[SIGCIS-Members] Resources on Ayyadurai saga

Thomas Haigh thomas.haigh at gmail.com
Thu Jan 5 09:56:09 PST 2017


Thanks Dave,

 

The other advice I have for anyone commenting on this case is to keep the argument simple.

 

There are a lot of invention controversies along the lines of “Big famous company X says that it invented technology Y in (date 2), but actually plucky inventor Z had previously come up with the same technology in (date 1). Because date 1 is earlier than date 2 we should remember plucky inventor Z as the true inventor of Y, despite the PR and legal resources of company X which denied him recognition.” That’s the narrative that Ayyadurai is telling about himself, and reporters are liable to turn it into an Ayyadurai vs. Tomlinson contest. Discussion of such claims head in the direction of debates on whether plucky inventor Z’s simple prototype really counts as inventing the technology.

 

What’s different about this case is that plucky inventor Z claims to have invented email in either 1980 or, more recently, in 1978 (and has shown code snippets that appears to come from 1982). Whereas historians already knew that simple electronic mail systems were in use at MIT in 1965, that electronic mail was sent over what became the Internet in 1971, that spam was sent in 1978, that Xerox had a recognizably modern GUI client by that time etc. So the features of Ayyadurai’s system are not the important thing in assessing his claim to be “the inventor of email.” I have no reason to doubt that he produced a perfectly good local email system. But Ayyadurai is only “the inventor of email” if nothing done prior to 1978 (or 1980 or 1982) was email.  In other words, he’s trying to use the classic “plucky suppressed inventor” narrative even though his date 1 is many years later than the established date 2.

 

To rebut this claim one doesn’t need to designate any individual as THE inventor of email, merely to reiterate the historical consensus that email is a synonym for electronic mail and that electronic mail was in use prior to 1978 (or 1980 or 1982). However smart and likeable you are, you can’t invent something that’s already been invented.

 

Best wishes,

 

Tom

 

From: dave.walden.family at gmail.com [mailto:dave.walden.family at gmail.com] 
Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2017 10:02 AM
To: Thomas Haigh <thomas.haigh at gmail.com>
Cc: Christine Finn <christine.finn at gmail.com>; David Golumbia <dgolumbia at gmail.com>; Sigcis <members at sigcis.org>
Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Resources on Ayyadurai saga

 

Maybe the document should be something like a friend-of-court brief that is provided to the defense attorney rather than a public document and the court if the case ever goes to court.  There is plenty of time for public documents later.  I would think that passing Tom's list below to the defense attorney would already be useful.

Best regards, Dave

 http://walden-family.com/bbn/email-invention.html (not updated in several years)


Sent from my iPad


On Jan 5, 2017, at 7:46 AM, "Thomas Haigh" <thomas.haigh at gmail.com <mailto:thomas.haigh at gmail.com> > wrote:

Sounds like good idea. I’m busy with some other projects right now, and in any event it would be good to have somebody else take the lead on this for a while – make it more apparent to casual observers that there is a consensus in the history of computing community on this.

 

Here are some resources that might be useful for someone thinking of writing on this issue:

 

·               http://www.sigcis.org/ayyadurai  - my main page (includes links to various video and media content that would look good in a blog post, including a Xerox video). This tries to document and evaluate every historical claim made by Ayyadurai. 

·               http://www.tomandmaria.com/Tom/Writing/CACM-SevenLessons.pdf my CACM article with lessons to be learned from the initial part of the case. This is more of a general reflection on what was going on from a media narrative viewpoint.

·               http://www.inventorofemail.com/  Ayyadurai’s own site

·               http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2012/05/shiva-ayyaduri-email-us-postal-service/   Boston globe article – not 100% reliable, but if you read to the end carefully you’ll get the right idea.

·               https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140901/07280928386/huffpo-publishes-bizarre-misleading-factually-incorrect-multi-part-series-pretending-guy-invented-email-even-though-he-didnt.shtml  One of a number of solid Techdirt posts debunking Ayyadurai, this one dealing with the 2014 effort to push a misleading “History of Email” series focused exclusively on Ayyadurai.

·               https://www.techdirt.com/blog/?tag=shiva+ayyadurai.Other Techdirt posts from this link, including one quoting me: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140903/18514728409/huffington-post-finally-responds-stands-its-completely-bogus-totally-debunked-history-email-series.shtml 

·               https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/omblog/post/origins-of-e-mail-my-mea-culpa/2012/03/01/gIQAiOD5kR_blog.html  Washington Post ombudsman admitting that the story was unfounded

·               http://www.tomandmaria.com/Tom/Writing/HistoriesOfTheInternetDRAFT.pdf  Introduction to special issue of I&C on Internet History in which we mention Ayyadurai’s case as an example of an attempt to fill in the gap between people’s ordinary experience and the ARPANET story. Example of a way to acknowledge appeal of the Ayyadurai narrative without endorsing its claims.

 

Resources on the actual history of email include

 

*         Janet Abbate’s Inventing the Internet

*         Craig Partridge’s Annals paper, “The Technical Development of Internet Email.” This is the best overview of the actual development of modern email. 

*         My chapter in The Internet and American Business has some material on non-Internet email and how it was eventually assimilated: http://www.tomandmaria.com/Tom/Writing/ProtocolsForProfitDRAFT.pdf.

 

Best wishes,

 

Tom

 

From: Members [mailto:members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org] On Behalf Of Christine Finn
Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2017 9:09 AM
To: David Golumbia <dgolumbia at gmail.com <mailto:dgolumbia at gmail.com> >
Cc: Sigcis <members at sigcis.org <mailto:members at sigcis.org> >
Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Shiva/Gawker, also AAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHHHH

 

I'd be happy to help with this. If we can craft something I'd be pleased to help reach a wider audience. I am already in touch with the UK Sunday Times - I contribute to them - and can make time to help with this, I don't have the tech expertise you all have, but can tell the story for the general public.

all best

Christine 

 

On 5 January 2017 at 09:56, David Golumbia <dgolumbia at gmail.com <mailto:dgolumbia at gmail.com> > wrote:

 

 

"This is a historic victory for truth," declared Dr. Ayyadurai. "Americans have no tolerance for fake news, lies

 

i mean, it's by far not the most offensive part of this story, but this statement leapt out at me--you coulda fooled me, and PT Barnum, and every "reality show" producer, and Facebook, and, and...


 

-- 

David Golumbia
dgolumbia at gmail.com <mailto:dgolumbia at gmail.com> 


_______________________________________________
This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org <http://sigcis.org> , the email discussion list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list archives are at http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/ and you can change your subscription options at http://lists.sigcis.org/listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis.org

 

_______________________________________________
This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org <http://sigcis.org> , the email discussion list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list archives are at http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/ and you can change your subscription options at http://lists.sigcis.org/listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis.org

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/attachments/20170105/3759a582/attachment-0001.htm>


More information about the Members mailing list