Download PDF version of this article PDF

Finding the Right Questions
by Steve Bourne, Queue Advisory Board

Does the world really need another computing magazine? Surely, that’s a legitimate question. By any measure, we already have an overwhelming number of publications to choose from. But how many do you actually read? And of those, how many do you feel really contribute to your knowledge and understanding of emerging software technologies and capabilities?

Sadly, even amongst the more serious and sober-minded of all those publications out there, there is little that looks potentially useful to people charged with anticipating and preparing for future challenges. That’s because the tendency is more towards content grounded in the here-and-now, with an emphasis on products and solutions already familiar to programmers and developers.

So into the clutter now steps a new publication: Queue. Quite simply, it’s not like any of those other magazines piling up on your office floor. That’s because the mission for Queue is to deal directly with the challenges ahead for software engineers and developers involved in the critical design and planning decisions most likely to affect product directions and operational practices for years to come. And when it comes to that, articles that merely describe current products and solutions are inadequate. So Queue instead sets out to intelligently assess the changes expected to arise in the near term as emerging capabilities or technologies gain widespread acceptance—laying out the choices software engineers and developers are most likely to face and spelling out the inherent underlying technical conflicts.

Unlike the other magazines I’ve seen, Queue understands that before people can begin to search for satisfactory answers, they must first know what questions to ask. Other publications may devote themselves to touting the latest panacea du jour. But Queue has been conceived largely as a tonic for the hype weary, with a commitment to methodically dissect upcoming challenges while posing the same hard questions software developers ask themselves. And in that way, Queue works to define future problems with the sort of detail and intelligence readers in turn can use to focus their own thinking on what matters most.

The best way to obtain that sort of insightful content is to solicit candid views from the very people right at the heart of what’s coming. Queue has the ability to do that because it’s built out of editorial content driven and written by engineers. An editorial advisory board consisting of industry luminaries who meet regularly to discuss article ideas and identify potential authors makes it possible to secure material from people with the real experience and technical savvy to write with real authority on their respective topics.

I think you’ll agree that doesn’t sound much like any of those other magazines you’ve been reading lately.


STEVE BOURNE Over the last 20 years Steve has held senior engineering management positions at Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems, Digital Equipment and Silicon Graphics. At present he is Entrepreneur in Residence at El Dorado Ventures in Menlo Park, California. Prior to this Steve spent nine years at Bell Laboratories as a member of the Seventh Edition UNIX team. He designed the UNIX Command Language or "Bourne Shell" which is used for scripting in the UNIX programming environment and he wrote the ADB debugger tool. He graduated in Mathemetics from King's College, London and has a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Trinity College in Cambridge, England.


Originally published in Queue vol. 1, no. 1
see this item in the ACM Digital Library



Ellen Chisa - Evolution of the Product Manager
Software practitioners know that product management is a key piece of software development. Product managers talk to users to help figure out what to build, define requirements, and write functional specifications. They work closely with engineers throughout the process of building software. They serve as a sounding board for ideas, help balance the schedule when technical challenges occur - and push back to executive teams when technical revisions are needed. Product managers are involved from before the first code is written, until after it goes out the door.

Jon P. Daries, Justin Reich, Jim Waldo, Elise M. Young, Jonathan Whittinghill, Daniel Thomas Seaton, Andrew Dean Ho, Isaac Chuang - Privacy, Anonymity, and Big Data in the Social Sciences
Open data has tremendous potential for science, but, in human subjects research, there is a tension between privacy and releasing high-quality open data. Federal law governing student privacy and the release of student records suggests that anonymizing student data protects student privacy. Guided by this standard, we de-identified and released a data set from 16 MOOCs (massive open online courses) from MITx and HarvardX on the edX platform. In this article, we show that these and other de-identification procedures necessitate changes to data sets that threaten replication and extension of baseline analyses. To balance student privacy and the benefits of open data, we suggest focusing on protecting privacy without anonymizing data by instead expanding policies that compel researchers to uphold the privacy of the subjects in open data sets.

Michael J. Lutz, J. Fernando Naveda, James R. Vallino - Undergraduate Software Engineering: Addressing the Needs of Professional Software Development
In the fall semester of 1996 RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) launched the first undergraduate software engineering program in the United States. The culmination of five years of planning, development, and review, the program was designed from the outset to prepare graduates for professional positions in commercial and industrial software development.

© 2021 ACM, Inc. All Rights Reserved.