Architecture and Hardware

Editorial Pointers

  1. Article

Only a few years ago it was difficult to imagine that one day we would have the ability to access the latest news—instantly—about anything in the world from anywhere in the world. Today, it’s difficult to believe that having access to all this news is oftentimes too much of a good thing. In fact, what we really want is an intelligent system that automatically processes and customizes a news presentation to our own specifications.

Help is at hand, as this month’s special section demonstrates with a fascinating account of emerging News on Demand technologies that integrate speech, image processing, and multistream content for tailored news displays. "The ability to manage information is a necessity in our digital age," contends guest editor Mark Maybury of the MITRE Corp., "especially in the area of news where the user is barraged with international, national, and local news sources available in a heterogeneous collection of print, Web, radio, and TV."

The authors in this special section represent some of the leading forces in News on Demand technologies and products from government and industry. They examine the current systems available, the built-in intelligence required, and the obstacles still to overcome.

In other news, Jain, Hong, and Pankanti detail advances in biometric science that now make it possible for a person to be identified not only by fingerprint, but by iris and retinal patterns, speech inflections, hand geometry, even facial thermograms. And outsourcing, long believed a cost-saving practice, is the subject of Hirschheim and Lacity’s recent study debunking some popular myths about IT money spent and saved.

The multibillion-dollar U.S. telecommunications market is being transformed through partnerships intent on creating new value, more control, and greater access than the competition. Grover and Vaswani find these marriages bring a lot to the table, and put a lot more on the line.

In "Legally Speaking," Andrew Grosso contends some laws are just criminal. Case in point: the No Electronic Theft Act. Hal Berghel explores the loss of privacy society has come to expect living in the "Digital Village." We also present two very different, yet equally controversial, commentaries: Allen, Hawthorn, and Simons explain ACM Council’s decision not to support the licensing of software engineers; and Castel theorizes the reigning view of the virtual world pales in comparison of what is to come.

Diane Crawford, Editor

COMING NEXT MONTH: Two special sections that spotlight on the ways that humans and computers interact: perceptual user interfaces, and programming by example.

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