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Communications of the ACM

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Computer Science Encyclopedia Can Fill a Gap


There is an important gap in Computer Science education and professional collaboration that can be filled by an nonprofit online reputable, referenceable Encyclopedia supported by appropriate professionally-relevant advertising. The Encyclopedia should be managed by a prestigious Editorial Board which appoints a hierarchy of editors to moderate articles.  The Editorial Board can guarantee editorial independence from advertisers analogous to current professional practices for journals and conferences. Anyone would be allowed to register under their own name to submit suggestions and drafts to the editors. Access to articles would be free and available to all. The Encyclopedia must establish procedures to be fair and inclusive on the basis of race, sex, religion, age, disability, and national origin integrating content that is suitable for everyone from pre-school to advanced researchers.

In due course, the Encyclopedia could support interactive articles with videos, animations, and dynamic narrations. Within a decade, interactive content could be a requirement for almost every article. Over time, the Encyclopedia should be organized using ontological services supporting programmatic interfaces for a knowledge graph.

Ultimately, the Encyclopedia should become a standard rock-solid reference that is a trustworthy professionally accountable educational resource for all. Currently, there is no online encyclopedia as described above that can serve as the source of valid scientific references. (Articles in social media platforms with anonymous contributors are not suitable for scientific references because there is no clear professional accountability.) Our profession has the credibility and resources to create an Encyclopedia that will serve as the professional standard. Serving as a member of the Editorial Board could become a prestigious office for senior professionals to provide their experience and judgment. Professional reputations could be enhanced by contributing to the Encyclopedia because contributions would be publicly announced.  In this way, the Encyclopedia could knit together our profession in an important way that is lacking.  The Encyclopedia could fundamentally improve education and professional relationships in Computer Science.

The nonprofit professional Encyclopedia will be self-supporting through appropriate professionally-relevant advertising carefully curated for high standards using existing advertising programs. Advertisements must fair and inclusive on the basis of race, sex, religion, age, disability, and national origin.

 

Carl Hewitt is an emeritus professor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He is board chair of iRobust, an international scientific society for the promotion of the field of Inconsistency Robustness, and board chair of Standard IoT, an international standards organization for the Internet of Things, which is using the Actor Model to unify and generalize emerging standards for IoT.


 

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