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Vint Cerf on Why Programmers Don't Join the ACM 213

jfruh writes "The Association for Computing Machinery is a storied professional group for computer programmers, but its membership hasn't grown in recent years to keep pace with the industry. Vint Cerf, who recently concluded his term as ACM president, asked developers what was keeping them from signing up. Their answers: paywalled content, lack of information relevant to non-academics, and code that wasn't freely available."
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Vint Cerf on Why Programmers Don't Join the ACM

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  • It Costs Money (Score:5, Informative)

    by kramer2718 ( 598033 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @03:16AM (#47572527) Homepage
    I can get every thing I need from Google. Why would I pay money to join the ACM? A 25 year old bottle of Scotch is a much better value.
  • Complexity (Score:5, Informative)

    by LostMyBeaver ( 1226054 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @03:35AM (#47572587)
    ACM is a great resource and I regularly borrow journals from friends.

    My issues are simple.

    1) I'm self educated. ACM discriminates against people like me. It doesn't matter that I have 20 years experience in protocol and codec design or that I've designed algorithms which they have published articles analyzing.

    2) price. ACM is too expensive for individuals and programmers who are actual scientists and actual engineers as opposed to Python coding web site developers have a hard enough time getting bosses to pay for RAM upgrades. Things like "club memberships" are generally out of the question.

    3) Too many journals to choose from and each one costs more. Professional programmers probably want 3-5 different journals. I haven't checked in a while, but I would want the journals on compilers, machine vision, signal processing and probably AI (if those are all categories) but I wouldn't want to pay for all 3. A downloadable printable version of the actual journals or at least an ebook would be welcome. Last I checked, they only offered article by article.

    Finally, I never see ACM articles linked from Google. You'd imagine searches for things like "reduction of inter block artifacts in discrete wavelet transforms" should nail 5 ACM articles on the first page. Instead, I see mailing lists.
  • by simoncpu was here ( 1601629 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @03:55AM (#47572643)
    I also let my membership lapse because I couldn't read all the magazines anymore. Many of my magazines remain unopened to this day.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @04:47AM (#47572787) Journal

    There is as an academic. Apparently being a member of the ACM has a negative value, because in exchange for the $99/year membership fee I typically get a $100-150 discount on attending ACM conferences. If you go to a couple of conferences a year then that's a good deal. For people outside academia, there's less relevance. ACM Queue [], which provides material for 'practitioners' section of Communications of the ACM, generally has some good material, but it's all free whether your an ACM member or not.

    I like the ACM as an organisation, but they're hard pressed to justify the cost of membership.

  • by Vic Metcalfe ( 355 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @07:57AM (#47573303) Homepage

    I am a long time member of the ACM, and I've always thought the value for money was excellent. I'm not an academic and I don't go to conferences. The Safari and 24/7 Books Online subscriptions, plus the skillsoft training is where I see most of the value.

  • by Slashdot Parent ( 995749 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @08:12AM (#47573359)

    I thought about joining a while ago for the group health insurance plan, but they dropped that. So I did not join.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2014 @08:45AM (#47573487)

    You might want to learn the difference between its and it's before commenting about crumbling ivory towers. Oh, and "staunchy" isn't a word.

  • by DoctorBonzo ( 2646833 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @09:14AM (#47573635)
    I've been a member of both ACM & IEEE for several decades. As a dinosaur, I much prefer print versions of all their varied pubs to any of the lame digital editions. I come from the academic world, but have been out of it for a long time and still find ACM relevant, especially after their revamp of Communications a couple of years ago. Practitioners? The Kode Vicious column is nearly the worth the price of subscription. I've never been interested in the Digital Library at extra cost, but it's probably worth it to some.

    IEEE? Their Computer Society is marginally OK, but only for the Hal Berghel articles, as far as I'm concerned. IEEE Spectrum has become an exercise in suckitude, the bastard child of Wired's graphic design and Popular Science's "in depth" examination of current topics. Tired of this and their pimping life insurance, I've lapsed on IEEE membership and may do so for the Computer Society too in the near future.
  • Re:It Costs Money (Score:3, Informative)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday July 31, 2014 @10:38AM (#47574261) Homepage Journal

    1) Looks good on a resume
    2) They have actual course to learn something instead of groping around the internet looks for some code snippet to use
    3) They have a ton of reading material
    4) Good publication hat aren't on google.
    5) Research done by professionals
    6) Contacts
    7) SIGs
    8) Scotch? Wait let me have a beard, and you wear a trilby.

    Not that you need to join just pointing out some advantages.

    You can keep getting your snippets of VB code from the internet, and I'll keep reading latest research on AI and email the actual researcher with questions.

  • by Gryle ( 933382 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @11:36AM (#47574675)
    Ask one of the "people on the internet in their garages"; they might know the answer.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson