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November 30, 2007


Anyone planning a research visit should be aware that December 24 and 25 and January 1 are university holidays and that we will be closed. Also, Andersen Library will be closed to the public on December 31.

Finally, our extended Thursday hours will be on hiatus during the semester break, but will resume starting in late January.

Colloquium Canceled

Unfortunately, the HSTM colloquium that I mentioned in my November 26 post has been canceled. It was emphasized, though, that if you would like to mingle with members of the department, they will still be having a coffee and cookie reception at 3:15!

November 28, 2007

PhD Studentship in Amsterdam

SHOTnews.net has published a bunch of new posts on its blog, including this one about a PhD studentship in the history of computing at the University of Amsterdam.

November 27, 2007

Arthur L. Norberg Travel Fund

Please see http://www.cbi.umn.edu/research/ntravelfund.html for information about CBI's new Arthur L. Norberg Travel Fund for scholars working on a history of computing topic.

Southern HSTM Conference Call for Papers

From the H-Grad listserv:

CFP Deadline Extended:

Georgia Tech and Emory University invite you to the second Southern Conference in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. Combining the traditions of other regional conferences, Southern HoST provides a welcoming environment for outstanding graduate student presentations as well as a collegial venue for more established scholars to try out new material. This annual traveling conference is geared toward a variety of fields which last year included agriculture, psychiatry, space exploration, and the music industry.

Through such an array of topics, HoST seeks to cultivate a regional sense of community among institutions located in the South that specialize in the history of science, technology, or medicine. Persons interested in presenting are invited to submit a 150-200 word proposal and CV electronically by Wednesday December 5th.

Georgia Tech will host the opening banquet on Friday evening and Emory will provide facilities for all academic presentations. Details regarding registration and itinerary will be announced at www.southernhost.org.

November 26, 2007

HST Colloquium this Friday

Hope you had a nice holiday weekend! Some of you may be interested in the following colloquium that will take place on the U of M campus this Friday afternoon:

Friday, November 30
Room 131, Tate Lab of Physics
3:35 p.m. (refreshments at 3:15 in Room 216)

Evelynn Hammonds
Holyoke Center
Harvard University

"The Marginalization of Experience"

ABSTRACT: This talk addresses the problem of the underrepresentation of women of color in STEM fields from a historical perspective.

For further information about the Colloquium, please contact Barbara Eastwold at (612) 624-7069 or eastwold@physics.umn.edu. For updates and changes check the web at http://groups.physics.umn.edu/hsci.

November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving! And Tom's Talk

Happy Thanksgiving! CBI will be closed for the holiday weekend this Thursday and Friday, so after today, chat reference won't be available either here or on the main CBI home page until Monday, November 26.

As a post-Thanksgiving activity, U of M readers, think about attending a talk by CBI's very own Tom Misa on December 11, entitled "Moore's Law: Dynamics of a technical revolution." Professor Andrew Odlyzko will also be speaking. See http://www.cdtl.umn.edu/index.php?pageid=59 for more details.

See you on the other side of the holiday!

November 20, 2007


Although not the most exciting issue to many, copyright is an important topic in the library and archives world. However, I know that I, at least, can get quickly bogged down in the multitudes of guidelines and rules, which makes it difficult to figure out when something is available for use. This updated chart by a librarian at Cornell is really helpful in clarifying a lot of these issues.

November 19, 2007

Plagiarism Detection Tool

Plagiarism - how to avoid it, and how to detect it - is currently a hot topic in many academic circles. For beginning researchers, it can be difficult to decide what is plagiarism and what isn't. The University of Minnesota Libraries provide a brief tutorial to help students and researchers learn how to avoid plagiarism.

But what about the detection of obviously intentional plagiarism? With the advent of Internet research, it's become all too easy to find and "borrow" information already written on almost any topic. The U of M Twin Cities campus is providing access to Turnitin, a web-based plagiarism detection tool. Instructors can submit an essay to the website, which then checks for plagiarism. Information is available here.

November 16, 2007

Encyclopedia of Technology

And another Friday post! I just came across a call for encyclopedia entries for an ABC-CLIO Encyclopedia of American Technology. A link to the announcement is here.

Facebook and CBI

CBI now has a Facebook presence. We've formed a Charles Babbage Institute group, and it's open to all who are interested, for discussions about what we're doing at CBI or about the history of computing in general.

Here's a link to the group, or you can search for "Charles Babbage Institute" in Groups.

New Finding Aid

Sorry about the lack of entries yesterday; the blog publishing platform was having technical difficulties all day. Now that it's back online, though, I promise to make amends with an abundance of interesting posts. First up, we have a new finding aid available online:

CBI 196, International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) Conference Papers. Please feel free to take a look.

November 14, 2007

Minnesota 150

The Charles Babbage Institute was asked to contribute a photograph for an essay on Seymour Cray for the book Minnesota 150: The People, Places, and Things That Shape Our State by Kate Roberts, senior exhibits developer for the Minnesota Historical Society. Minnesota citizens submitted thousands of nominations of people, organizations, places and events for the book, which celebrates the 150th anniversary of Minnesota’s statehood, which will take place in 2008. The book is in stores and libraries now.

November 13, 2007


Several calls for papers for conferences related to the history of technology have come across the wire recently:

The Culture of Print in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine (STEM)

The International Committee for the History of Technology (ICOHTEC)

November 12, 2007

CBI Fall Newsletter

CBI's semiannual newsletter is now available for Fall 2007! Please check it out at http://www.cbi.umn.edu/newsletter.html.

Library of Congress Talk

Some of you at the University of Minnesota or in the Twin Cities area might be interested in this event coming up in December:

FORGED IN FIRE: Reconstructing Thomas Jefferson's Library
A lecture featuring Mark Dimunation, U.S. Library of Congress

SAVE THE DATE: Monday, December 10, 2007 -- 7:30 p.m.
Cowles Auditorium, Hubert H. Humphrey Center,
301 19th Av. S., Minneapolis
University of Minnesota West Bank campus

Please save the date for a special lecture featuring Mark Dimunation,
chief of the Rare Books and Special Collections Division of the Library of
Congress. He'll speak about Congress's purchase of Thomas Jefferson's
personal library in 1815 to replace the congressional library
destroyed when the British burned Washington the previous year. When
Jefferson's books arrived in Washington, the Library of Congress
found its center and its impetus.

Free and open to the public. Advance reservations are recommended.
Please RSVP to (612) 624-9339 or stangret@umn.edu.

November 9, 2007


For interested graduate students:

From: "MEPHISTOS 2008" [From the H-Sci-Med-Tech listserv]-

We are pleased to announce the 26th annual MEPHISTOS graduate student
conference devoted to the History, Philosophy, Sociology and
Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Medicine. It will take place
April 4-6, 2008, at the University of Texas at Austin.

For more information, please see our website:

November 8, 2007

Tomash Fellowship

The Charles Babbage Institute is accepting applications for the 2008-2009 Adelle and Erwin Tomash Graduate Fellowship. The fellowship will be awarded to a graduate student for doctoral dissertation research in the history of computing.

The fellowship may be held at the recipient's home academic institution, the Charles Babbage Institute, or any other location with appropriate research facilities. The stipend is $14,000. It is intended for students who have completed all requirements for the doctoral degree except the research and writing of the dissertation.

Preference will be given to applicants indicating a need to use CBI materials, planning research in residence at CBI, and willing to make a brief presentation of their research findings to CBI staff.

Please see http://www.cbi.umn.edu/research/tfellowship.html for more information!

November 7, 2007

Military History conference panel

I saw a call for papers on a listserv for a panel presentation on military technology. Here's the link, from H-Net, for anyone who might be interested:


November 6, 2007


For those at the University of Minnesota, the following announcement from the Libraries' listserv might be of interest:

Through November 30th, the Libraries have a trial for Footnote, a primary source database that spans American history from the Revolution to present. A large piece of their collection includes documents from the National Archives which are only available through Footnote. In addition, the database has an user interaction part where users can add their own primary sources, comment on documents already added, and work with other researchers interested in the same documents. Just go to http://www.footnote.com to try it out!

New Finding Aids

Two new finding aids are now available on CBI's web site:

The Charles Hall Collection on the SNOBOL Programming Language (CBI 190) contains information on the development of SNOBOL, a computer programming language.

The Borge M. Christensen Collection on General Electric (GE) Computing (CBI 191) details Christensen's career with the General Electric Company computer and information service business.

November 5, 2007

STS Wiki

I just stumbled across what looks like a potentially great resource for faculty and grad students in science and technology studies. The STS Wiki is, as stated on its home page, an experiment in the public production of free, open-source knowledge concerning STS. It contains resources for teaching, research, employment, and a lot more. Since it depends upon user input, information is a bit spotty, but, like other items I've been posting, it has great potential.

November 2, 2007

Lemelson Fellowship

Some history of computing grad students and faculty may be interested in this one that I saw on several listservs:

The Smithsonian's Lemelson Center is seeking proposals for its 2008
Fellows Program, which supports projects that present creative
approaches to the study of invention and innovation in American society.
These include, but are not limited to, historical research and
documentation projects resulting in publications, exhibitions,
educational initiatives, and multimedia products. The fellowship program
provides access to the Smithsonian's vast artifact and archival
collections, as well as the expertise of the Institution's research

The Center offers fellowships to scholars and professionals who are pre-
or postdoctoral candidates or who have completed advanced professional

November 1, 2007


First, there was Wikipedia. Now, there's Wikibooks, an open-content collection of textbooks on all subjects. In keeping with the spirit of Wikipedia, anyone can edit one of the textbooks. I looked specifically at the textbooks for "how to write a research paper in history" and "history of computing," and while they are pretty short and bare-bones at this point, I think the idea has potential.

Also, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts about the idea of having students write Wikipedia entries for course assignments, rather than (or along with) term papers. I know that at least one professor has implemented this idea. Would it tend to result in better output from some students, since they know that their work could be read by people "out there?" Should the results be placed indiscriminately on Wikipedia, no matter the quality of the submissions? As a student, would you prefer to write a term paper to be viewed only by your professor or TA, or to write a Wikipedia entry that could be viewed by any number of people? I'd love to see opinions from both teachers and students on this question.