In Debt to the NSF

Communications of the ACM, April 2019
By Vinton G. Cerf

“We collectively owe much to the foresight and nuanced decisions taken by the leadership of [National Science Foundation’s] Computer, Information Systems and Engineering Directorates (CISE) and its Division of Computer and Network Systems.” [Without that, there would be no Internet as we know it today.]

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Metrics That Matter

Communications of the ACM, April 2019
By Benjamin Treynor Sloss, Shylaja Nukala, Vivek Rau

“One of the most important choices in offering a service is which service metrics to measure, and how to evaluate them. The difference between great, good, and poor metric and metric threshold choices is frequently the difference between a service that will surprise and delight its users with how well it works, one that will be acceptable for most users, and one that will actively drive away users—regardless of what the service actually offers. … What follows are the types of metrics the Google SRE team has adopted for Google services. These metrics are not particularly easy to implement, and they may require changes to a service to instrument properly. It has been our consistent experience at Google, however, that every service team that implements these metrics is happy afterward that it made the effort to do so.”

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Identity by Any Other Name

Communications of the ACM, April 2019
By Pat Helland

“The fascinating thing about identifiers is that while they identify the same "thing" over time, that referenced thing may slide around in its meaning. Product descriptions, reviews, and inventory balance all change, while the product ID does not. Reservations, orders, and bookings all have identifiers that do not change, while the stuff they identify may subtly change over time. Identity and identifiers provide the immutable linkage. Both sides of this linkage may change, but they provide a semantic consistency needed by the business operation. No matter what you call it, identity is the glue that makes things stick and lubricates cooperative work. … The judicious use of ambiguity and interchangeability lubricates distributed, long-running, scalable, and heterogeneous systems.”

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Informatics as a Fundamental Discipline for the 21st Century

Communications of the ACM, April 2019
By Michael E. Caspersen, Judith Gal-Ezer, Andrew McGettrick, Enrico Nardelli

“The emphasis of the report is on informatics education, with informatics seen as the science underpinning the development of the digital world—a distinctive discipline with its own scientific methods, its own ways of thinking, and its own technological development.”

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Web Science in Europe: Beyond Boundaries

Communications of the ACM, April 2019
By Steffen Staab, Susan Halford, Wendy Hall

“For the past decade, Web Science has been building the interdisciplinary expertise to face the challenges and realize the value of this rapidly growing and diversifying Web. This task transcends the work of any single academic discipline. While our universities continue—overwhelmingly—to be organized in siloes established in the 20th century, or much earlier, the Web demands expertise from computer science, sociology, business, mathematics, law, economics, politics, psychology engineering, geography, and more. Web Science exists to integrate knowledge and expertise from across fields, integrating this into systematic, robust, and reliable research that provides an action base for the future of the Web.”

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The Web Is Missing an Essential Part of Infrastructure: An Open Web Index

Communications of the ACM, April 2019
By Dirk Lewandowski

“A proposal for building an index of the Web that separates the infrastructure part of the search engine—the index—from the services part that will form the basis for myriad search engines and other services utilizing Web data on top of a public infrastructure open to everyone.”

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The Top 10 Things Executives Should Know About Software

Communications of the ACM, July 2019
By Thomas A. Limoncelli

“In 2011, Marc Andreessen wrote an article predicting, ‘Software will eat the world.’ By that he meant two things: First, many traditional businesses are being replaced by software companies. Second, all other companies are finding the value they deliver is increasingly a result of software.

When Andreessen wrote his article none of the 10 biggest companies (by market value) were in software-driven businesses. Today, six of the 10 biggest companies are primarily driven by software. The others are ripe for a transformation.”

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A New Labor Market for People with 'Coolabilities'

Communications of the ACM, July 2019
By David Nordfors, Chally Grundwag, V. R. Ferose

“Powerful technologies are today ready to open the door to a new paradigm of work: instead of squeezing people into existing job slots, companies can tailor work that fits individuals' unique skills, talents, and passions, matching them with inspiring teams and offering them a choice of meaningful tasks. This has tremendous benefits for both the employee and employer by creating a "long-tail labor market" in which diversity brings competitive advantage.”

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Smart Cities – Who Benefits?

Communications of the ACM, July 2019
By Susan J. Winter

“This column uses the case of smart cities to illustrate the ethical dilemmas created by an otherwise innocuous-seeming issue. … Cui bono, which means "who benefits?" … Cui bono? In principle, everyone. But a closer look at the smart cities rhetoric shows the benefits focused on a subset of the total.”

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The Sounds of Silence

MIT Technology Review, June 26, 2019
By Chuck Klosterman. Illustration by Keith Rankin.

“The rock era and the space age exist on parallel time lines. The Soviets launched Sputnik in October 1957, the same month Elvis Presley hit #1 with “Jailhouse Rock.” The first Beatles single, “Love Me Do,” was released 23 days after John F. Kennedy declared that America would go to the moon (and not because it was easy, but because it was hard). Apollo 11 landed the same summer as Woodstock. These specific events are (of course) coincidences. Yet the larger arc is not. Mankind’s assault upon the heavens was the most dramatic achievement of the 20th century’s second half, simultaneous with rock’s transformation of youth culture. It does not take a deconstructionist to see the influence of the former on the latter.”

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Why I Still Love Tech

Wired, May 14, 2019
By Paul Ford

“I was exceptionally lucky to be born into this moment. I got to see what happened, to live as a child of acceleration. The mysteries of software caught my eye when I was a boy, and I still see it with the same wonder, even though I’m now an adult. Proudshamed, yes, but I still love it, the mess of it, the code and toolkits, down to the pixels and the processors, and up to the buses and bridges. I love the whole made world. But I can’t deny that the miracle is over, and that there is an unbelievable amount of work left for us to do.”

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Corp to Cloud: Google's Virtual Desktops

Communications of the ACM, November 2018
By Matt Fata, Philippe-Joseph Arida, Patrick Hahn, Betsy Beyer

“Until recently, our virtual desktops were hosted on commercially available hardware on Google's corporate network using a homegrown open source virtual cluster-management system called Ganeti. Today, this substantial and Google-critical workload runs on Google Cloud Platform (GCP). This article discusses the reasons for the move to GCP, and how the migration was accomplished.”

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Will Supercomputers Be Super-Data and Super-AI Machines?

Communications of the ACM, November 2018
By Yutong Lu, Depei Qian, Haohuan Fu, Wenguang Chen

“High-performance computing (HPC) plays an important role in promoting scientific discovery, addressing grand-challenge problems, and promoting social and economic development. Over the past several decades, China has put significant effort into improving its own HPC through a series of key projects under its national research and development program. Development of supercomputing systems has advanced parallel applications in various fields in China, along with related software and hardware technology, and helped advance China's technological innovation and social development.

To meet the requirements of multidisciplinary and multidomain applications, new challenges in architecture, system software, and application technologies must be addressed to help develop next-generation exascale supercomputing systems.”

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China's Computing Ambitions

Communications of the ACM, November 2018
By Elliott Zaagman

“China plans to become the world's high-tech leader, and quickly. In 2015, the Chinese government's State Council approved "Made in China 2025," an initiative designed to position China as a world leader in fields such as robotics, aviation, advanced information technology, and new-energy vehicles in less than a decade. In support of this governmental initiative, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) released a three-year action plan to drive growth in areas including smart drones, facial recognition, AI-supported medical diagnosis, speech recognition, and language translation. If successful, the initiative would grow China's AI industry to a size of $150 billion by 2020, approximately 100 times its size in 2016. As China pushes AI forward, here are a few names, trends, and technologies to watch.”

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Weighing the Impact of GDPR

Communications of the ACM, November 2018
By Samuel Greengard

“When the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect on May 25, 2018, it represented the most sweeping effort yet to oversee the way businesses collect and manage consumer data. The law, established to create consistent data standards and protect EU citizens from potential privacy abuses, sent ripples—if not tidal waves—across the world.”

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Potential 'Dark Sides' of Leisure Technology Use in Youth

Communications of the ACM, March 2019
By Ofir Turel

“Computing technology has produced many societal benefits. Nevertheless, it often serves as a double-edged sword and promotes negative consequences, such as distraction, addiction, time waste, and reduced well-being… For many years we have emphasized the positive aspects of computing technologies because we believed in their contribution to humanity. Nevertheless, there is a growing body of evidence in support of a technology duality view. That is to say, we have started realizing and quantifying the notion that many of the technologies we develop can also be harmful, especially when used excessively.”

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Internet Society

“The Internet Society supports and promotes the development of the Internet as a global technical infrastructure, a resource to enrich people’s lives, and a force for good in society.

Our work aligns with our goals for the Internet to be open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy. We seek collaboration with all who share these goals.”

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