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The Computing Profession

By Peter J. Denning

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 61 No. 3, Pages 33-35
10.1145/3182108

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We started this column in 2001 when ACM was re-envisioning itself as a society of a computing profession. ACM leaders and many members already thought of computing as a profession. They wanted ACM to strengthen its support of computing professionals and its commitment to the practitioners of a computing profession. How has all this progressed in the past 17 years?

In my first column on the IT profession, my opening question was whether a profession is needed in the first place. I wrote: "To most of the hundreds of millions of computer users around the world, the inner workings of a computer are an utter mystery. Opening the box holds as much attraction as lifting the hood of a car. Users look to computing professionals to help them with their needs for designing, locating, retrieving, using, configuring, programming, maintaining and understanding computers, networks, applications, and digital objects."1 The need has intensified over the years because there are now billions of users and the technologies they rely on are much more complex.

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