Suresh’s Response to Vint Cerf

Suresh Venkatasubramanian responds beautifully to Vint Cerf’s request for feedback on how ACM can better serve professional programmers. Read the whole thing!

It’s a little funny though that you’re worried about ACM’s presence in the professional world. Many of us have long assumed that ACM spends most of its focus on that side of the computing community (the excellent revamp of the CACM under Moshe Vardi being the exception that proved the rule). In fact, I’d go as far as to argue that the ACM would be much better served if it were instead to realize how it’s driving itself into irrelevance in a research community that so desperately needs an institutional voice.

My own response is much shorter:

Looking back at my own ACM affiliation, which began in 1967, I was advised by my mentors in graduate school that ACM membership was a mark of a professional and I continue to hold that view. But it seems evident this is opinion not as widespread today. Why not?

I see two big reasons. First, people have become less enamoured with the trappings of professionalism; especially in computing, the view that neckties are a mark of a professional is also not as widespread as it was in 1967. Second, thanks to that little thing you invented called the Internet, we no longer need professional societies to stay connected and well-informed; it’s your fault!

Update Aug 1: See also this response from IT World.



About Jeff Erickson

I'm a professor of computer science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and the chair of the steering committee for the International Symposium on Computational Geometry.
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