[SIGCIS-Members] What happened on the list last year

Chuck House housec1839 at gmail.com
Mon Dec 17 15:29:20 PST 2018

Joy, I’m finally putting some disconnected facts together, tying you as author to you as researcher at CHM re SIGCIS, and to this sad saga.    I was at the workshop where you presented; you may recall that I had some questions and enthusiasm around your MECC work.  I also independently had done some cursory review of Brian Dear’s manuscript a couple of years ago regarding PLATO., although I never witnessed the bias he displayed against you.  Your story here about MSU is beyond sad, but echoes stories that seem to trail out of too many academic institutions (and yes, churches and boy scout troops, etc.).   I value especially that you have the courage and the desire to share your story.   I am hopeful that it does have positive impact, both for you and legions of succeeding historians, but also on the institutions.


Independently, with respect to your career work, I will note that I am an ‘old-school’ computing user rather than a computer designer, a long-time admirer and follower of MECC, PLATO, the Dartmouth group, the U of Utah team, and I even was at Englebart’s lab BEFORE the “mother of all demos”.    Your perspective in your book is LONG overdue, and your writing flows nicely.   The research done at CBI is outstanding, the selections you’ve made to document the story are excellent.  


No question the PLATO and MECC work, and the Dartmouth work, were seminal.  But so too for building communities were The Well, EIES, and Confer.   Roxanne Hiltz and Murray Turoff’s  work at NJIT was stunningly prescient; their 1978 book Networked Nation said it all, early.   Stewart Brand grew enamored of their work when he started The Well, and this all flourished because of networked computing, plus of course Hayes modems and TRS-80s. 


I know you want to applaud women in computing, but your story could be strongly augmented along those lines.   While Bob Albrecht gets lots of credit in your book, LeRoy Finkel got but one line.  LeRoy created CUE (Computer Using Educators) near Berkeley, which drove the Apple story in California, despite what Jobs’ biographers claim.   Finkel’s wife, Sue Talley, along with Deb DeVries and Marge Cappo and others from MECC drove the Minnesota adoption of Apples for the schools, rather than Wozniak stopping by on his way to NYC and ‘discovering’ that he could sell MECC on his machine.   Jane Laidley was the publisher for Dr. Dobb’s Journal for Albrecht; she helped drive the early Apple education initiative through JN4D, a consulting firm.   Linda Roberts at OTA, and on the Sesame Workshop Board, and  much later the Education Technology director for both Clinton administrations, was a prime mover for computers in education from the mid-1970s onward.    And Ann (McCormick) Piestrup studied Oakland school kids for literacy in 1973, and in 1978 she founded The Learning Company, adding Teri Perl to the team shortly thereafter.  Their program Rocky’s Boots was a great follow-on for The Oregon Trail.   Ann Lathrop and Bobby Goodson were notable in the West Coast education community also.


From: Members <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org> on behalf of drjoy <drjoy at joyrankin.com>
Date: Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at 10:49 AM
To: <members at lists.sigcis.org>
Subject: [SIGCIS-Members] What happened on the list last year


Hello SIGCIS Colleagues,


First, thank you for your many on- and off-list messages of congratulations and support for my book. I deeply appreciate them, especially in the context of what I'm about to share.


Those of you who were on the list last spring saw my work savaged by a man named Brian Dear. Even then, I received on- and off-list messages of support for my scholarship. But what happened publicly was only one piece of a terrible, terrible year. 


Here is a fuller picture: https://medium.com/@drjoy/why-im-firing-michigan-state-sexual-harassment-online-harassment-and-utter-institutional-6663a6bde68e


SIGCIS as an organization did the right thing, and for that, I'm grateful.



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