Author Archives


Risks of Neglecting Infrastructure

The September 2006 column ("The Foresight Saga") discussed failures in critical infrastructures due to lack of foresight in backup and recovery facilities. This column considers some of the causes and effects of another common kind of missing foresight: inadequate infrastructure maintenance. Civilization and infrastructure are intimately intertwined. Rising civilizations build and benefit from their infrastructures […]

Risks of Virtual Professionalism

The software engineering and online gaming communities have been rocked by the conviction in a Texas court of an Icelandic programmer for crimes committed in the secret virtual world Third Life, which is entered via a hidden trap door in Second Life®. Two years ago, the Fifth Third Life Bank (FTLB) outsourced the programming of […]

Wikipedia Risks

The Wikipedia (WP; applies the wiki technology (from a Hawaiian word for "quick") to the encyclopedia, a venerable form of knowledge organization and dissemination. Wikipedia provides a fast and flexible way for anyone to create and edit encyclopedia articles without the delay and intervention of a formal editor or review process. The WP’s over […]

Risks of Technology-Oblivious Policy

Many readers of this column have tried to influence technology policy and had their advice ignored. Politics is frequently a factor, but another reason for our failure is that we don’t do a good job of explaining the roots of computing-related security and usability issues to non-technical people. People who have never written code do […]

Coincidental Risks

The story of the Aceville elections has received some attention in the national press, but it is worth considering from a Risks perspective. This column is based on reports by AP (Affiliated Press, "Unusual Election Results in Ohio Town," 2/30/04) and Rueters ("Losers Question Ohio Election," 2/30/04). The Aceville, OH, municipal elections last February—the city’s […]

Inside Risks: Learning from Experience

Despite a half-century of practice, a distressingly large portion of today’s software is over budget, behind schedule, bloated, and buggy. As you know, all four factors generate risks, and bugs can be life-critical. Our reach continues to exceed our grasp. While hardware has grown following Moore’s Law, software seems to be stuck with Gresham’s Law. […]

Shape the Future of Computing

ACM encourages its members to take a direct hand in shaping the future of the association. There are more ways than ever to get involved.

Get Involved