In the Virtual Extension

To ensure the timely publication of articles, Communications created the Virtual Extension (VE) to expand the page limitations of the print edition by bringing readers the same high-quality articles in an online-only format. VE articles undergo the same rigorous review process as those in the print edition and are accepted for publication on merit. The following synopses are from articles now available in their entirety to ACM members via the Digital Library.
  1. Viewpoint DOI: 10.1145/1859204.1859234
  2. Contributed article DOI: 10.1145/1859204.1859236
  3. Contributed article DOI: 10.1145/1859204.1859235
  4. Footnotes

*  The Role of Conference Publications in CS

Massimo Franceschet

The role of conference publications in computer science is controversial. Conferences have the undeniable advantages of providing fast and regular publication of papers and of bringing researchers together by offering the opportunity to present and discuss the paper with peers. These peculiar features of conferences are particularly important because computer science is a relatively young and fast-evolving discipline.

Recently, Communications published a series of thought-provoking Viewpoint columns and letters that swim against the tide. These contributions highlight many flaws of the conference system, in particular when compared to archival journals, and also suggest a game-based solution to scale the academic publication process to Internet scale. Some of the mentioned flaws are: short time for referees to review the papers, limited number of pages for publication, limited time for authors to polish the paper after receiving comments from reviewers, and overload of the best researchers as reviewers in conference program committees.

This article gives an alternative view on this hot issue: the bibliometric perspective. Bibliometrics has become a standard tool of science policy and research management in the last decades. In particular, academic institutions increasingly rely on bibliometric analysis for making decisions regarding hiring, promotion, tenure, and funding of scholars. This article investigates the frequency and impact of conference publications in computer science as compared with journal articles. The set of computer science publications is stratified by author, topic, and nation; in particular, publications of the most prolific, most popular, and most prestigious scholars in computer science are analyzed and evaluated.

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Contributed article DOI: 10.1145/1859204.1859236

*  IT 2008: The History of a New Computing Discipline

Barry Lunt, J. Ekstrom, Han Reichgelt, Michael Bailey, and Richard LeBlanc

The early 1990s saw the emergence of the Internet from the environs of the technical cognoscenti into the dot-com world with an interface for the masses. The increased complexity and importance of computing technologies for the success of organizations and individuals led to a growing need for professionals to select, create, apply, integrate, and administer an organizational IT infrastructure. The skill sets needed for the new breed of network and system administrators were not provided by the computer science programs of the time. Moreover, information systems programs, with the business education requirements of their accreditation bodies, were equally unwilling or unable to include the technical depth required.

In response to this new educational need, university programs arose that were called Information Systems and Computer Science, respectively, but were something else entirely. These programs, and others like them, sprung up independently and spontaneously to satisfy the needs of employers for workers with skills in networks, distributed systems, and beginning in the mid-1990s, the Web.

On the national level, the Computing Sciences Accrediting Board was joining with ABET. Within ABET both the newly formed Computing Accreditation Commission and the Technology Accreditation Commission had noticed the emerging IT programs, and were wondering under which commission IT would best fit. It was in this lively environment that a group was formed that would guide IT through the period of defining its own model curriculum, its place with respect to the other computing programs already extant, and its own accreditation criteria.

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Contributed article DOI: 10.1145/1859204.1859235

*  A Global Collaboration to Deploy Help to China

Ralph Morelli, Chamindra de Silva, Trishan de Lanerolle, Rebecca Curzon, and Xin Sheng Mao

On May 12, 2008, an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale struck in Sichuan Province in southwestern China, destroying homes, schools, hospitals, roads, and vital power and communication infrastructure. More than 45 million people were affected—tens of thousands were killed, hundreds of thousands injured, millions of people were evacuated and left homeless, and millions of buildings were destroyed.

When the earthquake hit, several members of what became an international, volunteer, disaster-management IT team were attending a workshop in Washington, D.C. organized by IBM to train IBM personnel and others in the use and deployment of Sahana, a free and open source software (FOSS) disaster management system.

Sahana is a Web-based collaboration tool that helps manage information resources during a disaster recovery effort. It supports a wide range of relief efforts from finding missing persons, to managing volunteers, tracking resources, and coordinating refugee camps. Sahana enables government groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the victims themselves to work together during a disaster recovery effort.

This article provides a firsthand account of an international team effort to install the Sahana system in Chengdu, Sichuan. It describes how a diverse, multidisciplinary team worked together to assist the earthquake recovery effort. The success of the collaboration illustrates the power of virtual communities working across international boundaries using a variety of communication software. It also demonstrates that the Internet has truly made us all neighbors and is constantly forcing us to redefine our concept of community.

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