[SIGCIS-Members] : Interfaces 2021 update

Larry Masinter LMM at acm.org
Fri Apr 9 14:22:30 PDT 2021

Thank you for the pointer to the Interfaces article of Mice and Mentalité

I and some of my colleagues (from PARC of the 70’s and 80’s, as well as newer collaborators)  have been working to “restore” the Interlisp system so that it is usable on modern hardware, to take advantage of Moore’s law increases in performance through emulation of the underlying virtual machine.  Much of the AI work at PARC (and earlier, DENDRAL work at Stanford) were done in Interlisp. Hypertext (in NoteCards), UI design tools (Trillium), task-oriented screen layout (Rooms) were all explored in systems built in Interlisp. I’m hoping we can provide infrastructure for running demonstrations of all of those.


https://interlisp.org  is an all-volunteer “open source” effort (https://github.com/interlisp).


I was  hoping to find more volunteers to help out, especially with externalities: the “History” section, an annotated bibliography, planning, recording screen-share video demonstrations, guidelines for new users of today. 

The Interfaces article sets the context.




 <https://LarryMasinter.net> https://LarryMasinter.net  <https://interlisp.org> https://interlisp.org


From: Members <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org> On Behalf Of Jeffrey Yost
Sent: Monday, March 29, 2021 6:00 AM
To: sigcis <members at sigcis.org>
Subject: SIGCIS-Members] Interfaces 2021 update


Dear SIGCIS Colleagues,


With Interfaces, we are now into our second calendar year/volume (started the journal late last May) and wanted to give a quick update. Also we'd like to encourage you to submit a short essay to us.  In our first ten months our subscriber base (free) to get email alerts to new essays (approximately 8 to 10 times a year) has expanded at a rapid rate from 465 shortly after launch to 1,335 subscribers today and it keeps growing steadily! (Academics and graduate students from many fields and geographies make up the greatest share of the base, which also includes industry and government scientists, and others interested in computing--past, present, and future).


Co-editor Amanda Wick and I are so grateful for the readership, many encouraging comments, course/classroom use, and thousands of views/downloads. We especially want to thank our authors, and the SIGCIS community. 


Essays on all topics/themes/fields/approaches in the domain of computing and culture are welcome.  You can either email Amanda (abwick at umn.edu <mailto:abwick at umn.edu> ) or me (yostx003 at umn.edu <mailto:yostx003 at umn.edu> ) with your essay submission or if you prefer, you can bounce ideas off us first. The general ongoing call is at the site (click on the journal title in the banner below or on any of the article links or  <https://cse.umn.edu/cbi/interfaces> here to go to the journal).


We have very exciting content in process, and offer a quick turnaround in editorial review with short time spans from first submission to publication (about a month) given a continuous publication of articles rather than scheduled issues.


In case you missed something and are looking for some mid Spring reading, below is a list of essay articles published, along with their abstract..


Wishing everyone a happy and healthy Spring!


Best, Jeff and Amanda, Co-Editors, Interfaces


 <https://cse.umn.edu/cbi/interfaces> Interfaces: Essays and Reviews in Computing and Culture



 Volume 2 (2021) 


[Note: The link on the banner above and  on articles goes to the top of the journal, essays, most recent to earliest, are on long scroll. There is a button jump back to 2020]


Published March 2021 (Just published last week)


 <https://cse.umn.edu/cbi/interfaces> “Of Mice and Mentalité: PARC Ways to Exploring HCI, AI, Augmentation and Symbiosis, and Categorization and Control” Jeffrey R. Yost, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota

Abstract: This think piece essay comparatively explores history and mindsets with human-computer interaction (HCI) and artificial intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML). It draws on oral history and archival and other research to reflect on the institutional, and cultural and intellectual history of HCI (especially the Card, Moran, and Newell team at Xerox PARC) and AI. It posits the HCI mindset (focused on augmentation and human-machine symbiosis, as well iterative maintenance) could be a useful framing to rethink dominant design and operational paradigms in AI/ML that commonly spawn, reinforce, and accelerate algorithmic biases and societal inequality.


Published January 2021 


 <https://cse.umn.edu/cbi/interfaces> “The Cloud, the Civil War, and the 'War on Coal'” Paul E. Ceruzzi, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Abstract: The term “The Cloud” has entered the lexicon of computer-speak along with “cyberspace,” the Matrix,” the “ether,” and other terms suggesting the immateriality of networked computing. Cloud servers, which store vast amounts of data and software accessible via the Internet, are located around the globe. This essay argues that this “matrix” has an epicenter, namely the former rural village of Ashburn, Virginia. Ashburn’s significance is the result of several factors, including northern Virginia’s historic role in the creation of the Internet and its predecessor, the ARPANET. The Cloud servers located there also exist because of the availability of sources of electric power, including a grid of power lines connected to wind turbines, gas-, and coal-fired plants located to its west—a “networking” of a different type but just as important.

Volume 1 (2020) [launched the journal in late May 2020]


Published September 2020

“ <https://cse.umn.edu/cbi/interfaces> Cultural Networks: Infrastructural Implications of AT&T’s Picturephone” Malinda Dietrich, University of Colorado, Boulder

Abstract: In 2020, video telecommunications seem ubiquitous. Between work and play, many people use a range of software to connect them with other people all around the world. This short essay begins to explore how we arrived at this seemingly universal technology by exhuming a failed technology: AT&T’s Picturephone. Through this historical exploration, we will come to see that infrastructure and culture are closely related, and that future work must be done to explore the social inequities that become apparent.

Published August 2020

 <https://cse.umn.edu/cbi/interfaces> “From Telecommuting to Mobile Work: The IBM Experience, 1890s-2020”  James W. Cortada, Senior Research Fellow, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota

Abstract: IBM was an early practitioner of remote working, beginning in the 1890s, but expanding this way of working in the 1980s. Customer engineers, programmers, systems engineers, salesmen, and consultants participated. Mobile work posed its own operational problems but offered benefits for improved service, productivity, and employee morale. However, its motives and practices remained controversial.


Published July 2020

 <https://cse.umn.edu/cbi/interfaces> “A Preface to Charles Babbage’s Ninth Bridgewater Treatise” Amanda Wick, Interim Archivist, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota

“ <https://cse.umn.edu/cbi/interfaces> Charles Babbage’s Ninth Bridgewater Treatise” Margaret Dykens, Curator and Director of the Research Library San Diego Natural History Museum 

Abstract: As a foundational figure in the history of science, Charles Babbage is best known for his contributions to computing. In fact, his mechanical, programmable calculating machines are considered precursors to modern computers. These accomplishments were the primary reason for the naming of the Charles Babbage Institute, and its archivists have sought to honor its namesake through the purchase of rare books authored and inscribed by him. One such book is a fragmentary oddity, the Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, and a copy owned by the San Diego Natural History Museum that was recently examined by curatorial staff and prominent Babbage scholar, Dr. Doron Swade, holds curious clues to Babbage's approach to natural philosophy.


Published June 2020

 <https://cse.umn.edu/cbi/interfaces?fbclid=IwAR0B1KQ0lqEF0t9exsaaMRXsJCaoULnrPH9m3x-XbLIzDH9dJtNFaqipx3g> “Of Bugs, Languages and Business Models: A History” Alejandro Ramirez, Sprott School of Business, Carleton University

Abstract: A series of wrong decisions precipitated the Y2K crisis: adopting the 6-digit date format, using COBOL as the standard in business computing and discontinuing COBOL-teaching in many American universities shortly after it was adopted. Did we learn anything from this crisis?

Published May 2020

 <https://cse.umn.edu/cbi/interfaces?fbclid=IwAR0B1KQ0lqEF0t9exsaaMRXsJCaoULnrPH9m3x-XbLIzDH9dJtNFaqipx3g> “Where Dinosaurs Roam and Programmers Play: Reflections on Infrastructure,Maintenance, and Inequality” Jeffrey R. Yost, Charles Babbage Institute, HSTM, University of Minnesota

Abstract: This short essay examines two temporally separated crises (current unemployment system failures and Y2K), focusing on connections between infrastructural (largely COBOL-based) IT systems, maintenance, and societal inequality.







"Injustice wears the same harsh face wherever it shows itself."-Ralph Ellison


Jeffrey R. Yost, Ph.D.

Director, Charles Babbage Institute

Research Professor, Program in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine


222  21st Avenue South

University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN 55455


612 624 5050 Phone

612 625 8054 Fax

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