How do we satisfy our need to keep informed about results that might
influence our work ? We (still) read papers and go to conferences. And
how does the ACM help ? Well not very well.
Underneath all of this is a slow but clear change in the overall CS research experience. The CRA
has been doing yeoman service here: taking the temperature of the
community every year with the Taulbee surveys, putting out a best
practices document for postdocs after extensive community discussion,
and even forming action groups to help gain more support for CS research
from the government. Does the ACM do any of this ?
- Aggregating the deluge of information: anyone will tell you
that the amount of research material to track and read has grown
exponentially. But we still, to this day, have nothing like
PUBMED/MEDLINE as a central clearinghouse for publications in
CS-disciplines. The ACM DL is one step towards this, but it's a very
poor imitation of what a 21st century repository of information should
look like. It's not comprehensive, its bibliographic data is more
erroneous than one expects, and the search mechanisms are just plain
depressing (it's much easier to use Google).
- Dealing with the changing nature of peer review and publication:
Sadly, ACM, rather than acting like a society with its members'
interests at heart, has been acting as a for-profit publisher with a
some window dressing to make it look less execrable. Many people have
documented this far more effectively than I ever could.
- Conference services: One of the services a national
organization supposedly provides are the conference services that help
keep communities running. But what exactly does the ACM do ? It sits
back and nitpicks conference budgets, but provides little in the way of
real institutional support. There's no infrastructure to help with
conference review processes, no support for at-conference-time services
like social networking, fostering online discussion and communities, and
even modern web support. I only bring this up because all of these
services exist, but piecemeal, and outside the ACM umbrella.
Labels: ACM, Computing, SIGPLAN