July 2009 (Vol. 42, No. 7) pp. 20-24
0018-9162/09/$31.00 © 2009 IEEE
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
Reversing the Bipolar Drift–Introducing the IAB
|A Compromise Between Pragmatists and Purists|
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The IAB's mission is to help the Computer Society critically examine the organization's business plans and practices and to offer advice and assistance to make the Society a relevant professional association.
In 2007, when I was appointed editor in chief of Computer, I set out with the objective of forming an industrial circle, tentatively titled the CTO Forum, 1 with the initial goals of representing the computer industry and helping to further enrich the editorial content of Computer. Following the initial formulation phase, the renamed Advanced Technology Executive Forum (ATEF) began actively serving as an advisory body and a sounding board for several Society-wide initiatives.
With the same spirit experienced with the formation of the ATEF, it is now my distinct privilege to introduce the Computer Society's Industry Advisory Board (IAB), morphed from the ATEF, which comprises a group of very distinguished industrial executives. In addition to these industry representatives, with Steve Huffman serving as their inaugural chair, the ex officio IAB members include 2009 Computer Society president Susan K. (Kathy) Land, CSDP; Angela R. Burgess, the Computer Society's executive director; and staff member Steve Bollweg.
IAB members have already met several times face-to-face. In their charter, there are clauses for continuity as well as rotation. The IAB's mission is clear: to help the Computer Society critically examine the organization's business plans and practices and to offer advice and assistance to make the Society a relevant professional association for the entire computing profession, including industrialists, engineers, scientists, researchers, practitioners, and academics. In doing so, IAB members will also help develop editorial content for Computer.
We expect to benefit from their contributions in many dimensions, and look forward to welcoming future IAB members. In short, this advisory board, with some of the best minds representing our industrial colleagues, will certainly help accelerate the reversal of the bipolar drift referred to in my first editor's message published in IEEE Software almost 20 years ago. 2
A Compromise Between Pragmatists and Purists
In that editorial, I advocated promoting a compromise between thinkers (purists, researchers, theoreticians, or other appropriate terms) and doers (pragmatists, practitioners, or other relevant terms). Since that time, I have witnessed some improvements in both practice and attitude that have helped to slow (but not stop) the disparities between these two groups of professionals. For example, usability studies have become a norm for software releases. Many theoreticians now embrace scalability. Industrial researchers have been forced to take a more pragmatic approach because of the disappearance of pure research funding. Academic institutions are now more proactive in cultivating technology transfer and commercialization, also largely due to the pullback of governmental funding to support higher education.
While there is evidence that mutual appreciation and heightened collaboration between thinkers and doers has gradually emerged to benefit both camps, I still see some major differences. Nowadays, researchers in "cloud computing" are not speaking the same language as an industrial executive would use where ROI is key. Although many are excited about the great potential of this emerging technology, critically minded researchers may ask, what is really new? Yet, industrialists have been embracing cloud computing as a new business philosophy, a new practice, and a new revenue source, enabled by gradually evolving technological advances that may not be breakthroughs at all.
It is my hope that the new IAB will contribute toward continuously improving our relationships with each other, fostering understanding and innovations in industry and research. I trust that you will find that the IAB members gathered from major business and industrial enterprises are seasoned technologists responsible for assessing, developing, and deploying innovative computer technologies.
I would encourage Computer readers to send letters to us and respond to the upcoming Industrial Perspective column, first appearing in Computer's September 2009 issue. The computing community will benefit tremendously from this two-way communication venue.
Computer is the flagship publication of the IEEE Computer Society, and our readership comes from both industry and academia. We publish top-quality articles through a highly rigorous peer review process and occasionally via a highly effective acquisition process. Our articles are written by technical gurus who have thought-provoking messages and cutting-edge information to share. Our professional editors work hard to edit the content in each issue with our readers' interests in mind. High-quality content is what attracts the eyes and hearts of the readers, not just the names we all may be familiar with.
There is always room for improvement, even in our current global economic situation where resources for implementing creative ideas may be hard to come by. The newly established IAB has pledged to work with us for the continuous improvement of the Computer Society—your Society— and Computer—your publication.
Carl K. Chang is chair of the Department of Computer Science, Iowa State University. Contact him at email@example.com.