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The opinion archive provides access to past opinion stories from Communications of the ACM and other sources by date.

August 2013


From ACM Opinion

Go Ahead, Mess With Texas Instruments

Go Ahead, Mess With Texas Instruments

Last year, while cleaning out the basement of my childhood home, I discovered a plastic storage bin marked "Calcusoft." Inside were piles of notebooks filled with sketches, storyboards, and lines of code, and buried beneath it…


From ACM Opinion

Choosing Real-World Impact Over Impact Factor

My annual report for the 2012-13 academic year stares at me from an undisturbed corner of my desk.


From ACM News

Think You Can Drive a Bulldozer?

Think You Can Drive a Bulldozer?

As he closed the door, leaving me alone at the controls of a 41,000-pound bulldozer with list price of nearly $432,000, a Komatsu Ltd. executive shouted, "No worries!"


From ACM Opinion

Madden Turns 25: How the Video Game Sacked Its Rivals

Madden Turns 25: How the Video Game Sacked Its Rivals

The year was 1988. George Michael's "Faith" was top of the pops. "Roseanne" was the number-one show on TV. Bruce Willis, starring in "Die Hard," still had hair.


From ACM News

How a Look at Your Gmail Reveals the Power of Metadata

How a Look at Your Gmail Reveals the Power of Metadata

Sometimes you have to give up a little privacy in order to find out how much—or how little—privacy you really have.


From ACM Opinion

Visit to the World's Fair of 2014

The New York World's Fair of 1964 is dedicated to "Peace Through Understanding."


From ACM Opinion

The Real, Terrifying Reason Why British Authorities Detained David Miranda

The Real, Terrifying Reason Why British Authorities Detained David Miranda

Last Sunday, David Miranda was detained while changing planes at London Heathrow Airport by British authorities for nine hours under a controversial British law—the maximum time allowable without making an arrest.


From ACM Opinion

State of Innovation: Busting the Private-Sector Myth

State of Innovation: Busting the Private-Sector Myth

Images of tech entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs are continually thrown at us by politicians, economists and the media.


From ACM Opinion

On the Symmetry Between Microsoft and Apple

I am not a tech industry maven, so I am busy coming up to speed on the implications of the Ballmer resignation.


From ACM News

In Markets' Tuned-Up Machinery, Stubborn Ghosts Remain

In Markets' Tuned-Up Machinery, Stubborn Ghosts Remain

A generation ago, when the stock market crashed on Oct. 19, 1987, the Nasdaq stock market appeared to have done much better than the New York Stock Exchange.


From ACM Opinion

What Snowden and Manning Don't Understand About Secrecy

What Snowden and Manning Don't Understand About Secrecy

As an old reporter who has from time to time outed classified information, I have watched the cases of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden with professional interest.


From ACM Opinion

Life After Siri: Nuance's Uphill Climb To Being Your Digital Assistant

Life After Siri: Nuance's Uphill Climb To Being Your Digital Assistant

In the gleaming Silicon Valley branch office of speech-recognition firm Nuance Communications, a small room has been made to look like a homey den.


From ACM Opinion

Welcome to the Age of Denial

Welcome to the Age of Denial

In 1982, polls showed that 44 percent of Americans believed God had created human beings in their present form. Thirty years later, the fraction of the population who are creationists is 46 percent.


From ACM Opinion

Google Maps Trained Us to Follow Directions. Now Its Former Developer Wants Us to Explore.

Google Maps Trained Us to Follow Directions. Now Its Former Developer Wants Us to Explore.

It's not evident from the way his hair flops casually down and across, nor from his equally relaxed demeanor, but John Hanke is one of Google's most important idea men.


From ACM Opinion

Udacity CEO Says MOOC 'Magic Formula' Emerging

Udacity CEO Says MOOC 'Magic Formula' Emerging

After weathering a round of negative publicity, Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun believes vindication is at hand.


From ACM Opinion

What You Need to Know on New Details of NSA Spying

Today's report in The Wall Street Journal reveals that the National Security Agency's spying tools extend deep into the domestic U.S. telecommunications infrastructure, giving the agency a surveillance structure with the ability…


From ACM News

Hard to Crack: The Government's Encryption Conundrum

Hard to Crack: The Government's Encryption Conundrum

Imagine that you want to tell someone a secret.


From ACM Opinion

The Problem with Algorithms: Magnifying Misbehaviour

The Problem with Algorithms: Magnifying Misbehaviour

By the time you read these words, much of what has appeared on the screen of whatever device you are using has been dictated by a series of conditional instructions laid down in lines of code, whose weightings and outputs are…


From ACM Opinion

Here's What You Need to Know About the Future of Gesture-based UI Design

Here's What You Need to Know About the Future of Gesture-based UI Design

Smartphone screens across the globe are embracing clean design in an effort to feature content on high-end pixel real estate.


From ACM Opinion

The Man Who Drew Up Sony's Next Game Plan

The Man Who Drew Up Sony's Next Game Plan

Mark Cerny's soft voice and youthful looks belie the position of power he holds in the video-game industry.


From ACM News

Among the NSA's Own Tips for Securing Computers: Remove the Webcam

Among the NSA's Own Tips for Securing Computers: Remove the Webcam

Seems like everything gets hacked these days. Baby monitorsWhite House employees' personal emailToilets.


From ACM Opinion

Picture This: Is There Life After Photoshop?

Picture This: Is There Life After Photoshop?

For almost all its 23-year existence, Photoshop has dominated the digital retouching and design world.


From ACM Opinion

Maybe Everybody Should Not Learn to Code

Maybe Everybody Should Not Learn to Code

In the past few years, programming has gone mainstream, as celebrities from Chris Bosh to President Obama jump on the "everyone should learn to code" bandwagon.


From ACM Opinion

Meet the NASA Scientist Devising a Starship Warp Drive

Meet the NASA Scientist Devising a Starship Warp Drive

The idea that nothing can exceed the speed of light limits our interstellar ambitions. How do we get round this?


From ACM Opinion

Why Can't Email Be Secure?

Why Can't Email Be Secure?

Coming on the heels of our announcement that we had shut down our Silent Mail service, we received a comment about securing email communications.


From ACM Opinion

It's Time to Reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

It's Time to Reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

This year the U.S. Congress is considering changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the primary law that governs cyber crime and fraud on the Internet.


From ACM Opinion

What Does It Really Matter If Companies Are Tracking Us Online?

What Does It Really Matter If Companies Are Tracking Us Online?

Say you, like me, went to bed a little early last night.


From ACM Opinion

How to Think About Drones

How to Think About Drones

Consider David. The shepherd lad steps up to face in single combat the Philistine giant Goliath.


From ACM News

The New York Times Was Losing $5 Per Second Thanks to Its Web Site Outage

The New York Times Was Losing $5 Per Second Thanks to Its Web Site Outage

The New York Times is still reeling from a massive Web outage that took down its homepage, its corporate Web site, and everything in between.


From ACM Opinion

Owner of Snowden's Email Service on Why He Closed Lavabit Rather Than Comply With Gov't

Owner of Snowden's Email Service on Why He Closed Lavabit Rather Than Comply With Gov't

Lavabit, an encrypted email service believed to have been used by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, has abruptly shut down.

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