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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Editorial Pointers

The Internet and corporate databases may bring the world's knowledge to our fingertips, but let's face it, who needs it all? The true value now lies in machines that can find useful information—and "useful" is interpreted differently by every person who sits before a keyboard. Accommodating our individual needs requires the ability of a computer to search out fundamental properties and principles, to learn from previous searches, and to reapply that knowledge to new searches. It's the quality of the knowledge discovered that counts, and that's what this month's special section is all about.

Knowledge discovery is gaining a major following among business, industrial, and scientific users thanks to the growing capacity of the computer to automatically derive new rules or relationships from the information found. The articles in this section offer everyday, practical KD applications demonstrating why these technologies and techniques will continue to prosper. Guest editor Tosh Munakata has coordinated a most impressive group of experts to discuss general KD domains, along with its new applications, and its specialized skills. We are indebted to Tosh for his unceasing energy and enthusiasm for Communications and for his dedication to the editorial projects he has spearheaded on our behalf over the years.

Our feature articles in this issue debunk some of the popular tenets regarding business strategies and product/system designs. Ravi Ganesan insists the role of the middleman in product success is more critical than ever. Indeed, you may build the best umbrella on the market, but it's the go-getters out there selling them on a rainy day that make the difference. Ganesan details the benefits of the middleman in today's software market in "The Messyware Advantage."

In other news, Sharon Oviatt separates myth from reality when it comes to creating usable interfaces, Gregg and Goul propose a protocol suite that helps locate Web sites containing decision support systems, and Nezlek, Jain, and Nazareth offer an integrated method to create enterprise computer architectures.

Our columnists this month tell tales that illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of sharing different perspectives on the same project. In "Digital Village" Hal Berghel talks about the price we pay when executives fail to evolve. For Robert Glass, however, failures yield treasures. In "Practical Programmer," Glass shows how programmers gain the most from software projects viewed as failures by others.

Diane Crawford, Editor

COMING NEXT MONTH: An eclectic collection of articles covering topics as diverse as teledemocracy, online buying predictors, interfacing users, health care systems, and the future of software development. We will also feature rousing discussions on final Y2K preparations and on licensing software engineers.

©1999 ACM  0002-0782/99/1100  $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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