The History of the ITiCSE Bell

In 2006 Renzo Davoli chaired the ACM SIGCSE Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education Conference (ITiCSE 2006) in Bologna Italy. Renzo purchased a brass bell (pictured below). At the conference he would walk through the coffee break area ringing the bell encouraging folks to return to sessions. The bell then went “missing” but it is believed that it sat in Bologna for over a decade until ITiCSE 2017 which conveniently for the bell, was also in Bologna, chaired by Renzo and Mikey Goldweber. The bell then began a new life of travel. It was given to Irene Polycarpou and Janet Reed who chaired ITiCSE 2018 in Larnaca, Cyprus. The bell then traveled by itself via post to Aberdeen Scotland for ITiCSE 2019 where Bruce Scharlau and Roger McDermott rang the bell.

Then the bell, aided by a pandemic, sat again for years. In 2022 the bell traveled all on its own by post to Dublin, Ireland where myself and Keith Quille spent some time ringing the bell at ITiCSE 2022. It then sat in Dublin on my desk for a year until this week when – the bell was happy to hear – was escorted by hand on a Finnair flight to Turku, Finland. This morning I handed it to Mikko-Jussi Laakso who just a few minutes ago rang the bell to open ITiCSE 2023. The bell will later this week travel – accompanied again – this time by Mattia Monga, to its ancestral home of Italy where Mattia will, in one year, ring the bell for ITiCSE 2024 in Milan.

Where the bell will go from there is not yet known. However, given that ITiCSE 2023 is the first physical attendance only conference since 2019 and has around 250 people in attendance, the bell has a long healthy future of European travel ahead at many future ACM ITiCSE conferences.

Thanks to Mikey Goldweber and Bruce Scharlau for helping me piece together the history of the ITiCSE bell which I am happy to pass on to the community.

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