Claire Evans is the author of the new book: Broad Band The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet. This is the best tech history book I’ve read in a while and you know I read them all. Of special note, considering our 90s-heavy focus on this podcast, the book includes the stories of Word.com, which was a competitor to Feed.com (which we’ve previously covered) and Women.com which was a competitor to Ivillage (which, again, we’ve spoke at length about). But you also get an amazing portair of tech in the 1970s, hypertext as a movement outside of the web, and stories about amazing women like Grace Hopper and Jake Feinler.
Tagged with “history” (263)
Claire L. Evans, Author of Broad Band- The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet | Internet History Podcast
We ask Prof Steven Pinker whether today’s doom and gloom headlines are a sign we’re worse off than in centuries gone by, or if human wellbeing is at an all-time high
Lord Byron’s only legitimate child is championed by Konnie Huq.
From Banking, to air traffic control systems and to controlling the United States defence department there’s a computer language called ‘Ada’ - it’s named after Ada Lovelace - a 19th century mathematician and daughter of Lord Byron. Ada Lovelace is this week’s Great Life. She’s been called many things - but perhaps most poetically by Charles Babbage whom she worked with on a steam-driven calculating machine called the Difference Engine an ‘enchantress of numbers’, as her similarly mathematical mother had been called by Lord Byron a "princess of parallelograms". Augusta ‘Ada’ Byron was born in 1815 but her parents marriage was short and unhappy; they separated when Ada was one month old and she never saw her father , he died when was eight years old. Her mother, Annabella concerned Ada might inherit Byron’s "poetic tendencies" had her schooled her in maths and science to try to combat any madness inherited from her father. She’s championed by TV presenter and writer -Konnie Huq, most well known for presenting the BBC’s children’s programme - ‘Blue Peter’ and together with expert- Suw Charman- Anderson, a Social technologist, they lift the lid on the life of this mathematician, now regarded as the first computer programmer with presenter Matthew Parris.
Two ways to save humanity
Mann titled his talk “The Edge of the Petri Dish.”
He explained, “If you drop a couple protozoa in a Petri dish filled with nutrient goo, they will multiply until they run out of resources or drown in their own wastes.”
Humans in the world Petri dish appear to be similarly doomed, judging by our exponential increases in population, energy use, water use, income, and greenhouse gases.
How to save humanity?
Opposing grand approaches emerged from two remarkable scientists in the mid-20th century who fought each other their entire lives.
Their solutions were so persuasive that their impassioned argument continues 70 years later to dominate how we think about dealing with the still-exacerbating exponential impacts.
Norman Borlaug, the one Mann calls “the Wizard,” was a farm kid trained as a forester.
In 1944 he found himself in impoverished Mexico with an impossible task—solve the ancient fungal killer of wheat, rust.
First he invented high-volume crossbreeding, then shuttle breeding (between winter wheat and spring wheat), and then semi-dwarf wheat.
The resulting package of hybrid seeds, synthetic fertilizer, and irrigation became the Green Revolution that ended most of hunger throughout the world for the first time in history.
There were costs.
The diversity of crops went down.
Excess fertilizer became a pollutant.
Agriculture industrialized at increasing scale, and displaced smallhold farmers fled to urban slums.
William Vogt, who Mann calls “the Prophet,” was a poor city kid who followed his interest in birds to become an isolated researcher on the revolting guano islands of Peru.
He discovered that periodic massive bird die-offs on the islands were caused by the El Niño cycle pushing the Humboldt Current with its huge load of anchovetas away from the coast and starving the birds.
The birds were, Vogt declared, subject to an inescapable “carrying capacity.“
That became the foundational idea of the environmental movement, later expressed in terms such as “limits to growth,” “ecological overshoot,” and “planetary boundaries.”
Vogt spelled out the worldview in his powerful 1948 book, The Road to Survival.
The Prophets-versus-Wizards debate keeps on raging—artisanal organic farming versus factory-like mega-farms; distributed solar energy versus centralized fossil fuel refineries and nuclear power plants; dealing with climate change by planting a zillion trees versus geoengineering with aerosols in the stratosphere.
The question continues: How do we best manage our world Petri dish?
Can humanity change its behavior at planet scale?
Mann ended by pointing out that in 1800 slavery was universal in the world and had been throughout history.
Then it ended.
Prophets say that morally committed abolitionists did it.
Wizards say that clever labor-saving machinery did it.
Maybe it was the combination.
Om Malik is, of course, a legend. One of the first journalists on the “tech beat” in the 1990s, one of the first bloggers to “turn pro,” one of the driving forces behind the Web 2.0 time period, and one of the most trusted analysts of the technology industry in general, today he is a venture capitalist at True Ventures.
Communication’s come a long way since the days of Samuel Morse. We crack the code on how it’s evolved in this episode.
According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women held just 25 percent of professional computing jobs in the US in 2015. How damaging is this gender gap to the future of the tech industry?
The rise and fall of Britain’s electronic computing industry between 1944–1974 holds clues. In her book, Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing, historian Marie Hicks explores how gender discrimination, changing labor demographics, and government policy during this 30-year period shaped the UK’s path in computing. She also explains how this path had detrimental economic effects on the UK—and why the US may be facing similar risks today.
Dr. Marie Hicks sits down with David C. Brock, Director of the Museum’s Center for Software History, to share insights from her book.
Hicks received her BA from Harvard University and her MA and PhD from Duke University. Before entering academia, she worked as a UNIX systems administrator. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her work focuses on how gender and sexuality bring hidden technological dynamics to light and how women’s experiences change the core narratives of the history of computing.
Feet on the Ground, Eyes on the Stars: The True Story of a Real Rocket Man with G.A. “Jim” Ogle – User Defenders podcast : Inspiring Interviews with UX Superheroes.
G.A. “Jim” Ogle fell in love with airplanes at the early age of 8 years old. The circumstances that presented this initial passion were far from ideal.
He was recovering in a hospital bed following a 7-hour surgery to essentially re-attach his badly mangled right leg from a horrible school bus wreck. He awoke from the operation to see a model airplane hanging down from a wooden structure over his bed that was to be used as a traction device to slowly pull his left leg back into place. It was broken at the hip and rammed almost three inches into his lower torso.
His injuries would prevent him from being a pilot in the Air Force. But this reality would not deter him from being in the air with airplanes because 12 years later he became involved in space with missiles and rockets on his first job at Cape Canaveral, Florida in 1958. This was the beginning of his 51-year career of being associated with every manned moon mission and all 135 Space Shuttle missions. He finally got his layoff notice along with 8,000 other space workers following the final Shuttle mission, STS-135, in July 2011.
He likes to tell folks questioning his unusual longevity in this field that he was fortunate to be “in the right place at the right time and the right age.” He considers himself blessed for having had the opportunity to be a part of this truly exciting time in America’s beginnings in space.
Fun fact: Jim requires 10 lemons and multiple servings of tartar sauce with every seafood meal. The last lemon squeeze after the meal is used to clean his hands!
Dave Winer has been called the godfather of a lot of things. The godfather of blogging. The Godfather of Podcasting. One of the key people involved in the development of RSS. But as you’ll hear in this great and wide ranging chat, Dave Winer is just a software developer who has never stopped tinkering, never lost his interest in coming up with new tools and new technologies. Dave was kind enough to sit down and go over his whole career, from the very earliest days of the PC era, to the present day.
Julius Caesar is our travel guide as he takes us through his murderous subjugation of the native Celtic tribal peoples of ancient Gaul. It sounds vaguely like other, recent European colonial conquests…until the natives nearly win.
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