Issue No. 10 - October (2010 vol. 43)
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/MC.2010.278
G litch: The Hidden Impact of Faulty Software, Jeff Papows. This book takes a closer look at the more recent glitches disrupting business and affecting consumers. These include a $23 quadrillion cigarette charge that affected a New Hampshire resident's Visa card, the Toyota recalls, and cases of patients who have suffered radiation poisoning.
The book—based on research and interviews with consumers, analysts, academics, and business leaders—highlights some of the IT issues that lead to such glitches, then provides recommendations on best practices to avoid or at least minimize their impact.
Pearson/Prentice Hall Professional; ISBN 10: 0-13-21-6063-3; 208 pp.
P ervasive Systems and Ubiquitous Computing, A. Genco and S. Sorce. Pervasive systems are today's hardware/software solution to Mark Weiser's 1991 vision of ubiquitous computing, with the aim of letting everyone enjoy computer services by means of the surrounding environment.
Mainly thanks to low-cost wireless communication technology and small portable personal devices, pervasive services can now be implemented easily. Advanced local or network applications can be joined everywhere simply by means of a mobile terminal like the ones we already carry. Pervasive systems aim to free people from conventional interaction with desktop and laptop computers and provide new interactions between humans and their environment based on wireless multimedia communication. This book discusses the fundamentals of pervasive systems as currently studied and developed in the most relevant research laboratories.
WIT Press; ISBN 978-1-84564-482-6; 160 pp.
T he Great Brain Race: How Global Universities Are Reshaping the World, Ben Wildavsky. The author, a former US News & World Report education editor, presents the first popular account of how international competition for the brightest minds is transforming the world of higher education and explains why this revolution should be welcomed, not feared.
Every year, nearly 3 million international students study outside their home countries, a 40 percent increase since 1999. Newly created or expanded universities in China, India, and Saudi Arabia are competing with the likes of Harvard and Oxford for faculty, students, and research preeminence. Satellite campuses of Western universities are springing up from Abu Dhabi and Singapore to South Africa.
Wildavsky shows that as international universities strive to become world-class, the new global education marketplace is providing more opportunities to more people than ever before. He chronicles the unprecedented international mobility of students and faculty, the rapid spread of branch campuses, the growth of for-profit universities, and the remarkable international expansion of college rankings.
Some university and government officials see the rise of worldwide academic competition as a threat, going so far as to limit student mobility or thwart cross-border university expansion. But the author argues that this scholarly marketplace is creating a new global meritocracy, one in which the spread of knowledge benefits everyone—both educationally and economically.
Princeton University Press; ISBN 978-1-4008-3423-5; 248 pp.
G reening through IT: Information Technology for Environmental Sustainability, Bill Tomlinson. Environmental issues often span long periods, far-flung areas, and labyrinthine layers of complexity. In this book, the author investigates how IT tools and techniques can help us tackle environmental problems at such vast scales. Tomlinson describes theoretical, technological, and social aspects of a growing interdisciplinary approach to sustainability, known as Green IT, offering both a human-centered framework for understanding Green IT systems and specific examples and case studies of this approach in action.
Tomlinson contrasts the broad ranges of time, space, and complexity against which environmental concerns play out to the relatively narrow horizons of human understanding: it's hard for us to grasp thousand-year projections of global climatic disruption or our stake in melting icecaps thousands of miles away. IT can bridge the gap between human scales of understanding and environmental scales.
The author offers many examples of efforts toward sustainability supported by IT—from fishermen in India to the installation of smart meters that optimize electricity use in California households—and offers detailed studies of specific research projects that he and his colleagues have undertaken: EcoRaft, Trackulous, and GreenScanner. Taken together, these examples illustrate the significant environmental benefits that innovations in information technology can enable.
MIT Press; ISBN 10-0-262-01393-2; 216 pp.