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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Editorial Pointers

Distance learningone of the current industry catchphrasescan trace its fairly young roots to the military where team training has become a powerful means for teaching groups of people in vastly different locales to work together. Distributed Mission Training (DMT) has been further enhanced recently by great advancements in VR and real-time networking technologies that now allow for creating shared synthetic environments that provide integrative training platforms. These experiences have revolutionized DMT and have far-reaching implications for the practice of training and teaching humans.

This month's special section presents a series of articles demonstrating the progress and potential of DMT. Indeed, guest editors R. Ramesh and Dee Andrews contend that DMT is currently very state-of-the-art, but look for it to be state-of-practice in the next millennium. We hope these stories help pave the way to appreciating its potential.

E-commerce is the common thread running through several of our feature articles this month. Palmer and Eriksen offer a stimulating discussion on how digital newspapers worldwide are faring on the Net, particularly in regards to marketing their own product. Gupta, Stahl, and Whinston argue the economics of network management by outlining a consummate price-setting model they hope will promote a better understanding of e-commerce and its business opportunities. An appreciation of the elegance of e-commerce is outlined in an article by Dhamija, Heller, and Hoffman who tell of lessons learned from teaching this subject to a group of highly creative students from a variety of academic backgrounds.

In other news, Robertson and Powell add a new voice to our running debate on Y2K woes by pointing out the benefits of the preparation rush. The authors insist that efforts to make organizations Y2K compliant now should pay off handsomely in the future. Y2K readiness abroad, however, is ruefully behind as detailed in "International Perspectives." William McHenry gives a Y2K progress report as well as offers suggestions for heightening awareness and action overseas.

Pam Samuelson, our highly respected and responsible voice on legal matters for the past decade, takes a well-deserved sabbatical after this installment of "Legally Speaking." Her target this time is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and why it does not achieve the delicate balance between fair use and copyright protection that is its objective. We wish Pam all the best with her plans for the coming year. Words cannot do justice to our appreciation for her untiring dedication to this magazine and its readers.

Diane Crawford, Editor

COMING NEXT MONTH: We spotlight current uses of the Unified Modeling Language (UML). Also, an exclusive report on Netscape, along with articles on privacy interfaces, framework integration, and multipurpose publishing.

©1999 ACM  0002-0782/99/0800  $5.00

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