The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world’s oldest scientific and educational computing society, turns 60 this year.
By May 2007, I’ll be completing my first year as a professional member and my second year overall (I was first a student member and officer of UP ACM). Admittedly, I haven’t squeezed every bit out of my membership — I haven’t touched ACM’s vast digital library in a year, nor have I taken even one of the free online courses.
Still, I value my membership for two things. First, I enjoy reading the Communications of the ACM (CACM) magazines, which keep me up to date with a field I tangoed with for four years in UP. I love to acquire and reacquire CS knowledge, even though at times I have trouble understanding the articles. My favorite articles are those related to what I do and where I work today — namely, blogging/webmastering and the Internet, respectively. The only time when reading the magazines becomes more of a chore than a pleasure is when I’m in serious mag backlog.
Second — and I’m going to unabashedly say this — being a “Member of the ACM” (MACM) looks good on the CV. Of course, it’s a paid membership. Anybody can be a member, really. Even someone who mistakes portable DVD players for laptops.
The travesty in ‘buying’ your membership lies in not trying to know more about CS and its diverse disciplines and how they meld into the everyday things around you. The travesty lies in ‘buying’ the title “MACM” to improve your resumÃ©, not your brain.
Of course, there are always two sides to every story. There are people who have reasons not to become an ACM member. One such person is Kent Pitman, a former ACM member and columnist for the now-defunct ACM magazine Lisp Pointers.