Profession Publications

Peter J. Denning

Eating Our Seed Corn. 1981. PJD's widely referenced President's letter from ACM Communications June 1981. An irony of our age is that the institutions that educate personnel for the prosperous IT industry are not themselves prosperous: because they cannot respond to high salaries and excellent lab facilities offered in industry, they are losing their teachers. Today's "seed corn" problem bears many resemblances to the one that occurred two decades ago.

Designing New Principles to Sustain Research in Our Universities. 1993. From ACM Communications, July 1993. An open letter to computer science faculty, calling on them to take seriously the shifting public moods becoming hostile to research. The way to save research is to build and execute the research agenda in partnership with the "customers" of our education enterprise. A sharper version of this appeared four years later as the next item.

ACM Electronic Publishing Plan. From 1992-1998, PJD chaired the ACM Publications Board. He led the ACM Digital Library Project from its initial planning to its final implementation and roll-out in 1998. Here, he discusses the Digitial Library for Computing Research News in September 1996. In 1995 he and Bernie Rous, ACM's Director of Electronic Publishing, wrote down the conceptual framework for the Digital Library. They later published the first Copyright Policy for Cyberspace, which was widely imitated by other professional societies.

A New Social Contract for Research. 1997. From ACM Communications, February 1997. Everyone talks about how the Vannevar Bush "social contract for research" has been breached. Here's what is likely to replace it.

Computing the Profession. 1998. An essay about the nature of the emerging Profession of Computing and its relation to computer science, software engineering, software architecture, and other information-technology specialties. Published in Educom Review (November-December 1998).

Our Seed Corn Grows In the Commons. 1999. It just won't go away. PJD comments again in 1999 on the recurrence of the seed corn problem, first published in Information Impacts (iMP). He sees it now as a crisis of the commons and challenges the professional societies to provide leadership to assist the main players (academies and businesses) from depleting the commons: the teachers who train new generations of IT workers. This will take a new game, in which it is in no one's interest to overgraze the commons.

Computer Science the Discipline. 1999. An overview of the structure of the discipline of computer science, prepared for the fourth edition of Ralston's Encyclopedia of Computer Science.

Then Now. 1999. PJD's trenchant analysis of our collective ability to forecast the future of computing, based on the near-complete failure of experts in 1893 forecasting what life would be like in 1993. Published in Talking Back to the Machine: Computers and Human Aspiration, Copernicus Books, 1999.

Future of the IT Profession. 2000. An interview with PJD by John Gehl of ACM's Ubiquity in March 2000. PJD discusses the shape of the emerging IT profession, who's a member, overcoming the tendency toward balkanization, software engineering as a profession, certification, innovation, lifelong learning, and the coming impacts on IT education.

When IT Becomes a Profession. 2001. PJD offers a complete view of the emerging IT profession. The essay appeared as Chapter 18 in the ACM1 book, The Invisible Future, McGraw-Hill, October 2001.

Then Now II. 2001. In an invited keynote speech for the World Technology Network conference July 1-2, 2001, PJD revisits the analysis of our collective inability to make accurate long term technology forecasts.

The 22nd Century at First Light. 2012. Futurist magazine ran a special section taking a first look at what life might be like in the 22nd century. PJD contributed a secnario called "Automated Government".