In the grand traditions of ACM, there are always people
who think we can do a better job.
ming Pearls,”(1983), which
proved to be the CACM’s most
popular column of all time. After
five years, Jon retired from the
job, saying he was burned out
from the schedule. “Literate Programming” in 1988 (Chris van
Wyck), “Legally Speaking” in
1990 (Pamela Samuelson),
“Inside Risks” in 1990 (Peter
Neumann), and “Viewpoint” in
1983. Reader surveys told us this
was the most popular feature in
CACM; the majority of readers
turned first to the columns
Design. The redesign was a
complete overhaul: new typography, stylistic opening pages to
articles, illustrations, and professionally designed covers. Our
Fifth Generation Computing
Systems cover won an award
(Sept. 1983). In 1990, we moved
all graphic design and layout in-house.
We launched in 1983 with the
mission given us by the ACM
Council: Transform CACM to a
magazine style, embodying the
JAM concepts that would be
interesting and useful to members every month.
We conducted regular reader
surveys and focus groups to help
us assess how well we were doing;
and we made many adjustments.
We continued to be very creative
because the budget was not there
to hire the personnel needed to
fully realize the mission.
A number of our issues and
covers received industry awards.
A recent survey of scientific
journals confirmed that CACM
is now highly ranked. It has the
third-highest citation count
across four key computing categories: Software Engineering,
Information Systems, Hardware
and Architecture, and Theory
and Methods. As a result of this
increased reputation, the submission rate for good articles has
We believe we achieved our
mission and helped CACM
achieve a high stature in the
I stepped down in 1992 to
chair the Publications Board and
lead the Digital Library Project.
WISDOM OF THE AGES
In the grand traditions of ACM,
there are always people who
think we can do a better job.
When David Patterson was
president of ACM, many
researchers told him they
thought CACM had never
regained its vaunted glory of the
1970s. Patterson set up a committee to review the current
model and propose ways to
recharge its content and scope.
When I first talked with the
committee, they were not aware
that the reason many research
departments had left CACM was
the Publications Plan approved
by Council in 1978. It was not
the work of capricious editors,
but of top ACM and SIG leadership.
Moshe Vardi was tapped to
spirit this revitalization effort.
He spent months gathering feedback from focus groups, studying reader surveys, talking with
many individuals, and reviewing
every aspect of CACM from bottom to top. A new CACM plan
was proposed (see page 44).
It’s the same plan we submitted in 1982! Right down to the
models envisioned for each section. We thought our plan
then—developed through a consensus process—was sound and I
am delighted the consensus
today is much the same.
There is one major difference.
The current ACM leadership has
agreed to fully fund the plan.
They will be able to hire all the
editors they need. No cutting
corners. CACM can now
become truly great. c
PETER J. DENNING ( email@example.com) is
the director of the Cebrowski Institute for
Innovation and Information Superiority
in the Naval Postgraduate School in