Iterations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Software History

All articles published in the research journal Iterations (ISSN 1541-843X). I was co-editor with current director of the Charles Babbage Institute, Dr. Jeffrey R. Yost. In 2004 CBI completed its multi-year NSF project to develop, organize, and disseminate resources and knowledge on the history of software.

Battling Smallpox: State and Local Boards of Health

An article for Iowa Heritage Illustrated. Also featured by Iowa Public Television and the State Historical Society of Iowa.

Before the Web There Was Gopher

An article for IEEE Annals of the History of Computing. Documents the rise and fall of the popular Gopher protocol for “surfing the internet” in the 1990s.

Best Practices in Two-Year to Four-Year Honors Transfers

An article for Honors in Practice on trends and best practices in transfer agreements between community colleges and public universities. Co-authored with Stacy Rice at Northern Virginia Community College.

Digital Immortality, The Future of Memory, and Sci-Fi Utopias

An interview with Outer Places magazine on digital mind uploading in science fiction.

Honors 2025: The Future of the Honors College

An article in Honors in Practice with former NCHC president Richard I. Scott on current problems, trends, and future directions for honors colleges in the twenty-first century.

Implementing Wikis in Honors Courses

An article demonstrating the use of a wiki for oral history course projects. An example of a use case is Little Rock Renaissance Wiki, which has 3,331 entries written by students and faculty over multiple years.

An Interview with Edsger W. Dijkstra

My published Communications of the ACM interview with computer science pioneer Edsger Dijkstra, originator of the famous “Dijkstra’s algorithm” for finding the shortest paths between nodes in a graph.

An Interview with Stephen A. Cook

My published Communications of the ACM interview with computer science pioneer Stephen Cook, a pioneer in the fields of complexity theory and proof complexity and author of the famous P versus NP problem.

Marion Dorset and Hog Cholera Research

An article in Veterinary History on the USDA Biochemic Laboratory and the conquest of hog cholera disease.

Medicine and the Family in the 1930s

A book chapter on the fundamental role of familial thinking in medical care in the Great Depression.

The Past, Present, and Future of Matter Duplicators

An interview in Outer Places magazine on the relationship between the imagined matter duplicators found in SF literature and future 3D printing technologies.

The Professions of Health and the Creation of Modern American Public Health

My dissertation on the interlocking roles and responsibilities of health professionals and the public in the eras of American sanitary science and community health, from 1870-1950. Covers public health nursing, child hygiene, industrial health, mental hygiene, health ‘salesmanship,’ community health demonstrations, family health, and epidemiology.

Researching the History of Software

An article with Juliet Burba for Iterations documenting early online sources in the history of computer software. Written under auspices of an NSF Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence grant.

Smallpox: Local Epidemics and the Iowa State Board of Health

My first published article, for Annals of Iowa, on the perceived relationship between new immigrants and disease in the late nineteenth century.

Telematics and the Early History of International Digital Information Flows

My recent article in IEEE Annals of the History of Computing on the origins of long-distance transmission of computerized information in the 1960s and 1970s.

Testing Physicians’ Limits: Medical Informatics and Diagnostic Decision-Making

A Charles Babbage Institute Newsletter article on the history of medical computing, with special emphasis on computer-assisted diagnosis.

A Well-Intentioned Query and the Halloween Problem

A short think piece for IEEE Annals of the History of Computing on the “Halloween Problem” in software history.

Research-Grade Oral Histories

Lazlo Belady

Donald Chamberlin

Stephen Cook

Edsger W. Dijkstra

Gary Durbin

Jim Gray

Dick Hedger

Glenn Henry

Charles A. R. Hoare

Lee Keet

Donald Knuth

Carl Machover

Marche (AR) Oral History

Mark McCahill

William McGee

Peter C. Patton

Ben Persons

Herb Pelnar

Peter Watson

Course Projects

The Artificial Other

A website with speculative essays written by my students on new (for 2005!) smart technologies. The class also created a chatbot built upon extensive interviews with the founding director of the Honors Program.

Creativity Insights Podcast

A student podcast on creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship across the disciplines. Created for Creativity I seminar.

Escape Velocity Panel Schedule

The print schedule of panels organized for the Museum of Science Fiction’s annual academic conference.

Facing Fear: Guide to Near Future Risks

Final report of a guide written and published by students in Honors Senior Seminar in 2012.

Let’s Zettel It Repository

A website dedicated to the memory and speeches of Norbert O. Schedler, visionary founding director of the Honors College at UCA.

Montpelier Retreat Study Guide

Student study guide for the annual JMU Honors freshman retreat to Montpelier, home and plantation of President James Madison.

Strange Communities Podcast

A student podcast for the Strange Communities class comparing gangs, religious utopians, and cyberfolk.

Slide Decks

Assessing Independent Scholars

A presentation for the Individualized Major Programs conference on assessment in the build-your-own Independent Scholars major at JMU.

The Believing Game

A slide deck on Peter Elbow’s “believing/doubting game” presented to Honors Track I and Track II students.

CHOICES on the Honors College

A recruiting presentation for prospective honors students.

The Co-Curricular Record Project

Final presentation to the JMU President and Provost on the utility of co-curricular records (CCRs). CCRs are official records that highlight student achievements in opportunities beyond the classroom.

The Darwin Lecture

A signature lecture on Charles Darwin and evolution for students in the Schedler Honors College’s Search for Self core course.

Independent Scholars

A presentation on the JMU Independent Scholars major for academic advisors.

Social Media for Scholarship

A presentation on faculty use of social media, digital scholarship, and online branding.

Using a Wiki in Oral History

A presentation on using wikis in classes where research and community memory is built up and archived by separate cohorts of students over many years.


Art & Technology

A survey course on the history of the relationship between the arts and technology from ancient times to the present.

Art of Documentary Film

A course on the appreciation and making of documentary films, with a focus on planning, interview, and camera techniques.

The Artificial Other

An upper division seminar on all things artificial. Topics vary by semester as new technologies emerge. Interpreted from the lens of the history and philosophy of technology. Of related interest is the online watering hole of The Artificial Other (real moniker is me). A sample of course discussion topics and questions, and a example of a student essay published in Digital America.

Creativity and Innovation

A syllabus for an Honors area of emphasis seminar on creativity, innovation, and human fulfillment. Also, a list of sample discussion topics and questions.

The Future of Education and Work

A course on the future of work, with an emphasis on trends in higher education.

Global Challenges

A senior seminar course on global crises of the 21st century, including a final student report on the Top Challenges Facing Humankind.

Honors First Year Experience

A first-year gateway course designed for the new JMU Honors College, including a one-hundred page resource wiki created by student teaching fellows.

Independent Scholars Workshop

An upper division course for JMU Independent Scholars majors.

Introduction to Independent Scholars

A gateway course for new students in the JMU Independent Scholars major.

Online Communities

A course on the then-novel technology of online communities. Includes an investigation of cybercultures and case studies in online moderation. Grew out of experiences with the nationally-recognized Honors College OnLine (HCOL) vBulletin community. Also, a sample honors online tutorial.

Oral History and Community Memory

Syllabus for a topical course on oral history. Several generations of students completed projects on Little Rock Market District redevelopment, the planning and opening of the Clinton Presidential Library, and Alcohol in Arkansas. Also, a great proposal for a mobile memory booth for automatically collecting alumni reminiscences during the UCA Centennial Year. My video presentation to the Arkansas Freethinkers on Nectar of the Gods: Alcohol, Religion, and Arkansas Drinking Culture.

Oxford Tutorial & Senior Thesis

Course syllabus for the two-semester thesis prep sequence for honors students. Complete thesis handbook.

Reimagining Honors

Honors seminar dedicated to the problem of launching an honors college at JMU. Final student report on Building an Honors College.

Senior Seminar on Globalization

Senior seminar on the topic of globalization. Including small group guides to some individual class periods.

Strange Communities

Class schedule and readings for a course on Strange Communities taught with sociologist Rick Scott and religious studies professor Donna Bowman.

Teach the Controversy

A course on controversies in the history of science. Taught with Caltech postdoctoral student Matthew Hankins.

Trusting Technology

One of the first courses in the nation on the history of computer security and privacy, based on my research and scholarship at the Charles Babbage Institute for the History of Information Technology.

Virtual Other in Interactive Fiction

A course on virtuality, game design and digital play. Co-taught with game developer Michael Herring.

Honors Faculty Stories

Jared Diener and Phil Frana

Dual profiles of the new JMU Honors academic advisor and associate director.

Michelle Hesse

Profile of Dr. Michelle Hesse, winner of NCHC Faculty Poster award.

Debbie Sturm

Profile of Dr. Debbie C. Sturm, past honors faculty member and Honors Malta study abroad director.

Student Profile Stories

Elizabeth Brannon

Madison Honors Council president and Dingledine Scholar on her call to personal and global transformation.

Sophia Cabana

Independent Scholar and honors student on “walking her own path.”

Maria Camila Restrepo Chavez

Honors student and Gilman Scholar speaks on access, opportunity, and learning.

Olivia Duke

Independent Scholar with major infusing nature into interior design.

Amanda Harner

Honors student on creativity and “viewing life through the lens” of photography.

Sydney Inger

Independent Scholar major bringing attention to the plight of homeless LGBTQIAP+ youth.

Maria Jones

Honors student who combines a head for numbers and a passion for poetry.

Bradley Mason

Honors student in Math and Quantitative Finance on refining problems that bedevil Wall Street.

Andrea Murchie

Honors student and Industrial Design major focusing on sustainable design for Africa.

Alexis Schneider

Honors student and Independent Scholar major on bridging the gender gap in STEM education.

Destin Webb

Honors student and Independent Scholar who plans ‘big change’ initiatives in energy, peace education, corporate compliance, and government affairs.


Created for past projects. All are quite large. Yes, I am a research ferret.

IT Law Bibliography (204 pages)

Public Health Bibliography A-Z (1,266 pages)

Smoking Science Bibliography, 1965-1999 (109 pages)

Smoking Science Bibliography, 1595-1964 (110 pages)

Software History Bibliography (161 pages)


All the Walks of Life

Essay documenting my training for walk marathoning. My observations on plodding down every street in Conway, Arkansas, over the course of several months.

Books I Have Read

Just what you think. Every book I have read (all the way through) since I began keeping track as a Stewart Library page in 1985. If I start the book, I must (eventually) finish the book.

The ELO Story

A superfan’s (yet unfinished) unauthorized biography of Jeff Lynne and Electric Light Orchestra. By yours truly. With footnotes.

My Hometown: Grinnell

Based on an assignment I give to seniors each year. Don’t assign it if you don’t intend to do it yourself.

Norbert Schedler Biography

A biography written on the founding director of the Schedler Honors College, who passed away in 2019.

Oldest Honors Program You Say?

Every program in American thinks they have at least a partial claim to originating honors. I just happened to be the first to notice. Here are assertions of priority gathered from various honors program and college websites over the years. Submitted with authentic affection for us all.

My First Website

This version dates to 1996, when I used the World Wide Web to scan and share overhead projector (OHP) slides with students in my courses. I actually began doing this in 1993, well before the Internet Archive started collecting snapshots of internet pages.