ACM History Committee

2019 ACM SIG Heritage Workshop Held at Charles Babbage Institute

Originally posted on July 17, 2019.

The ACM History Committee held a successful workshop to stimulate ACM Special Interest Groups (SIGs) to document and preserve their history from May 20th, 2019 to May 21st, 2019. The workshop had broad participation from the following dozen ACM SIGs:

  • ACM SIG on Multimedia (SIGMM)
  • ACM SIG on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI)
  • ACM SIG on High Performance Computing (SIGHPC)
  • ACM SIG on Spatial Information (SIGSPATIAL)
  • ACM SIG on Computers and Society (SIGCAS)
  • ACM SIG on Information Retrieval (SIGIR)
  • ACM SIG on Mobility of Systems (SIGMOBILE)
  • ACM SIG on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE)
  • ACM SIG on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH)
  • ACM SIG for Information Technology Education (SIGITE)
  • ACM SIG on Data Communications (SIGCOMM)
  • ACM SIG on Computer Simulation (SIGSIM)

The workshop also had significant participation from the ACM History Committee membership. The University of Minnesota and the Charles Babbage Institute provided resources, logistics, and a number of relevant speakers to help guide the discussion.

On the first day, UMN University Libraries Director of Special Collections Kris Kiesling gave an opening welcome. CBI Outreach Historian and Admin Juliet Burba served as MC to orient attendees to the program and introduce speakers. Next, Jeffrey Yost gave a brief overview of CBI programs, collections, and its history prior to the main instructional program. CBI Archivist Amanda Wick followed providing an hour-long crash course on key archival principles and methods. She arranged for three archivist colleagues in University Libraries—Carol Kussman, Valerie Collins, and Kate Dietrich—to speak on digital archiving and institutional matchmaking (between record creators/holders/organizers and archival repositories).

Brianna Morrison describing work done to support the SIGCSE’s 50th anniversary.

Jeffrey Yost invited University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Professor of History Thomas Haigh to co-lead a session with him on oral history theory and practice, and the two briefly discussed computer scientists publishing history (outlets, opportunities, mentoring, etc.). ACM History Committee’s own Vicki Almstrum addressed oral history, as well, presenting on the committee’s longstanding oral history effort with SIGCSE. Following each of the presentations there was extensive time for discussion, which proved quite rich. To round out the work of day one, two of the SIG representatives presented. This was followed by a tour of the underground Andersen Library climate-controlled Caverns (home to the CBI Archives and other special collections units), a happy hour, and then dinner in the Dale Shepherd Room of The Campus Club.

Amanda Wick teaching archiving principles.

On May 21, the remaining ten SIG representatives presented, and the workshop concluded with a fruitful discussion and next-steps brainstorming session on future SIG heritage/history/archiving/oral history efforts. The ACM History Committee Members then went to the Bakken Museum for a special tour by Curator Adrian Fischer, arranged by Juliet Burba from CBI.

Mitchell and Searleman describing their work for SIGGRAPH.

Two representative comments from feedback collected after the workshop are:

  • GREAT workshop. Maybe longer discussion time or breakouts on specific topics. Why do history anyway?!
  • The organizers did an excellent job. Andersen Library is really nice. Love the librarian-archivist framing of the workshop. Hope to see a summary of recommendations and future actions sometime this Summer.

Note that some of this material was extracted with permission from the Charles Babbage Institute Newsletter, Volume 41, Number 1, Spring/Summer 2019.