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Editorial pointers

Editorial Pointers

It's a humbling fact that the potential to unravel the mysteries of a single microscopic molecule can take every FLOPS of computational power in existence—and then some. Even more humbling is that it can happen only because of this extreme level of computational power, which allows scientists to visualize and comprehend vast volumes of biological data generated from, say, a single strand of DNA encoding an organism's inherited characteristics. The ultimate ability to map and compare genes will lead to medical breakthroughs of a new dimension.

This partnership of biology, computers, and data is the foundation of bioinformatics—an astounding discipline utilizing state-of-the-art high-performance computing power and visualization techniques for biomedical research. This month's special section examines the great potential of bioinformatics for improving medical care and human health, as well as for the many related challenges that must be overcome. Guest editor Craig Stewart orchestrated a section that explores the tools and techniques now being created to transform genetic sequencing data into comprehensive information to better understand biological processes.

Also this month, two articles examine the popular question: "If you build it, will they come?" Millions of dollars are being spent by organizations worldwide building huge and elaborate digital libraries, yet research indicates millions of potential users are paying little attention to them. Thong et al. explore the factors that lead to user acceptance of digital libraries. And Ganapathy et al. contend cumbersome e-commerce Web sites are steering customers away and suggest employing visualization tools and techniques that lessen the frustration level.

How can a project manager assess the risk of a software project? Tiwana and Keil offer a simple worksheet that provides a "quick-and-dirty" evaluation they call "The One-Minute Risk Assessment Tool." Biehl et al. look at machine tools and how manufacturers in the U.S., Japan, and Germany make use of repair, diagnostics, and maintenance (RRDM) applications. Stafford and Gonier interpret the results of a study of AOL users that indicates what they like about being online. And Edgington et al. find knowledge management is significantly enhanced by applying ontological development.

Peter Denning follows the intertwining roads that networks create, examining the laws by which they should operate. Robert Glass shares a recent discussion about constructing software systems from requirements translated into "behavior trees" and wonders (aloud) if it's really a new way of thinking. In "Viewpoint," Norman Matloff argues that offshoring IT work harms U.S. IT workers, the business climate, and the national economy. And in "Technical Opinion," Donaldson and Stone warn of the possible health hazards posed by nanotechnology.

Diane Crawford

©2004 ACM  0001-0782/04/1100  $5.00

Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee.

The Digital Library is published by the Association for Computing Machinery. Copyright © 2004 ACM, Inc.


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