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Editorial pointers

Editorial Pointers

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In less than a decade, the Internet has become so ingrained in our daily lives that many of us would agree we could not imagine living without it. But is it truly indispensable? Hoffman et al. surveyed the domestication of the Net and found not only an astronomical rise in the number of users in a mere three-year span but answers for many usage questions, particularly regarding which groups find the Net most vital and which tasks they use it to perform. Meanwhile, Jackson et al. examine Internet use on "the other side" of the digital divide, namely low-income African-American and Caucasian users in the midwestern U.S. What their research didn't find is as compelling as what it discovered.

A growing trend in law enforcement is recruiting tech-savvy citizens to help unearth a mounting trove of electronic evidence. The efforts have been a learning experience for both sides: Law enforcers learn more about tracking and translating cyber clues, while reservists are schooled in the laws governing evidence and the methods for securing it. Harrison et al., a working group of reservists for the Hillsboro (Oregon) Police Department, offer a fascinating firsthand account of their experience in high-tech forensics.

If universities do not view the creation of online courses as beneficial to the future of their faculty, why should academics pursue such efforts? George Schell argues if universities marginalize the importance of online courses, the long-term viability of distance learning in the U.S. is in jeopardy. Also, Chari and Seshadri examine the challenges of adopting a standards-based approach to enterprise applications integration. They propose a pioneering framework that provides a global view of existing standards and specifications.

The columns this month confront some of the more hotly contested topics on the table today. In "Technology Strategies and Management," Michael Cusumano argues that unless Microsoft adopts a new set of business strategies, its future will be spent more in the courtroom than in the R&D lab. Rebecca Mercuri examines the security risks attached to recent legislation designed to improve health care data access in "Security Watch." And in "The Profession of IT," Peter Denning debunks the popular image of computing as a programmers' domain.

Economist Catherine Mann debated some classic outsourcing assumptions in a recent, and controversial, Op-Ed essay in the New York Times. In this month's "Viewpoint," she contends global outsourcing will ultimately result in more jobs for U.S. IT workers; but they won't be the same jobs.

Diane Crawford,

©2004 ACM  0002-0782/04/0700  $5.00

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