[SIGCIS-Members] documenting or diagramming human computation

Paul Fishwick metaphorz at gmail.com
Tue Feb 14 07:39:01 PST 2017

I saw Hidden Figures this weekend, which brought back some early days for me when I worked in
Langley’s Structures Directorate as a systems analyst. After scouring the web for documents,
and reading Grier’s book, I still wonder whether the computation steps were organized in some
sort of diagram that would be used by a planner (?) to guide the human computers. I’ve also reviewed
Pickering’s legacy, the Handbook of Human Computation, and Human Computation by Law and von
Ahn. If you review Willey (1969) “Manual for Reduction of Data” by Helen H. Willey (Supervisory
Mathematician), there are many equations but no visual guides as to who does wha,t and the
structured flow of computed variables by computers.

Here is a nice NASA site with citations: https://crgis.ndc.nasa.gov/historic/Human_Computers

But I do not see anything resembling a time-ordered process. Today, we might expect data flow
diagrams, business process notations, or something of the sort. What did they use back then, or
perhaps they created computational and data flow order without explicating documenting it?


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: medium.com/@metaphorz

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