woman standing with plato computer

child with computer

50 Years of Public Computing

at the University of Illinois


50 Years of Public Computing at the University of Illinois

April 15 - 16, 2010
Alice Campbell Alumni Center
601 S Lincoln Ave, Urbana IL

Conference Chair: Kate Williams

From the Conference Chair

For two days here in the Alice Campbell Alumni Center, eleven remarkable local innovations in public computing will be under the microscope. Founders, innovators, early users, and scholars will talk about how they did it and what it means.

We invented these treasures here, on campus and off, north and south of Green Street, in collaboration. Now we're bringing all this experience to light, as a single body of work, to use it to point a way to future innovation that can serve all of us.

We're doing this conference when $7.2 billion in broadband investment in communities is about to jump off, $30 million of that right here in Champaign-Urbana. Because of this, the nation is going to be experimenting with and implementing all kinds of new technologies in local communities. Quiet as it's kept, the University of Illinois knows a lot about this. Why leave the nation to reinvent the wheel when we have done so much heavy lifting?

The idea behind each session — until the final one — is to get an understanding of that moment and this moment; that innovation and today's opportunity. In other words,

The Idea Behind Each Session

  1. How did the project come into being?
  2. What did it accomplish?
  3. What do we need to know or do to sustain such innovation going forward?

Our collective wisdom will help us understand and institutionalize the University of Illinois' identity as a leader in what we now call community informatics.

I'd like to acknowledge gratefully the sponsorship and support of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, the Department of Computer Science, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Public Engagement, the Ubiquitous Learning Institute in the College of Education, CITES, the Illinois Informatics Institute, the College of Media, the Community Informatics Initiative, the University Library, the Center for Democracy in a Multiracial Society, and Wolfram Alpha. And I'd like to thank John Unsworth, Rob Rutenbar, Molly Tracy, Diana Stroud, Patti Grove, and our team of CI Lab and other students for steering us so carefully.

Finally: good speakers depend on a good audience. Please listen hard, and speak up often. Thank you very much for coming.
Signiture: Kate Williams

Kate Williams, Conference Chair


University of Illinois Urban-Champaign