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CACM Reports: A New Approach to Lifelogging through Psychology

May Issue Examines the Role of IT in Financial Markets, Second-Generation Cloud Computing, and the Consequences of Mobile Email Addiction

The Association for Computing Machinery
Advancing Computing as a Science & Profession

Contact: Virginia Gold

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NEW YORK, NY, April 26, 2010 –  The prospect of producing personal digital archives has become a holy grail for many technologists and researchers, according to the cover story in the May Communications of the ACM (CACM), and the authors propose a psychological focus to this challenge.  Abigail Sellen of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK and Steve Whittaker of IBM Almaden Research Center analyze the role of cognitive processes in stimulating memory, and conclude that lifelogging design must be engineered to work in synergy with users’ memories rather than replacing human memory with digital systems.  Also in this issue, Editor-in-Chief Moshe Y. Vardi revisits the ACM Globalization and Offshoring of Software study, published in 2006, for which he was recently recognizedHe recalls that the most fundamental insight he gained is that offshoring is just a symptom; the underlying phenomenon is the globalization of computing, and he concludes that we must continue monitoring employment and wage trends as well as global R&D trends to assess the ongoing impact of offshoring. 

            Communications, the flagship publication of ACM (the Association for Computing Machinery),  offers readers access to this generation’s most significant leaders and innovators in computing and information technology, and is available online in digital format. 

            In a story on the technical and business issues of cloud computing applications, authors Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT, Paul Hoffman of SAP Labs, and John Jordan of Penn State University analyze the computing-as-utility business model.  They point to the pace of innovation, the limits of scale, and latency issues as technical weaknesses in this model.  They find more profound differences with this model in the potential for innovation and organizational redesigns that are shaping computing as well as the lack of interchangeable cloud offerings, and the stringent security standards required by the management of data and shared, dynamic resources. The real strength of cloud computing, they conclude, is as a catalyst for more innovation, a situation which requires greater creativity and skill from IT and business executives. 

            At the peak of the bull market, the seemingly endless promise of fancy financial products drove the markets to new heights, writes Roman Beck, a professor with the E-Finance Laboratory at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany.  He notes that these markets proved remarkably resilient in the face of threats from outside the system, including the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center that destabilized the financial markets, and the July 7, 2005 attack in London that resulted in a partial shutdown of the London Stock Exchange.  It was threats inside the system, he contends, that caused the financial meltdown of 2008, as financial industry professionals lacked the tools to treat simultaneous crises from operational, credit, and market risks through an integrated risk assessment in real time.  He foresees an improved IT system that helps bank risk managers do their jobs more effectively, not because they are forced by regulation to employ them but because these tools are essential to their survival.           

            Other May Communications articles:

  •        In an article developed for acmqueue, Why Cloud Computing Will Never Be Free, Dave Durkee of  ENKI, a managed cloud computing services provider, examines customers’ expectations for significantly lower cloud computing costs.  He says this price pressure has left a large number of business functions with a need for a second-generation value-based cloud that delivers high-performance, highly available, secure computing infrastructure for business-critical production applications. 
  •        One of the most important items in an astronomer’s toolbox is the computer, writes Jeff Kanipe, author of The Cosmic Connection: How Astrononomical Events Impact Life on Earth.  Noting that astronomers once learned everything they knew about the universe from telescopes, spectroscopes, and other optical instruments, he catalogs some examples of computer applications that are helping scientists paint bold, new pictures of the cosmos. 
  •        Mobile email addiction may compromise social quality of life, affect family relationships, and become a “mental safe haven” for escaping from daily realities, say Ofir Turel of California State University, Fullerton and Alexander Serenko of Lakehead University in Ontario, Canada.  The authors surveyed 241 current mobile email users from three North American organizations to determine the negative consequences for users, their families, and their organizations.
  •        Guest blogger Jeannette M. Wing, the National Science Foundation's (NSF) director of computer and information science and engineering, shares useful funding suggestions for department heads on 21st century innovation; Daniel Reed of Microsoft’s eXtreme Computing Group discusses the importance of synergy among computing specialists and generalists.    

            For more information on Communications of the ACM, click on


About ACM

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking. 


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