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Communications of the ACM

President's letter

ACM's Place in the Global Picture

It is a tremendous honor to have been elected ACM President. My history with this Association goes back many years and in that time I've witnessed great advances in our profession and continue to be impressed by ACM's leadership role in responding to those changes with premier publications, conferences, curricula models, and professional services that reflect emerging computing research.

I recall my first ACM invitation to join its Publications Board, never imagining my acceptance of that invitation would one day lead to my becoming President. Back then I looked forward to those board meetings not only for the impact we were making in bringing great new journals to the computing field but for the chance to visit ACM headquarters in New York, one of my favorite cities. But that was over 20 years ago, when you still had to walk to the library to find your favorite journal and attending conferences or buying conference proceedings was the most effective way to keep up with your area of expertise. In fact, two of the major attractions for me becoming an ACM member was the value such membership gave a computer science researcher at that timeĀ—a more economical means for subscribing to top journals and attending professional conferences.

Today we live in a post-Web world where almost everything we want to read is available online as soon as it is published. Indeed, the ups and downs of the major world economies have affected many of us to the point where traveling to our favorite conferences is sometimes viewed as a luxury rather than a basic necessity.

With all its publications available through the Digital Library and an increasing number of conferences being held outside the U.S., the location of ACM's headquarters is no longer viewed by its physical address. ACM is everywhere its members are; and that location continues to expand globally. ACM membership numbers are in fact steadily increasing. It is my ambition while I am President to ensure this trend continues and to set in motion initiatives to accelerate it and to increase the diversity of membership in the widest sense.

There is work to be done. It remains a frustration that many people from outside the U.S. think the 'A' in ACM stands for American. Our goal must be to find ways to spread the word about ACM and to illustrate how our vast array of valued resources and professional services have relevance to every computing professional, regardless of location.

Certainly the recent revitalization of Communications is a crucial element in the process of increasing our international presence and expanding the service we provide to all of our communities. We are also continuing to develop our services to the practitioner community by making ACM Queue available online as part of a new Queue Web site, which will include many features and content channels specifically targeted to practitioners. You will also find in Communications a new "Practice" section that covers the issues and technology trends facing today's practitioners.

We plan to develop further our initiatives in India and China, explore our relationship with Europe, and examine how to position our services and publications to be more relevant in South America and other parts of the world. We also intend to give a higher profile to ACM-W in order to make the Association more pertinent to the women in our community and to encourage more women to consider careers in computing.

I look forward to a very exciting and fruitful two years as President and hope to meet as many of you as possible at various ACM events and conferences during that time. Every ACM President wants to make a difference, and as its first non-North American President I hope when I look back on my term in office I will be able to see demonstrable evidence that the ACM has increased its relevance and attractiveness as a membership organization to the worldwide computing community.

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Wendy Hall ( is president of the ACM and a professor of computer science at the University of Southampton, U.K.

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©2008 ACM  0001-0782/08/0900  $5.00

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