[SIGCIS-Members] Exploring the Early Digital -- book and SHOT panel

Thomas Haigh thomas.haigh at gmail.com
Sat Oct 26 02:15:17 PDT 2019



I wanted to let you know about a book I edited which appeared earlier this
year with Springer, and encourage those of you currently in Milan for SHOT
to consider coming to our panel this afternoon. 


The book is called Exploring the Early Digital and features a lineup of some
very well-known figures in the history of computing (TOC at the bottom of
this message). It is based on a workshop held at Siegen University back in
2017. But we are mostly not talking about traditional computing topics –
instead the focus is on other kinds of digital technology, and on approaches
engaged with the materiality and affordances of technology. My introduction
and the series forewords by Gerard Alberts and Erhard Schüttpelz are online
at http://early.digital so I won’t write the full manifesto here.


The SHOT panel features me as editor, Ron Kline and Ksenia Tatarchenko as
contributors, Gerard Alberts as series editor, and Pierre Mounier-Kuhn as
chair. Rather than the usual presentations, we aim to get through some short
introductory remarks in 20-25 minutes and leave the rest of the time for
discussion among everyone who attends. It is in the final conference slot,
so if you fancy something a little different after two days of talks please
come along.  Our proposal to SHOT promised that the discussion would focus


•             Benefits, and risks, of taking digitality seriously as an
analytical category to frame a field of historical study (rather than purely
as an actor’s category to tell the history of).

•             Prospects for a historiographical convergence between the
histories of computing, media, and communication to parallel the historical
convergence of these areas.

•             Unique contributions that members of the SHOT community can
make to broader discussions of digitality, in areas such as digital
humanities, algorithm studies, and digital media studies.


Currently I am working with Sebastian Giessmann and the Media of Cooperation
project at Siegen to develop some of these ideas further, to make digitality
into a useful and coherent analytical category based on a bottom-up,
historically responsible analysis of affordances that explain the remarkable
power of modern hardware and software systems as something made possible by
digital practices. We held some more workshops on that theme which should
result in a second book called “Becoming Digital.” I’ve been inexcusably lax
in following up on those events, but the book project is now being rebooted
so if you took part in one you have either heard recently from me with
apologies or will do in the near future.


The current, Exploring the Early Digital book is in the Springer series
History of Computing which, as you know from some recent messages, now has a
reasonable list price of $40 or so for nicely produced hardback books. In
addition, if your university has a subscription you can download the entire
book free of charge from the Springer digital library.


1.	Introducing the Early Digital by Thomas Haigh
<http://www.tomandmaria.com/tom>  (University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee &
Siegen University).
2.	Inventing an Analog Past and a Digital Future in Computing by Ronald
Kline <http://sts.cornell.edu/ronald-r-kline>  (Cornell University).
3.	Forgotten Machines: The Need For a New Master Narrative by Doron
Swade <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doron_Swade>  (Royal Holloway,
University of London).
4.	Calvin Mooers, Zatocoding, and Early Research on Information
Retrieval by Paul E. Ceruzzi <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_E._Ceruzzi>
(Smithsonian Institution).
5.	Switching the engineer’s mind set to Boolean. Applying Shannon’s
algebra to control circuits and digital computing (1938-1958) by Maarten
Bullynck <http://www2.univ-paris8.fr/histoire/?page_id=2186>  (Paris 8).
6.	The ENIAC Display: Insignia of a Digital Praxeology by Tristan
(Siegen University).
7.	The Evolution of Digital Computing Practice on the Cambridge
University EDSAC, 1949-1951 by Martin Campbell-Kelly
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Campbell-Kelly>  (Warwick University).
8.	The Media of Programming by Mark Priestley
<http://markpriestley.net/>  (Independent scholar) & Thomas Haigh
(University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee & Siegen University).
9.	Foregrounding the Background: Business, Economics, Labor, and
Government Policy as Shaping Forces in Early Digital Computing History by
William Aspray
(University of Colorado Boulder) & Christopher Loughnane (University of
10.	“The Man with a Micro-calculator:” Digital Modernity and Late Soviet
Computing Practices by Ksenia Tatarchenko (Geneva University).


Best wishes,





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