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Communications of the ACM

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The opinion archive provides access to past opinion stories from Communications of the ACM and other sources by date.

February 2012


From ACM Opinion

How Young is Too Young to Learn to Code?

How Young is Too Young to Learn to Code?

When the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 2 spend exactly zero time in front of screens, what its members are concerned about is substitution—all the time those children aren't spending acquiring…


From ACM Opinion

Is TED Elitist?

In a nutshell, no. It certainly attracts people who are regarded as elite in their area of expertise. But the word "elitist" implies exclusionary, and there have been numerous steps in recent years to open up our conferences…


From ACM Opinion

Building Responsive Web Sites: How to Handle Navigation Menus

Building Responsive Web Sites: How to Handle Navigation Menus

The Web is moving rapidly away from its fixed-layout past into what it arguably should have been all along—a flexible medium that adapts to any screen size.


From ACM News

STEM, Gender Parity, and Faculty Retention

STEM, Gender Parity, and Faculty Retention

Universities retain and promote men and women at similar rates in STEM departments, except for mathematics, according to a new study. However, the odds that any STEM faculty member, male or female, stays on is less than 50 percent…


From ACM Opinion

How Does Siri Knockoff Evi Compare to the iPhone's Original Digital Assistant?

How Does Siri Knockoff Evi Compare to the iPhone's Original Digital Assistant?

Evi, the Siri knockoff that got attention last week for looking too much like Siri, has beendownloaded over 200,000 times, leading us to believe that this one might be worth it for those iPhone users on pre-4s iPhones.


From ACM Opinion

Social Media in 2012 Elections Will Make 2008 Look Like the Digital Dark Ages

Social Media in 2012 Elections Will Make 2008 Look Like the Digital Dark Ages

Forget all the jibber-jabber in this presidential campaign about policy and strategy. The highlight for me of this election cycle came when the Obama campaign released its Spotify playlist a couple of weeks ago.


From ACM Opinion

The Coming Entanglement: Bill Joy and Danny Hillis

Digital innovators Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, and Danny Hillis, co-founder of the Long Now Foundation, talk with Scientific American Executive Editor Fred Guterl about the technological Entanglement and the attempts…


From ACM Opinion

Web Privacy Standards: Easy to Break, Hard to Enforce

Web Privacy Standards: Easy to Break, Hard to Enforce

Over the past week, Google has been called out for bypassing default privacy settings in both Safari and Internet Explorer in order to serve up advertising cookies. The two cases were quite different.


From ACM Opinion

Pinterest: Hot New Network or Another Quora?

Pinterest: Hot New Network or Another Quora?

After a decade of struggle, the social networking battlefield has quietened down. Facebook is the undisputed champion, while Twitter serves for instant news and comment.


From ACM TechNews

IBM Says Future Computers Will Be Constant Learners

IBM Says Future Computers Will Be Constant Learners

Tomorrow's computers will constantly improve their understanding of the data they work with, which will help them provide users with more appropriate information, predicts IBM fellow David Ferrucci.  


From ACM Opinion

The U.N. Threat to Internet Freedom

The U.N. Threat to Internet Freedom

On Feb. 27, a diplomatic process will begin in Geneva that could result in a new treaty giving the United Nations unprecedented powers over the Internet.


From ACM Careers

Bill Campbell Makes Future of Journalism His Next Crusade

Buried way down in a recent news release announcing a media innovation institute to be shared by Stanford and Columbia universities was an intriguing tidbit: The institute's board of advisers includes Silicon Valley legend Bill…


From ACM Opinion

The Connected Human: How the World Is About to Get Even Smaller

The Connected Human: How the World Is About to Get Even Smaller

It may be difficult to imagine a world where human beings are even more connected than we are now.

 


From ACM Opinion

Why LightSquared Failed: It Was Science, Not Politics

Why LightSquared Failed: It Was Science, Not Politics

The seeds of LightSquared's failure to win government clearance to build a 4G-LTE network can, ironically, be found in the "approval" the company received just 13 months ago.


From ACM Opinion

Apple Needs More Than A Good Lawyer in China

Apple Needs More Than A Good Lawyer in China

Apple has no problem getting Chinese consumers to desire its products, as a near-riot outside its Beijing store showed in January. But the U.S. tech giant has been beset by problems.


From ACM Opinion

Tech Pioneer Channels Hard Lessons Into Silicon Valley Success

Tech Pioneer Channels Hard Lessons Into Silicon Valley Success

Modern computer games and their fast-paced graphics require an incredible amount of computing horsepower. So much, in fact, that the kinds of chips commonly used for gaming are now being built into some of the world's fastest…


From ACM Opinion

Graphic Designers Are Ruining the Web

What happens when you click on a Weblink? Here's one answer: A request goes from your computer to a server identified by the URL of the desired link. The server then locates the Webpage in its files and sends it back to your…


From ACM Opinion

Harvard Mapping My DNA Turns Scary as Threatening Gene Emerges

Four months after I walked into a lab at Harvard University and gave a vial of blood to have my genome sequenced, my search to understand my DNA led me to Mark Sanders, a former Indiana firefighter.


From ACM Opinion

The Internet Is Broken; We Need to Start Over

Last year, the level and ferocity of cyberattacks on the Internet reached such a horrendous level that some are now thinking the unthinkable: let the Internet wither on the vine and start up a new more robust one instead.


From ACM Opinion

Apple's Mountain Lion Makes the Mac More Like the iPad

Apple's iPhones and iPads get most of the attention, but Apple is now directing the spotlight on the Mac.


From ACM Opinion

LightSquared Blew It, and Here's Why

 LightSquared Blew It, and Here's Why

LightSquared may have had a great case for building its wireless network, but the fledgling company lacked the political tact to see it through.


From ACM Opinion

A High-Tech War on Leaks

A High-Tech War on Leaks

Back in 2006, before the Obama administration made leak prosecutions routine, a panel of three federal appeals court judges in New York struggled to decide whether a prosecutor should be allowed to see the phone records of two…


From ACM Opinion

Researchers Detail Flaw in Online Cryptography, but Don't Panic

First, the bad news: A small number of active RSA public encryption keys, a popular type of encryption protocol that secures billions of online transactions, offer "no security at all."


From ACM Opinion

The Delivery Guy Who Saw Jeremy Lin Coming

The Delivery Guy Who Saw Jeremy Lin Coming

The morning after Jeremy Lin sank a thrilling, last-second three-pointer that lifted the New York Knicks over the Toronto Raptors and gave "Linsanity" its latest, rapturous chapter, the mysterious basketball oracle who saw it…


From ACM Opinion

What Dropbox Can Teach Us About Cloud Computing

What Dropbox Can Teach Us About Cloud Computing

Dropbox is the most deceptively simple of services.


From ACM Opinion

Rudy Rucker: 'All These Years, and I'm Still Looking for the Big Aha'

Rudy Rucker: 'All These Years, and I'm Still Looking for the Big Aha'

"When I see an old movie, like from the '40s or '50s or '60s, the people look so calm. They don't have smart phones, they're not looking at computer screens, they're taking their time. They'll sit in a chair and just stare off…


From ACM Opinion

Inside Google's Bet on 'Consumerization'

Inside Google's Bet on 'Consumerization'

Here's Google's strategy for selling to the enterprise: Take a popular consumer product, make a few small enhancements and tack the words "for business" on the end of the name.


From ACM Opinion

The Mathematical Equation that Caused the Banks to Crash

The Mathematical Equation that Caused the Banks to Crash

It was the holy grail of investors. The Black-Scholes equation, brainchild of economists Fischer Black and Myron Scholes, provided a rational way to price a financial contract when it still had time to run. It was like buying…


From ACM Opinion

Cyberwar Is the New Yellowcake, Fueling a Cybersecurity-Industrial Complex

Cyberwar Is the New Yellowcake, Fueling a Cybersecurity-Industrial Complex

In last month's State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to pass "legislation that will secure our country from the growing dangers of cyber threats."


From ACM Opinion

A Cyber Risk to the U.S.

In a recent briefing to Congress about worldwide threats, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said that the danger of cyberattacks will equal or surpass the danger of terrorism "in the foreseeable future." What makes that assessment…

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