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Why you can safely ignore the ACM

"Of these, I've heard of seven and read five"*

I've felt, for some time now, that the ACM does not speak to me, as a practitioner. I haven't found it relevant since I did basic research in college. Which is to say, it ceased to be relevant when I entered the world of software work. The ACM seems to be stuck is some pre-Web timewarp, where things like object oriention, components and CORBA are exciting new ground.

I have the sense that others feel the same, given the poll's results.




* why don't people their names on their weblogs?


March 10, 2007 04:58 PM

Comments

Bijan Parsia
(March 11, 2007 04:34 PM #)

I'm not sure why you see this list as confirmation of your perception of the irrelevance of the ACM. It explicitly is a list of classic and out of print books, with an eye to reviving access to books of significance (since they play to add them to the digital library...which is half a loaf since they will only be available to ACM members).

(On thing that is clear is that they suck at web presence. The list has a title of "untitled". Yick! Plus, AFAICT, you can't get at the list of nominated books (there were 402!). That's sad.

And they do have a slew of more topical(?) books available, which seem as "practitioner" oriented (for some values of "practitioner") as one could want.

Bill de hOra
(March 11, 2007 04:43 PM #)

"It explicitly is a list of classic and out of print books"

No Bijan, it's explicitly a member poll. I find it reinforces an opinion that the ACM is flailing. CACM when I looked, tended to be full of pseudo-scientific nonsense about software engineering projects from people who don't seem to do software engineering projects, or understand what the issues that affect projects are. Robert Glass keep me hanging on to my sub for a year as the seeming last bastion of sense over there, and every now and them somebody wrote something good; but I gave up.

"One thing that is clear is that they suck at web presence"

We agree there. They're even worse than newspapers.

John Dougan
(March 11, 2007 06:44 PM #)

The ACM wants to reprint worthwhile out-of-print books, and you think this is a bad idea? Besides a member poll, how would you have generated the list? (Which, by the by, is probably going to be expanded). Most newer classic material (post 1995 or so) is already available...I don't have to go far to find a copy of Roy Fielding's thesis.

It seems to me if more people had read these books, there would be less flailing about and going in circles in CS these days. Everytime I write SQL I dearly wish more people had read and understood Codd's work on Relational Theory.

So, how many have you read?

John Dougan
(March 11, 2007 06:44 PM #)

The ACM wants to reprint worthwhile out-of-print books, and you think this is a bad idea? Besides a member poll, how would you have generated the list? (Which, by the by, is probably going to be expanded). Most newer classic material (post 1995 or so) is already available...I don't have to go far to find a copy of Roy Fielding's thesis.

It seems to me if more people had read these books, there would be less flailing about and going in circles in CS these days. Everytime I write SQL I dearly wish more people had read and understood Codd's work on Relational Theory.

So, how many have you read?

Bijan Parsia
(March 12, 2007 08:22 AM #)

It's the results of member poll asking about classic and out of print books. These were explicit criteria. "Out-of-print" because the ACM is planning to secure permission to redistribute them, i.e., to make them available again. "Classic" because, well, if you are going through the trouble of making out-of-print books available again, you probably want to start with the good stuff. (So I don't get your "No...", in your reply. How doesn't pointing out the origin of the list invalidate other descripters?)

Now you might think that all those books aren't good, but a quick glance reveals tons of books of interest and of historical significance and several I can testify as being very well written.

ACM may be all that it says it is, but in this case it seems like it is your prior perception of the ACM is reinforcing your assessment of this list, not the other way around.

This is not to say, "Become a member again." I mostly use the ACM site for its historical archive myself (and only access it via my university accounts).

Steve Downey
(March 13, 2007 05:23 PM #)

http://www.acm.org/pubs/csbooks

Last October we announced a program to put 20 out-of-print books into ACM's Digital Library and to make print copies of these books available at a low price via a print-on-demand service (CACM, Oct. 2005, 15–16).


The ACM may be a bit out of touch, but blaming them for classic out of print books being less relevant, strikes me as a little unfair. In fact, since these books tend to be highly cited by later works, making them available again seems like a pretty good idea.

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