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Communications of the ACM

Opinion Archive


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

May 2011


From ACM News

Intel Anthropologist: Fieldwork with the Silicon Tribe

Intel Anthropologist: Fieldwork with the Silicon Tribe

Anthropologist Genevieve Bell gives the chip maker insight into how people experience new technologies.


From ACM News

Bill Would Keep Big Brother's Mitts Off Your GPS Data

Bill Would Keep Big Brother's Mitts Off Your GPS Data

The reauthorization of the Patriot Act looks like a forgone conclusion. But next month, a bipartisan band of legislators will try to mitigate a different kind of damage done to civil liberties: the government’s warrantless…


From ACM Opinion

A Day With John Lasseter, King of Pixar

A Day With John Lasseter, King of Pixar

In today's hyper-networked world, where anyone can reach anybody at any time, John Lasseter is something of an anachronism. Though he is routinely armed with an iPhone and at least one iPad, the man who oversees the entire…


From ACM Opinion

A Brief Lesson in American History, or Why 'World of Warcraft' Matters

A Brief Lesson in American History, or Why 'World of Warcraft' Matters

Many readers are probably too young too remember Senator William Proxmire. I am sorry to say he served in the U.S. Senate from 1957 to 1989. Despite some good works, Senator Proxmire's lasting legacy has been as an enemy of…


From ACM Opinion

Critical Mass: How to Maintain the Power of Online Reviews

The wisdom of crowds can be brilliant. It can also be corrupt.


From ACM Opinion

Windows 8: What Should Be, If You Ask Me

What's next for Microsoft Windows? With Windows 7 now 19 months old, plenty of people are curious about its successor, a product that everybody's calling Windows 8, even though it hasn't been officially named yet.


From ACM Opinion

The STEM (aka "Smarty Pants") Conundrum

The STEM (aka "Smarty Pants") Conundrum

The promotion of science and math degrees is hampered by the impression that only the smartest of the smart can obtain them. What can educators do to make STEM's reputation more accessible and less scary? What incentives…


From ACM Opinion

What Big Data Needs: A Code of Ethical Practices

What Big Data Needs: A Code of Ethical Practices

In this era of Big Data, there is little that cannot be tracked in our online lives—or even in our offline lives. Consider one new Silicon Valley venture, called Color: it aims to make use of GPS devices in mobile phones,…


From ACM Opinion

When the Internet Thinks It Knows You

Once upon a time, the story goes, we lived in a broadcast society. In that dusty pre-Internet age, the tools for sharing information weren’t widely available. If you wanted to share your thoughts with the masses, you had to…


From ACM News

Open Source Hardware: Seven Questions for Limor Fried

Open Source Hardware: Seven Questions for Limor Fried

Limor Fried discusses the future of the open source hardware movement, Facebook’s decision to open source its new data center, and being featured on the cover of Wired.


From ACM News

Can Tornado Prediction Be Improved?

Can Tornado Prediction Be Improved?

Advances in computer modeling and other technologies still cannot overcome the fundamental complexity of thunderstorm and subsequent tornado formation.


From ACM Opinion

Open Science: A Future Shaped By Shared Experience

Open Science: A Future Shaped By Shared Experience

Mapping the human genome showed how the Internet can play a vital part in collective scientific research. Now more scientists are collaborating—and inviting amateurs and colleagues from other disciplines to get involved.


From ACM Opinion

One on One: Jaron Lanier

One on One: Jaron Lanier

Jaron Lanier, a partner architect at Microsoft Research, has had a long and varied career in technology. Mr. Lanier popularized the term "virtual reality" in the 1980s and has worked for decades on computer science, physics…


From ACM Opinion

Why Library Privacy Matters

Without library privacy, individuals might not engage in free and open inquiry for fear that their interactions with the library will be used against them.


From ACM Opinion

Ethernet Inventor Bob Metcalfe

Ethernet Inventor Bob Metcalfe

It's hard to overestimate the importance of Ethernet to networking over the past 25 years. When Network World started, the technology had been around a while, but in the last 25 years we have seen Ethernet come to dominate…


From ACM News

Eric Schmidt: Anti-Piracy Laws Would Be Disaster for Free Speech

Eric Schmidt: Anti-Piracy Laws Would Be Disaster for Free Speech

Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, warned on Wednesday that government plans to block access to illicit filesharing websites could set a "disastrous precedent" for freedom of speech.


From ACM News

Why You Can't Really Anonymize Your Data

One of the joys of the last few years has been the flood of real-world data sets being released by all sorts of organizations. These usually involve some record of individuals' activities, so to assuage privacy fears, the…


From ACM News

Andy Rubin: Why Android Is Only Quasi-Open

Andy Rubin: Why Android Is Only Quasi-Open

Android is open-source software, but it doesn't come with much of an open-source community, and the Google leader of the project explained why.


From ACM News

How Computers Got Us Into Space

How Computers Got Us Into Space

When you look back at the past 50 years of human spaceflight, don't forget the computer scientists who helped make it possible.


From ACM News

Workplace Robots Need a Better View

Workplace Robots Need a Better View

Robotics pioneer Rodney Brooks says a new generation of industrial robots could be enabled by better machine vision.


From ACM News

Ralph Langner on Stuxnet, Copycat Threats

Ralph Langner on Stuxnet, Copycat Threats

A year ago, Ralph Langner was plugging away in relative obscurity, doing security consulting work for the industrial control system industry in his Hamburg headquarters. Then along came Stuxnet, the first malware targeting…


From ACM News

The Man Who Invented the Microprocessor

The Man Who Invented the Microprocessor

Ted Hoff saved his own life, sort of. Deep inside this 73-year-old lies a microprocessor—a tiny computer that controls his pacemaker and, in turn, his heart.


From ACM News

Seven Questions for Prith Banerjee, Hewlett-Packard's Head of Research

Seven Questions for Prith Banerjee, Hewlett-Packard's Head of Research

It's been about two months since Hewlett-Packard’s new CEO Léo Apotheker put the company on a new cloud-centric path as part of a big speech laying out a new strategy. But there haven't been a lot of specific announcements…


From ACM Opinion

Why Google Does Not Own Skype

Why Google Does Not Own Skype

So Microsoft is buying Skype for $8.5 billion, its biggest deal ever. It’s too soon to make a pronouncement on whether the purchase is an idiot move, a brilliant one, or just something in between. All the geniuses who ripped…


From ACM Opinion

Let in the Super-Immigrants!

The best way to improve the U.S. economy fast is to poach entrepreneurs from the rest of the world. So why do we make it so difficult for them to immigrate?


From ACM News

Air France 447: How Scientists Found a Needle in a Haystack

Air France 447: How Scientists Found a Needle in a Haystack

Two weekends ago, investigators announced that they had recovered the flight data recorder from the wreckage of Air France 447—a jetliner that crashed in the deep Atlantic two years ago. But, while the discovery of the data…


From ACM Opinion

There's No Data Sheriff on the Wild Web

There's No Data Sheriff on the Wild Web

A company suffers a catastrophic attack on its servers. Gone are names, email addresses, home phone numbers, passwords, credit card numbers. Everything ends up in the hands of hackers. What federal law covers such a breach…


From ACM Opinion

Five Gadgets that Will Be Dead in Five Years

If there's one thing that's predictable in the technology world, it's that things change. Products that were commonplace 10 years ago (PDAs, CRT televisions, fax machines) are quickly fading with the sands of time.


From ACM Opinion

Sputnik Helped Launch Career of Professor

Sputnik Helped Launch Career of Professor

The Soviet Union's 1957 launch of Sputnik, the first man-made satellite to orbit Earth, had a profound impact on American higher education, and drove Andrew Romberger to pursue a career in science. "The space program absolutely…


From ACM Opinion

The Names

As long as it took to find and kill Osama bin Laden after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, it has taken even longer to commemorate the thousands he killed.

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