[ih] CFP: International Communities of Invention and Innovation (New York City, May 2016; deadline 8 January)

Christopher Leslie chris.leslie at nyu.edu
Sat Aug 15 08:18:58 PDT 2015

Dear List,

As the organizer of the next IFIP Working Group 9.7 conference, I've been
mindful of how much I learn from people on this list who are not
professional historians. Although there are always some computer
scientists, computer engineers, and other technical people at IFIP
conferences, there does seem to be  a limit to the participants outside of
the humanities and social sciences. I've been thinking about bridging the
gap between those two cultures, which we'll try to do at the May 2016
conference in New York.

I asked some colleagues in computer science and engineering at Poly about
why history conferences do not have too many technical professionals in
attendance, and they suggested that one reason is that writing historical
papers is not a professional credential. For that reason, we've added an
explicit invitation to non-historians to the CFP. Participants can, if they
like, contribute a full, academic paper, but if they'd prefer to
participate without a paper and maybe meet an historian with an eye to
future collaboration, we'll have somewhat informal roundtables as well.

Either way, the deadline for consideration is Jan. 8. I hope many of you
will consider attending the conference. Please feel free to forward this
message as appropriate.


Chris Leslie

--- - --- - --- - --- - --- -

International Communities of Invention and Innovation
IFIP Working Group 9.7 Conference
NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, Brooklyn, NY
25-29 May 2016

Analog and digital computers were developed by individuals aware of an
international scientific community. Likewise, although sometimes thought of
as solely national projects, the first computer networks were built in an
age of growing interconnectivity among nations. This meeting of IFIP
Working Group 9.7 in New York City gathers historians and other
professionals to reflect on histories that foreground the international
community. Participants with an interest in this historical context for
computers and computer networks may present academic papers or join in
roundtable discussions.

In accordance with this theme, we hope to blur the dichotomy between core
and periphery and complicate simplistic notions of linear technological
progress. Far from a deterministic view that computers and computer
networks were developed in isolation and according to their own technical
imperatives, we will show the history of pre-existing relationships and
communities that led to the triumphs (and dead ends) in the history of
computing. This broad perspective will help us to tell a more accurate
story of important developments like the Internet, to be sure, but also it
will provide us with a better understanding of how to sponsor future
invention and innovation.

At the conference, we seek to foster a conversation about internationalism
in the history of computers and computer networks along four broad themes:

1. Invention:
     • communities where analog computers were developed
     • communication about and competition for early devices
     • innovations brought in from the supposed periphery
     • failed, forgotten, or thwarted efforts to develop
        networks or industries

2. Policy:
     • trade and treaties supporting computers and networks
     • organizations like IFIP with a mission to promote
     • long trajectories of digital divides
     • case studies revealing ethical considerations
     • cross-national comparisons of gender or ethnic diversity
        in industry and education

3. Infrastructure:
     • communication and data networks before the Internet
     • development and diffusion of TCP/IP
     • connectivity efforts before NSFNET, NSFNET, and beyond
     • resistance to and success of the WorldWideWeb

4. Social History:
     • differences and similarities in international impacts
        on general society
     • antecedents (Wells's World Brain) and visions (Human-Nets's
     • individuals who championed connections between nations
     • historiography of internationalism in computing
     • representations of international computing communities
        in film or literature

It is hoped that the conference will be of interest to a broad range of
people who study computing and computer networks, including academic
scholars and graduate students, but also those who have a professional or
technical interest in computing. Accordingly, there are two ways to

1. Academic Papers

For consideration, please submit your draft paper before January 8 via the
conference website (http://wp.nyu.edu/ifip_wg97/). Enquires are welcome in
advance of your submission (wg9.7conference at nyu.edu). Draft papers will be
circulated before the conference in order to encourage a meaningful
discussion. At the conference, each selected participant will be allotted
time to present an overview of his or her paper. It is our intention to
publish selected conference papers in an anthology by Springer, and
hopefully the conference feedback will be useful as presenters complete
their final drafts.

2. Roundtable Discussions

In order to welcome technical professionals and others who may not desire
to prepare a full paper, the conference will also feature roundtables of
10–15 minute, relatively informal presentations related to the conference
theme. These presentations could focus on key figures, historical
anecdotes, or observations on particular projects. We hope that these
roundtables will spark lively conversation and, perhaps, generate research
partnerships between historians and technical professionals. For
consideration, send a 250-word summary of the topic and your interest in it
before January 8 via the conference website (http://wp.nyu.edu/ifip_wg97/).
Enquires are welcome in advance of your submission (wg9.7conference at nyu.edu

The conference will be held at New York University's Polytechnic School of
Engineering in MetroTech Center, Brooklyn, New York 11201. About 20 minutes
away by subway from NYU's Greenwich Village location, MetroTech Center is
located in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn and within walking distance of
the Brooklyn Bridge as well as the iconic neighborhoods of DUMBO, Fort
Greene, and Brooklyn Heights. In order to help make the conference more
affordable, we will offer accommodations in the school's dormitory,
adjacent to the conference venue, at a competitive price for those who do
not wish to stay in a nearby hotel.
Further details will be made available at http://wp.nyu.edu/ifip_wg97/

About IFIP WG 9.7: IFIP, the International Federation for Information
Processing, was founded in 1960. It is a nongovernmental organization
dedicated to information and communication technologies and sciences. It
sponsors fourteen committees primarily of a technical nature. Technical
Committee 9, however, is dedicated to ICT and Society. The organizer of
this conference is TC9’s Working Group 7, which focuses on the history of

Important Dates
  • Deadline for consideration: January 8, 2016
  • Acceptances announced: February 5
  • Early deadline for payment of registration fee: March 1
  • Revised papers and abstracts due: April 1
  • Last day to reserve a room in the dormitory: April 10
  • Papers and abstracts made available to participants: May 1
  • Revised papers due for consideration in proceedings: July 1

Christopher S. Leslie, Ph.D.
Co-Director of Science and Technology Studies
Faculty Fellow in Residence for Othmer Hall and Clark Street
Vice Chair, IFIP Working Group 9.7 - History of Computing

NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering
5 MetroTech Center, LC 131
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(646) 997-3130
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