhistory.org/atchm/computer-history-museum-celebrating-35-years/
> -- Len 
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Paul Fishwick, PhD
Distinguished University Chair of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication
Professor of Computer Science
Director, Creative Automata Laboratory
The University of Texas at Dallas
Arts & Technology
800 West Campbell Road, AT10
Richardson, TX 75080-3021
Home: utdallas.edu/atec/fishwick
Blog 1: creative-automata.com
Blog 2: modelingforeveryone.com
LinkedIn: metaphorz
Twitter: @PaulFishwick

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