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A Farewell Message from Ubiquity Editor-in-Chief

Ubiquity, Volume 2008 Issue June | BY John Gehl 


Full citation in the ACM Digital Library

As Ubiquity's editor-in-chief John Gehl leaves his post, he shares some parting words.

"Ubiquity," of course, comes from the Latin word for "everywhere"- and stands in contrast to "Utopia," another word coined from the Latin (by St. Thomas More) meaning "nowhere." Unlike utopian pie-in-the-sky visions, Ubiquity has always tried to stay focused ambitiously on The-Future-As-We-Already-See-It-Happening. This "Future-Present-Tense" is happening right in front of our eyes, in an information-rich world of embedded computing, embedded information, and embedded knowledge - along with embedded tensions.

When you get some time, go into the Ubiquity archives and refresh your memory of what we've done: for example, take a second look at my own interviews with leaders in information science and technology, or re-read the many provocative articles we've published on every topic under the sun. (There's that old Ubiquity theme again, rearing its ubiquitous head.) You'll be impressed. And I think you'll be just as impressed with this, our final issue.

  In this issue we present an interview with Richard A. DeMillo, Dean of Georgia Tech's College of Computing, who has led a brilliant and stunning transformation of undergraduate education in information and computer science (and its numerous technologies and disguises). He and his colleagues have achieved some amazing improvements in educational practice at the college undergraduate level. Then, at the end of the DeMillo interview, we have appended an important announcement about his career plans.

In upcoming issues, you'll find Phil Yaffe's insightful "Can Learning Languages Help You Better Understand Science and Technology? - which suggests, among other things, that "contrary to the common belief, science is not about certainty but rather uncertainty" - an insight that information technologists ignore at their, and our, peril.  

Andy Clark
  We will also offer important articles by Clark, Tsekeris, and Tripathi. Clark, a Professor of Philosophy and Chair in Logic and Metaphysics at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, gives us a remarkable essay entitled "Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence." Tsekeris, whose research interests include understanding the complex relationships between technoscience, cyberculture and democratic politics, demonstrates the sociological and philosophical perspectives of the nature of the virtual world.  
Charalambos Tsekeris

And our own resourceful and creative associate editor Arun Kumar Tripathi has a paper complementing Andy Clark's cyborg piece called "The Technological Transformation of Human Experience."

We will also have M.O. Thirunarayanan's playful "Are The New Languages Charming?" and "Emergence of the Academic Computing Clouds" by Kemal A. Delic and Martin Anthony Walker of Hewlett-Packard. Also "Content-Based Image Retrieval System" by Murari Mohan Sardar, Krishnendu Basuli, Saptarshi Naskar.

Finally, John Stuckey's fascinating meditation on time, history, evolution, and other ubiquitous considerations, in his new "Letter from Cairo." Read this and be in awe of the universe, and of John's talent.

This is not your father's Ubiquity. (Your father could only wish.)

Some personal notes now as I conclude almost a decade of work for ACM. As I dig my way ever more deeply into retirement, I want to give special thanks to those who have served as co-founders and/or editors of Ubiquity:

First, my old friend and partner Suzanne Douglas, a remarkable and wonderful person. Then, the great Peter Denning, a visionary's visionary in information technology, who stands as the Francis Bacon figure for this Age of Information. And then of course there is ACM Publications Director Mark Mandelbaum, a brilliant, entrepreneurial administrator and a great gentleman.

Suzanne Douglas

Peter Denning

Mark Mandelbaum

And finally, of course, there are my terrific associate editors, who made Ubiquity interesting and surprising week after week, after week, after week, after week, for hundreds of weeks: Espen Andersen; Kemal Delic; Ross Gagliano; Michel E. Kabay; John Stuckey; Arun Kumar Tripathi; and Goutam Kumar Saha.

Espen Andersen

Kemal Delic

Ross Gagliano

Michel E. Kabay

John Stuckey

Arun Kumar Tripathi

Goutam Kumar Saha

  I would also like at this time to give very special thanks to Emily Eng, our Girl Genius and Ubiquity's Managing Editor for Administration. Emily has been Ubiquity's sine qua non. (More Latin. Sorry. But Latin's not really a dead language, it's kind of ubiquitous.)

Last, I am taking the liberty of dedicating this final issue of Ubiquity to the memory of my old best friend and mentor Alton P. ("Pete") Jensen, who peaked too early, but who left a legacy as a great and generous teacher and great and generous man. He understood that everything is new under the sun, every day. His insight could be called the Heraclitus-Jensen Law of Accelerating, Paradoxical, Hidden and Befuddling Change.  

If any of you want to contact me in the Hereafter, you could always try [email protected]. I'm planning to be there and everywhere, now, forever, and (needless to say) ubiquitously, as long as Alltel and I can keep our acts alive and together. You could also try 770-335-4089. That's my cell phone number, and is probably less eternal than I'd like it to be. However, it's an iPhone, so maybe it knows more about Eternity (or has it been renamed iEternity?) than all the rest of us do.

I'll finish up now by quoting the Leonard Bernstein song that the great sportscaster Jim McKay used to sing when, as a young man, he hosted an afternoon song-and-dance show on New York television five days a week. He used the song to close the show. Here are two of the verses:
Where has the time all gone to?
Haven't done half the things we want to.
Oh well, we'll catch up
Some other time.

Just when the fun is starting,
Comes the time for parting.
But let's be glad for what we've had,
And what's to come.
A nice song. I hope someone will sing it at my funeral service.

Editor in Chief (Rapidly Fading)

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