At present neither ACM nor computer education carries much weight in Washington. What sorts of things are needed for a group to have enough national stature to influence policy?
- Enough members paying enough dues to yield a margin of seed capital for the necessary activity.
- A sizable group of active members with national reputation and influence—people known to be sources of good ideas, good prophets, and people dedicated and willing to work. A sufficient number of key ACM positions must be occupied by such gifted persons.
- A steady volume of publication of material that people need to know, with good standards. Nothing builds a good reputation like good publication.
- A continual readiness to serve in Washington and elsewhere, and some reasonable communications channels to permit ACM to know of opportunities to serve, and to permit Washington (for example) to know of ACM’s readiness.
The above things seem to rest heavily on people of prestige and influence. Not many persons are gifted—whatever the criterion. If ACM is to serve the nation, we must create an environment attractive to a sufficient number of such gifted persons. And then we must give such leaders our whole-hearted support, for they cannot function without it. The pay-off to our total membership of support of national leadership will come in the satisfaction of working in a strong association for a field of importance. The result of ACM’s not assuming the necessary leadership would be that some other group would step forward and represent computing in Washington. Do we want this?