Section 0 Foreword Living History


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Foreword: Women in Computing Living History

Hey,systers and others, I Just Found this fascinating web site, “A Chip On Her Shoulder”. This is an historical, hypothetical, autobiographical, reference-loaded novel that shows long, and mostly happy, lives in computing. Women will enjoy these stories, and men should get acquainted with these lively minds.

Now looking for my 2nd job, I wonder how things worked out for women with finished careers. I enjoy the professional challenges of security management and penetration testing but I also wonder how the industry got into this mess. I don’t think workplace diversity is solvable, but does it matter in the long run?

Surprise: this novel’s main characters are doing their own versions of computing and applying their experience in their communities. Fifty years separates us in ages, but not so much.

Whose Chip Is this story?

Here’s the synopsis:

  1. Casey Hawke is on a “hero’s journey” starting at her technology-loaded college reunion (can you believe, 50th??). Then she catches up with Her long-time colleague Sally, who uses her low vision to work on web accessibility and is fascinated with synthetic speech. Back home in Dellville, AZ, Casey consults on verbal terrorism and survives an Internet outage. These retired computer scientists are concerned with threats to the Internet they have lived with throughout their careers.
  2. That year, 2019, isn’t like we remember. A 2017 web market radically changed when advertising-enriched Silicon Valley founders surrendered their troves of “living data” to the CumuLinker Trust which is managed by activists going back to the Dawn of Web Time. This opened opportunities for collaborative synthetic speech communication models using innovative wearables, called Whisperers. A trickster-dominated country is breaking free from surveillance capitalism to explore healthier Internet practices. Try to Wrap your mind around this hypothesis!
  3. Casey and Sally happen into a cooperation with younger generations: Sally’s divorced niece Marilyn who is re-entering technology journalism; her teenage son’s fascinated with interfaces for wildfire apps; and a chatty recovering millennial entrepreneur who is clueless about computing history. They tackle the Pink Page Rebellion that is defacing web sites in opposition to CumuLinker breaking up personal data advertising commerce. Their union is called Team 3G.
  4. The elders review unhappy periods of their careers, including “a chip on Casey’s shoulder” and the social/medical models ruling Sally’s disability. Casey builds applications for community CumuLinker which exercises her grasp of Consequential Reasoning which competes against indoctrinated programming models. She revives a mid-life liaison with a Canadian environmental writer who is also aging gracefully.
  5. After Casey and Sally perform her “social media makeover”, niece Marilyn gathers Team 3G, and one Pink Page rebel, into a podcast that elicits overviews of their technology interests. Odd moments of history recur in their netizen conversations.
  6. The journey ends after the 2019 year of generational teaming and CumuLinker demonstrations. The pandemic takes Casey out of action while she compiled her legacies.

History eras and the Dawn of Web Time

Here are historical events that explain how computing evolved:

Before Web Time, 1995

  1. Ada Lovelace and data representation;
  2. post WWII- Vannevar Bush visions for “endless frontier” and Memex browsing “trails”;
  3. Eisenhower-era Sputnik-driven science education;
  4. Active networks Basic, Pluto, and Usenet, then ArpaNet;
  5. calculator numerical standards;
  6. Reagan-era missile defense;
  7. Risks Digest and “computing for society”
  8. cancer machine deaths and international software safety movements;
  9. software engineering professional education;
  10. European/Japanese/US research competition;
  11. Japanese Fifth Generation industrial challenge;
  12. logic programming rise and fall;
  13. VLSI design training;
  14. Usenet groups;
  15. wicked problem theory;
  16. hypertext models versus early HTML;

After Dawn of Web Time, 1995

  1. search experimentation before advertising
  2. pre-CumuLinker social media disinformation;
  3. personal reputation management;
  4. undisciplined social communication;
  5. student and hobbyist wearable experimentation;
  6. loosely linked knowledge management newsgroup hierarchy;
  7. post 9-11 Total Information Awareness;
  8. Trickster-era election and distraction;
  9. high tolerance for web errors;

How does it end? What next?

As to be expected, the pandemic takes over and leaves us with Casey’s legacies and Sally’s free search engine hack (I love it!).

so, read up about careers, getting older, historical moments, off-beat computing, and a hypothetical industry not governed by surveillance capitalism.

I want my next job to have more context for living a history-aware life. And I want to be as deeply in love with some ideas as Casey feels for Consequential Reasoning and Sally for synthetic speech. Our undergraduate books and classes mainly cited male inventor and industry leader, yech. Let’s gain some balance and maybe revive the early spirit of systers.

Thanks, author, for healing that chip on your shoulder.


Contact me through the author @slger123@gmail.com.