Tom Conte

Keep It Our Society


Why I'm Running For Computer Society President

I joined the Computer Society 30 years ago for the same reasons that I’m a member today: to stay current, to keep in touch with colleagues, to contribute and collaborate. Today, computer-enabled media is democratizing and globalizing information access, and the Computer Society must adapt accordingly. As Vice President of Publications for the last two terms, I have strived to make all Computer Society publications Open Access: freely available to everyone around the world.

    Meanwhile, I reject the idea that Open Access somehow means we must compromise the quality of our publications. IEEE leadership tells us that this future is “scary”—publication subscriptions funding IEEE headquarters will go away. I do not think that’s scary at all. Rather, the IEEE’s bureaucracy must shrink accordingly. Meanwhile, we must continue to support all the activities we value as members. Our Computer Society’s IEEE Standards are indispensible and respected worldwide, and that activity must continue unimpeded. Be it MOOCs or open, accredited online degree programs, our educational activities must continue to lead the way.

    Computer Society conferences are vital: they are where we interact and advance the computing field. For me, the conference meeting days are the most valuable days in my work year. Yet I have run many international conferences, and I know it takes enormous time and effort. It should not. The Computer Society needs to change from taxing conferences to providing true services that make organizing and running a conference easier. The Society must be the facilitator, not the gatekeeper, for our conferences.

    The Computer Society is our society: it should be easier for “really busy people” to volunteer for the Society. Let’s get all of us from around the world moving the Society into the future. The “is it helping our members?” test has been the guiding principle behind any and all decisions I’ve made as a Board of Governors member and a Society Vice President. It will be the same principle I use as your President. Let’s keep this our society, where we all come together to collaborate, to stay technically current, and to move computing forward.