The Lounge is rated PG. If you're about to post something you wouldn't want your
kid sister to read then don't post it. No flame wars, no abusive conduct, no programming
questions and please don't post ads.
I've been looking at this article for the last couple of days (OK, since yesterday): Why many programmers don’t bother joining the ACM[^], and I couldn't think of anyone I've ever known that was a member of the ACM.
Do they exist? Anyone here? Is there value in it?
I liked the ACM journals but the price was fairly expensive in terms of consumer journals that at least at the time were providing similar material. Not to mention that the consumer journals were a lot easier to read and had a lot more information that was useable day to day.
The journals represent a significant store of research material but it is hard to utilize, because as noted in the article, one must pay to access it, and it isn't cheap. It has been quite a while since I attempted to use it but at least then searching it required that one basically knew what one was looking for in the first place (and it wasn't long enough ago where I would have expected that.)
As per the other part of the article the comment about the usefulness is that I can't say that I can ever recall seeing anything that was objectively useful. But there were certainly articles that were interesting. I would have probably subscribed to even more journals, but again the cost was prohibitive (and this is from someone who spent a lot on non-fiction literature in the first place.)
There were two journals that were published by the ACM: Communications of the ACM and Journal of the ACM. JACM specialised in computing theory and mathematically/formally oriented articles and CACM carried articles that talked about implementation details of compiler or operating system concepts.
Dijkstra's famous "Goto Statement Considered Harmful" was published as a letter to the Editor in CACM, because it was too short to be considered an article. In the early days of computing, when language compilers were barely understood, there were special articles such as how to implement call-by-name in Algol, etc. Graduate students were encouraged to become members of ACM so that they could keep up with the technical trends. I consider myself to have learned more from CACM than from the classroom lectures.
Later, CACM morphed into a magazine that contained very little scholarly articles -- unless you consider puff pieces on social impact of computer security and similar as scholarly articles.
Dijkstra's Goto considered harmful was submitted to the ACM as an article. The reason that it was published as a letter was simply speedy publication. The editors knew that the peer review of an article would take a while. Also the content was so inflamatory (at the time) that peer review would become more argumentative than productive.
There were two journals that were published by the ACM
Not exactly sure what you mean, but the umbrella of the ACM publishes a large number of journals and has done so for decades. Perhaps you are referring to the journals directly related to the ACM itself and not the sub-organizations.
Graduate students were encouraged to become members of ACM so that they could keep up with the technical trends.
I remember getting the same message which might have been true in the early days. But in terms of the OP I doubt it is currently feasible. Both because of the lack of readability of most of the articles (in all of the magazines), the vast, vast breadth of software and hardware now, and because at least a non-trivial amount of the articles deal with esoteric material that is unlikely to ever be relevant (some might of course but reading all of the rest for something that might only become relevant in 5 years is an extreme stretch on the usefulness factor.)
I occasionally take a look, but cost and relevance always stops me from joining, plus the fact that there's a vast amount of information that doesn't require an ACM subscription. In general, it's all too abstract and theoretical for my tastes (strange coming from someone who writes a lot of abstract and theoretical articles, haha!)
I was a member of the ACM for several years, but found that the cost was too much to continue. When I was in grad school the first time, I found their "Algorithms" section (all were in Algol back then) quite useful. Now when I need some info from their journals, I find them through the university library.
CQ de W5ALT
Walt Fair, Jr., P. E. Comport Computing Specializing in Technical Engineering Software
When I was in college in the early 80's, I had access to a few of the ACM publications through the CS department library. They were useful back then, especially when I was working on my independent study project.
As a professional developer I've never seen the need for them. Their topics are of academic interest, but have relatively little practical application.
As Marc mentioned, the cost is prohibitive. I used to get ads from them wanting me to join - I could have spent over $1000 on publications a year.
A decade after I started programming, I became aware of an organization called the Association for Computing Machinery[^] (ACM). I am a self taught programmer. So in 1975, because I knew that I was missing fundamentals of the programming paradigm, I decided to join. In 1975, the ACM was a vibrant, technically competent, and technically cutting edge organization. Some of you may know the ACM through its Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques[^] (SIGGRAPH) through their outstanding annual conferences. I was caught up in the excitement of participating in the field, nurtured by this spectacular organization.
In 1998, I resigned. Why?
In 1975, the ACM was technically relevant. It provided its members with a wide range of information, driven in part by academia, in part by practicing programmers. But slowly, the ACM changed. In part, the problem with the ACM was that it provided what it perceived its membership wanted - it followed the career path of its membership.
In those distant past days, a programmer was initially assigned maintenance responsibilities. These duties usually entail the repair and enhancement of existing software. As the programmer becomes more and more competent, the assignments become more and more challenging. About two years into a career, the programmer would begin to implement new software, usually as a coder. After about two or three more years, the programmer begins to look closely at the workplace, and the dichotomy between technician and manager becomes more apparent.
And now decision time is here. If the programmer wants a thick carpet, a nice suite of furniture, a corner office, and a secretary, the programmer realizes that management is the only way to go. So the programmer becomes a software manager.
Sadly, I believe that this is what happened to the ACM. Its membership gradually moved from the technical to the
managerial arenas. Responding to that shift in its membership focus, the ACM has now become another management organization.
And what I needed was a technically competent organization. To a great extent, Bob has provided that.
I think the only members of the national organization (aka paying members) we have at our college are the officers of the ACM club (since they have to be) XD Non-paying wise, we have over 50 active members, granted it's more of a social club than doing cool projects outside of competitions/events.
Last Visit: 31-Dec-99 18:00 Last Update: 26-Sep-17 7:02