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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.

April 2011


From ACM Opinion

Sony Hack Highlights Importance of Breach Analysis

Sony's apparent difficulty in figuring out the extent of the damage from the recent intrusion into its PlayStation Network, while frustrating for those affected by it, is not too surprising, given the bag of tricks that hackers…


From ACM Opinion

Jobs and Apple Execs on Tracking Down the Facts About iPhones and Location

Jobs and Apple Execs on Tracking Down the Facts About iPhones and Location

Although Apple was silent for several days after researchers raised issues about location information being stored on the iPhone, that wasn’t because it was ignoring the issue.


From ACM Opinion

Will Amazon's Recent Server Failures Slow the Rise of Cloud Computing?

Last Thursday morning around 5 a.m. eastern time, Amazon suffered a major data center outage. These sorts of outages happen now and then, but they seldom make news. This time, though, mainstream outlets took notice, with CNN…


From ACM Opinion

Iran's Answer to Stuxnet

Might a "halal Internet" be in the wings?


From ACM Opinion

Video Game Shapes Leadership Style of the New Head of MIT's Media Lab

Joi Ito has a knack for leading people, which he demonstrated, of all places, in World of Warcraft.


From ACM Opinion

Your iPhone Is Tracking You. So What.

Your iPhone Is Tracking You. So What.

Have you heard the news? Two researchers have discovered that the iPhone keeps a minute-by-minute, time-stamped log of everywhere you go. That’s right: Your phone is tracking you. So is the cellular version of the iPad.


From ACM News

Electronic Health Records Face Human Hurdles More than Technological Ones

Electronic Health Records Face Human Hurdles More than Technological Ones

In medicine, there's the patient and there's the chart. And the chart is paper.


From ACM Opinion

In the Digital Era Free Is Easy, So How Do You Persuade People to Pay?

In the Digital Era Free Is Easy, So How Do You Persuade People to Pay?

To compete with piracy, content providers need clear value propositions that don't conflict with the product.


From ACM Opinion

Misleading Government Stats on IT Employment

Misleading Government Stats on IT Employment

David Foote, CEO of IT workforce analyst firm Foote Partners, says that U.S. government statistics on IT employment are misleading because they do not track 16 million workers with IT jobs and skills who work outside of traditional…


From ACM Opinion

Are You Following a Bot?

Are You Following a Bot?

How to manipulate social movements by hacking Twitter.


From ACM Opinion

Got an iPhone or 3G iPad? Apple Is Recording Your Moves

Got an iPhone or 3G iPad? Apple Is Recording Your Moves

A hidden file in iOS 4 is regularly recording the position of devices.


From ACM Opinion

Web Creator's Net Neutrality Fear

Web Creator's Net Neutrality Fear

The inventor of the Web has said that governments must act to preserve the principle of net neutrality. Sir Tim Berners-Lee told the BBC that legislation may be needed if self-regulation failed.


From ACM Opinion

Patently Obvious

Patently Obvious

On Monday the Supreme Court will consider whether to fundamentally alter the way American patent law is litigated. Specifically, in the context of an otherwise unremarkable patent dispute, the Court has promised to decide…


From ACM Opinion

The Web's Trust Issues

The Web's Trust Issues

The most dubious phrase in English after "act natural" is "trust me." A party asking for trust without offering a reason why is probably untrustworthy. And yet the Internet's entire security ecosystem relies on precisely that…


From ACM News

Just How Creepy Is 'Creepy'? A Test-Drive

Just How Creepy Is 'Creepy'? A Test-Drive

You probably know that some Internet and cell phone applications like Foursquare or Twitter can broadcast your location to the world. And you might know that Web sites with names like PleaseRobMe and ICanStalkYou have been…


From ACM News

How Google Is Teaching Computers to See

How Google Is Teaching Computers to See

Computers used to be blind, and now they can see.  Thanks to increasingly sophisticated algorithms, computers today can recognize and identify the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa, and a can of Budweiser. Still, despite huge technological…


From ACM Opinion

Forget Space Travel: It's Just a Dream

Forget Space Travel: It's Just a Dream

The clash of two titans—physics and chemistry—are major barriers to human space travel to Mars and beyond, and may well make it impossible... at least with current technologies.


From ACM Opinion

Mars Science Laboratory + Curiosity Rover: Interview with NASA JPL's Ashwin Vasavada

Mars Science Laboratory + Curiosity Rover: Interview with NASA JPL's Ashwin Vasavada

Boing Boing visited NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a peek inside the clean room where NASA's next Mars rover, Curiosity, and other components of the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft have been built for launch in late…


From ACM News

Why Cisco's Flip Flopped in the Camera Business

Why Cisco's Flip Flopped in the Camera Business

Cisco is shutting down a business unit that it bought for over half-a-billion dollars: the Flip camcorder division. That's a shame, considering how high the Flip was flying a few short years ago. It's also a waste, considering…


From ACM Opinion

Disappearing Act

Disappearing Act

Jack Dorsey is the creator and executive chairman of the popular communications network Twitter. In 2009, he cofounded another company, called Square, which lets people accept credit-card payments with their smart phones.…


From ACM Opinion

Matt Cutts, Google Engineer

Matt Cutts, Google Engineer

It was the usual standing-room-only crowd as Google's Matt Cutts appeared at the South By Southwest technology conference to talk about the inner workings of the world's leading search engine. Hundreds of webmasters and people…


From ACM Opinion

No More Privacy Paranoia

No More Privacy Paranoia

Want Web companies to stop using our personal data? Be ready to suffer the consequences.


From ACM Opinion

Ubiquity Symposium: What Have We Said About Computation?

Ubiquity Symposium: What Have We Said About Computation?

A recent ACM Ubiquity symposium considered the question: “What is computation?” In this closing article, Ubiquity's editor-in-chief Peter J. Denning shares what he has learned from the 14 contributors to the symposium.  


From ACM Opinion

Why I Don't Own a Kindle

Why I Don't Own a Kindle

I've done my part to prop up the consumer-electronics industry in recent years: a flat-panel TV downstairs and one upstairs, his and hers smartphones, not-too-obsolete digital cameras, a desktop computer upstairs and an iPad…


From ACM Opinion

The Problem with Design Education

The Problem with Design Education

University industrial design programs are usually cloistered in schools of art or architecture, and students in such programs are rarely required to study science or technology. That bothers Don Norman, former head of research…


From ACM Opinion

In Praise of Distraction

In Praise of Distraction

For many Americans, March Madness has been a time to worry about office pools, busted brackets, and buzzer beaters. For American businesses, though, the N.C.A.A. tournament is just an occasion to worry about distracted and…


From ACM Opinion

Patents and Innovation

The tech world has recently seen an explosion in patent litigation, often involving low-quality software patents, which threatens to stifle innovation.


From ACM Opinion

Where Will Larry Page Lead Google?

Where Will Larry Page Lead Google?

In the 10 years since the last time Larry Page was Google's chief executive, the company has changed a bit. It has gone from an ambitious startup to a publicly listed giant of the Internet which generates cash and has 24,000…


From ACM Opinion

When Will Sci-Fi Tech Become Real? Sooner than You Think

When Will Sci-Fi Tech Become Real? Sooner than You Think

Growing up, physicist Michio Kaku had two heroes. The first, predictably enough for the man who co-founded a branch of string theory, was Albert Einstein. "Second?" he said. "I used to watch 'Flash Gordon.' "


From ACM Opinion

China's War in Cyberspace, August

Strategic theorists frequently lament that military planners are very effective at preparing for the last war, not the next one. Planners today must cope with what conflict may look like in a new domain: cyber­space, the virtual…

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