acm - an acm publication

2008 - November

  • An Interview with Randy Pausch: Immersed in the Future: On the Future of Education
    Before he became ill, Randy Pausch spoke with Ubiquity Editor John Gehl in 2005. The declining enrollments in computer science were already very much on his mind. At that time, they were down 23 percent. Pausch called this a "huge problem". He noted that, even for those committed to teaching programming from the outset, kids programming in Alice were far more engaged than those trying to find Fibonacci numbers. The enrollments have since declined another 25 percent and the problem is even "huger" than before. Randy's ideas about what turns kids on are even more important today. --Peter Denning, Editor
  • The Power of Dispositions
    Many people have been trying to come to grips with the new ways of learning that are supported by networked tools in recent years. These new ways feature distributed social networks at their core and are proving to be much more popular and often more effective than traditional schooling. Science communities such as faulkes-telescope.com and labrats.org, and massive multiplayer games such as World of Warcraft, are in the vanguard. John Seely Brown and Doug Thomas make an important contribution to understanding what makes these networks so powerful. They use the term disposition to refer to an attitude or stance toward the world that inclines the person toward effective practice. They find that a "questing disposition", which has always been important for inquiry and learning, is encouraged and supported in these vanguard social learning networks. Their work will reward your time and attention. --Peter Denning, Editor
  • An Interview with Frans Johansson: The Medici Effect
    In this time of recession, innovation has jumped to the fore in many people's minds. How can we create new value through innovations and pull our individual companies out of the doldrums? In 2004, Frans Johansson published his book, The Medici Effect, in which he discussed how crossing community boundaries leads to innovations, and he said that the most effective way to create the crossing is to mix people from the communities in a common setting. John Gehl spoke with Johansson shortly after the book was published. Johansson's words are worth thinking about now as we reflect on what we all must do next.
  • An Interview with Michael Schrage
    It is November 2008 and much of the globe is in the throes of recession. Innovation is on many minds. We need new products and new services generating new value for our customers and our companies. It is more important than ever to innovate. The problem is that our collective success rate is abysmal -- 4 percent according to Business Week in August 2005. As we set out on new innovation initiatives, it is a good time to reflect on the illusions that drag our success rates so low. One illusion is that is innovation is a novel ideal or product, another is that those who spend more on R&D get more innovation, and another is that innovation is about great inventions. Michael Schrage of MIT has been challenging these illusions for a long time. He discussed them with Ubiquity editor John Gehl in February 2006. Now is the perfect time to reflect again on what Michael has to say to us about innovation. --Peter Denning, Editor