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In the Virtual Extension

Communications' Virtual Extension brings more quality articles to ACM members. These articles are now available in the ACM Digital Library.
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Offshoring and the New World Order
Rudy Hirschheim

Outsourcing as a means of meeting organizational information technology (IT) demands is a commonly accepted and growing practice—one that is continually evolving to include a much wider set of business functions: logistics, accounting, human resources, legal, and risk assessment. Firms are rushing overseas to have their IT work performed by offshore vendors. Such change, many argue, is merely the natural progression of first moving blue-collar work overseas followed by white-collar work. IT jobs are most visible to us in the IT field, but the same is happening to other business functions/processes. This article analyzes some of the implications for the IT field from a U.S. perspective.

If Your Pearls of Wisdom Fall in a Forest…
Ralph Westfall

"Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door." Will that really happen? Not if the world doesn’t discover your concept! Few of us work with mousetrap technologies, but many of us do have good ideas that we would like to share with others. For academics, communicating research findings is very important for advancement. This article tells how to help more people find your good ideas among the hundreds of billions of Web pages in the maze that is the Internet.

Quantifying the Benefits of Investing in Information Security
Lara Khansa and Divakaran Liginlal

Quantifying the benefits of investing in information security has been a challenge for researchers due to the lack of credible and available firm-level data. In this article, the authors use the revenue data from information security firms to quantify investment in information security products and services. They demonstrate that higher information security investments, especially identity and access management, are instrumental in reducing the severity of malicious attacks, which could be seriously detrimental to the stock price of breached firms. More importantly, they show that greater investment in information security is associated with an increase in the stock price of information security firms.

iCare Home Portal: An Extended Model of Quality Aging E-Services
Wei-Lun Chang, Soe-Tsyer, and Eldon Y. Li

As the worldwide elderly population is expanding much faster than that of the younger generation, digital devices and applications that help care for the elderly are increasingly popular. This study proposes an electronic iCare model that utilizes collective decision-making to underscore the desired care quality elements of consumer participation and continuous quality improvement. This model goes beyond environmental, physical, and relationship aspects to envision possible forms of iCare e-services and the ontology required to empower agents to fulfill the collective decision process.

Computing Journals and their Emerging Roles in Knowledge Exchange
Aakash Taneja, Anil Singh, M.K. Raja

Scholarly articles in journals use citations to both provide a basis and context for the current work. These journals play three unique roles as sources, storers, and synthesizers of knowledge communication. While the journals’ role as sources is recognized, their role as synthesizers is relatively unnoticed. This study investigates the interconnectedness of an expanded list of 50 computing journals through citation analysis to explore their roles as sources, storers and synthesizers in their communication network. It also draws on visual analysis along with dependence calculations to provide an insight about the domains and positions of computing journals.

And What Can Context Do For Data?
C. Bolchini, C. A. Curino, G. Orsi, E. Quintarelli, R. Rossato, F. A. Schrieber, and L. Tanca

Within an information system, the knowledge demands of users may depend on two different aspects: the application domain that represents the reality under examination, and the working environment, in other words, the context. This article shows how fitting data, possibly assembled and integrated from many data sources, to applications needs is tantamount to fitting a dress—context is the tailoring scissors. Using a real-estate company as a backdrop, the authors define a tree-based context model and a context-guided methodology to support the designer in identifying the contexts for a given application scenario and to choose the correspondingly relevant subsets of data.

Why Web Sites Are Lost (and How They’re Sometimes Found)
Frank McCown, Catherine C. Marshall, and Michael L. Nelson

One day a Web site is up; the next day it’s all but disappeared. We probably know someone who has experienced the loss of a Web site, either through hard-drive crashes, ISP bankruptcies, and some such event. The authors survey individuals who have lost Web sites and examine what happened and how these individuals went about reconstructing their sites, including how they recovered data from search engine caches and Web archives. The findings suggest that digital data loss is likely to continue since backups are frequently neglected or performed incorrectly. Moreover, respondents perceive that loss is uncommon and that data safety is the responsibility of others. The authors suggest this benign neglect be countered by lazy preservation techniques.

Technical Opinion: Steering Self-Learning Distance Algorithms
Frank Nielsen

The concept of distance expresses the distortion measure between any pair of entities lying in a common space. Distances are ubiquitous in computational science. We concisely review the role and recent development of distance families in computer science. Today, the most appropriate distance functions of complex high-dimensional data sets can no longer be guessed manually and hard-coded, but rather must be fully automatically learned, or even better, partially user-steered for personalization. We envision a whole new generation of personalized information retrieval systems incorporating self-learning built-in distance modules, and providing user interfaces to better take into consideration the subjective tastes of users/groups.

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