Computing Profession Editor's letter

Building the Future Communications of the ACM

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CACM Editor-in-Chief Andrew A. Chien

Change is continual. All living things are changing—continual growth and renewal. A healthy bacteria colony regenerates hourly; Atlantic cod mature in 2 to 8 years, regenerating their shoals every few years. Eyen our bodies, seemingly static, create 225 billion new cells every day, replacing our 35 trillion cells every six months. Likewise, the Communications of the ACM team is dynamic; a collection of passionate leaders, making change and creating the future CACM through the actions, initiatives, and goals that we—the community of contributors, the editorial and production team, and the ACM membership—are pursuing today. In that vein, here are some of my ambitions for the Future CACM.

Building on Success and Excellence. CACM is excellent. Nearly every day, an ACM member tells me "it’s the only publication I always read," and CACM’s website and app provide easy access. Many members contribute articles to CACM as well. This is fantastic! But in 2017, the leading computing professional society, can and must do more.

First and foremost, we will maintain and grow CACM’s excellence, continuing to highlight and disseminate compelling research, critical news, and incisive viewpoints. Central to this objective is CACM’s position as a key leadership voice of the computing community. Leveraging computing’s rise, CACM should become a broader and more influential voice. We will expand coverage and, as appropriate, create new features and venues that stimulate and lead the discourse where computing’s progress and impact is most dramatic (for example, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), and online issues from "radicalization," "fake news," "cybersecurity," and more). But beyond its core, CACM has several key dimensions of challenge and opportunity.

  • How should CACM exploit new media to increase reach, access, and engagement? The millennial computing professionals were raised on smartphones, many where smartphones define Internet access. How can CACM reach and engage information "snackers" on hand-helds? CACM must be engaging, and perhaps interactive, immersive, and more.
  • Can CACM grow an energized, interactive community, creating a new venue for the voice of ACM members? (Showcasing and empowering their leadership, expertise, activities, and impact.) Our greatest unique strength is ACM members’ deep and broad technical expertise. If CACM can give the leadership of individual members greater voice, ACM’s impact and global relevance will increase around the world.

Grow the Computing Professional Community. ACM is the leading global society of computing professionals. Can CACM be relevant for all computing professionals across the globe? CACM’s core strength today is excellence and breadth across research, practice, and policy; topics that reach across technology companies and academe. As "everyone codes" and information underpins every aspect of society, the professional community and its needs are growing rapidly. ACM membership should be indispensable for computing professionals working at the state of the art from academe to the tech industry worldwide. To reach this broad and expanding community, CACM must not only build on our successes, but also think and engage ambitiously!

ACM’s membership today is strongest in North America and Europe, but it’s clear that sustained global leadership must recognize the demographics of growing communities in Asia (China, India, and more), South America, and even the Middle East and Africa. How will we make CACM relevant in these varied settings? How can we give members in every geography a sense of ownership and participation? These significant challenges surely require creative engagement of leaders from all of these regions.

We need YOU!

These are my ambitions for CACM, but your ambitions can shape CACM too! Can we do more? Certainly. Are there other critical directions? Perhaps. How can they be achieved? ACM is a volunteer organization, so progress depends on your inspired and creative efforts. We need your help!

We need new members of the editorial board to drive ambitious new agendas, but also to sustain excellence. We need new member volunteers in diverse geographical, technical, and institutional settings to bring their creative perspectives, passion, and energy. They will create new CACM elements, and enable CACM to reach the broadest computing community. And we also need volunteers with vision and ambition to create a CACM that is not only a publication, but also gives members new venues and voice for their leadership and impact. Join us in building the future Communications of the ACM.

Email your ideas (eic@cacm.acm.org)! And, of course your offers to help!

Andrew A. Chien, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

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