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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.

August 2011


From ACM Opinion

Technology Is Our Friend... Except When It Isn't

Technology Is Our Friend... Except When It Isn't

The technology in question starts with "gigapixel" photography. Gigapixel photos are giant panoramas that themselves consist of hundreds of component mega-pixel digital shots.


From ACM News

The 10 Commandments of Steve

More than anything else, Jobs's genius is in managing the creative process. Here's his playbook.


From ACM Opinion

Kids Today Need a Licence to Tinker

Kids Today Need a Licence to Tinker

Back to school time and millions of British kids are heading back to classrooms to embark on the national curriculum so beloved of busybody ministers.


From ACM Opinion

How to Fix Our Math Education

There is widespread alarm in the United States about the state of our math education. The anxiety can be traced to the poor performance of American students on various international tests, and it is now embodied in George…


From ACM Opinion

Beware: Europe's 'Unitary Patent' Could Mean Unlimited Software Patents

Just as the U.S. software industry is experiencing the long-anticipated all-out software patent wars, the European Union has a plan to follow the same course. When the Hargreaves report urged the U.K. to avoid software patents…


From ACM News

Seeing the Future of the Office Internet

Seeing the Future of the Office Internet

Inside the headquarters of networking giant Cisco in San Jose, California, lies a technology showcase where executives can test out advanced technologies like high-definition videoconferencing, a digital avatar named Halie…


From ACM News

Ben Fry, Information Designer

Ben Fry, Information Designer

In the golden age of data visualization, he helps designers think like programmers, and vice versa.


From ACM Opinion

Jobs's Legacy: Changing How We Live

Steve Jobs's resignation as Chief Executive Officer of Apple is the end of an extraordinary era, not just for Apple, but for the global technology industry in general.


From ACM Opinion

Apple Will Do Amazingly Well Without Steve Jobs

On Thursday morning, shares of Apple are going to plummet. As a journalist who covers the company, I'm ethically restricted from investing. But you're not, and so I have one word for you: Buy.


From ACM Opinion

Let's Get Back to Real Space Exploration

Let's Get Back to Real Space Exploration

Time to ditch the black armbands and look beyond low Earth orbit again. The shuttle's passing marks the start of an exciting new era.


From ACM News

Judge Says Warrant Required for Cell Phone Location Data

Judge Says Warrant Required for Cell Phone Location Data

In recent years, the courts have struggled to decide whether the government needs a warrant to access historical records about a cell phone user's location. Some courts have found that when users turn on their cell phones,…


From ACM Opinion

Let Our Bots Do Our Tweeting for Us

My tweets generally reflect a set of parochial interests I continually revisit: the shuffle function in iTunes, the Phillies’ crummy batting lineup, reviews of my book, and, of course, the latest tech news associated with…


From ACM Opinion

A Turbulent End to the PC Era

The personal computer recently celebrated its 30th birthday. Then last week, Silicon Valley staged the PC's funeral.


From ACM Opinion

Why Google Had to Have Motorola Mobility

For several years now, Google has been following a vow made by former CEO Eric Schmidt: mobile first. New CEO Larry Page is taking that dictum to a new level by announcing a deal to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5bn.


From ACM Opinion

Why Software Is Eating the World

Last week, Hewlett-Packard (where I am on the board) announced that it is exploring jettisoning its struggling PC business in favor of investing more heavily in software, where it sees better potential for growth. Meanwhile…


From ACM Opinion

Can Math Beat Financial Markets?

Wall Street's wild swings last week helped skew both retirement portfolios and mathematical models of the financial markets. After all, a standard Gaussian function—a bell curve—would predict that such extreme dips and rises…


From ACM Opinion

Steve, Please Buy Us a Carrier!

Steve, Please Buy Us a Carrier!

What should Apple do with its $76bn in cash? It could do worse than spend some of it on acquiring its own mobile carrier.


From ACM Opinion

Why CCTV Has Failed to Deter Criminals

Why CCTV Has Failed to Deter Criminals

I've lost track of the number of people who've asked me to comment on David Cameron's insane plan to cripple Britain's Internet in times of civil unrest by blocking Twitter and other services. In case you're wondering where…


From ACM Opinion

What Constitutes an Act of Cyberwar?

Before we get to that, there's a clue in the spelling of the word: cyberwar instead of cyber war. The U.S. Defense Department has determined that cyber is a fifth domain after air, land, sea, and space.


From ACM Opinion

11 Hard Truths About HTML5

11 Hard Truths About HTML5

HTML5 heralds some nifty new features and the potential for sparking a Web programming paradigm shift, and as some members of the technical press have touted, there is nothing like HTML5 for fixing the Internet.

After several…


From ACM News

The Death of Booting Up

Remember "booting up"? It was the first thing you did every morning—you waited two minutes, three minutes, sometimes even longer while your computer ran through a series of self-tests, loading screens, and an error prompt…


From ACM TechNews

NSF's Seidel: 'Software Is the Modern Language of Science'

NSF's Seidel: 'Software Is the Modern Language of Science'

Software is the core technology behind a dramatic acceleration in all areas of science, and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the science community are faced with the challenge of building a cyberinfrastructure…


From ACM Opinion

Apple's Rise to Top Means Less than You Think

Apple's Rise to Top Means Less than You Think

With Apple officially becoming the world's most valuable company—at least for a day—it's tempting to engage in lofty talk about what this says about the rise of the tech economy and Silicon Valley.


From ACM Opinion

Why I Already Miss Physical Media

Why I Already Miss Physical Media

For years, I had a happy weekend ritual. I'd head to my local Tower Records and lose myself in the aisles of CDs and DVDs. After emerging from the store—usually with some purchases in hand—I'd move on to a nearby Borders,…


From ACM News

Futurist Ray Kurzweil Says He Can Bring His Dead Father Back to Life Through a Computer Avatar

Futurist Ray Kurzweil Says He Can Bring His Dead Father Back to Life Through a Computer Avatar

Ray Kurzweil, a prominent inventor and "futurist" who has long predicted that mind and machine will one day merge, has been making arrangements to talk to his dead father through the help of a computer.


From ACM Opinion

Education Needs a Digital-Age Upgrade

If you have a child entering grade school this fall, file away just one number with all those back-to-school forms: 65 percent. Chances are just that good that, in spite of anything you do, little Oliver or Abigail won’t end…


From ACM News

Google's Self-Driving Wreck: Really Human Error?

When a self-driving car crashes, one just has to wonder about those robots. Are they really all they're cracked up to be? Or might they be just as cracked as the rest of us? Should you have, this morning, been unreasonably…


From ACM Opinion

Why Isn't America Innovating Like It Used To?

America isn't innovating like it used to. And by "like it used to," I mean the period from after World War II to 1973, when an explosion of new technologies increased worker productivity at a pace that, had it continued to…


From ACM Opinion

When Knowledge Isn

When Knowledge Isn

“Making fun of Wikipedia is so 2007,” a French journalist said recently to Sue Gardner, the executive director of the foundation that runs the Wikipedia project.

And so Ms. Gardner, in turn, told an auditorium full of Wikipedia…


From ACM TechNews

Above the Clouds: An Interview With Armando Fox

Above the Clouds: An Interview With Armando Fox

University of California, Berkeley professor Armando Fox, co-founder of the Reliable, Adaptive, and Distributed Systems Laboratory, co-wrote a paper that outlined some early challenges and advantages of high performance computing…

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