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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

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Viewpoint DOI: 10.1145/1897852.1897880
Reaching Out to the Media: Become a Computer Science Ambassador

Frances Rosamond et al.

Science communication or public outreach can be seen as taking a lot of time and effort compared to the perceived payoffs these types of initiatives provide. In effect, there's a tragedy of the commonswe all benefit from those who do it, so there is incentive to let other people shoulder the load.

The rationale behind science communication is fairly obvious, and it is often difficult to provide compelling arguments that appeal to skeptics. Public outreach is related to the reputation of the scientific field, funding, and the integration of the science community into society. More locally and perhaps more relevantly, it is related to the reputation of your university and to the quality of your students.

Other sciences have established long-lasting traditions of transmitting their key issues, raising public awareness including highlights such as the Nobel Prize or the Fields Medal (however, rarely is the general public aware of the ACM A.M. Turing Award).

Computer science is not yet where it should be regarding public awareness. The reasons for this situation may lie in the relative youth of the area, the rapid advances in the field, as well as the fast-moving technology that computer science is related to. Computer scientists face the myriad drawbacks of lacking public awareness. They are confronted with low enrollment numbers and low funding, and to some extent, they feel ignored and misunderstood. The authors of this article provide suggestions for what can be pragmatically done to increase coverage of computer science in the media.

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Contributed Article DOI: 10.1145/1897852.1897881
The Internet Electorate

R. Kelly Garrett and James N. Danziger

The Internet was a prominent feature of the 2008 U.S. presidential election, regularly noted for its role in the Obama campaign's successful fundraising and supporter-mobilization efforts and for its widespread use by interested voters. This article reports on a national telephone survey conducted in the weeks following that election to assess how Americans' experience of elections was changing in response to the increasing availability and use of the digital communication network.

The Internet has long been heralded as an efficient means of acquiring political information, but the increasing presence of user-created content means the network is also becoming an important mode of political expression. The article examines these complementary roles, focusing on how Americans used the Internet to learn about the 2008 campaign, share political information, and voice their own opinions. Also considered is which individuals are most likely to engage in online information acquisition and expression, examining the influence of these practices on voters. Analyses are based on the national random-digit dial telephone survey of 600 adult Americans conducted two weeks after the 2008 election (November 620), with a response rate of 26.2%.

In the lead-up to the U.S. election in 2008, nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans got campaign news online, a marked increase from 2004, when only about one-quarter (27%) of Americans said they got campaign news online. Equally notable is the fact that in 2008 two-fifths (38%) of respondents reported seeking online campaign news almost every day.

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Contributed Article DOI: 10.1145/1897852.1897882
Governing Web 2.0

Steven DeHertogh, Stijn Viaene, and Guido Dedene

Web 2.0 applications aspire to make maximal use of the level playing field for engagement offered by the Internet, both technologically and socially. The World Wide Web has thereby entered "the realm of sociality," where software becomes fused with everyday social life. This evolution has taken huge stridesWeb 2.0 environments such as Wikipedia, Facebook, and MySpace have all become household names.

Both practitioners and researchers are converging on the usefulness of Web 2.0 for professional organizations. In and around enterprises, Web 2.0 platforms have been professed to support a profound change in intra- and inter-enterprise communication patterns. It is still early in terms of available management research on so-called "enterprise 2.0" experiences. Nevertheless, we have observed, as have others, that the way for organizations to capture benefits from Web 2.0 technology in the enterprise probably differs substantially from the way they attended to other enterprise information system projects in the past.

This article proposes a set of grounding principles to get the most out of enterprise 2.0 investments. The principles represent a synthesis of existing management theory and the author's own case research of companies with recent experience in introducing Web 2.0 into their enterprises. The successful introduction of Web 2.0 for the enterprise will require a move away from predesigned paternalistically imposed communication strategies and structures, toward carefully stimulating a many-to-many, decentralized emergence of bottom-up communicative connections.

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