Public Release: 

Festschrift to honor NJIT computing pioneers: Hiltz and Turoff

Pioneers lauded for developing and evaluating first group software systems

New Jersey Institute of Technology

Two NJIT computing pioneers will be lauded next month in a traditional European manner--with a festschrift--for their pioneering book The Network Nation, published in 1978, which foresaw the upcoming communications revolution and social networking.

Although long-time NJIT professors Starr Roxanne Hiltz and Murray Turoff, of Randolph, did not invent email, they developed and evaluated the first groupware systems (1970, Delphi Conferencing and EMISARI). Their research system, which came to be known as the EIES system, was developed at NJIT in 1974. This system also produced earlier forms of group communications for emergency management, planning and forecasting, online learning, project management, decision support and more.

EIES was operative until 2000 and was devoted to developing and evaluating new forms of groupware technology. It featured many examples of early applications now commonplace on the Web, such as support for online courses for "instant messaging," voting for decision support, and the wiki-like ability for many people to work on the same document. Many commercial systems (such as WebCT and Blackboard) are similar to early prototype systems that existed on EIES.

Festschrift will be held Oct 12-13, 2007, in the NJIT Campus Center. Colleagues from around the world will attend either in person or electronically in writing and video to share the impact of Hiltz and Turoff's work on their own. For further information, registration, travel and hotel information, please visit:

Hiltz and Turoff stunned early geeks with the publication of their groundbreaking text. The visionary, award-winning book, updated in 1993, imagined how computers could eventually facilitate computer-mediated communication and decision support, online learning, Delphi exercises, and emergency response. The pair officially retired this fall; however, they will remain active researchers, working with doctoral students.

Festschrift will include keynote and research presentations, as well as social and networking opportunities. Participants are asked to post comments about the Hiltz and Turoff legacy on line. Electronic expressions of good wishes will eventually be presented to Hiltz and Turoff and displayed on the festschrift web site.

Keynote speakers include computer gurus: Ronald E. Rice, Arthur N. Rupe, chair of communications, University of California, Santa Barbara; Ben Shneiderman, professor in the department of computer science, University of Maryland. Shneiderman is the founding director of Maryland's Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory. Keynote panelists include Linda Harasim (CEO of Canada's TeleLearning Network of Centres of Excellence); Abbe Mowshowitz (computer science professor, City University of New York); Karen Swan, a computer and education specialist who is research professor at Kent State University; Jenny Preece, dean of the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, whose research focuses on online communities; Jack Carroll and Mary Beth Rosson, both professors in Information Sciences and Technology, at Pennsylvania State University, known for their computer-human interaction research. Other panelists include Edward Stohr, professor, Stevens Institute of Technology; and Bartel Van de Walle, associate professor, department of information systems and management at Tilburg University, Netherlands, who specializes in emergency response information systems.


NJIT, New Jersey's science and technology university, at the edge in knowledge, enrolls more than 8,000 students in bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 92 degree programs offered by six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, Albert Dorman Honors College and College of Computing Sciences. NJIT is renowned for expertise in architecture, applied mathematics, wireless communications and networking, solar physics, advanced engineered particulate materials, nanotechnology, neural engineering and e-learning. In 2006, Princeton Review named NJIT among the nation's top 25 campuses for technology and top 150 for best value. U.S. News & World Report's 2007 Annual Guide to America's Best Colleges ranked NJIT in the top tier of national research universities.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.