[SIGCIS-Members] Ayyadurai: it gets more complex

Jonathan Coopersmith j-coopersmith at tamu.edu
Tue Jan 10 19:59:44 PST 2017


While idling in traffic today, I listened to the Alex Jones show (don't ask
but I learned a lot about the human body's need for selenium), and learned
he had a specific guest whose efforts to uncover the truth about GMOs led
to attacks to destroy him professionally as a way to discredit his GMO, um,
findings.
  To quote, "On this *Tuesday, January 10* broadcast of the Alex Jones
Show, Trump insider *Roger Stone* discusses what to expect in the last ten
days before the inauguration. Also, the inventor of Email, *Dr. Shiva
Ayyadurai, Ph.D.* joins the show to explain the connection he found between
email and GMO’s. On today’s show we’ll also look at the Jeff Sessions
confirmation…

​ http://www.infowars.com/watch-alex-jones-show/

​

Jonathan Coopersmith
Professor
Department of History
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX  77843-4236
979.845.7151
979.862.4314 (fax)
http://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/author/42
:
latest post is "Coal Comfort.  Is Hillary Clinton being 'Al Gored'?" at
*http://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/153818
<http://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/153818>*

* FAXED.  The Rise and Fall of the Fax Machine* (Johns Hopkins University
Press) is the co-recipient of the 2016 Business History Conference Hagley
Prize for best book in business history.


On Fri, Jan 6, 2017 at 8:35 AM, Thomas Haigh <thomas.haigh at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hello SIGCIS,
>
> In response to the various suggestions that a comprehensive rebuttal would
> need to engage with Ayyadurai's efforts to define email in a very specific
> way: yes. A comprehensive rebuttal would. That's why my page
> www.sigcis.org/ayyadurai is very long and detailed, which also makes it
> off
> putting to casual readers. I urge anyone with an interest in the case to
> read it before commenting further.
>
> My comment was more about a concise and convincing way to explain why this
> is not a usual invention priority dispute. I do not recall anyone prior to
> Ayyadurai claiming that things like mid-1970s Arpanet electronic mail or
> Xerox Laurel were not email. For example, Janet Abbate's book Inventing the
> Internet talks without reservation about "email" as the killer application
> of the ARPANET in the mid-1970s.
>
> The SIGCIS community does not need to anoint a "first" for email to agree
> that something produced in 1978/80/82 cannot possibly be the first email
> system. Here's an analogy: not everyone believes that the Wright Brothers
> were the first to fly when they took to the air in 1903. There are other
> contenders, other definitions, etc. Some people favor Whitehead in 1901.
> But
> if someone tells you he invented the airplane in 1918 you don't need to ask
> about the details of his system. A lot of well documented flying had
> happened by then. Just show a dated photograph of the Red Baron. And if the
> would-be inventor of the airplane justifies his claim with a new 60 point
> definition of airplane you are not obliged to take that definition
> seriously.
>
> Best wishes,
>
> Tom
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Members [mailto:members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org] On Behalf Of
> McMillan, William W
> Sent: Friday, January 06, 2017 6:56 AM
> To: Sigcis <members at sigcis.org>
> Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Resources on Ayyadurai saga
>
> Isn't the claim more to the well-developed metaphor of a mail system
> similar
> to a physical office mail system?
>
> For example, Kay and Xerox can claim priority to the UI desktop metaphor,
> even though all the operations it implemented existed previously in
> command-line systems.
>
> The parry and riposte to pointing out mail/messaging capabilities of early
> systems is that, yes, they had similar functions, but that they had not
> been
> developed into a coherent metaphor for a complete real-world mail system.
>
> .... not that this is a valid claim ...
>
> Once you get into the UI widget, look-and-feel, metaphor space, the ground
> gets soft.
>
> - Bill
>
> ________________________________
> From: Members [members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org] on behalf of Jordi Fornes
> [jfornes at ac.upc.edu]
> Sent: Friday, January 06, 2017 4:41 AM
> To: Guy Fedorkow
> Cc: Thomas Haigh; members at lists.sigcis.org
> Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Resources on Ayyadurai saga
>
> That’s the point. What is an email? At least since 1975 (in the sixth
> edition of the Unix programmer’s manual) the command “mail” exists “to send
> mail to designated users”.
> I have not access to the source code of BSD Unix, but it was developed with
> a source control revision system, so it should be available somewhere. I'm
> almost certain that the “mail” command in 4 BSD (circa 1980)  sent mail
> over
> TCP/IP.
>
> At all events, we need a definition of email, accepted by the community of
> experts, before talk about “firsts” (in my opinion, a trap keyword in
> history of science).
>
> Best wishes,
>
>> Dr Jordi Fornés
> jfornes at ac.upc.edu<mailto:jfornes at ac.upc.edu>
> +34 934 054 064
> Computer Architecture Department
> Room D6-102
> Campus Nord, Barcelona
>
>
>
>
>
> On 5 Jan 2017, at 20:30, Guy Fedorkow
> <guy.fedorkow at gmail.com<mailto:guy.fedorkow at gmail.com>> wrote:
>
> Tom,
>   As I remember from the last round, the disagreement seemed to be over the
> definition of "email", wasn't it?  I don't think there was a denial that
> messages were sent between computer terminals prior to the plucky young
> contributor's work, but that only after that point did the technology truly
> deserve the appellation "EMAIL", as allegedly proven by the grant of
> copyright?
>   It does seem like there's been a certain fluidity in choosing whether the
> argument of the day is based on the name or the functional
> characteristics...
>   But a refutation might want to consider both factors, i.e., evidence that
> the term email was in wide use, and that the claimed functionality (beyond
> just sending a message, although I don't remember what it was) was in use
> prior to the alleged invention.
> /guy
>
>
> On 1/5/2017 12:56 PM, Thomas Haigh wrote:
> 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>
> [mailto:dave.walden.family at gmail.com]
> Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2017 10:02 AM
> To: Thomas Haigh <thomas.haigh at gmail.com><mailto:thomas.haigh at gmail.com>
> Cc: Christine Finn
> <christine.finn at gmail.com><mailto:christine.finn at gmail.com>; David
> Golumbia
> <dgolumbia at gmail.com><mailto:dgolumbia at gmail.com>;
> Sigcis<members at sigcis.org><mailto: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
>
>
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