[SIGCIS-Members] Importance of history to practitioners

Allan Olley allan.olley at utoronto.ca
Fri Nov 11 22:14:42 PST 2016


> 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?

I am curious where physicists learn about Newton or chemists about 
Lavoisier as part of the required academic corriculum. I did a physics 
degree with little exposure to Newton. There is a current in both 
science and history of science which on the contrary suggests that a 
science and its history are and even should be independent disciplines 
(should the history of science be rated X? ie will it corrupt the 
scientist's mind?). I am pretty sure the utility of history of science to 
current science is a live controversy.

As a historian of science (with a BSc in Physics) I tend to think history 
of science has something to contribute to science, but the claim can be 
tricky to defend.

I suspect a debate on the utility of the history of computing to current 
computing practice is likewise complex and requires effort.

-- 
Yours Truly,
Allan Olley, PhD

http://individual.utoronto.ca/fofound/

On Thu, 10 Nov 2016, Len Shustek 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?
>
> 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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