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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Editorial Pointers

fire department vehicle

A fire truck responding to a mock emergency incident gets the green light though an intersection during a live demonstration of the SmartDrive traffic management system in Anthem, Ariz.

Credit: University of Arizona College of Engineering

At a time when we tend to search for new solutions for each and every technical problem, it's refreshing to discover that sometimes the right answer has been there all along. Such is the case with symbolic modeling—a steadfast field with deep roots, yet growing steadily in new and successful applications.

Before a system can be reshaped, it must be scrutinized from all corners with mirrored images. One way to get a clear perspective is to model a working system; a skill that involves pulling the pertinent information from a given domain to get the most precise assessment. The practice of symbolic modeling is an evolving specialty, characterized by different techniques and approaches. There is confusion over the benefits and weaknesses of symbolic modeling, and many businesses are finding the buzzwords do not represent the solution they need.

This month's special section hopefully clarifies the practices of and potential for symbolic modeling. Guest editors Hermann Kaindl and John Carroll have assembled an accomplished group of authors to present modeling practices that bridge disciplines. They explore the idea of a uniform modeling method, emphasizing object-oriented approaches, and how it might fit various environments.

The new year ushers in some new faces on Capitol Hill, new perspectives to take into account, and renewed debate on legislation and public policy, particularly in the area of censorship. Our columnists this month certainly have some fevered opinions when it comes to the Internet and free speech. In "Legally Speaking," Whitman, Townsend, and Aalberts explain that contrary to popular belief, the Communications Decency Act is still very much alive. Although several of the indecency provisions were extracted, a range of prohibitions is still associated with portions of the remaining CDA. In "Viewpoint," Max Hailperin tackles the Child Online Protection Act—a CDA successor—claiming the very future of free speech is at stake. And Barbara Simons adds her own take on the subject in her "From the President" column.

Our feature articles also examine some engaging areas of technological advancement and concern. Jacob Nielsen envisions the Web heading for its own Y2K crunch in terms of overpopulation. He predicts a "usability meltdown" of the Web unless some considerable improvements are put in place fast. Tayi and Ballou offer a framework for enhancing data quality into all phases of warehousing. And Nicol et al. show how to mix freely available interactive multimedia software with custom technology to support Net collaboration.

Diane Crawford, Editor

COMING NEXT MONTH: A special section that spotlights some of the innovative new tools to combat threats to Internet privacy. Feature articles will cover such topics as a Y2K status report as it pertains to the desktop environment, the realities of software payoffs, and the role of trust in managing outsourced IS development projects.

©1999 ACM  0002-0782/99/0100  $5.00

Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee.

The Digital Library is published by the Association for Computing Machinery. Copyright © 1999 ACM, Inc.


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