Computing Applications President's letter

A New Beginning, A Fond Farewell

I am writing this column in my last month as President of ACM. It's been a great opportunity to support the Association's many successful programs and to expand and firmly establish new directions. Much has been accomplished, much remains to be done.
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At this moment, you hold in your hands one of the biggest improvements—the newly renovated Communications of the ACM. From the outset of this ambitious project, our goal has been to make this a vibrant publication, a must-read and can't-wait-to-read for people everywhere who are excited by and depend on progress in computing. Readers need to know what is best and new in research, what is ripe enough to influence practice in a year or two, and what is happening in industry, government, and universities that affects the way we work.

The goal of the new Communications is to present a diverse collection of articles about the most interesting research in the field, as well as perspectives and reviews of hot topics, all written for knowledgeable and engaged computer scientists. It also brings articles about technology directions and problems that will interest practitioners and their managers. A new Practice section, aimed at computing professionals who develop, deploy, and enhance real systems, will leverage the success of the Association's respected ACM Queue magazine by having its editorial board serve as Communications' Practice board. In addition, you can now find news and analysis articles about people, organizations, funding, and directions in computing worldwide. Indeed, each section of the new Communications has an editorial team assigned to select and shape its content. These teams unite leading voices from across the global computing field. I am eager to read upcoming issues.

ACM is striving to reach out to computer experts everywhere. Much of computing science, technology, and applications is location-independent, but the way people work is affected by where they live. Numerous activities are under way to make ACM more relevant to members outside the U.S. as well as to Americans with an increasingly global viewpoint: A growing number of ACM leaders—including elected officers, members of Council, as well as members of many ACM Boards and SIGs—are from outside the U.S. We have opened an office in Beijing to enable us to participate more fully in China. We also have advisory groups in China, India, and Europe to help ACM do more for our members and potential members in those areas.

In addition, we are working to address problems and concerns relating to our field. In many countries, university enrollment in the computing disciplines has been falling for years. Despite the centrality of information technologies to the economy and society, too many people think the bloom is off the rose. Yet new technological marvels arrive regularly because of the fantastic work by computer scientists and engineers like you. In an effort to call more widespread attention to such marvels, ACM has undertaken a number of initiatives to address the image of the profession, including examining the role of policy, education, and diversity. We have planted the seeds; look for visible signs of growth in the coming years.

One way to increase visibility of the field, both within academia and in public, is through professional awards and press coverage. We have raised the financial levels of a number of ACM awards and instituted a new major prize—the ACM-Infosys Foundation Award—to recognize and honor great work in computer science. We have increased efforts to garner attention from the media and policy makers with our timely reports, boards, awards, and contributions from our excellent members.

As I noted in my opening remarks, much has been accomplished and much remains to be done. Thank you for allowing me this chance to serve the community and ACM.

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