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May 2005 Conference Call

May 23, 2005
4:00-5:10 EDT
: Bill Aspray, Mary Hall, Carol Hutchins, Mike Mahoney, Pat Ryan, Rick Snodgrass, and David S. Wise

Indented prose is what was discussed; non-indented prose is from the agenda.

  • Status

    Rick welcomed Len Shustek as a new member of the History Committee, and announced that Tim Bergin was appointed as Turing Award Web Editor.

    David will ask Tim for details of his budget request: how much and for what. If reasonable, we'll add it to the History Committee budget request for the next year.

    Pat has let contracts for oral histories (she'll send email asking if the recipients received these) and will work on Beth's contract next.

    Rick talked to Luanne Johnson, re Sloane Industry History Project, on May 23. He summarized that discussion. (Luanne had sent him the following.

    The URL for the Corporate Histories Project is

    When you get to the website, go to the View tab and then select Tymshare from the dropdown lists under any of the subtabs: Timeline, Biographies, Stories and References. That will give you a good idea of the kind of information we are collecting.)

    The Committee suggested asking for help from this project, specifically to ask in their recollections questionnaire,
    - What role did ACM play in their thinking?
    - What role did the ACM SIGs play?
    - Did they draw from any ACM resources (people, SIGs, publications)?

    It was also suggest that we expose our work plan to them, specifically, which oral histories we were contracting out for and which we were considering, for overlap with what they were doing.
  • History Committee Web Site

    The guidelines were amended (see attached) in the following ways.
    - Apply initially just to the History Committee. Later, once our web site is operational, we would take it to the other Committees and Boards.
    - The guidelines specify *information content*, not *structure*.
    - These guidelines should be consistent with a broader retention policy, to be developed later.
    - The eventual guidelines should specify at least the minimum set of information that should be retained.
    - The visibility of each web page should be clear.

    For the History Committee web site, it is useful to have two additional pages of links, one to history pages within the ACM site (e.g., HOPLs, SIGGRAPH Pioneering Day), and one to sites outside of ACM (e.g., CHM, CBI, CBF).

    It was also noted that historical discussions often occur at PC meetings, but these don't appear in official reports of these meetings. The conclusions of these discussions would be useful to report in the SIG web pages, when constructed. This should be later mentioned when we bring these guidelines to the SIGs. In general, each Committee and Board will probably have particular changes to make and items to add.

  • Gabby's proposal

    Gabby's request considering the recognition of Canadian Pioneers of Computing at the annual CAS conference in October, was for "ACM to leverage this opportunity to at least gather first-person accounts of the evolution of computing in Canada."

    It was noted that several people on their list of pioneers had significant dealings with ACM, e.g., Kelly Gotlieb and Stephen Cook. Also noted was that the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) was a sister organization to ACM. Finally, it was noted that Kelly Gotlieb, Mike Williams (archivist at the Computer History Museum) and John Vardalas of the IEEE History Center were experts on Canadian computing history; John wrote a book on the History of Computing in Canada.

    The primary issue was how this opportunity interacted with the mission of our Committee, to focus on ACM's history and role in the history of computing, especially with ACM being an international organization.

    We then discussed the more general topic of historical source material being collected by History Committee efforts: who should decide what should go into the ACM Digital Library and how it should be presented?

    David stated his thesis that there will be such material, and there will be such questions, and that the general approach of the Pubs Board directly or indirectly (e.g., program committee chairs being named by a SIG chair) naming editors should apply in this situation also.

    It was noted that unlike proceedings and SIG newsletters, which have a generally good track record, there is not a track record for historical source material.

    Pat mentioned that Ron Boisvert and Bernie Rous are considering the related issue of labeling and branding of ACM DL third-party material.

    We decided to meet next in September in a conference call, with more urgent matters, such as the SGB meeting which is Saturday, August 13th in Newark. Mike kindly volunteered to help if needed (he was actively involved in HOPL-II).
Guidelines for Data Retention of ACM History Committees Records

May 23, 2005

Retaining good records of committees and boards is important for several reasons. First, such records allow new members and chairs to come up to speed quickly on the past actions and discussion of the unit. Second, these records allow policies and actions to be documented, so that they can be carried out properly. Third, the records make the unit more efficient, as the past actions can be quickly consulted when questioned. And finally, these records will form useful source material for later analysis by historians of science and of organizations, to better understand ACM's history and the role that ACM played in the advancement of computing.

Given these advantages, it is an important responsibility of units to maintain this information as it becomes available. Later retrospective collection is error prone and generally incomplete. If a consistent structure is initially set up, maintenance becomes much easier.

Initially, these guidelines just apply to the ACM History Committee. Later, once we gain experience with them, we will take them to other Committees and Boards within ACM. It will be useful in that effort to specify the minimum set of information to be kept by those units.

These guidelines should be consistent with a broader retention policy, to be developed later. We declare our intention to interface both with this policy, and with the paper archival retention policy that Beth Kaplan will start.

It is useful for records to be stored on the web, as a committee intra-net. The records should be stored on, to make them easily available to interested parties. This web site store the following information, in an appropriate structure.

It is useful for each unit to designate an individual as unit webmaster.

  Unit web site (accessible to everyone)
     +--- unit-only (accessible only to current committee, ACM Council)
     |        |
     |        +--- annual approved budgets, with dates
     |        |
     |        +--- Listserv archiving of all email correspondence
     |        |
     |        +--- Conference calls
     |        |       |
     |        |       +--- agenda
     |        |       +--- backup
     |        |       +--- full minutes, including times, where, who
     |        |       +--- assigned action items
     |        |
     |        +--- face to face meetings
     |                |
     |                +--- everything as with conference calls
     |                +--- digital picture of participants, with names
     |                |           associated with faces 
     |                +--- mention of any social events (e.g., dinner) with
     |                            list of participants 
     +--- unit charter, description, goals
     +--- composition (all past and present members, with terms and positions
     |        (e.g., liaison) indicated)
     +--- meetings (when and where, possibly with terse public minutes)
     +--- public documents (annual reports, strategic plans, other public
     |         documents), with date, authorship (if appropriate),
     |         distribution
     +--- policies,each including adoption date and pointer(s) to
     |         related policies
     +--- useful links to other web pages, both within the domain
               and outside of that domain

All public information must be written with the audience in mind.

For material beyond what is listed above, the unit should make an explicit decision when relevant as to whether that material should be public or unit-only.

Unit-only material will be made available to historians on a need basis and only after approval by Council, on recommendation by the current unit. (The visibility of each web page should be clear, either by explicit statement or via the structure.) It is expected that unit-only material will be made publicly available starting 25 years after the creation of the material, but then again only after approval by Council, on recommendation by the current unit.