Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Didn’t

Gathered together in one place, for easy access, an agglomeration of writings and images relevant to the Rapeutation phenomenon.

Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Thu Feb 02, 2017 12:21 am

Origins of e-mail: My mea culpa
by Patrick B. Pexton
Washington Post
March 1, 2012



Caw, caw, caw, crunch! That’s the sound of me eating crow. It’s not the most pleasant repast I’ve had — the feathers don’t go down so easy — but it is a necessary one.

I did a blog post this past Friday that was dismissive, snarky and wrongheaded, and had factual errors too. And I apologize to readers for it and I’ll try to repair some of the damage here.

My blog post was in response to e-mails that I, and Post Innovations editor Emi Kolawole, received denouncing her Feb. 17 story about a Massachusetts Institute of Technology instructor, who as a high school student in the late 1970s, developed, and later copyrighted, an electronic electronic messaging system. The story was headlined: “V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai: Inventor of e-mail honored by Smithsonian.”

I was upset at the harsh nature of some of these e-mails, and they came amid a heavy week of barbs and complaints about Post coverage — some of them merited, some of them not.

But sometimes people are upset because they have a legitimate beef, and then it’s my job to listen, and in this case I didn’t. I was too dismissive and came to the defense of Kolawole too quickly without doing enough checking myself.

These correspondents took such umbrage because they, in fact, do know a lot more about the origins of e-mail than I do, or Kolawole did, and they care deeply about the truth and who should get proper credit for such an important invention.
And they care that The Post gets it right. I do too.

So let’s begin.

In this narrative, I’m going to hedge in a few places because Kolawole is still doing some extensive fact checking on her original story, and yes, she should have done more of that prior to publication.

But I think it’s safe to say that although Ayyadurai is an interesting fellow, and that, as a teenager, he did develop an early electronic messaging system for about 100 users at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and obtained a 1982 copyright for its computer code — he named the program, all uppercase, “EMAIL” — he should not have been called “inventor of e-mail” in the headline.

As so many distinguished experts in this field wrote to tell me — I’ll name them below — Ayyadurai is not the inventor of electronic messaging between computers, what we have all come to call e-mail. Electronic messaging was developed by many hands over many years, and probably began in the early 1960s, possibly as early as 1961, on people using time-shared computers.

E-mail was developed alongside early versions of the Internet, and was driven by scientists, researchers and users of the ARPANET, the early computer network associated with the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency.
One of the first Internet Request for Comments — an early paper memo circulated broadcast e-mail [DELETE] to ARPANET users asking for input on a “mail box protocol” went out in July 1971. Subsequent RFCs became the guideposts and user manuals for the developing e-mail system. The standardization of fields within e-mail — the “To,” “From,” “CC,” “BCC” etc. — seem to have begun with RFC-680 in 1975.

Ayyadurai may have used some similar conventions in his program for the New Jersey university and its satellite campuses — he began working on his in 1978 — but most all of them were used earlier by scientists and researchers on the ARPANET. Ayyadurai’s program was later, smaller and localized.

Issues In NY Criminal Law--Vol. 3, #3
by Gary Muldoon
Copyright© 1999-2008 by Gary Muldoon

ISSUE: Sufficiency and weight of the evidence as issues on appeal

AMONG the issues that the defense may raise on appeal is the quality of the evidence adduced at trial. Two related but distinct issues may be raised:

1. that the trial evidence was legally insufficient; and

2. that the verdict of conviction was against the weight of the evidence.

Although the two standards of intermediate appellate review legal sufficiency and weight of evidence are related, each require a discrete analysis." People v Bleakley, 69 NY2d 490, 515 NYS2d 761 (1981).

SUFFICIENCY of evidence is expressly provided as a ground for appeal in the Criminal Procedure Law. "The kinds of determinations of reversal or modification deemed to be upon the law include, but are not limited to, the following: . . . (b) That evidence adduced at a trial resulting in a judgment was not legally sufficient to establish the defendant's guilt of an offense of which he was convicted..." CPL 470.15(4)(b). With sufficiency of the evidence, the intermediate appellate court "must determine whether there is any valid line of reasoning and permissible inferences which could lead a rational person to the conclusion reached by the jury on the basis of the evidence at trial and as a matter of law satisfy the proof and burden requirements for every element of the crime charged." Bleakley at 495 (citation omitted). The evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the people.

Preservation of error below is required to raise legal sufficiency on appeal. A perfunctory trial order of dismissal is not enough; the specific grounds of insufficiency must be stated. People v Gray, 86 NY2d 10, 629 NYS2d 173 (1995); People v Ferguson, 240 AD2d 510, 658 NYS2d 134 (2d Dept 1997).

THE Criminal Procedure Law also provides for an appeal directed to the weight of evidence. "The kinds of determinations of reversal or modification deemed to be on the facts include, but are not limited to, a determination that a verdict of conviction resulting in a judgment was, in whole or in part, against the weight of the evidence." CPL 470.15(5). With weight of the evidence, "the appellate court's dispositive analysis is not limited to that legal test. Even if all the elements and necessary findings are supported by some credible evidence, the court must examine the evidence further. If based on all the credible evidence a different finding would not have been unreasonable, then the appellate court must, like the trier of fact below, `weigh the relative probative force of conflicting testimony and relative strength of conflicting inferences that may be drawn from the testimony.'" People v Bleakley, supra; see People v Robinson, 139 AD2d 677, 527 NYS2d 307 (2d Dept 1988); Handling a Criminal Case in New York § 23:75.

IF the appellate court reverses on either weight or sufficiency grounds, the charge is dismissed, and the defendant may not be retried on it again. CPL 470.20(2),(5).

IN a CPL 330.30 motion, the issue of sufficiency of the evidence may be validly raised after trial, but weight of the evidence may not. See People v Carter, 63 NY2d 530, 483 NYS2d 654 (1984).

QUOTATION: "Almost all legal sentences, whether they appear in judges' opinions, written statutes, or ordinary bills of sale, have a way of reading as though as though they had been translated from the German by someone with a rather meager knowledge of English." -- Fred Rodell, Woe Unto You, Lawyers

As the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, to which Ayyadurai gave documents about his early work, wrote in a second press release about Ayyadurai, [DELETE] wrote in its press release about him, after the original Post story on him was published, “Many innovations are conceived independently in different settings. Historians who have documented the early history of electronic messaging have largely focused on the use of large networked computers, especially those linked to the ARPANET in the early 1970s. Ayyadurai’s story reveals a contrasting approach, focusing on communicating via linked computer terminals in an ordinary office situation. The system was localized, linking only three campuses rather than multiple large institutions. It was a small enterprise, rather than a big enterprise story.”

Was Ayyadurai “honored” by the Smithsonian? Well if the Smithsonian’s acceptance of the donation of his early paperwork and computer coding on his “EMAIL” program is an honor, then he can feel so honored. But The Post should not have implied that he was being honored because he was the inventor of e-mail.

And some other sentences within Kolawole’s story, and in my subsequent blog post, went too far as well: “The Smithsonian has acquired the tapes, documentation, copyrights, and over 50,000 lines of code that chronicle the invention of e-mail. The lines of code that produced the first “bcc,” “cc,” “to” and “from” fields were the brainchild of then-14-year-old inventor V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai.”

Yes, the Smithsonian has acquired Ayyadurai’s materials, but the story should probably have said something like those materials “chronicled the development of Ayyadurai’s e-mail system used by the university in New Jersey.”

Based upon the materials submitted to me by recognized experts in this field, Ayyadurai’s e-mail system was not the first to use the “To,” “From,” “Bcc,” and “CC,” codes, although Ayyadurai might dispute that. Certainly, calling them his “brainchild” seems to slight all the other early computer networkers who also used them.

Now, the other part of Kolawole’s story that technology experts objected to is the conclusion that she drew — based on her interviews with Ayyadurai — that he was selfless in seeking copyright of his “EMAIL” system.

These are the two offending sentences: “By pursuing a copyright on his e-mail work, Ayyadurai opened it up for use, but with credit. Had he pursued a patent, it could have significantly stunted the technology’s growth even as it had the potential to make him in­cred­ibly wealthy.”

The technologists don’t like this for two reasons.

First is the idea of copyright and patent, and intellectual property law. The experts who e-mailed me said that computer software was generally not patentable in the late 1970s and early 1980s but became so later. Ayyadurai could not have patented his EMAIL program at that time even if he wanted to, they say. And copyrighting his program didn’t really have an effect on the ARPANET one way or the other.

More important to the technologists is that, according to them and others, most of the early developers of e-mail and the Internet did it in the hopes of creating a new system of information sharing that would make communication within their fields easier and more networked for the benefit of everyone. They, by and large, didn’t get a plug nickel for doing this and weren’t after money, copyrights or patents in the first place. They just wanted to be able to communicate quickly and exchange documents with fellow researchers in the Pentagon and at universities.

Here’s what Jim Kane, an economist who has worked with lots of technology firms, told me: “Technologists primarily are driven and motivated by recognition from their professional peers much more than by financial rewards. I strongly suspect that among all the individuals who responded to the original article there is not one among them who has financially benefited from the creation of e-mail to any significant degree.

“They would place greater value on an award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers or recognition from the National Academy of Engineering than any financial bonus from their respective companies or organizations. It’s what makes them who they are and in many ways how refreshingly honest they are to work with.

“Conversely, when they see someone making a claim for professional recognition that is inconsistent with common knowledge within that professional community their reaction is immediate and particularly strong. It’s a violation of their core principles. I believe this is very much the basis of the strong response Kolawole’s original article has generated.”

There is no "I" in "Team," but there is a "You" in "Fuck You."

I agree with Kane, and the experts’ reaction isn’t far different from a journalist’s who feels that his or her scoop was ripped off by rivals. Been there.

Now for the mistakes in my blog post. Overall, the tone was dismissive and I got some things flat wrong. I was sloppy and trying to write it up hurriedly on a Friday afternoon with too little attention to detail. And I did it after spending six hours writing my Sunday ombudsman column.

This paragraph I wrote, for instance, is wrong in several regards:

“We do know that the guy who copyrighted the terms ‘email’ and ‘e-mail’ and who developed and copyrighted some of the computer code and underpinnings of the modern versions of e-mail that we all use is an instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology named V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai. And he did some of his e-mail work when he was 14, 15 and 16 years old, as a New Jersey high school student.”

The only thing we can say for sure about Ayyadurai is that he copyrighted a computer program called “EMAIL” that was used in New Jersey for a few years in the late 1970s and early 1980s. We cannot say that his code was part of the underpinnings of the modern versions of email that we all use. He did develop his program as a teenager.

Nor can we say, as I did later in the blog post that “you can also argue that as the copyright holder to ‘e-mail,’ that in a sense, he invented this thing that we all have come to call e-mail.” No, I don’t think we can say that.

I also said “I think Kolawole did her due diligence for the story.” No, I don’t think she did, and nor did I. This has been a great learning experience for Kolawole, and she has been diligent in trying to repair her mistakes since it happened. She is young, is carrying a lot of responsibility for someone her age, and one of her direct supervisors recently left The Post, but she is not making excuses to me. I’m not making any either. I just didn’t do my homework.


... so you see, if you keep making the same mistakes over and over again, people will begin to think you're stupid.

Finally, I angered a lot of smart and well-meaning people with this paragraph:

“Why is it that scientists, academics, and some readers, think that journalists and newspapers should be like academic journals and peer review every sentence that appears in print? That has never been the standard at newspapers or magazines, and it never will be. They shouldn’t expect that.”

This was unfair on my part. If I had taken a couple of hours and really absorbed all of the e-mail complaints sent to me, and read through the Internet links sent to me by people who knew better than I about the origins of electronic messaging — and there are some great resources out there on this — I would have figured out that Ayyadurai was not the inventor of e-mail, and that Kolawole’s story needed some serious revision and correction. I apologize to the true inventors of e-mail for this mistake.

So how did this happen really, in a nutshell?

V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai is a clever man, with MIT credentials, and a good sense of public relations plus a P.R. firm working with him. A press release by that P.R. firm got a young reporter/editor interested in his donation of his “EMAIL” documents to a well-respected D.C. institution, The Smithsonian’s Museum of American History. Kolawole’s interviews with Ayyadurai convinced her that he was interesting and worthy of a profile and online video interviews.

The ombudsman, me, after receiving complaints, talked to Kolawole twice about how she did the story, did some cursory research online and typed out a blog post that I now regret.

Going forward, here’s what The Post is doing. I’m doing this lengthy mea culpa to set the record straight. Kolawole has invited two experts, Thomas Haigh, a history of technology expert at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and Dave Crocker, one of the fathers of the Internet, to write their own pieces for The Post’s Innovations blog on the history of e-mail. And Ayyadurai is going to write his own piece on his early “EMAIL” program. Kolawole will also be revising her original piece to reflect the record accurately.

We hope that sets the record straight and gets The Post back to where it needs to be, on the side of truth and accuracy.

I want to thank these experts who helped me over the past week.

Geoff Carpenter, of FARGOS Development, who worked for IBM Research developing network management technologies for the Internet from 1988 to 1993.

SSCI President and CEO Dr. Jim Kane to lead discussion on strengthening industry-to-government collaboration at the Systems and Software Technology Conference in Salt Lake City.

Panelists: Dr. David F. McQueeney, Chief Technology Officer, IBM Federal

-- Systems and Software Consortium, Inc. (SSCI) to host first-ever 'Industry Panel' at SSTC in Salt Lake City, by Systems and Software Consortium, Inc.

• James A. Kane, the former CEO of the Systems and Software Consortium Inc., a group of federal contractors in the I.T. field, who started his career at the Internet pioneer, Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc.

... industry insiders, loyal to Raytheon/BBN, a multi-billion dollar defense company, had created their entire brand, bearing the ‘@’ logo, based on claims of having “invented email”. This group unleashed a vicious public relations campaign. This campaign aimed to discredit email’s origins, intimidate journalists who did not parrot their claims, and assassinate Shiva’s character, while defending and promoting Raytheon/BBN’s brand as the “inventor of email” in the lucrative and competitive cyber-security market.

The leaders of these attacks included David Crocker, a member of the ARPAnet research community starting in 1972, and “historians” and “experts”, either former or current employees of Raytheon/BBN or close associates.

-- The First Email System, by Robert Field

• Peter Klosky, a software developer from Fairfax City, Va.

• Tom Moulton, an early user of the Electronic Information Exchange System

• Stuart Umpleby, a professor in the Department of Management, and director of the Research Program in Social and Organizational Learning in the School of Business at the George Washington University.

Dave Crocker, one of the fathers of the Internet and of e-mail, of Brandenburg InternetWorking.

Emun [DELETE] Emin Gun Sirer, associate professor of computer science at Cornell University.

And here are some links to documents tracing the history of e-mail, written by some of the early participants:

• The Technical Development of Internet Email by Craig Partridge

The History of Electronic Mail by Tom Van Vleck

Email history by Dave Crocker [DELETE] Bill Stewart
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Thu Feb 02, 2017 12:24 am

Return to Sender. V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai — the MIT lecturer who invented e-mail — had spent years blasting the struggling United States Postal Service for its failure to embrace the revenue potential of his creation. So when he was recruited to help save the U.S. Mail earlier this year, Ayyadurai made headlines and was suddenly a star. That’s when the trouble started.
by Janelle Nanos
Boston Magazine
June 2012



On a warm evening in the middle of march, V.A. Shiva Ayyudarai sat in the front row of a packed auditorium at the MIT media lab.

Dressed in a black blazer and T-shirt, Ayyadurai was on comfortable turf. He had four degrees from the Institute, lectured in two of its departments, and, at 48, had earned his place on a campus where success is measured in the number of businesses launched and millions earned.

Ayyadurai — known to everyone as Shiva — has been a Fulbright scholar, a Lemelson-MIT student prize nominee, and the entrepreneurial brains behind seven businesses, including EchoMail, a $200 million company that counted Nike, the U.S. Senate, and the Clinton White House as customers. But his greatest achievement came when he was just 14 and living with his immigrant parents in New Jersey. Back then, toiling away in his spare time, Shiva had invented e-mail, an accomplishment that would, in time, change the course of human communication — a fact not lost on Shiva, whose personal website is called

For all his spectacular successes, Shiva was most proud of devising e-mail. Yet he’d been plagued for decades by a guilty sense that his invention had led to the unraveling of another great component of human — or at least American — communication: the United States Postal Service.

Evidence of consciousness of guilt does not ipso facto constitute substantial evidence. In a number of cases, the prosecution will rely on consciousness of guilt evidence as circumstantial proof of the defendant’s guilt. Absent more concrete evidence tying the defendant to the commission of the crime, such evidence may not be sufficient to sustain a conviction.

-- Standards of Review and Prejudice and How to Satisfy Them, by Jonathan Grossman and Dallas Sacher

Since as far back as 1997, Shiva had been trying to get the post office to imagine a world beyond merely delivering letters and packages, to embrace and profit from the growing business of e-mail. But for reasons he’d never understood, the U.S. Mail had been content to keep things as they were. Last fall, when the post office announced massive layoffs and service cuts in a desperate scramble to deal with its billions in debt, Shiva had had enough. “I think that if the Postal Service dies,” Shiva said at the time, “it will be the end of democracy as we know it.” He proposed that the post office create a new form of e-mail, one that was safe, private, and subject to the same federal regulations that protect the bills and junk mail that are delivered to our mailboxes. He was flummoxed by the agency’s ineptitude: “What the f*#@ was the #USPS management doing for 10 years?” he tweeted. “They should have owned EMAIL …. ” Caustic comments like these coming from the inventor of e-mail sparked the interest of the media, and soon Shiva was being quoted in Fast Company and Time magazines.

Then, in a breakthrough, the post office’s inspector general came calling, asking Shiva for his ideas on how they could enter the digital age. A few weeks later, the Smithsonian announced that it was accepting the documents from Shiva’s adolescent e-mail work into its archives, where they would be counted among other great inventions like the telegraph, the light bulb, and the artificial heart. While he was in DC to hand off his papers, the Washington Post recorded a video series with Shiva and published a fawning profile of him.

Now he was at the MIT Media Lab with a group of experts he’d assembled for a panel discussion on “The Future of the Post Office.” Among the participants was the Postal Service’s inspector general himself, David Williams. Thirty years after inventing e-mail, Shiva had now positioned himself to solve a national crisis. His moment had arrived. But he kept looking nervously around the room.

V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai grew up in Newark, the brilliant son of Indian parents who’d moved to the United States from Bombay when he was seven. He says his journey to inventing e-mail began seven years later, when, in 1978, he learned the computer code ­FORTRAN IV at a summer course at New York University and soon lost interest in the day-to-day rigors of school, telling his parents that he didn’t feel challenged and might drop out. So one day his mother brought him to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, where she was a data systems analyst, and asked a colleague whether there was anything her son could do.

That colleague, Les Michelson, had been working with computers to automate research in the hospital’s labs, and was looking for ways to apply the technology to the office setting. “I had this idea that we were going to take memoranda and automate them and eliminate paper,” he recalls. He invited Shiva to assist with the project. For the next two and a half years, Shiva spent his nights and weekends at the hospital, eventually taking over leadership of Michelson’s team. Using computers connected through a localized server, he created a tool that gave hospital employees a digital mailbox where they could exchange messages and attachments. He called the system EMAIL.

In 1981 Shiva, then 16 and applying for a Westinghouse Science Talent Search award, envisioned a future for his program: “When Thomas Alva Edison invented the light bulb, he never perceived that this invention would have such world-wide acceptance and acclaim; however, it has … ” he wrote. “One day, electronic mail, like Edison’s bulb, may also permeate and pervade our daily lives.” That September, he enrolled at MIT, where a cover story in Tech Talk noted his accomplishment and introduced him as one of the stars of the class of 1985.

Before his sophomore year, Shiva registered a copyright for his EMAIL program. He majored in electrical engineering and computer science (and also researched the Indian caste system while studying under Noam Chomsky). After graduation, he went on to earn dual masters and a doctorate from the Institute. He started EchoMail in 1995, and somewhere in the late ’90s he started calling himself “Dr. Email” in the company’s press releases.

In the middle of February, Shiva arrived in DC to hand over his e-mail documents to the Smithsonian. On February 17, the Post ran its glowing article about his work as a teenager and his plans for the post office. “Innovation actually demands freedom,” he told the paper, “and freedom demands innovation.” It wasn’t long, though, before serious questions were being raised about Shiva’s claims.

A few days after the Post article ran, Thomas Haigh received a disturbing e-mail from his wife. Haigh is a computer historian and assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee who also chairs the Special Interest Group on Computers, Information and Society — a sort of Internet cabal within the Society for the History of Technology. The e-mail linked to an online discussion about the Post piece. Furious, Haigh immediately fired off an e-mail to his colleagues.

“Did you know that email was invented in 1978 by a 14-year-old called V.A.Shiva Ayyadura [sic]?,” a sarcastic Haigh wrote. “The shocking news was broken recently by the Washington Post.” Haigh then laid out a point-by-point takedown of Shiva’s claims. E-mail was created in 1978? “Mail features became common on the timesharing computers of the late 1960s,” the professor scolded. “MIT is a strong contender for the first place where this happened.” He went on to note that the first computer-to-computer message exchange took place over the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, or ARPANET—the Pentagon-funded underpinning of the modern Internet that enabled hundreds of computer programming students to access government-owned supercomputers from satellite sites across the country in the ’60s and ’70s. Citing Janet Abbate’s 1999 book Inventing the Internet, Haigh reminded the group that network mail was a “killer application” … in 1971.

Haigh lamented that the Post had been duped into believing that Shiva’s copyright for a program called “EMAIL” equated to the actual invention of e-mail. And he wasn’t the only skeptic. David Crocker, an early ARPANET user and the author of some of its most highly regarded messaging protocols, was forwarded the story by a friend, who warned: “This will ruin your day.” John Vittal, credited with creating the ARPANET’s MSG program, one of its most admired and heavily used messaging tools, was notified of the story by worked-up former colleagues. Meanwhile, Carnegie Mellon’s Dave Farber, who’s been called “one of the most influential nerds in the United States,” sent Haigh’s response to the article to his “Interesting People” listserv of heavy hitters, tagging it “worth reading.”

Tech blogs quickly picked up on the chatter. Techdirt, a digital water cooler for geeks, excerpted Haigh’s e-mail, and linked to Shiva’s Wikipedia page, where the site’s editors were fighting over how to identify him. Gizmodo summed the whole thing up tidily, running a picture of Shiva’s face with a one-word question plastered across it: “Imposter?”

Shiva’s chorus of doubters had been young men — a fraternity of sorts — when they’d started using the ARPANET, and now here was some interloper they’d never heard of taking credit for their work. And the more these geeks, who saw themselves as the true fathers of e-mail, dug into Shiva’s story, the more enraged they became.

They quickly discovered the Time magazine article, in which Shiva dismissed earlier ARPANET messaging systems as rudimentary “text messaging” programs. They found that on August 31, 2011, Shiva had edited Wikipedia’s e-mail entry to say that “the term ‘EMAIL’ was officially coined by V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, who received the first copyright for EMAIL in 1982.” From there they uncovered heated conversations involving Shiva and Wikipedia editors, who’d charged that Shiva’s edits were self-promotional, and thereby invalid. “Why are you blocking me??!” Shiva had asked the editors.

“This might come across as strange,” one editor replied, “but Wikipedia is not so much interested in ‘the truth,’ but what is verifiable.”

Haigh and his crowd wrote polite — though stern — missives to the Smithsonian and the Post explaining how their ARPANET work on e-mail predated Shiva’s. They littered the comments section of the Post and the Smithsonian websites with requests for corrections. The Smithsonian eventually backpedaled, issuing a clarification on February 24 stating that it had accepted Shiva’s EMAIL documentation not because he was the “inventor of email,” but because of his role in “computer education,” and of EMAIL’s use in “medical research.” That same day, Patrick Pexton, the Post’s ombudsman, shot off a blog post responding to the criticism the paper’s story was generating. “Who invented e-mail?” he wrote. “Crikey, I don’t know. Maybe Al Gore.” (It should be noted that if you’re attempting not to piss off a growing riot of computer scientists, this is probably not the best opening salvo.) Pexton defended the article, arguing that while journalists respect and value facts, they cannot subject all stories to the same scrutiny as academics under journal review.

Being dismissed by the ombudsman of a major newspaper served only to further enrage the geeks. “It totally energized our community,” David Crocker told me. Adds John Vittal: “There was a sense of anger at the reporter and the [Smithsonian] for allowing this nonsense to be promulgated. We wanted to get at the truth.” Haigh, for his part, penned a letter to the editor that eviscerated Pexton’s blog. “There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of people who could plausibly claim to have achieved some kind of significant incremental ‘first’ in the development of email,” he wrote. “On the other hand there are billions of people who clearly didn’t invent email …. Unfortunately for Pexton and the Washington Post, V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai is one of the billions …. ”

Pexton, suddenly realizing that he’d incited an Internet mob, published a follow-up blog post a few days later disavowing his earlier defense of the reporter’s work, apologizing for his own errors, and noting that, upon further investigation, Shiva “should not have been called ‘inventor of e-mail’ in the headline.” A lengthy and rather convoluted correction was added to the online version of the piece.

But the geeks still weren’t done. They e-mailed the faculty, staff, and trustees at MIT, where many of them had been during their ARPANET days. Why, they asked, was Shiva promoting himself on his website as the head of the MIT EMAIL Lab — which Shiva created to “invent innovative solutions for addressing challenges faced in the field of communication by today’s organizations”? Why, they demanded to know, was the Institute affiliating itself with someone of such questionable character? Within days, MIT told Shiva that it no longer wanted to be associated with the EMAIL Lab. Several MIT professors also gave off-the-record quotes to Gizmodo, calling Shiva an “asshole,” a “dick,” and a “loon.” The website also pointed out that Shiva had purchased more than 100 vanity URLs —,, etc. — that redirected you to his personal website. Others noted he’d authored a book: The Internet Publicity Guide: How to Maximize Your Marketing and Promotion in Cyberspace.

It was crushing, humiliating stuff, but to the geeks, entirely warranted. “There is no inventor of e-mail,” Vittal says flatly. That may well be so, but Shiva is far from the first programmer to receive this kind of withering criticism. Computer pioneers are volatile, says Crocker, ARPANET’s protocol guru: “This is not a community that’s reticent with criticism.” Vittal, actually, knows that firsthand. Shortly after his MSG program began to be widely adopted by ARPANET users, he says, competing programmers scoffed at the notion that his work was anything revolutionary. They’d come down with a “case of NIH syndrome,” he explains. NIH? “Not invented here,” he says. In other words, “If I didn’t invent it, it doesn’t exist.”

Arbitrary and Capricious Law and Legal Definition
February 9, 2017

Arbitrary and Capricious means doing something according to one’s will or caprice and therefore conveying a notion of a tendency to abuse the possession of power.

In U.S this is one of the basic standards for review of appeals. Under the "arbitrary and capricious" standard, the finding of a lower court will not be disturbed unless it has no reasonable basis. When a judge makes a decision without reasonable grounds or adequate consideration of the circumstances, it is said to be arbitrary and capricious and can be invalidated by an appellate court on that ground. In other words there should be absence of a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made. There should be a clear error of judgment; an action not based upon consideration of relevant factors and so is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law or if it was taken without observance of procedure required by law. [Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. United States EPA, 966 F.2d 1292, 1297 (9th Cir. 1992)] There is, however, no set standard for what constitutes an arbitrary and capricious decision.

Example of a state statute defining arbitrary and capricious

Fla. Stat. § 120.57 (2009)

§ 120.57. Additional procedures for particular cases



d. Is not arbitrary or capricious. A rule is arbitrary if it is not supported by logic or the necessary facts; a rule is capricious if it is adopted without thought or reason or is irrational;

Ad hoc
by Wikipedia
February 9, 2016

Ad hoc is a Latin phrase meaning "for this". In English, it generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and not intended to be able to be adapted to other purposes (compare with a priori).

Common examples are ad hoc organizations, committees, and commissions created at the national or international level for a specific task. In other fields, the term could refer, for example, to a military unit created under special circumstances, a tailor-made suit, a handcrafted network protocol, or a purpose-specific equation.

Ad hoc can also mean makeshift solutions, shifting contexts to create new meanings, inadequate planning, or improvised events[1].


The term ad hoc networking typically refers to a system of network elements that combine to form a network requiring little or no planning.

Rape Culture
by Wikipedia
February 9, 2017

Effects on men

The term used to define what men undergo in a rape culture is "toxic masculinity". This is a gender stereotype burdening the men in society, depicting men as sexually driven, violent beings.[86]

A consequence of toxic masculinity is that most male rape victims would not come forward to the police or in a survey, out of feelings of shame. The male gender stereotype suggests that men should be tough enough to avoid rape, if raped by a man, or sexually driven enough to enjoy it, if raped by a woman. Men were less likely to report rape because they felt reporting it would undermine their masculinity. This was related to characteristics of submissiveness and weakness attributed to rape victims, opposite of gender stereotypes pertaining to men which focus on dominance and aggressiveness.[17][87][88] Like female victims, male victims also fear the stigmatization associated with rape. When they do report, they are often met with disbelief, dismissiveness or blame from police and other services.[88][89] In response to this, men are less likely than women to reveal the nature of the assault having been sexual or fail to mention any genital contact. They are also more likely to deny and hide how the attack affected them emotionally.[90] Male rape victims, in proportion to female victims, are more likely to be blamed for the incident because they are thought to be more capable of fighting back or getting away from their attacker.[88] Victims are also more likely to blame themselves for these same reasons.[89]

A study done by Michelle Davies and Samantha McCartney discusses why men are often blamed or stigmatized for their rape. They found that heterosexual men were more likely to blame the victim, show less empathy for the victim, deny or diminish the seriousness of the attack, and were more likely to believe rape myths than heterosexual women and homosexual men.[88] One reason for this is the societal pressure placed on men to be strong, tough, and assertive rather than passive, gentle and "feminine" as mentioned earlier.[17][87][88] Another cause for negative reaction toward male rape victims is linked to homophobia. Davies and McCartney and previous research has found a correlation between male victim blame and homophobia, since male rape involving a male rapist is (nonconsensual) sex between two men. The study also revealed that heterosexual men were more likely to be against the victim if the victim was perceived to be homosexual rather than heterosexual.[88] Homosexual men, similar to heterosexual women, were made to feel like they had "asked for it" based on their behavior.[89]

Men are more likely to believe myths about rape, dismiss the situation, or become assailants themselves because of the emphasis of what it means to be masculine in society.[17][37][87][88] Dianne Herman found that date rape was most likely to occur when a man had requested or initiated the date, the man paid for the date, the man drove, when drinking took place and when the couple found themselves alone. Because of the effort put into the date, men often felt entitled to some payment in the form of sexual gratification. When this did not happen, men felt it was more acceptable to rape. Herman claims that the American dating system emphasizes men as possessors of females, who can be seen as sexual objects ready to be "paid for."[37]

To dismantle rape culture would require the undoing of more than just the normalization and tolerance of sexual assault and rape. It would require addressing gender stereotypes in a patriarchal (male-dominated) society and relieving both genders from their pressures.[91] In a patriarchal society, men are expected to be dominant: strong, violent, sexual, and controlling. Women are expected to be submissive: weak, passive, decorative, and controllable. Men are socialized to believe they need to prove their masculinity by taking this control and dominating women. This is not only enforced by expectations of men to be dominant but also society's discouragement of men showing any emotions, vulnerability, or sensitivity.[37][87][88] Emma Watson, the UN Goodwill Ambassador for Women, said at the launch of HeForShe that enabling women to take control and be strong will allow men to relieve themselves of that responsibility, imposed on them by the toxic masculinity in a rape culture.[92]

This expectation is often traced back to cultural values of masculinity.[93] In the United States, for example, traditional concepts of masculinity are valued in men, considered to be based in the western frontier culture, as in America's ideal cowboy who uses violence and a tough persona to achieve respect. Jason Katz explores this concept in the widely acclaimed documentary "Tough Guise 2."[94] It analyzes the factors contributing to and the effects of gender violence. Part of American culture teaches boys that in order to be men, they must conform to this "box of masculinity," which perpetuates mantras such as: be tough, don't be emotional, don't be disrespected, be sexually aggressive, or take a hit. If a boy steps out of this box, especially in the tender years of puberty, he is shamed by peers as soft or weak, which teaches him that being feminine is wrong.[37]

Filmmaker Thomas Keith explained his thoughts on this with the his film The Bro Code: How Contemporary Culture Creates Sexist Men. Keith focuses on the sexual objectification of women that has occurred in America for decades. He states the American male culture teaches boys and men to dehumanize and disrespect women. Keith addresses several different forms of contemporary media, mainly focusing on movies and music videos that show womanizing as positive and acceptable behavior, pornography that glamorizes the brutalization of women, comedians who make jokes about rape and other forms of sexual assault, and a plethora of men's magazines, books, TV shows that portray their own archaic view of American masculinity and manhood. Keith posits that men's level of violence towards women has reached epidemic levels, and the media coverage and advertising suggest that it is not only normal, but it's cool, for boys and men to control and humiliate women.[95]

It’s early March, just days after the Internet has gone ballistic, when I meet Shiva for the first time. We’re in his office on the MIT campus and he’s eager to talk, exuding the patience of a teacher willing to explain things to a perplexed student. Wearing a black T-shirt under a dark-brown corduroy jacket, he’s in constant motion as we speak, using a whiteboard, drawing sketches on a pad, and pulling up articles on his laptop.

No matter what anyone says, he tells me, his EMAIL program was the first of its kind.

The ARPANET, he insists, was not created for the purpose of messaging. That much is agreed upon. In the 1998 bestseller Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet, Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon write that the “network was intended for resource-sharing, period.”

Most credit Ray Tomlinson of Cambridge-based BBN Technologies with being the first person, back in 1971, to send messages between computer terminals (he used the “@” sign to create an address). Dozens of others built upon Tomlinson’s work, devising their own methods of sharing notes on the network. Shiva describes those earlier systems—the MSGs, SNDMSGs, and other ARPANET programs—as merely “hacks,” or the equivalent of simply sending text messages back and forth. His system, on the other hand, was invented specifically for the office environment, with secretaries, not computer scientists, in mind. It was elegant, comprehensive, and easy to use. He argues that this whole controversy is an example of elitist, ivory-tower institutions wanting to control the story of innovation. Perhaps, but isn’t Shiva sitting at this very moment in an office in an ivory-tower institution, from which he’s received four degrees? He tells me that this whole thing is a “malevolent narrative” created to attack him for being different. His critics simply can’t accept that something remarkable could come out of a medical and dental school in New Jersey, never mind the fact that it was done by a teenager born in India. “When I claim I did it, and I can speak well, and I don’t look like a nerd, that’s seen as PR,” he says, his voice rising in anger. “That’s what’s interesting. And Ray Tomlinson is called humble. I’m sorry, but Ray Tomlinson didn’t create anything — he created the @ sign. He has to be humble.”

Shiva explains that he grew tired of being humble about his own role in creating e-mail after spending time in India in 2009 working for a government agency there that helped inventors launch companies. He quickly found the agency rife with corruption: Patents were stolen, innovation was stymied, and scientists toiled for years without ever getting credit for their work. So he wrote a 47-page memo, “CSIR-Tech: Path Forward,” and e-mailed it to some 4,000 scientists. The memo opened, bizarrely, with a poem dedicated to the agency’s scientists, who dream “to become next generation of innovators/That great India so sorely needs/To break from draconian past/And vainglorious visions/Seeking press and limelight of ‘I.’” From there, he described an organization with a “culture of sycophants” that was prone to “deflections and cover ups.”

Shiva says he was fired three days after sending out the document, and was kicked out of government housing and had his e-mail account turned off. His offense was violating an Indian law against sending “slanderous” e-mails.

His memo did become international news, but not for the reasons he’d hoped. Scientists decried his unprofessional conduct. Government officials claimed he’d demanded a tremendous salary. He tells me that threats were made against his life, forcing him to sneak out of the country by way of Nepal. His marriage dissolved in the months that followed. “I’ve been through a lot,” he says, his voice catching.

He may have been defeated in India, he tells me, but he’s not going quietly this time. “If they want a fight, they’re going to get a fight,” he says. “A freaking big fight.” He says he and Chomsky are preparing op-eds, which are scheduled to appear in the Post alongside counter-point pieces from Thomas Haigh and David Crocker. “They think they own the story line,” he says. “Now after this fight, I’m laying all claims to it … . We can bring in a thousand historians and they will prove in my favor.”

Over the next several weeks, I have conversations with several historians (though not thousands), all of whom are quick to point out that history is rife with stories of feuds between inventors (Alexander Graham Bell famously — some would say suspiciously — submitted the patent for a telephone on the very same day in 1876 as fellow inventor Elisha Gray). “This is an incredibly common story,” Deborah Douglas, the curator of science and technology at the MIT Museum, says of Shiva’s claims. “There is not a significant invention that has not been accompanied by virtually identical narratives of dissent and disagreement.”

Shiva dismisses this line of reasoning, directing me to the work of Tim Wu, who teaches copyright and communications law at the Columbia Law School. Wu’s book The Master Switch posits that the critical media inventions of recent centuries were the work of “lone inventors” and that “many revolutionary innovations start small, with outsiders, amateurs, and idealists in attics or garages.”

In Wu’s work, Shiva sees support for his claim to being the one true inventor of e-mail.
But while all the historians I spoke with were familiar with the history of messaging over ARPANET, none had heard of Shiva’s work prior to the controversy. When I ask whether Shiva could be the actual inventor, each of them can point to other programs that predate his system. For instance, Marc Weber, the founding curator of the Computer History Museum, tells me that “By modern standards, the number of people using electronic mail in 1978 was tiny, but the medium was getting mature.” By 1978, the year Shiva says he invented e-mail, the first spam message had already filtered through ARPANET channels, enraging the community. There were emoticons, mailing lists, and flame wars. “Nearly all of the features we’re familiar with today had appeared on one system or another over the previous dozen years,” Weber says. “I would not be surprised if, as a brilliant and motivated 14-year-old…he unknowingly reinvented many of the features of e-mail which had come before.”

Naturally, Shiva dismisses Weber’s opinion (and questions the depth of his knowledge). In fact, he claims Weber’s museum excluded him from its new e-mail history exhibit because he gave his papers to the Smithsonian instead. Throughout our many conversations, Shiva always pointed to his copyright in 1982 as the first time the phrase “e-mail” entered into the public domain: “If they were so brilliant or on top of it, why didn’t they call it e-mail?” he asks me one day. “They didn’t call it e-mail because it wasn’t e-mail.” (That too is debatable, as CompuServe was advertising a messaging program called Email as early as 1982.)

Shiva, in other words, is convinced that he fits the profile of Wu’s lone inventor. But does he? “Typically,” Wu tells me, “someone claims to have invented something before someone else, and their claim is to be the ‘actual’ inventor. In Shiva’s case, he claims that he invented something after it was invented, but just in a more profound way.”

Or, as Richard John, a communications historian at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, tells me, “If a bus had hit Shiva two years before he won the Westinghouse Prize, the history of e-mail would not have been changed a bit.”

It’s just moments before Shiva’s panel on “The Future of the Post Office” is about to begin at MIT, and he looks agitated. His brow is furrowed as he swivels his head, looking around the room. The truth is, I’m somewhat surprised, given all the controversy, that the Institute has gone forward with this event at all. Shiva’s detractors contacted several of the panelists, demanding that it be ­canceled to save the reputation of the school.

You can feel the tension in the room
as David Thorburn, director of MIT’s communications forum, steps to the podium.“I’ve received a number of thoughtful and sometimes not-so-thoughtful messages on e-mail in the past weeks from MIT alumni and others,” Thornburn says. “But today’s event is not about the history of e-mail, nor about Shiva himself. It’s about the future of the post office.”

Shiva walks up to the podium, thanks Thorburn, and reiterates his statement. “This is not about me,” he says. The session goes off without incident. Williams, the post office’s inspector general, is on the panel, and so is Columbia’s Richard John. No mention is made of the controversy, and when the video is posted online, David Thorburn’s opening comments have been edited out.

When I visit Shiva at his Belmont home one afternoon a few weeks later, the rooms are devoid of personal effects, save for a suitcase in the living room that his mother, who died this past January, left him. It’s stuffed with his papers, prizes, and awards. Shiva is quiet, and he picks at his plate of food as he looks out the huge plate-glass windows of his dining room.

His life has begun to unravel. MIT may have gone ahead with his panel, but since then his speaking engagements have been canceled, the funding for his EMAIL lab has evaporated, and his contract to lecture in MIT’s bioengineering department has been revoked. And those op-eds he and Chomsky wrote never ran in the Post.

Kolawole has invited two experts, Thomas Haigh, a history of technology expert at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and Dave Crocker, one of the fathers of the Internet, to write their own pieces for The Post’s Innovations blog on the history of e-mail. And Ayyadurai is going to write his own piece on his early “EMAIL” program. Kolawole will also be revising her original piece to reflect the record accurately.

We hope that sets the record straight and gets The Post back to where it needs to be, on the side of truth and accuracy.

-- Origins of e-mail: My mea culpa, by Patrick B. Pexton

Shiva says he’s angry at the media for succumbing to pressure from the geeks. He’s also angry at the MIT administration for failing to stand by him. He recently lashed out in an e-mail to William Uricchio, the director of MIT’s comparative media studies program: “My name is SHIT on the Internet. My institution simply let me get fucked, and walked away out of fear that their reputation was getting ruined by associating with a ‘fraud …. ’ You and other academics can have armchair discussions all day on the notion of ‘innovation’ versus ‘invention.’ There is no theory here — I created EMAIL. The facts are there.”

All is not lost for Shiva, though. The Postal Service has given Shiva a contract to continue sharing his ideas on e-mail management. But that’s done little to dampen his sense that he’s been wronged. So Shiva and his teaching assistant, Devon Sparks, have begun a quixotic quest to fight the institutional giants he says are attempting to “steal” his story. They’ve assembled a dossier of the attacks against him, and have examined every messaging program that existed prior to his own to demonstrate exactly how his system is unique. Shiva insists that Crocker, Haigh, and others have twisted the facts in an elaborate effort to make sure their version of history gets told. The way Shiva sees it, “Crocker is just a liar. They’re making stuff up on their websites.” Further evidence of the conspiracy came in late April, when the Internet Society announced that Ray Tomlinson was being inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame for his e-mail work. Shiva insinuates to me that the Internet Society created the hall of fame to further discredit him. It wasn’t until just this February, he points out, that the URL was registered.

At press time, Shiva and his attorney, John Bradley, were preparing letters to send to his detractors. “People are trying to reinvent how the Internet and e-mail came to us. And we can’t reinvent history,” Bradley tells me. “Very shortly, people will be put on notice, and we will give them all a chance to retract what they said.”

I call up Shiva’s sister, Uma ­Dhanabalan, a doctor in Seattle. “I worry about him,” she tells me. But she believes him, and believes the rest of the world will one day realize the truth. “Shiva is the name of the lord of creation and destruction in the Hindu religion,” she says. “And Shiva” — her brother — “is truly the creator. He will fight for destruction if it means fighting for justice. And he will die in that fight for justice, at any cost.”
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Thu Feb 02, 2017 12:41 am

A Brief History of Email in the Federal Government. It’s been a busy 42 years for email, thanks in part to the government.
by Jimmy Daly
July 15, 2013



Email wasn’t exactly invented. It evolved from a simple protocol for sending very small files into the core of professional and personal communication. Along the way, a few key individuals set the stage for the modern Internet. The government has a rich history of innovation in the technology space, and email is an important part of that timeline. Here are a few key moments in the government’s history of email.

1971: Ray Tomlinson sends the first email.

Working for MIT, Tomlinson is credited with sending the first exchange of text between two computers. No one truly understood the importance of what Tomlinson had done. “A colleague suggested that I not tell my boss what I had done because email wasn't in our statement of work,” he said in an interview posted on BBN Technologies.

1973: Email accounted for 75 percent of ARPANET traffic.

Well, that was fast. ARPANET was the first network to adopt TCP/IP protocol and is considered the main predecessor to the commercial Internet we know today. ARPANET research was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a branch of the Defense Department.

1978: The United States Post Office was this close.

The post office recognized early on that electronic communication was a threat to traditional mail. The agency began a program to compete with email as early as 1978. Known as E-COM, the program allowed users to send electronic mail to a post office branch. From there, it was printed and hand-delivered. In 1982, the Government Accountability Office predicted the incredible impact of email very accurately (PDF download):

It seems clear that two-thirds or more of the mainstream could be handled electronically, and that the volume of mail is likely to peak in the next 10 years and fall below today’s level sometime in the 1990’s.

The E-COM program operated from 1982 until its closure in 1985.

1984: Dot-gov and dot-mil become the standard.

As electronic communication become more popular and the Internet grew, it became evident that more top-level domains were needed:

While the initial domain name "ARPA" arises from the history of the development of this system and environment, in the future most of the top-level names will be very general categories like "government", "education", or "commercial". The motivation is to provide an organization name that is free of undesirable semantics.

In the early years, DARPA was the administrator of all top-level domains, but responsibility was spread out over time.

1988: Microsoft releases its first email client, Microsoft Mail.

1991: NASA sends the first email in space.

A Macintosh Portable was used to send the first email from space. Astronauts Shannon Lucid and James Adamson, aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, sent this message back to earth:

"Hello Earth ! Greetings from the STS-43 Crew. This is the first AppleLink from space. Having a GREAT time, wish you were here,... send cry, and CS! Have a nice day...... Haste la vista, baby,... we'll be back!"

Now, astronauts are moving beyond email. Chris Hadfield, for example, created a music video for YouTube while on the International Space Station.

2009: Barack Obama is the first President to use a BlackBerry.

Leading up to his inauguration, President Obama had to fight for his right to continue using his BlackBerry. His wish was granted, but his device was replaced with a more secure model, according to the New York Times:

“The president has a BlackBerry through a compromise that allows him to stay in touch with senior staff and a small group of personal friends,” said Robert Gibbs, his spokesman, “in a way that use will be limited and that the security is enhanced to ensure his ability to communicate.”

First, only a select circle of people will have his address, creating a true hierarchy for who makes the cut and who does not.

Second, anyone placed on the A-list to receive his e-mail address must first receive a briefing from the White House counsel’s office.

Third, messages from the president will be designed so they cannot be forwarded.

2010: The GSA is the first agency to move email to the cloud.

The General Services Administration led the way to the cloud by beginning a migration of 17,000 users. They chose Google Apps for Government, which costs about $5 per employee per month, resulting in a reduction of email operating costs by 50 percent and a projected savings of $15 million over five years.

Are there any important developments in the history of email that we missed? Let us know in the Comments section or on Twitter.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Thu Feb 02, 2017 12:59 am

Case 1:16-cv-10853-JCB Document 1 Filed 05/10/16


SHIVA AYYADURAI, an individual,
GAWKER MEDIA, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company; SAM BIDDLE, an individual, JOHN COOK, an individual, NICHOLAS GUIDO ANTHONY DENTON, an individual, and DOES 1-20,



Plaintiff Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, by and through his undersigned attorneys, sues Defendants Gawker Media, LLC, Sam Biddle, John Cook, Nicholas Guido Anthony Denton, and DOES 1-20 (collectively, “Defendants”), and respectfully makes the following allegations.


1. Dr. Ayyadurai is a world-renowned scientist, inventor, lecturer, philanthropist and entrepreneur. In 1978, Dr. Ayyadurai invented email: the electronic mail system as we know it today. On November 15, 2011, TIME magazine published an article titled “The Man Who Invented Email,” which outlines the backstory of email and Dr. Ayyadurai’s invention. In June 2012, Wired magazine reported: “Email … the electronic version of the interoffice, interorganizational mail system, the email we all experience today, was invented in 1978 by [Dr. Ayyadurai] …. The facts are indisputable.” In July 2015, CBS reported on The Henry Ford Innovation Nation, hosted by Mo Rocca: “Next time your fingers hit the keyboard to write a quick email, you might want to say, thank you to Shiva Ayyadurai…. he is credited with inventing email …. in the late 1970s.”

2. Dr. Ayyadurai holds four degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, an M.S. in Visual Studies, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering. Dr. Ayyadurai has been recognized internationally for his developments in early social media portals, email management technologies, and contributions to medicine and biology. He has been a speaker at numerous international forums, where he has discussed email, science and technology, among other topics. Dr. Ayyadurai also operates his own research and education center: the International Center for Integrative Systems in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

3. In 2012, Defendants published two false and highly defamatory articles about Dr. Ayyadurai on their website at to discredit Dr. Ayyadurai’s invention. The articles falsely trace the origin of email and call Dr. Ayyadurai a liar, a “fraud” and responsible for “a misinformation campaign.” In 2014, Defendants again published a defamatory article about Dr. Ayyadurai, this time on their website, calling Dr. Ayyadurai a “fraud,” a “renowned liar,” and a “big fake,” among other things. These statements are all demonstrably false.

4. Defendants’ false and defamatory statements have caused substantial damage to Dr. Ayyadurai’s personal and professional reputation and career. As a result of Defendants’ defamation, Dr. Ayyadurai has been publicly humiliated, lost business contracts and received a slew of criticism relating to Defendants’ false accusations and statements. Defendants’ wrongful acts, which have been repeated, have left Dr. Ayyadurai with no alternative but to file this lawsuit. Dr. Ayyadurai seeks an award of no less than $35 million in damages.


5. Plaintiff is a resident and domiciliary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, County of Middlesex.

6. Upon information and belief, Gawker Media, LLC (“Gawker”) is a Delaware limited liability company with its principal place of business located in New York City, New York.

7. Upon information and belief, defendant Sam Biddle (“Biddle”) is an individual, domiciled in the State of New York. At all relevant times, Biddle was a senior staff writer at Gawker.

8. Upon information and belief, defendant John Cook (“Cook”) is an individual, domiciled in the State of New York. At relevant times, Cook was an editor and writer at Gawker.

9. Upon information and belief, defendant Nicholas Guido Anthony Denton aka “Nick Denton” (“Denton”) is an individual, domiciled in the State of New York. At all relevant times, Denton was Founder and CEO of Gawker.

10. Upon information and belief, Defendants, and each of them, were and are the agents, licensees, employees, partners, joint-venturers, co-conspirators, owners, principals, and employers of the remaining Defendants and each of them are, and at all times mentioned herein were, acting within the course and scope of that agency, license, partnership, employment, conspiracy, ownership, or joint venture. Upon further information and belief, the acts and conduct herein alleged of each of the Defendants were known to, authorized by, and/or ratified by the other Defendants, and each of them.


11. This Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendants because they have minimum contacts with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

12. The Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) because there is complete diversity of the parties to this action and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.

13. Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), in that a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred here.



14. In or about 1978, Dr. Ayyadurai created email: a computer program that created an electronic version of a paper-based interoffice mail system, which allowed mail to be sent electronically. Like the email we use today, Dr. Ayyadurai’s invention offered many features for users, such as, to send electronic mail messages to an “inbox,” save sent messages in an “outbox,” add “attachments,” and allow users to create an “address book” that included email addresses of multiple individuals.[

15. Dr. Ayyadurai invented email while working as a Research Fellow at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. His role there was to design an electronic system to mirror the features of the interoffice (or inter-organizational) paper mail system, which consisted of the Inbox, Outbox, Drafts, Folders, Memo, Attachments, Carbon Copies, Blind Carbon Copies) (i.e., “To:,” “From:,” “Date:,” “Subject:,” “Body:,” “Cc:,” “Bcc:”), Return Receipt, Address Book, Groups, Forward, Compose, Edit, Reply, Delete, Archive, Sort, Bulk Distribution, etc. These features are now the familiar parts of every modern email system.

16. The invention of email was made by Dr. Ayyadurai as an attempt to manage the complexity of interoffice communications, and also to reduce the use of paper documents. Dr. Ayyadurai designed email so it was accessible to ordinary people with little or no computer experience, at a time when mainly highly-trained technical people could use a computer.

17. Dr. Ayyadurai wrote nearly 50,000 lines of computer code to implement the features of the interoffice mail system into his computer program.

18. Dr. Ayyadurai named his computer program “email”. He was the first person to create this term, because he was inventing the “electronic” (or “e”) version of the interoffice paper-based “mail” system. His naming of “email” also arose out of the limited parameters of the programming language and operating system, which limited program names to all capital letters and a five-character limit. Thus, his selection of the letters “E” “M” “A” “I” and “L.”

19. At the time of Dr. Ayyadurai’s invention of email, software inventions could not be protected through software patents. It was not until 1994 that the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that computer programs were patentable as the equivalent of a “digital machine.” However, the Computer Software Act of 1980 allowed software inventions to be protected to a certain extent, by copyright. Therefore, in or about 1981, Dr. Ayyadurai registered his invention with the U.S. Copyright Office. On August 30, 1982, Dr. Ayyadurai was legally recognized by the United States government as the inventor of email through the issuance of the first Copyright registration for “Email,” “Computer Program for Electronic Mail System.” With that U.S. Copyright of the system, the word “email” entered the English language.1

20. In summary, Dr. Ayyadurai was the first to convert the paper-based interoffice mail system (inbox, outbox, folders, attachments, etc.) to its electronic version; the first to call it “email”; and received the first U.S. Copyright for email that legally recognized Dr. Ayyadurai as the inventor of email.

21. On or about November 15, 2011, TIME magazine published an article titled “The Man Who Invented Email,” which outlines the history of email and Dr. Ayyadurai’s invention. The article states that “email – as we currently know it – was born” when Dr. Ayyadurai created it replicating an interoffice mail system at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, New Jersey. The article states that “the original system was set up for doctors to communicate electronically using the [physical] template they were already used to” and the interface “hasn’t changed all that much” in becoming the email system we know and use today. The TIME article also states that in “1981, Shiva took honors at the Westinghouse Science Awards for his ‘High Reliability, Network-Wide, Electronic Mail System’” and that in 1982 he “won a White House competition for developing a system to automatically analyze and sort email messages.”

22. In June 2012, Wired magazine reported that: “Email … the electronic version of the interoffice, inter-organizational mail system, the email we all experience today, was invented in 1978 by [Dr. Ayyadurai] …. The facts are indisputable.”

23. In July 2015, CBS reported on The Henry Ford Innovation Nation, hosted by Mo Rocca: “Next time your fingers hit the keyboard to write a quick email, you might want to say, thank you to Shiva Ayyadurai.... he is credited with inventing email…. in the late 1970s.”


24. On or about February 22, 2012, Defendants published on their website,, an article authored by Mario Aguilar with the headline: “The Inventor of Email Did Not Invent Email?” (the “February 2012 Article”), a copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit A. The February 2012 Article falsely states: “Ayyadurai is a fraud.”

25. On or about March 5, 2012, Defendants published on a lengthy story authored by Sam Biddle with the headline: “Corruption, Lies, and Death Threats: The Crazy Story of the Man Who Pretended to Invent Email” (the “March 2012 Article”), a copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit B. The March 2012 Article contains multiple false statements of fact about Dr. Ayyadurai which Defendants knew to be false at the time the March 2012 Article was written and published.

26. The false statements of fact in the March 2012 Article include, among others:

a) Dr. Ayyadurai engaged in “tricks, falsehoods, and a misinformation campaign.”

b) Dr. Ayyadurai is engaged in “revisionism” with respect to his claims of invention of email.

27. On or about September 8, 2014, Defendants published on (another website owned and operated by Gawker) a story authored by Sam Biddle with the headline: “If Fran Drescher Read Gizmodo She Would Not Have Married This Fraud” (the “2014 Article”), a copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit C. The story, from the outset in the title, falsely states that Dr. Ayyadurai is a “fraud,” and also states that he is a “renowned liar who pretends he invented email” and a “fake.”

28. The forgoing false statements of fact were made by Defendants with the knowledge that they were false and likely to harm Dr. Ayyadurai’s personal and professional reputation and business. The false and libelous statements in the February 2012 Article and the March 2012 Article (together, the “2012 Articles”), along with those in the 2014 Article, had the foreseeable effect of severely harming Dr. Ayyadurai’s personal and professional reputation and business.

29. In or about 2009, Dr. Ayyadurai entered into a contract with MIT as a lecturer. His position automatically renewed annually. In or about 2012, Dr. Ayyadurai’s lectureship was rescinded for the 2012-2013 school year. This was the first time his contract did not renew after he had lectured at MIT for three years.

30. In or about 2012, Dr. Ayyadurai was asked by MIT professors not to speak about email at an MIT Communications Forum in March 2012, which Dr. Ayyadurai had organized.

31. In or around the time, Dr. Ayyadurai was running one of the most popular elective courses at MIT called Systems Visualization; was in the midst of garnering contracts for his research center; and was the Director of a new initiative at MIT. After Defendants posted the 2012 Articles, MIT disavowed its relationship with the MIT EMAIL LAB; cancelled Dr. Ayyadurai’s class and revoked its support for his new initiative; and funders disappeared and reneged on their contracts, citing the negative press and its impact on their brand through their affiliation with Dr. Ayyadurai.

32. On or about February 16, 2012, The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. had acquired documentation, including computer code and copyright information from Dr. Ayyadurai to profile his work in inventing email. The display was set to launch later in 2012, but was cancelled without explanation after Defendants’ publication of the 2012 Articles.

33. Dr. Ayyadurai lost numerous other opportunities in and after 2014, following Defendants’ publication of the 2014 Article.

34. Defendants knew that, by publishing the 2012 Articles and the 2014 Article, other media publications would publish similar stories, and repeat Defendants’ statements in the 2012 Articles and the 2014 Article. Numerous publications did in fact publish similar stories, citing to Defendants’ (false) statements in the 2012 Articles and the 2014 Article which called into question Dr. Ayyadurai’s invention and his overall character. These other publications included, among others: an October 17, 2013 article in Business Insider titled “Fran Drescher Is Dating The Guy Who Says He Invented Email”, and a March 5, 2012 article in The Verge titled “Exposing the self-proclaimed ‘inventor of email’”.

35. Prior to the publication of the 2012 Articles, Dr. Ayyadurai was an avid speaker at events around the world. With Defendants’ publication of the 2012 Articles and the 2014 Article, Dr. Ayyadurai has been deliberately attacked as an inventor and a scientist, and has lost numerous paid speaking engagements and lectureships. The articles also have negatively and significantly affected his ability to purse new opportunities and acquire investment for his new inventions—an important source of his livelihood as an inventor and entrepreneur.


36. Plaintiff contends that actual malice is not required to be shown to prove the claims herein. However, in the event that actual malice were to be determined to be a requirement, the allegations in this Complaint, including the allegations below, demonstrate actual malice. Moreover, discovery has not yet commenced and Plaintiff expects to obtain through discovery additional evidence that would support actual malice.

37. Gawker is a company that routinely engages in wrongful conduct, and specifically, writes and publishes false and defamatory statements about people, invades people’s privacy and other rights, and publishes content that is irresponsible and that no other legitimate publication will publish.

38. Gawker has been sued multiple times for defamation, including currently in an action in New York State Court, by the Daily Mail newspaper, and in an action in California by an individual named Charles Johnson, for writing and publishing false and unsubstantiated rumors that Mr. Johnson had been involved in misconduct and criminal activity.

39. Gawker also has been sued repeatedly for invading the privacy of others. Gawker recently lost a case filed by Terry Bollea, professionally known as “Hulk Hogan,” for publishing an illegal, secretly recorded video showing the wrestler naked and having consensual sexual relations in a private bedroom. In March 2016, a Florida jury awarded Hulk Hogan $115 million in compensatory damages plus $15 million, $10 million and $100,000, respectively, in punitive damages against Gawker, Denton and former editor, A.J. Daulerio.

40. Gawker also was sued by, and paid a substantial settlement to, actress Rebecca Gayheart and her husband, actor Eric Dane, for publishing a stolen private video of them partially nude in a hot tub.

41. Gawker has also been sued for copyright infringement, including by Dr. Phil’s production company after Gawker planned to “steal,” and eventually aired, portions of an interview before it aired on Dr. Phil’s television show.

42. Gawker also published a video of a clearly intoxicated young woman engaged in sexual activity on the men’s bathroom floor of an Indiana sports bar (the footage was taken by another patron with his mobile phone). According to published reports, Gawker callously refused to remove the footage from its site for some time, despite repeated pleas from the woman and despite the fact that it was not clear if the sex was consensual or if the video was footage of a rape in progress.

43. Gawker paid a source for a photograph of what the source claimed was NFL quarterback Brett Favre’s penis. Gawker published the uncensored photo and reported that it showed Mr. Favre’s penis.

44. Gawker published photos of Duchess Kate Middleton’s bare breasts, captured by a paparazzi’s telephoto lens while she was sunbathing in a secluded, private location.

45. Gawker published complete, uncensored, and unedited videos of seven innocent individuals being beheaded by ISIS soldiers. The videos were distributed by ISIS for the purpose of terrorizing the Western world. On information and belief, Gawker was the only established media company to publish these videos in full and uncensored, showing the victims being beheaded. Gawker was criticized severely by the press and terrorism experts for furthering the terror campaign of ISIS, and showing a total lack of regard for the families of these victims.

46. Gawker hacked a promotional campaign sponsored by Coca-Cola, in which the company utilized the hashtag “#MakeItHappy.” The campaign was originally designed to allow people to type statements into a decoder, and the decoder converted the statements into positive, happy statements. Gawker’s hack caused the campaign to publish highly offensive statements from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Gawker was resoundingly criticized throughout the media for its actions.

47. Gawker attempted to publicly “out” a private male individual, who is a media executive at a rival publishing company, by publishing a story alleging that the executive had attempted to solicit a male porn star and prostitute. Gawker’s actions in publishing these allegations, including identifying the executive by name and the company he worked for, publishing the accusations of the gay porn star, and protecting the identity of the porn star “source,” were severely criticized throughout the media industry. As a result, multiple major advertisers began to pull their advertising from Gawker; Gawker then removed the story; and a few days later two senior executives at Gawker promptly resigned their positions. Following these events, several more executives and employees resigned or were terminated.

48. In the past year, seven of the nine most senior executives at Gawker and resigned: Chief Operating Officer Scott Kidder, Chief Strategy Officer Erin Pettigrew, Chief Technology Officer Tom Plunkett, Editorial Chief Tommy Craggs, President of Advertising Andrew Gorenstein, SVP of Global Sales and Partnerships Michael Kuntz and Editor-in-Chief of Max Reid. Of the original Executive Board from one year ago, only CEO/Founder Denton and General Counsel Heather Dietrick remain at the company. (Gawker had no CFO during this time.)

49. In November 2015, former Gawker staff writer, Dayna Evans, published an article titled: “On Gawker’s Problem With Women” (“the Evans Article”) in which Evans exposes gender inequalities within the company as well as an endemic of reporting failures and failures of journalistic ethics. The Evans Article states that the company’s reporting tactics “can lead to dismissiveness and insensitivity, harm and marginalization, often unforgettable and unforgivable damage.” The Evans Article further states that writers and editors at the company “are in fact REWARDED and admired for their recklessness and immaturity, a recklessness and immaturity, that, as you know, has gotten the company in heaps of trouble over the past couple of years.” The Evans Article goes on to state that the above assertions are true, “especially so at a place like Gawker, where bylines are associated with traffic and traffic is associated with success.”


50. In or about 2010, Gawker and Denton hired Biddle as a writer for Gawker’s technology focused website, Biddle was subsequently promoted to editor at

51. Biddle’s professed goal is to destroy people’s reputations and lives on the Internet, under the banner of journalism. In 2010, Biddle wrote: “Is it petty to not share in the happiness of someone else’s success? Is it petty to wish—to beg, even, knuckles blistering, eyes bloodshot, beseeching each god—for their horrific downfall.” Biddle reinforced this philosophy in April 2014 when he stated that he would “like to have a 20-to-1 ratio of ruining people’s days versus making them” and that he writes the types of articles he does because “I like attention.”

52. In 2013, Biddle published at Gawker a tweet sent out by a private media executive which contained a joke made in bad taste. Biddle’s sharing of the tweet caused the executive to lose her job and be subject to widespread scorn and ridicule. Biddle admitted that his publication of the tweet caused “an incredibly disproportionate personal disaster” for the executive.

53. Also in 2013, Biddle wrote a post at Gawker that took the comments of a venture capitalist out of context and made implicit accusations of racism.

54. In March 2014, Biddle sanctioned an article by a junior writer which compared a dating website to WWII Comfort Women. The article received severe criticism throughout the national media.

55. In October 2014, during National Bullying Prevention Month, Biddle sent out distasteful tweets through his Twitter account that supported bullying, stating: “Nerds should be constantly shamed and degraded into submission” and that society should “Bring Back Bullying.” The tweets and fallout that ensued caused several companies to withdraw advertising from Gawker. Gawker executives admitted that Biddle’s tweets, and the lost advertisers that followed, cost Gawker at least $1 million in advertising revenue.

56. In late 2015, Biddle wrote an article about his use and abuse of narcotics, including his substantial consumption of benzodiazepines, anti-depressants and SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Biddle’s drug abuse was well-known at Gawker, including by Denton and Cook, and they nevertheless continued to employ Biddle, promote him, reward him, and assign him to write articles about people.


57. Defendants have shown little interest in reporting the truth to the public, or investigating the facts underlying a story, or for that matter telling the truth to its readers. Defendants routinely make up lies about the subjects of their stories—Dr. Ayyadurai being one of many—with little or no regard to the substantial consequences that their false statements have on the subjects of their stories. The impact is serious and real. Defendants destroy personal and professional reputations and careers as a matter of routine.

58. In or about June 2009, Denton was interviewed by The Washington Post, and told the reporter: “We don't seek to do good. We may inadvertently do good. We may inadvertently commit journalism. [Spoken as if it were a crime.] That is not the institutional intention.” (emphasis added).

59. Gawker’s philosophy and practice is to publish false scandal, for the purpose of profit, knowing that false scandal drives readership, which in turn drives revenue, and without regard to the innocent subjects of their stories whose careers are destroyed in the process.

60. This is the situation here: Defendants’ false statements in the articles at issue had the effect of so severely discrediting Dr. Ayyadurai—based on the false statement that he is a “fraud”—that Dr. Ayyadurai’s career was severely damaged. As a direct result of Defendants’ publication of the false and defamatory statements about Dr. Ayyadurai, on information and belief, Dr. Ayyadurai has lost teaching positions at MIT, lost several paid speaking engagements at the time and in the future, lost an accolade and display dedicated to his invention at the Smithsonian Institute, lost contracts and renewals, lost opportunities for investment in his emerging companies, suffered substantial personal and professional reputational harm, and suffered substantial harm to his career, business and income.

61. According to and, more than 195,100 people have read the 2014 Article that Defendants wrote and published; more than 87,900 people have read the February 2012 Article that Defendants wrote and published; more than 215,100 people have read the March 2012 Article that Defendants wrote and published; and presumably all of those readers have spoken to others about the stories. Moreover, the 2014 Article embeds the March 2012 Article directly in the center of the 2014 Article, summarizes it, and includes a hyperlink to the March 2012 Article, with a prominent display of the title of the March 2012 article along with a photo of Dr. Ayyadurai, and urges readers to read it. The March 2012 Article embeds the February 2012 Article directly in its center and includes a hyperlink to the February 2012 Article. Further, when the 2012 Articles were embedded into the 2014 Article, they were directed to a different audience and readership: readers of, versus readers of Therefore, in September 2014, Defendants republished the 2012 Articles, originally published on, by directing them to a new audience of readers and multiplying the damage done to Dr. Ayyadurai.

62. As a result of Defendants’ wrongful actions, anyone who searches Dr. Ayyadurai at Google or other search engine will see Defendants’ false and libelous stories about him in the first page of search results across the world. As a result, anyone who would otherwise have hired or partnered with Dr. Ayyadurai likely will decline, and have declined, to do so, believing Defendants’ false and libelous statements about him to be true. These statements also resulted in a wave of efforts by others to discredit Dr. Ayyadurai and erase him from the history of electronic communications such as Walter Isaacson’s book on Internet pioneers, The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution; attacks on Wikipedia that remove reference to his contributions, and discrediting his other ongoing scientific contributions unrelated to email technology. Defendants’ actions foreseeably caused such results.

63. Defendants are guilty of intentional misconduct. Defendants had actual knowledge of the wrongfulness of the conduct described herein and the high probability that injury or damage to Plaintiff would result and, despite that knowledge, intentionally pursued that course of conduct, resulting in substantial injury and damage to Dr. Ayyadurai.

64. Defendants’ conduct was so reckless or wanting in care that it constituted a conscious disregard or indifference to Dr. Ayyadurai’s rights.

65. Defendants’ actions described herein also have had the foreseeable effect of causing severe emotional distress to Dr. Ayyadurai, and did cause him to suffer severe emotional distress.

66. In 2014, Defendants continued their wrongful actions of 2012 when they published the defamatory 2014 Article about Dr. Ayyadurai, and linked readers to the March 2012 Article, which again linked to the February 2012 Article.

67. Dr. Ayyadurai requests herein all available legal and equitable remedies, to the maximum extent permissible by law, including without limitation compensatory damages in an amount not less than Thirty-Five Million Dollars ($35,000,000), and punitive damages.

(Against All Defendants Except Denton)

68. Plaintiff hereby repeats and realleges each and every allegation set forth in paragraphs 1 through 67 of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

69. As described herein, the February 2012 Article arises to the level of defamation per se, in that it falsely states that “[Dr.] Ayyadurai is a fraud.”

70. As described herein, the March 2012 Article falsely alleges that:

a) Dr. Ayyadurai engaged in “semantic tricks, falsehoods, and a misinformation campaign.”

b) Dr. Ayyadurai is engaged in “revisionism” in his claim of invention of email.

71. As described herein, the 2014 Article arises to the level of defamation per se, by stating that Dr. Ayyadurai is a “fraud,” thus falsely accusing Dr. Ayyadurai of a crime and causing prejudice to his personal and professional reputation and business.

72. The 2014 Article also falsely states:

a) Dr. Ayyadurai is a “renowned liar” with respect to his statements that he invented email,

b) Dr. Ayyadurai is a “big fake,” and

c) Dr. Ayyadurai is engaged in “cyber-lies.”

73. These false statements wrongly accuse Dr. Ayyadurai of having made statements and acted in a manner that would subject him to hatred, distrust, contempt, aversion, ridicule and disgrace in the minds of a substantial number in the community, and were calculated to harm his social and business relationships, and did harm his social and business relationships.

74. The statements made intentionally, purposefully and with actual malice by Defendants were false and no applicable privilege or authorization protecting the statements can attach to them.

75. Plaintiff has been seriously damaged as a direct and proximate cause of the falsity of the statements made by Defendants in an amount to be determined at trial. The false statements attribute conduct, characteristics and conditions incompatible with the proper exercise of Plaintiff’s business and duties as an inventor, scientist and entrepreneur. Because the statements were widely disseminated on the Internet, they were also likely and intended to hold the Plaintiff up to ridicule and to damage his social and business relationships.

76. The above-quoted published statements constitute egregious conduct constituting moral turpitude. As such, in addition to compensatory damages and/or presumed damages, Plaintiff demands punitive damages relating to Defendants’ making of the above-quoted defamatory statements, in an amount to be determined at trial.

Intentional Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage
(Against All Defendants Except Denton)

77. Plaintiff hereby repeats and realleges each and every allegation set forth in paragraphs 1 through 76 of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

78. Defendants knew that Plaintiff, being an MIT professor/lecturer, scientist, inventor, business owner and entrepreneur, had business relationships that were ongoing during the time of Defendants’ publications, and had a reasonable expectation of entering into valid business relationships with additional individuals and entities, including with companies and universities, which would have been completed had it not been for Defendants’ wrongful acts.

79. Defendants acted solely out of malice and/or used dishonest, unfair or improper means to interfere with Plaintiff’s actual and prospective business relationships, before they defamed him.

80. Defendants, through the misconduct alleged herein, intended to harm Plaintiff by intentionally and unjustifiably interfering with his actual and prospective business relationships.

81. Defendants have seriously damaged Plaintiff’s actual and prospective business relationships as a direct and proximate cause of these acts.

82. The above-described conduct is egregious and constitutes moral turpitude. As such, in addition to compensatory damages and/or presumed damages, Plaintiff demands punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
(Against All Defendants Except Denton)

83. Plaintiff hereby repeats and realleges each and every allegation set forth in paragraphs 1 through 82 of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

84. Defendants intentionally wrote the 2012 Articles and posted them to the website, and again intentionally wrote and published the 2014 Article to the website to humiliate, defame and embarrass Dr. Ayyadurai.

85. Defendants’ posting of the articles was extreme and outrageous in that the contents falsely accuse him of being a fraud and lying about his professional accomplishments and career.

86. Dr. Ayyadurai has suffered severe emotional distress as a result of the content written in the articles and the ramifications the false content has had on his personal life and professional reputation have been immense.

87. The above-described conduct is egregious and constitutes moral turpitude. As such, in addition to compensatory damages and/or presumed damages, Plaintiff demands punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial.

Negligent Hiring and Retention
(Against Denton and Cook)

88. Plaintiff hereby repeats and realleges each and every allegation set forth in paragraphs 1 through 87 of this Complaint as if fully set forth herein.

89. At all times relevant to the allegations herein, Biddle was engaged in the abuse of multiple drugs including benzodiazepines, anti-depressants and SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), while employed at Gawker and particularly during the time that he wrote the 2014 Article.

90. At all relevant times, Denton and Cook knew or should have known of Biddle’s open and continuing abuse of such drugs, and the impact that it was having on his mental health, and the caustic and reckless articles that Biddle was writing about people as a result.

91. At all relevant times, Denton and Cook also knew or should have known that Biddle sought to libel and destroy the lives of the subjects of his reporting. In connection with Biddle’s reporting, Gawker and its executives, including Denton and Cook, received outcry and criticism about Biddle and his articles, while Biddle was employed with them.

92. Denton and Cook failed to take reasonable care in the hiring and/or retention of Biddle.

93. Denton and Cook placed Biddle in a position to cause foreseeable harm to others (including Dr. Ayyadurai) by placing Biddle and retaining him in the position of Senior Writer.

94. The above-described conduct is egregious and constitutes moral turpitude. As such, in addition to compensatory damages and/or presumed damages, Plaintiff demands punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial.


Plaintiff demands a trial by jury.


WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Shiva Ayyadurai respectfully requests:

1. An award of damages to Plaintiff in an amount to be determined at trial, but in all events not less than Thirty-Five Million Dollars ($35,000,000);

2. An award of punitive damages to Plaintiff in an amount to be determined at trial;

3. An order requiring Defendants to make a public retraction of the false statements;

4. An order granting preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to prevent defendants from making further defamatory statements about Plaintiff; and

5. An award of such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

Dated: May 10, 2016

Respectfully submitted,

By: /s/ Timothy Cornell
Timothy Cornell, BBO # 654412
One International Place, Suite 1400
Boston, MA 02110
Tel: (617) 535-7763
Fax: (617) 535-7721
By: /s/ Charles J. Harder
Charles J. Harder, Esq.
(Pro Hac Vice application to be filed)
132 S. Rodeo Drive, Suite 301
Beverly Hills, California 90212
Tel. (424) 203-1600
Counsel for Plaintiff


1 “Email” as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The Online Etymology Dictionary lists “email” as entering the language in 1982, when Dr. Ayyadurai’s Copyright was registered.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Thu Feb 02, 2017 1:54 am

Corruption, Lies, and Death Threats: The Crazy Story Of The Man Who Pretended To Invent Email
Sam Biddle
Mar. 6, 2012




Shiva Ayyadurai, is a shimmering intellectual. He holds four degrees from MIT (where he lectures), numerous patents, honors, and awards. He also says he invented email, and there's a global conspiracy against him.

Guess which one of these statements is true.

In 1978, a precocious 14-year-old from New Jersey invented email. You can see him doing it in the photo at the top right of your screen—the kid glued to his monitor. In that picture, he's busy showing off his creation—a way for office staff to message each other via computer. As he's happy to gab to the Washington Post, which recently ran a profile of him, Ayyadurai was a teen wonder who invented the electronic messaging system with which we all communicate, back in 1978.

Ayyadurai's collection of "historical documents" is now to be interred at the Smithsonian, the Post reported, laid gloriously on the pillar of American history alongside artifacts of Occidental Civilization such as Dizzy Gillespie's trumpet, Thomas Jefferson's Bible, and a 1903 Winton, "the first car driven across the United States." Ayyadurai is about to become more than just a gifted programmer and Professional Smart Man, but a historical figure. All of this leading up to a plum book deal with Norton, proclaiming his place in history as the upstart inventor of email itself.

But why have you never heard of him? Probably because there's precious little evidence that Ayyadurai came remotely close to inventing email, beyond a few misleading childhood documents and a US Copyright form of dubious weight. This was enough to convince the Washington Post and Smithsonian? Before you could even finish the Post's ode, Emi Kolawole, the reporter behind the piece, issued a stumbling correction:

A number of readers have accurately pointed out that electronic messaging predates V. A. Shiva Ayyadurai's work in 1978. However, Ayyadurai holds the copyright to the computer program called "email," establishing him as the creator of the "computer program for [an] electronic mail system" with that name, according to the U.S. Copyright Office.

Shiva Ayyadurai shows plans for the electronic mail system that he designed to math teacher Irman Greenberg and Stella Olekslak, coordinator of the Independent Study program at Livingston High School.

Livingston Student Designs Electronic Mail System

On October 7, Irman Greenberg, math teacher, and Stella Oleksiak, Independent Study coordinator, along with Shiva Ayyadurai and his father visited the Computer Center at the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey to observe the design and implementation of Ayyadurai's electronic mail system.

Ayyadurai, a senior at Livingston High School under the tutelage of Blair Krimmel, head of the math department and the Independent Study program, with the encouragement of Dr. Leslie Michelson, manager of the lab computer, created an electronic mail system with enough sophistication for immediate practical use at the college and commercial potential.

Since the eighth grade, Ayyadurai has proven that he could work mathematically far beyond the traditional classroom. During ninth grade he was bussed from Heritage to the high school where he passed the Alegebra I and II tests while studying geometry at the same time.

During the summer of 1978, he was accepted for the computer science program at New York University where he learned various computer languages such as Fortran, Basic, Cobol and Snobol, and was graduated with honors. As a consequence of his math background and his computer training, he began his work at CMDNJ.

During the same year, he was accepted for the Atlantic Regional Math League and competed in the Essex County League and the Iron Hills Conference. As a veteran member of ARML, he and the team placed seventh out of the 43 teams.

While studying Ptolemy's Theorem, Ayyadurai observed an entirely new geometric relationship in the field of vector geometry. This finding was published in the journal "The Mathematics Teacher," Fall 1980 issue. In April 1980, he won individual first place in the advanced math competition in the Essex County Math League.

He is continuing his Independent Study Program under Krimmel in the area of statistics.

Well, that's a rather different claim to fame entirely, isn't it? After we posted incredulously, Ayyadurai's PR rep was quick to rally us toward his cause—and the case was urgent. Not only was Ayyadurai desperate to set the record straight, but there was a tale of globalization and woe that explained the detractors. Ayyadurai wasn't being accused of lying about inventing email because [he] hadn't invented it; he was the victim of international character assassination. This goes all the way to the top.

In 2009, Ayyadurai worked for the Indian government, helping to run CSIR, a national R&D incubator tasked with finding homegrown patents and turning them into national high tech moneymakers. According to Ayyadurai, the center, with its billions of dollars to spend, was as corrupt as you'd imagine an R&D incubator in a developing country would be. Dissent was verboten, patents were plagiarized, and the few ideas of worth were rounded up [and] laid fallow. When someone tried to speak up, they were canned. Meanwhile, plush villas, fat salaries, and state-provided cars were doled out to scientists within the organization on the dime of the Indian people.

Ayyadurai couldn't sit idly by while this happened. He admonished his management in a letter he circulated within CSIR, calling for freedom of speech among colleagues. The Indian government clamped down immediately: He was banned from further communiques, promptly fired, evicted from his government housing, and urged to flee the country, lest his life and family be harmed. Phone calls of warning and threat were persistent, he says.

So Ayyadurai did flee, returning to MIT, where he's generally described by his colleagues as a nut and fraud—the terms "asshole," and "loon" were tossed around freely by professors who were happy to talk about their coworker but prefer to remain anonymous. "Don't know him, but [he] didn't invent email. If he claims to have done so he's a dick," said one MIT brain.

Ayyadurai is convinced the Indian government isn't through with him. He claims that it hired a team of "bloggers" and PR hatchet men to smear him across the internet. Target number one? His claim to be the father of email.


On the phone, Ayyadurai comes off as kind, a man of nervous tact. But it also absolutely feels like trying to sell you something that's just not sticking—a sort of mainframe Willy Loman. At publications he's duped into letting him opine unfettered, he's email's inventor, through and through. He also owns dozens of immodest domains to that point—,,—you get the point. No? Well Ayyadura has literally 100 more sites (103 in total) dedicated to making sure you do.

But press Ayyadurai, and he gets desperate, as his entire faux-fame rests upon semantic tricks, falsehoods, and a misinformation campaign.

Shiva Ayyadurai didn't invent email—he created "EMAIL," an electronic mail system implemented at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, New Jersey. It's doubtful he realized it as a little teen, but laying claim to the name of a product that's the generic term for a universal technology gives you acres of weasel room. But creating a type of airplane named AIRPLANE doesn't make you Wilbur Wright.

The actual pioneers of email were breaking new ground more than a decade before Ayyadurai concocted his dental memo system. Electronic mail predates Ayyadurai's ability to spell, let alone code. Ray Tomlinson is best known for having sent the first text letter between two computers on ARPANET in '71—y'know, an email.
He also picked out the @ sign. A modest career. And despite Ayyadurai's insistence that, at the very least, he was the first to make use of the To/From/CC/BCC/etc fields we still use in Gmail today, this too is a personal fantasy. Tomlinson, who began working on early inter-computer messaging when Ayyadurai was a year old, explained to us how he became well-versed with these linchpins of modern email years before Ayyadurai drew them up on his own:

[We] had most of the headers needed to deliver the message (to:, cc:, etc.) as well as identifying the sender (from:) and when the message was sent (date:) and what the message was about. I chose the Latin word "re" meaning "about" for this. This apparently too obscure and was replaced with "subject:". However, "re:" is still use in the subject field to refer to the subject of the message to which the message is a reply. RFC 561 documents the headers as of 1973. Before that the standard was de facto. You could include any header you wanted in a message, but you had better use to:, cc:, etc. if you wanted the receiving program to understand.

These email underpinnings were further cemented in 1977's RFC 733, a foundational document of what became the internet itself—a full year before Ayyadurai's EMAIL project.

It was rough around the edges, but it was email. The work of Tomlinson and his peers was limited, but so too was the internet—and both exploded together. But ask Ayyadurai, and he dismisses it all—these messages weren't email, but "messages" and nothing more, relegated to some inferior class of communications that he compares to everyday "text messaging and morse code." It was all just sloppy streams of letters until he made EMAIL—and only then did the system behind Gmail, BlackBerry, and every computer on the planet see light.

6.4 Misuse #4: RFCs Demonstrate “Email” Existed Prior To 1978

The statement:

“… email underpinnings were further cemented in 1977's RFC 733, a foundational document of what became the Internet itself.” (Biddle 2012)

misuses the term “email” since Requests for Comments (RFCs) were simply written documentation, not a computer program, nor software, nor email ---- the system of interlocking parts which is the full-scale emulation of the interoffice, interorganizational paper-based mail system.

RFCs were literally meeting notes following meetings by electronic messaging researchers. RFCs, such as RFC 733, were written documentation not a computer program or code or system. Moreover, statements such as, and others like it:

“In 1977 these features and others went from best practices to a binding standard in RFC 733.” (Biddle, 2012)

are hyperboles and conflation of RFCs.

Mr. Sam Biddle, neither a computer scientist nor a software developer, who wrote the statement referenced above, in an article in Gizmodo referencing Ayyadurai as an “asshole” and “dick,” is known for his puerile, sensationalist, and yellow journalism. For example, a few weeks after writing this outrageous article on Ayyadurai, Biddle wrote an article about a virtual Internet dog name “Boo,” which had died. It was later found out that “Boo” had not died. Anderson Cooper, a CNN journalist, later exposed Mr. Biddle’s quality of journalism on his TV news show “The Ridiculist.”

What is unfortunate is that even scholarly “historians,” like Mr. Thomas Haigh, a leader of the SIGCIS group, and others either purposely wanting to deny the facts of email’s origin from 1978 at UMDNJ, or unconsciously cutting and copying the Gizmodo article, believing Biddle’s sensationalistic article to be the truth, continue to use Biddle’s article as a primary and scholarly source reference to deny email’s invention by Ayyadurai in Newark, New Jersey. Such tabloid articles are referenced as the primary source on Wikipedia and some major media to attempt to perpetuate false assertions that RFCs are email, and predate Ayyadurai’s invention.

Specifically, RFC 733, for example, is a document that was drafted in November 1977, and was simply, at best, a specification attempting to provide a standardization of messaging protocols and interfaces. RFC 733 should not be conflated as “email underpinnings” (Biddle, 2012) and equated as email --- the electronic system of interlocking parts emulating the interoffice, inter-organizational paperbased mail system created by Ayyadurai at UMDNJ in 1978.The RFC 733 is explicitly described as:

"This specification is intended strictly as a definition of what is to be passed between hosts on the ARPANET. It is NOT intended to dictate either features which systems on the Network are expected to support, or user interfaces to message creating or reading programs."

RFC 733 did not even dictate which features of the interoffice, interorganizational paper-based mail process would be included, such as the basic components of the user interfaces for message creation and reading. Moreover, RFC 733 attempted to define a standard that was never even fully accepted nor implemented. (Crocker et al., 1977).

“Some of RFC #733's features failed to gain adequate acceptance.” (Crocker et al., 1977)

The very term “RFC” means “Request for Comments” and were typically lists, notes and at best specifications (Shicker, 1981) on what could be in the future, but were neither computer code nor software application, such as email, the system and software application developed by Ayyadurai.

“Prospective users, system designers, and service offering companies often compile lists of potential services [of electronic mail systems]… Nobody claims that these lists are complete, and most often it is admitted freely that these lists represent a first cut synthesis of services offered by other communication facilities. Unfortunately, these lists mostly convey just a number of buzz-words which everybody interprets in his own fashion.” (Shicker, 1981)

In summary, RFCs only proposed an interface for message format and transmission, but said little about feature sets of individual electronic messaging or mail systems. The RFCs’ authors, by their own admission, clearly state this was not their intention. RFCs were the definition of command-line terminology, at best, but certainly not email --- the system of interlocking parts intended to emulate the interoffice, inter-organizational paper-based mail system.

-- Origin of Email & Misuses of the Term “Email”, by Deborah J. Nightingale, Sen Song, Leslie P. Michelson, Robert Field

But Ayyadurai's claim that he revolutionized how those messages are sent isn't uncontested either. Dave Crocker, another eminent figure in the history of actual email, calls Ayyadurai's posturing "theatrical," rattling off a fat list of email clients—MSG, SNDMSG, HERMES, MS—that did pretty much what EMAIL did, years and years before Ayyadurai started coding. "For a 14 year old his work was impressive," Crocker told us over the phone. "What he's saying about it now as a much older adult is also impressive—but in a very different way."

It's possible Ayyadurai was the first to come up with the term "EMAIL." That alone would be a feat. "In 1971, we called them 'messages,'" explains Tomlinson, a man so accomplished he can casually mention such things. But even that claim is tenuous, as Crocker points to a scholarly journal titled "EMMS; Electronic Mail and Message Systems." It was published a year before Ayyadurai did anything. "Newsletters for a topic don't usually start before the topic has been invented," says Crocker.

It's also possible the idea of copying decades-old paper standbys like "blind carbon copy" occurred to Ayyadurai independently of ARPA's work, and that he put it together in a friendly software package. But that's about as much as Ayyadurai has on his side, PR team and media credulity notwithstanding. The fact is that the labors of people like Tomlinson and Crocker are the monkey to your Gmail's homo sapiens, explains Tomlinson: "Email has evolved — FTP is no longer used to transport email. Additional media may be used instead of plain text. Messages are stored in a myriad of ways — Gmail stores messages in databases on huge server farms, messages on my end are stored in files on an IMAP server, etc., but the essence, even the at-sign, remains the same." That explanation? The words of an "elite group of people who think they own innovation," according to Ayyadurai.

Except they have history on their side. They need no aggrandizement, no TIME article, no need to take the Washington Post on a ride, no baseless Smithsonian tribute (the museum declined to comment on Ayyadurai's false apotheosis). They've done their work. But anyone who cares about the history of the astoundingly clever and complex things we use daily might suffer from Ayyadurai's ego campaign. Ayyadurai is free to self-promote—and he's doing a hell of a job—but when he delves into revisionism, it's a rare ego trip we shouldn't let slide.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:34 am

The Inventor of Email Did Not Invent Email?
by Mario Aguilar



V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai is a fraud who has been masquerading for years as the pioneering mind behind email. At least according to a bunch of geeks who mobilized from all corners of the digital world to try to set the record straight.

The imbroglio began late last week with a routine news report and it was settled, appropriately enough, with a detailed email.

TechDirt reports that last Friday, The Washington Post wrote about what should have been a sweet acquisition by the Smithsonian Institution:

The Smithsonian has acquired the tapes, documentation, copyrights, and over 50,000 lines of code that chronicle the invention of e-mail. The lines of code that produced the first "bcc," "cc," "to" and "from" fields were the brainchild of then-14-year-old inventor V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don't believe that Ayyadurai invented email in 1978. The doubters say that all Ayyadurai did was write a computer program called "EMAIL," which he copyrighted in 1982. While I in no way want to undermine Ayyadurai's accomplishments, there's a pretty strong case that he's full of it. The fact is that networked communication actually predates Ayyadurai's computer program by quite a few years.

While holding a copyright might be good enough for some people, the Internet cognoscenti weren't going to have it. When they saw that blasphemy in print, they took to Ayyadurai's Wikipedia page, wrote letters of complaint, and debated as only geeks can.
TechDirt dug up this wonderful email written by Thomas Haig to the SIGCIS email list. Randell points out that ARPANET sent the first message between two computers back in 1971.

This version of the story makes ARPANET contractor Ray Tomlinson the inventor of email. Tomlinson doesn't quite take credit for the invention, but he does seem to think that the system he was using back in 1971 was indeed email.
According to the description on his website:

The first message was sent between two machines that were literally side by side. The only physical connection they had (aside from the floor they sat on) was through the ARPANET. I sent a number of test messages to myself from one machine to the other. The test messages were entirely forgettable and I have, therefore, forgotten them. Most likely the first message was QWERTYUIOP or something similar. When I was satisfied that the program seemed to work, I sent a message to the rest of my group explaining how to send messages over the network. The first use of network email announced its own existence.

These first messages were sent in late 1971. The next release of TENEX went out in early 1972 and included the version of SNDMSG with network mail capabilities. The CPYNET protocol was soon replaced with a real file transfer protocol having specific mail handling features. Later, a number of more general mail protocols were developed.

Notice that Tomlinson never goes quite so far as to call himself an inventor here, and in the page's FAQ, he acknowledges the contributions made to the technology both before and after he sent those first messages. That makes Ayyadurai's claim all the more strange—as if the most important part of the accomplishment was coining a term. Thomas Haig, from the email before, has no patience for the semantics game when it comes to this question:

They seem to be confusing copyright protection with patent protection, and implying that he would only have copyright on a program he created if it was the first of its kind. I could write a program called "OPERATING SYSTEM" tomorrow and hold the copyright, but it wouldn't mean I invented operating systems.

Well put! The Washington Post did publish a correction, which only half-admits that Ayyadurai didn't really invent email. Perhaps the truth is that email as we know it really shouldn't be considered a single person's invention. [TechDirt, The Washington Post, and Roy Tomlinson]


Update: In an effort to clear his legal obligations, Nick Denton (previous owner of Gawker) settled with Shiva Ayyadurai and two other Peter Thiel backed litigants. He received $750,000 which will probably go towards creating even more websites to "prove" that he invented email even though the time line indicates otherwise.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:08 am

If Fran Drescher Read Gizmodo She Would Not Have Married This Fraud
By Sam Biddle




In 2012, an enterprising young Gizmodo blogger published the story of Shiva Ayyadurai, an MIT lecturer and renowned liar who pretends he invented email. Today, he adds another achievement to the resume, marrying Fran Drescher. Fran, you fucked up!

You had two years to discover that this guy is basically a big fake. And now look at you: stuck with the guy, doomed to nod along to his cyber-lies for a lifetime, as you grow old together and reminisce about things you didn't invent. The lesson here is clear: read Gizmodo daily, or your personal life is headed down the shitter.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:39 am

On Gawker’s Problem With Women. A former staff writer describes how a media company founded on whistleblowing and radical transparency failed its female employees.
By Dayna Evans
November 15, 2015



The following story — on the treatment of female editors, writers, and managers at Gawker Media — was scheduled to appear on on Friday, November 13. It had been originally written in July, kiboshed in August, reported further in October, and prepped to run in early November. On the day it was expected to be published (after edits and approval from Gawker’s editor-in-chief Alex Pareene and Gawker’s legal team), executive editor John Cook emailed me and Leah Beckmann (the story’s editor) and explained that he’d be killing the piece after deciding that he was “done with Gawker writing about Gawker.”

Cook also noted that I had not reached out to him for comment in the “the four-month reporting and editing process.” But on August 4, I had emailed Cook asking him to please “call me any time” to speak about the story, though he never did. He and I talked on the phone on Saturday and again on Sunday.

Cook’s decision to kill the piece was reportedly protested heavily by Gawker staff members on Friday, many of them insisting that they’d prefer to see it published on, if anywhere. In his email to me, Cook remarked, however, that he trusted that the piece would get picked up elsewhere, and that he hoped it would. We’ve made some minor edits to the original piece since Friday, but here it is in full.

From Gawker: An Oral History:

“Nick has issues working with women in general. I think it’s sort of a semi-purposeful thing where he doesn’t understand how to talk to them and how to listen to them.” — Alex Pareene

“Oh, that one is too silly for me to respond to.” — Nick Denton

On July 16, published a tabloid story about a male escort’s thwarted dalliance with a media executive. It did not go over well with readers, many of whom found it to be an irredeemably cruel intrusion on the private affairs of a not very public man. In response to the maelstrom of anger surrounding the story, Gawker Media’s managing partnership, which included its president of advertising, voted to pull the post, with founder and CEO Nick Denton arguing later that he’d been “ashamed” to have his name attached to it. The fallout was huge and rippling, inspiring two respected editors at the company, Max Read and Tommy Craggs, to resign in protest. Before the end of the following week,’s staff was offered a chance to walk away — with severance — so that a new, “20 percent nicer Gawker” could be built in its stead under then-acting executive editor John Cook.

The proper names above all belong to men, which is fitting because this is a story about the unseen women of Gawker Media. I no longer work at Gawker, and as of two weeks ago neither does the woman who edited this story, Leah Beckmann, who for four months served as interim editor-in-chief of At the end of October, a permanent EIC for the site was named: Alex Pareene, a well-liked former Gawker writer with undeniable qualifications for the job. This was the first bit of company news in a long while to receive uniformly positive notices both within the company and without, but there was a context to his hiring that didn’t receive due attention anywhere. As Beckmann told me a few months ago, when I was still on staff, “To say that Gawker treats men and women equally is simply untrue.”

Gawker Media, an allegedly progressive, whistle-blowing aggravator in the easily-bristled media landscape — one that was the first to break stories on Josh Duggar’s attempted infidelity, to expose Greg Hardy’s buried domestic abuse, to reveal The Daily Show’s staff gender inequality, to time and time again call out all sorts of people and publications for their wicked or misleading behavior — was deserving of a harsh critique. Gawker Media itself, despite its proud claims to enlightenment, has a woman problem.

The following excerpt from an interview Nick Denton did with The New York Times in July is a good place to start when searching for how Denton envisioned a future

“I’d like Gawker to be the best version of itself, taking the best of each era of the site. The scoops of John Cook. The investigations of Adrian Chen or J. K. Trotter. Pop culture from Rich Juzwiak. And some of Max Read’s excellent vision for the site. All the ingredients are there, and the talent. And I’d like to see other properties — category leaders like Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Deadspin and Jezebel — come out from Gawker’s shadow. “Gawker is your one-stop guide to media and pop culture. It is the place you come to learn the real story — the account you won’t (or can’t) find anywhere else.” That’s from Max’s memo at the start of the year.”

There are no women in Denton’s vision of an ideal, and when no stories by women were held out for praise in an introductory memo from now-official executive editor John Cook, many felt like they were absent from his vision of an ideal Gawker Media as well. This is a notable omission, given that the company’s flagship site was launched and defined by the sharp writing of Elizabeth Spiers, further shaped by the ferocious Jessica Coen and confessional Emily Gould, enhanced by fearless Maureen O’Connor and hilarious Caity Weaver (the site’s obvious marquee voice for several years), and managed by Emma Carmichael and Leah Beckmann and Lacey Donohue, adroit editors who did the sort of unseen work that gives a publication its internal momentum. When asked to name his ideal editor-in-chief of, Denton told the Times:

“I’m not going to talk about individual candidates. But we are looking for a mixture of news judgment, intellectual framework and humanity. The ideal candidate was actually a colleague of yours, David Carr, now sadly no longer with us.”

Denton was posturing for New York Times readers, but the message unwittingly sent to the female writers and editors of Gawker was that their boss would sooner name a dead man than any living woman for the position. This notion was then further confirmed in Denton’s treatment (or rather, maltreatment) of’s former features editor, Leah Finnegan, a woman whom many in the company assumed was in line for the editor-in-chief job herself — that is, if she happened to be a man named John. The lesson women are taught at Gawker is that they can either be rabble-rousers for a short time, or reliable composed workers to guarantee some modicum of job security. Lacey Donohue, Gawker Media’s executive managing editor, told me over the phone on Saturday that she agreed that “ and Deadspin and some of the bigger sites and central management that drive the company have been very masculine. I think the culture of screaming at people or [acting] dismissively, it isn’t acceptable. It isn’t appropriate. We need to just work better. The way to do that at this company is just to get more female managers.”

Diversity in general is a blind spot for Gawker Media. On Monday, John Cook published race and gender diversity statistics for the entire company: Overall it is 79 percent white and 57 percent male. In editorial, the staff is 61 percent male and 38 percent female, though given the fact that is almost 100 percent female, excluding the women-focused site from his stats would skew editorial to being only 28 percent female. The statistics were released by Cook after BuzzFeed did the same for their company in October, in an equally unsatisfying look at who exactly runs the media.

But as Anna Holmes wrote in The New York Times Magazine at the beginning of November, the idea of “diversity” at many companies is more and more just that: a hollow idea. “Bragging about hiring a few people of color, or women, seems to come from the same interpretive bias, where a small amount is enough.” In order to foster a diverse company or industry, generous support and integration (for lack of a better word) must be a continual commitment in growing talent.

In January, a black senior editor at, Jason Parham, wrote a post on his personal blog called Gawker Media’s Responsibility to Diversity, one that later inspired Cook’s release of Gawker’s diversity statistics. He was concerned in part by the creation of a new executive editorial team — cheekily called the Politburo, and featuring five male editors and two women editors — reflected a waning interest in editorial diversity. Nick Denton responded in a comment on Parham’s post with this:

“Let’s welcome, if not out-and-out racists, then at least the wide array of people with whom a conversation is possible: national greatness conservatives, Burkean Tories and business pragmatists, for instance; Christians and other spiritual people; economic liberals, libertarians and techno-utopians; and black and other social conservatives.”

Instead of focusing on a simple request, one familiar to any self-aware media company in 2015 — a commitment to “publishing and hiring more Latina voices, queer voices, black voices, and marginalized voices across its core sites” — Denton waved his hand and advocated for more or less the opposite.

And so of course the great remaking of Gawker ended this month with Gawker looking much the same as it did before. Despite his having paid lip service to the idea of reaching beyond the usual precincts to find a new executive editor and a new editor of, despite his having made lots of noise in the press about changing the face of the company, Denton wound up installing two male Gawker Media veterans in jobs that had been held by two male Gawker Media veterans before them. The memo that went out introducing Pareene as the new Gawker EIC also thanked Leah Beckmann for “stepping into the breach and helping out.” Beckmann had taken on the full-time role of Gawker EIC at a time when the site was wavering on the brink of chaos and implosion. During her tenure, had its highest traffic day in history. This recognition of her performance in the role came off both dismissive and gendered. Only a woman would be thanked for “helping out.”

This issue apparently operates differently elsewhere in the company. Denton would eagerly point to Heather Dietrick, the company’s president and general counsel, as evidence that women are valued at Gawker. Since Dietrick’s hiring, for instance, Gawker Media has assembled a formidable all-female legal team.
When asked at the end of July about her thoughts on Gawker’s treatment of women, Dietrick sent me this statement:

“I think this is a place that really values women, as evidenced by the powerful positions held by women — me as President, our Chief Strategy Officer, one of the heads of product, four out of the eight site leads — and it’s certainly a place that lets good people reach out and excel at whatever they choose. If we need to look closer at making sure we’re also raising up good people who are too shy or quiet to reach out, we absolutely will.”

On October 30, Chief Strategy Officer Erin Pettigrew stepped down, making her the third executive, after advertising and partnerships president Andrew Gorenstein and executive editor Tommy Craggs, to leave the online publisher’s six-member management board this year. Lacey Donohue insisted — after Gawker’s recent shakeups — that, “A lot more women are being asked to join the conversations than have ever been at my tenure at Gawker Media.” In her position as executive managing editor, she explained that she saw it as “part of her job” to guarantee more leadership roles for women. “We’ve started to take recruiting a lot more seriously,” she said. “I don’t think we’re fucking around.” And in fact, at Gawker’s all-hands meeting in October, John Cook’s first since accepting the Executive Editor position, he said that the company met with “nine men, seven women, and two of those people were African-American.”

I came to write this story as a result of several arguments I’d had with my male then-bosses and colleagues about what was perceived as a pay disparity in the many thousands of dollars between male and female employees hired at the same time in equivalent positions. At a company like Gawker, where the primary missive is radical transparency, there was very little shame in asking colleagues about their salaries or promotions, especially as the entire company began openly discussing the option of unionizing.

The union effort prompted my discovery of an egregious pay discrepancy, which I brought up with male writers and editors to their either mild interest or argumentative dismissal. At one point I was advised by a male superior — a man I like and consider a friend, and who is both progressive and feminist — to not “dick-measure over salary” when I became aware of distinct difference in pay among writers with equivalent jobs. As Joanne Lipman wrote in the New York Times in August, “[Men are] absolutely certain that they don’t have a gender problem themselves; it must be some other guys who do. Yet they’re leaders of companies that pay men more than women for the same jobs.” The debate over pay, worth, and skill kept spiraling until I found a new job and left the company.

Perhaps you’ve had a chance to read through a recently published text called Gawker: An Oral History. It’s $2.99 on Kindle, if you’d like me to Venmo you the money. As a person who not all that long ago walked away from Gawker Media, and who also grew up reading Gawker, Jezebel, and Deadspin, the little Kindle Single can actually be a delight — it’s not short on insights about the history of a company that changed the way we think about what the troubled media industry in this day and age should be or even aspire to be. There’s the stuff about Julia Allison; there’s the hiring of A.J. Daulerio to work at a gambling site despite not knowing anything about gambling; there’s — inevitably — the talk of what happened to Emily Gould, according to the many men around her at the time.

Gawker had already produced female stars, but Emily, one could argue, was the biggest yet. There was the notorious Jimmy Kimmel interview, the confessional posts and public resignation, and after she left Gawker, there was the New York Times Magazine cover story about her time at the company. Days before the story — which would embarrass both Denton and the company — was published, Denton saw a video of Gould mimicking a blow job on a plastic tube and fed it to Gawker writer Andrew Krucoff to post. Even now, in 2015, while being interviewed for the Oral History, Denton remarked:

“Why not? She’s a public person. I’m a public person. This was publicly available.”

But the big issue with Denton’s constant fighting with Gould was the way that attitude toward women permeated the company well into the future. After all, when your number one priority as a media empire is to criticize and rattle anyone who enters into your view, it can be hard to remember which subjects are worth the aggression and needling. This leads to targeting your own employees and writers because maybe they’re assholes, too.

Former Jezebel features editor and current head of content and editor-in-chief of Broadly, Tracie Morrissey, speaking to Brian Abrams for the Oral History, said:

“Emily really ushered in Trojan horse feminism without people realizing it. People were really uncomfortable with a woman in charge of her own narrative and using a platform for a selfish reason. That’s what men fucking do all the time. It was just such shit when she would get shit for it.”

Gawker Media was founded on excitement and freedom, which is what drew so many people to become fans and writers there, including myself; but excitement and freedom can lead to dismissiveness and insensitivity, harm and marginalization, often unforgettable and unforgivable damage. Emily Gould had this to say about Gawker in the Oral History: “Nick has a really sort of creepy relationship with women in general. It’s a tough thing for him. It was not like an ordinary workplace. I think a lot of it would never fly today.”

On the phone in July, when I originally hoped this story would run, Jezebel founder Anna Holmes gave me her perspective on the way she feels women are treated at Gawker Media:

“My feeling — now more than ever — is that Nick [Denton] has women in two sorts of positions at the company. The few women who actually wield power are, by and large, incredibly competent and dedicated and are expected to clean up other people’s messes and act as emotional caretakers and moral compasses. The women who are not in power, well, it sometimes felt to me like the company saw them as circus acts; provocative and good for pageviews but ultimately very disposable.”

She continued:

“This isn’t to say that some men at Gawker Media haven’t been considered disposable. But what IS notable is that men in positions of power are not expected or required to be as thoughtful and responsible as their female counterparts — many are in fact REWARDED and admired for their recklessness and immaturity, a recklessness and immaturity, that, as you know, has gotten the company in heaps of trouble over the past couple of years.”

What recently transpired with features editor Leah Finnegan is good proof of Holmes’ assertion. Finnegan had butted heads with Denton (a characteristic of which he is usually fond), and when she requested to be moved to edit at Jezebel instead of leaving the company entirely, Denton (through Heather Dietrick) encouraged her to take the buyout. Dietrick told Finnegan, “Nick is too far away from you creatively and doesn’t see a way to turn it around.”

But then again, maybe this disparaging attitude to women was only limited to, a site where aggressiveness and chafing has defined its voice for 13 years. Were the other sites feeling what many women at had long felt?

“My answer is always: hire women. The more you hire women, the more women will work for you because women will see that coming there, they won’t be treated like outsiders or freaks.” I spoke to founder and current Gizmodo editor-in-chief Annalee Newitz on the phone in July in an attempt to figure out if gender played a role in how she ran her sites. Newitz told me she’s always made an effort to keep a good gender balance, saying that “When I first started at Gawker, there was racial diversity among the site leads and gender diversity. It’s really shitty because I don’t think it’s a bias toward white men, I feel like what it is is more laziness toward trying to find people to make it diverse.”

Many staff writers and editors at Jezebel (former and present, who mostly spoke off the record) explained to me that the case for them was very different. Like Gawker, Deadspin, and the other Gawker Media properties, Jezebel is familiar with trials and trouble, and has gotten itself into murky waters, too. But the sense that I got in doing interviews with Jezebel staff writers and editors is that outside of a few controversies, for good or ill, Jezebel is largely left to its own devices by upper management and the executive staff.

This was working in the “pink ghetto,” as one editor put it.

Erin Ryan, Jezebel’s current managing editor, explained the isolation of Jezebel to me this way:

“[Nick Denton]’s statement that we should step out of the shadows is particularly egregious; we’ve been breaking stories and turning in original reporting since the site was founded. We turn in funny, original, edgy, and brave stuff every single fucking day. Nick just doesn’t read it.”

The inverse of this feeling of freedom, however, is one of neglect, and while many writers told me that they loved not having management involved in their business or their editorial decisions, there were two cases that were brought up where a little attention was desperately needed.

In August 2014, Jezebel published “We Have a Rape Gif Problem and Gawker Media Won’t Do Anything About It.” I remember when it appeared because I thought it was exciting to work at a company where people were directly questioning authority on their own site — rather than waiting for another outlet to pick up the story — while also recognizing how fucked up it was that they’d had to resort to this. “In refusing to address the problem,” the post read, “Gawker’s leadership is prioritizing theoretical anonymous tipsters over a very real and immediate threat to the mental health of Jezebel’s staff and readers.” When I spoke to several Jezebel staff writers about their decision to publish it, the same narratives came up over and over.

“It took me four years to build up a callus where I didn’t care anymore and I was able to not read how much people hated me. That was so awful psychologically. It’s way worse for women and it’s way worse when you’re writing about women’s issues and it’s way worse when you’re forced to look at graphic images of sexual assault,” former Jezebel features editor Tracie Morrissey told me about the rape gifs that were littering Jezebel’s comment section. “No one did anything about the rape gif issue until we wrote a public story and called them out for it.”

The idea that the well-being of the women at Gawker Media was considered only when there was a public outrage over it is not just something that happened in a vacuum, nor is it something of the distant past. Only a few months following the rape gif controversy, the Gawker office seating chart was leaked to The Awl, a boys’ club oversight made without considering the real threats that were lobbied against women writers at the company (and on a larger scale, in the media) every day. That same month, reporter Anna Merlan published a report on how the police respond to violent online threats, which thoroughly covered how authority figures largely have no clue or no interest in protecting women who work or exist on the web.

Just as the concerns of women in editorial remain invisible barring extraordinary disclosure, so do their talents. Emma Carmichael, Jezebel’s current editor-in-chief and former managing editor of both Gawker and Deadspin, explained that she found “Gawker’s gossip sites often operate off of more or less ‘invisible’ female management behind the scenes.” She told me over email that “it’s hard for those women to get recognized for their work, because it’s not on the top of the masthead or on bylines, but they’re the ones pulling the strings each day. Their work isn’t missed until they leave out of frustration or get forced out. It’s a shameful cycle.”

At Gawker, as in much of the media, women are frequently managing editors or deputy editors, the kinds of jobs that require corralling stables of neurotic writers into successfully running a daily publication. This task can be thankless no matter where a woman works, but especially so at a place like Gawker, where bylines are associated with traffic and traffic is associated with success. To the reader, this labor is invisible, and internally, there was often a sense that this work was unappreciated as star reporters (who were often male) were feted and celebrated for major scoops and big stories. As senior writer Sam Biddle told me over email about editing Valleywag with Nitasha Tiku, who is now a senior writer at BuzzFeed, “As far as I could see, she received the same amount of support and attention from inside Gawker, but in terms of readership and media peer recognition, a lot of her work was skipped over, or undervalued, or even attributed to me. I don’t know how exactly to account for that but I think the entire media world reflexively rewards and pays attention to the work of men more than women.”

It is on the backs of women that many publications flourish, and that’s why it matters that Denton could hardly muster a female writer or editor’s name if he tried. Tireless invisible labor, after all, costs nothing to abuse.

While reporting this story, I encountered two kinds of people: the ones who couldn’t wait to read it, and the ones who suggested to me that there simply wasn’t a problem and I was thinking myself into a tizzy. Hysterical is another word for it. The former were mostly all women, with the exception of a one or two male editors who accepted that this story needed to exist while also admitting their own culpability. And while mostly all women were supportive of the story as a whole, in the process of reporting, I did find that the issue was far more nuanced than I had originally anticipated.

It became clear that Jezebel staffers were intrigued but quietly removed, while staffers were incredibly worked up about the issue, especially after seeing the way Beckmann and Finnegan (and women in’s past) were treated. Female writers at Gizmodo were aware of the problem but didn’t identify with it as fiercely, though a few told me about the childish, sexual humor men would often use in their Slack and Campfire chats and of a pay discrepancy that they discovered, too. One female editor at a heavily male website told me she was thrilled to see it written but could not speak to me on the record. It goes without saying that I cannot possibly speak for every woman who has worked at Gawker, past or present, but the hope is that women hired in the future will agree that whatever problem there was has now been extinguished.

An early draft began circulating among the senior staff in August, which led to phone calls from both male and female managers asking me to temper my arguments and walk back my claims, or kill the piece entirely. The first male writer that I let read the story was enthusiastic but insistent that I find more specific examples of how misogyny made it hard for women to do their jobs. Systemic sexism is that bad, especially when it comes to the internal negotiating women do with themselves over whether their experiences are real or imagined. At workplaces where men are the bosses, it is hard to overcome unconscious social bias, and most men don’t make it their business to try. Male editors, male writers. Value is determined by the people in charge.

“It’s so hard to point out a specific instance of ‘this is when sexism at Gawker affected me’ because it’s so generally engrained in everything we do,” Ashley Feinberg, a senior writer told me. “After all, we’re supposed to be a progressive company. We’re liberal. We’re (theoretically, of course) open to diversity. Of course everyone has an equal shot.”

She continued:

“But after we write the posts about Gawker trying harder, the posts slamming Silicon Valley for its rampant issues with gender, the posts championing an equal work force. After everyone gets done patting themselves on the back for being a ‘feminist man,’ you have to go back to your seat and watch the men in charge (and it is, at almost every site and in almost all of Politburo [Gawker’s governing editorial body] save for Lacey Donohue, men who are in charge) consistently drop stories, scoops, and tips into the laps of their male mentees.”

“It’s subtle, and it’s easy to excuse any time you point it out. ‘Oh, I was already talking to them about ‘x.’ ‘Oh, it just didn’t cross my mind.’ Which is the whole crux of the problem. It never crosses any guy’s mind. And it makes sense. If it’s not something that they have to be publicly making a show of or publicly being judged on, why would it? So it’s hard to be mad at anyone specific, because these men who are nurtured within a system of wildly pervasive but wholly tacit male favoritism get the best of both worlds. They get to make a show of being progressive and they also get to reap the benefits of a system they’re supposedly fighting against.”

Even in the eleventh hour of writing this piece, I almost scrapped what I had written, as I found myself being asked to question whether the incidents and stories I had experienced and been told about represented a serious, ingrained cultural problem at the company, or in the media at large. But these are facts: A male editor once referred to a female new hire as a “walking sexual harassment case.” There was a pervasive feeling at Gawker that young male reporters are favored for scoops and investigative projects and more thoughtful edits over their female equals.’s most internally-beloved female editor was pushed to take the buyout, even though her supposedly objectionable tone was identical to that of the company’s most valued male editors and writers. No one wants to be straightforward about sexism in their industries because hey, what if it really is in our heads?

In July, right around the time that I was debating quitting Gawker because of the ways I had seen my female superiors and colleagues treated, I emailed my mom, a woman with a doctorate in business who had spent several years working with and consulting in mostly male industries. I explained I was frustrated about gender inequality at work. As Joanne Lipmann noted in her Op-Ed arguing for exposing the gender pay gap, “It’s not that men are intentionally discriminating against women — far from it. I’ve spent the past year interviewing male executives for a book about men and women in the workplace. A vast majority of them are fair-minded guys who want women to succeed.” A Pew Research Center study from 2013 saw 57% of millennial men asserting that more needs to be done to achieve gender equality in the workplace. Not surprisingly, 75% of millennial women felt the same.

This was the essence of my email to my mother — how could men who appeared to respect and admire the women they worked alongside be so callous to what many of us interpreted to be deep-seated sexism or gender favoritism?

She responded in four short lines:

“I’m sorry Dayns. But this is still a man’s world. You aren’t going to change that in your lifetime. Maybe your daughter?”

When women perform invisible labor, they often keep their grievances invisible, too. She’s right. It’s not going to change in my lifetime.

During’s brutal summer — one which saw Leah Finnegan’s departure and Leah Beckmann’s ascension, there were many heated conversations about the future voice and purpose of Gawker as a site, and who got to define what that meant. In one particularly spirited conversation I had with Keenan Trotter, a senior writer at, the topic of “worth” at a publication like Gawker was pored over. I suggested that a personal essay is just as valuable as an investigative piece if both have the power to change the way people think about and reassess the culture we live in. Trotter kindly suggested that my thinking on this matter could be why I was not considered as valuable as my equivalent male writers. He sent me a link to a story that was the result of the male staff writer hunting down an investigation handed to him from the obsessive mind of John Cook, our then-investigations editor. Trotter asked me, “I mean, would you really want to do this story?”

I responded to him: “I would do any kind of story if I was asked. But I was never asked.”

Ashley Feinberg later told me:

“Your value at Gawker is defined by how well your interests line up with those of the people in power. When you have the same predilections, the same fascinations as someone, you are obviously going to speak to them more; you’re going to become closer, and you’re going to trust them more. Because men are almost always going to have more in common with other men, that’s who they’re going to default to when it comes time to pass out a tip, a piece of advice, or more noticeably, a promotion.

“Which is why it’s hard to fault them for it entirely — women do the same thing to other women. The problem is that, because so few women are in positions of authority, it creates a terrible cycle where women have to work twice as hard to command the same sort of attention. Otherwise, you’ll just get drowned out.”

I sent Nick Denton three requests for comment on this story. In his first two responses, Denton asked for me to divert to Dietrick in his stead, which I did twice, but with questions about Denton’s attitudes specifically left unanswered by her. After enough goading, two and a half weeks after my first attempt to reach out to him, he responded to my third email, “Were there any more general questions, about the company as a whole, that are better answered by me?” By that time, I’d gotten all I needed.

Though this is a story about Gawker Media — a cohort of publications that I grew up reading and admiring, a place where I saw my writing grow and where I’ve worked alongside some of the smartest and most talented people I’ve ever met — it could be about any company in any number of industries. Gawker may pride itself on being a trailblazer in the stubbornly slow-to-adapt media, but only if starts to treat gender favoritism as the toxic epidemic that it is, will that reputation truly be deserved. After all, someone’s gotta do it.

This story was written by Dayna Evans, a writer for The Cut at New York Magazine. It was edited by Leah Beckmann, former interim editor-in-chief of Gawker and former senior editor at Matter. Illustration by Jim Cooke.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:18 am

Society for the History of Technology
by Wikipedia
February 8, 2017



The Society for the History of Technology, or SHOT, is the primary professional society for historians of technology. SHOT was founded in 1958 in the United States, and it has since become an international society with members "from some thirty-five countries throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa."[1] SHOT owes its existence largely to the efforts of Professor Melvin Kranzberg (1917-1995). A co-founder and its eleventh president was Eugene S. Ferguson. SHOT's flagship publication is the journal Technology and Culture, published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. Kranzberg served as editor of Technology and Culture until 1981, and was succeeded as editor by Robert C. Post until 1995, and John M. Staudenmaier from 1996 until 2010. The current editor of Technology and Culture is Suzanne Moon at the University of Oklahoma. SHOT is an affiliate of the American Council of Learned Societies and the American Historical Association and publishes a joint booklet series with the AHA, "Historical Perspectives on Technology, Society, and Culture," under the co-editorship of Pamela O. Long, Robert C. Post and Asif Azam Siddiqi.[2] Pamela O. Long is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" for 2014.[3]

The history of technology was traditionally linked to economic history and history of science, but its interactions are now equally strong with environmental history, gender history, business history, and labor history. SHOT annually awards two book prizes, the Edelstein Prize and the Hacker Prize, as well as the Kranzberg Dissertation Fellowship and the Brooke Hindle Postdoctoral Fellowship. Its highest award is the Leonardo da Vinci Medal. Recipients of the medal include Kranzberg, Ferguson, Post, Staudenmaier, Bart Hacker, and Brooke Hindle. In 1968 Kranzberg was also instrumental in the founding of a sister society, the International Committee for the History of Technology (ICOHTEC) in 1968. The two societies complement each other.

The Society for the History of Technology is dedicated to the historical study of technology and its relations with politics, economic, labor, business, the environment, public policy, science, and the arts. The society now numbers around 1500 members, and holds its meeting at a non-North-American venue every third year. SHOT also sponsors smaller conferences focused on specialized topics, often jointly with other scholarly societies and organizations.

Special Interest Groups

• The Albatrosses (technology of flight)
• SIGCIS: Computers, Information and Society
• EDITH: Exploring Diversity in Technology's History
• Envirotech (technology and the natural environment)
• The Jovians (electrical technology)
• The Lynn White Junior Society: Prior to the "Industrial Revolution"
• The Mercurians (communications technology)
• SMiTInG (military technology)
• The Pelicans
• The Prometheans (engineering)
• SHOT Asia Network
• TEMSIG: Technology Museums Special Interest Group
• WITH: Women in Technological History

Annual Meetings

• 2006 − Las Vegas, NV − October 12–14
• 2007 − Washington, D.C. − October 17–21
• 2008 − Lisbon, Portugal − October 11–14
• 2009 − Pittsburgh, PA − October 15–19
• 2010 − Tacoma, WA − September 29 - October 4
• 2011 − Cleveland, OH − November 2–6
• 2012 − Copenhagen, Denmark − October 4–7
• 2013 − Portland, ME - October 10–13
• 2014 − Dearborn, MI - November 6–9
• 2015 − Albuquerque, NM - October 7–11
• 2016 − Singapore - June 22–26


1. Society for the History of Technology (SHOT),
2. "Historical Perspectives," Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), ... klets.html
3. Felicia R. Lee, "MacArthur Awards Go to 21 Diverse Fellows," New York Times, September 17, 2014, ... llows.html
• David A. Hounshell, "Eugene S. Ferguson, 1916-2004," Technology and Culture 45 (2004): 911-21. DOI
• Robert C. Post, "Back at the Start: History and the History of Technology," Technology and Culture 51 (2010): 961-94. Muse
• Robert C. Post, "Chance and Contingency: Putting Mel Kranzberg in Context," Technology and Culture 50 (2009): 839-72. DOI
• Robert C. Post, "'A Very Special Relationship': SHOT and the Smithsonian's Museum of History and Technology," Technology and Culture 42 (2001): 401-35. DOI

External links

• Official website
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:21 am

February 8, 2017



Call for Papers: Command Lines: Software, Power, and Performance, March 18-19, 2017

Command Lines: Software, Power, and Performance is a meeting that will draw together scholars from a variety of fields that study software. These fields include: the history of computing; science and technology studies; software studies; code studies; game studies; media studies; the study of women, gender and sexuality; studies of race, ethnicity and postcoloniality; and computer science and engineering. Command Lines is collaboratively organized by SIGCIS (Special Interest Group for Computing, Information and Society) and the Computer History Museum.

The Call for Papers is posted, with a deadline of December 30, 2016. The meeting will be held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, on March 18-19, 2017.

For more information, visit our SIGCIS Meetings website.

By arussell at 2016-10-26

2016 Computer History Museum Prize

Winner: Dinesh C. Sharma, The Outsourcer: The Story of India's IT Revolution (MIT Press, 2015).

Prize Citation: Dinesh Sharma has written a highly accessible book on a significant topic - the history of computing in India - that is well-grounded in sources and interviews. The Outsourcer is full of fascinating stories on the beginnings of computing in India. Sharma does an excellent job contextualizing this story within broader Indian history and the history of computing in the West. Trained as a journalist, Sharma has produced a book that is both carefully researched and engaging to the reader. He regales and rewards readers with a great selection of anecdotes. The committee is pleased to award the 2016 Computer History Museum Prize to Dinesh C. Sharma for The Outsourcer: The Story of India's IT Revolution.

The Outsourcer is available from MIT Press.

By arussell at 2016-07-19

2016 Mahoney Prize

Winner: Andrew L. Russell and Valérie Schafer, "In the Shadow of ARPANET and Internet: Louis Pouzin and the Cyclades Network in the 1970s," Technology and Culture 55, no. 4 (October 2014): 880-907.

Prize Citation: This paper expands our understanding of how networks emerged and evolved. It contributed additional evidence of the international nature of ICTs, in this case, within France. The paper is another example of the power of international collaboration among scholars. It provides a meaningful narrative of a key piece of French networking history that has been understudied in a polished essay.

The essay is available via Project Muse

By arussell at 2016-07-19

SIGCIS Workshop 2016: Convergence and Divergence

SHOT-SIGCIS Singapore Workshop

June 26, 2016

“Convergence and Divergence”

The Special Interest Group for Computers, Information and Society (SIGCIS) 2016 annual Workshop will be held on June 26, 2016. The workshop begins immediately after the regular annual meeting of our parent organization, the Society for the History of Technology in Singapore.


By Admin at 2015-12-24

2015 Mahoney Prize

Winner: David Nofre, Mark Priestley, and Gerard Alberts, "When Technology Became Language: The Origins of the Linguistic Conception of Compter Programming, 1950-1960," Technology and Culture 55 (January 2014): 40-75.

Prize Citation: This paper presents a history of the emergence of high-level computer languages, documenting co-evolving relationships between computer technology and communities of practice. In tracing the genealogy of a phenomenon that seems to us today second nature -- the "computer language" -- their work is a particularly worthy inaugural winner of a prize honoring Mike Mahoney, who did so much to conceptualize the history of that most evanescent technology, computer software.

By arussell at 2015-12-18

2015 Computer History Museum Prize

Winner: Rebecca Slayton, Arguments That Count: Physics, Computing, and Missile Defense, 1949-2012 (MIT, 2013).

Prize Citation: Rebecca Slayton’s Arguments That Count advances the history of computing in several significant ways. Through careful, original research and clear writing, Slayton grants a wide audience access to the complex and highly controversial story of the role of computing in missile defense. Slayton’s book deftly unpacks the institutional and rhetorical aspects of arguments set forth by physicists and computer scientists as they wrangled over the feasibility of developing systems capable of stopping ICBMs. By demonstrating how scientists and computing experts crafted and sold their arguments justifying the development of risky, expensive technological solutions to geopolitical problems, this study yields insights that are relevant to the many other areas in which heavy investment in technological systems is championed as a solution to existential problem.

By arussell at 2015-12-18

Did V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai Invent Email?

Did V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai Invent Email? A Computer Historian Responds

Now includes both the original 2012 article comissioned by the Washington Post, a lengthy extension covering Ayyadurai's susequent claims added in August 2012, a second update focused on Ayyadurai's new book The Email Revolution: Unleashing the Power to Connect (Allworth, 2013), and a third update covering the evolution of Ayyadurai's public relations campaign over the next two years.

This page has become rather long, so here is the one paragraph version, focused on some inaccuracies in recent press reports (added September 2014): V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai is not a member of the MIT faculty and did not invent email. In 1980 he created a small-scale electronic mail system used within University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, but this could not send messages outside the university and included no important features missing from earlier systems. The details of Ayyadurai’s program were never published, it was never commercialized, and it had no apparent influence on any further work in the field. He does not “hold the patent for email” or have a copyright on the word email, though in 1982 he did register a copyright claim covering the exact text of a program called "EMAIL." The U.S. Government has not recognized him as the inventor of email and he did not win the Westinghouse Science Talent Search for his program. Electronic mail services were widely used in the 1960s and 1970s and were commercially available long before 1980. To substantiate his claim to be the "inventor of email" Ayyadurai would have to show that no electronic mail system was produced prior to 1980, and so he has recently created an absurdly specific and historically inaccurate definition of electronic mail designed to exclude earlier systems. Ayyadurai has not even been able to show that he was the first to contract “electronic mail” to “email” or “e-mail” – his first documented use is in 1981 whereas the Oxford English Dictionary shows a newspaper usage in 1979. Despite Ayyadurai’s energetic public relations campaign, which presents him as the victim of a racist conspiracy financed by corporate interests, he has not received support from any credible experts in email technology or the history of information technology. His claims have been widely debunked by technology bloggers and articles based on them have been retracted by the Washington Post and the Huffington Post.

By thaigh at 2015-08-04

SIGCIS 2015 Workshop

SIGCIS Workshop 2015: Infrastructures
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Keynote Speaker:
Nathan Ensmenger (Indiana University)

"The Materiality of the Virtual: An Environmental History of Computing"

The Special Interest Group for Computers, Information and Society (SIGCIS) will host our annual one-day scholarly workshop on Sunday, October 11, 2015 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is immediately after the end of the regular annual meeting of our parent organization, the Society for the History of Technology, details of which are available from ... l_meeting/.

Questions about the SIGCIS 2015 workshop should be addressed to Andrew Russell (Stevens Institute of Technology), who is serving as chair of the workshop organizing committee (e-mail:

Workshop Theme: Infrastructures

Across academic, artistic, and popular domains, curiosity and concern over the information and computing infrastructures that sustain economic, cultural, and social interaction has never been more salient. In contrast to the hype generated by the gadgetry of innovation prophets and venture capitalists, an emphasis on infrastructure highlights networks of labor and focuses on the human, material, and ecological cost and scale of information and computing technologies.

By Admin at 2015-05-28

Computer History Museum Prize

The Computer History Museum Prize is awarded to the author of an outstanding book in the history of computing broadly conceived, published during the prior three years. The prize of $1,000 is awarded by SIGCIS, the Special Interest Group for Computers, Information and Society. SIGCIS is part of the Society for the History of Technology.

In 2012 the prize was endowed in perpetuity through a generous bequest from the estate of Paul Baran, a legendary computer innovator and entrepreneur best known for his work to develop and promote the packet switching approach on which modern networks are built. Baran was a longtime supporter of work on the history of information technology and named the prize to celebrate the contributions of the Computer History Museum to that field.

2017 Call for Submission

Books published in 2014-2016 are eligible for the 2017 award. Books in translation are eligible for three years following the date of their publication in English. Publishers, authors, and other interested members of the computer history community are invited to nominate books. Please note that books nominated in previous years may be nominated again, provided they have been published in the timeframes specified above. Send one copy of the nominated title to each of the committee members listed below. To be considered, book submissions must be postmarked by April 15, 2017. For more information, please contact Jason Gallo, SIGCIS Vice Chair for Operations. Current information about the prize, including the most recent call and a list of previous winners, always may be found at

By Admin at 2014-11-16

2014 Computer History Museum Prize

Winner: Janet Abbate, Recoding Gender: Women’s Changing Participation in Computing (MIT Press, 2012)

Prize Citation: Gender is an important but under-examined dimension of computing. Janet Abbate’s book, Recoding Gender, unveils the gendered conceptions that shaped past and current assumptions of what specific work practices, personalities, and talents are essential to the field. Early studies of gender in computing focused on particularly prominent women (such as Grace Murray Hopper), or women’s contributions to famous projects (such as ENIAC). Recoding Gender instead uses women’s day-to-day experiences to reveal the obstacles encountered and the strategies developed by women who carved out professional careers as corporate programmers, software entrepreneurs, or academic computer scientists. Based on extensive oral histories, all made available online by the author, Abbate's book provides new material for the historical study of women in computing, offering at the same time new ground for current debates on women's under-represented position within computing. We expect it to enjoy a wide readership and to inspire further research.

By Admin at 2014-11-16

SIGCIS 2014 Workshop

Computing the Big Picture:

Situating Information Technology in Broader Historical Narratives

SIGCIS Workshop 2014

November 9, 2014, Dearborn, Michigan

Keynote Speaker: Jennifer S. Light, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

By Admin at 2014-06-27

2013 Computer History Museum Prize

Winner: Joseph A. November, Biomedical Computing: Digitizing Life in the United States (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012)

Prize Citation

In the mid-twentieth century, digital computers began to transform biomedicine. In Biomedical Computing, Joseph November presents an original and compelling account of the processes by which diverse communities in biology and medicine came to embrace digital methods and machines. Furthermore, while historians have demonstrated the influence of physical sciences on early computing, November also demonstrates the forgotten ways in which the demands of biomedical communities shaped computing. In addition to bringing an often neglected scientific community into clear view for historians of computing, Biomedical Computing establishes an important dialogue with the history of science. While historians of technology and business have found ample reason to study computing, Biomedical Computing makes the computer--and thus the history of computing--relevant for science and medicine audiences in general. We expect it to enjoy a broad readership, and to inspire new kinds of computer history.
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