Sign In

Communications of the ACM

Virtual extension

If Your Pearls of Wisdom Fall in a Forest . . .

The idea of doing things that can improve something is an extremely popular concept in American culture. For example, I found the phrase,

make a difference

, in 129 million Web pages in a Yahoo! search in July 2009. The concept typically applies to impacts at local levels because, until recently, few people had opportunities to do things that could positively affect substantial numbers of people throughout the country in which they live or even throughout the world.

After dot com bubble burst, many investors found that the slogan that "the Internet changes everything" did not apply to many of the requirements for having a successful business. However the Internet really does provide opportunities for those who create knowledge to share it with more people who can use it to advantage, and share it more quickly than through other means.

Of course, this potential capability to share materials is limited by people's abilities to find useful information in the billions of pages on the Internet. Yahoo reported indexing over 19 billion pages in 2005. (Perhaps responding to criticism of the estimates,1 the leading search engine companies no longer publish counts of pages indexed. Although no one really knows how big the "haystack" is, the simile about "finding a needle" is quite applicable to the Internet.)

Nevertheless there are two aspects of innovative materials that work in favor of their being found:

• The goals of search engine companies.

• The nature of knowledge.

The full text of this article is premium content


No entries found

Log in to Read the Full Article

Sign In

Sign in using your ACM Web Account username and password to access premium content if you are an ACM member, Communications subscriber or Digital Library subscriber.

Need Access?

Please select one of the options below for access to premium content and features.

Create a Web Account

If you are already an ACM member, Communications subscriber, or Digital Library subscriber, please set up a web account to access premium content on this site.

Join the ACM

Become a member to take full advantage of ACM's outstanding computing information resources, networking opportunities, and other benefits.

Subscribe to Communications of the ACM Magazine

Get full access to 50+ years of CACM content and receive the print version of the magazine monthly.

Purchase the Article

Non-members can purchase this article or a copy of the magazine in which it appears.
Sign In for Full Access
» Forgot Password? » Create an ACM Web Account