Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

“Become a Computer Science Ambassador”

April 1st, 2011 / in resources / by Erwin Gianchandani

Reaching out to the media:  Become a computer  Science ambassador [image courtesy Communications of the ACM]There’s an interesting article in the March 2011 issue of the Communications of the ACM about “why computer scientists should come out from ‘behind the scenes’ more often and work with the media to draw public attention to their fundamental innovation — and just how we can begin to do that:

Science communication or public outreach can be seen as taking a lot of time and effort compared to the payoffs it provides. In effect, there’s a tragedy of the commons—we all benefit from those who do it, so there is incentive to let other people shoulder the load.


The rationale behind science communication is fairly obvious, and it is difficult to provide compelling arguments that appeal to skeptics. Public outreach is related to the reputation of the scientific field, funding, and the integration of the science community into society. Locally, it is related to the reputation of your university and to the quality of your students.


  • Outreach is “Service”—one of the three components of a professor’s job.
  • Outreach is “Broader Impacts” and “Dissemination of Results” on NSF and other grant proposals.
  • Outreach brings visibility to the department, which is valued by chairs and deans who are trying to raise money, and by researchers who want quality students.
  • Outreach is giving back to the community.


Other sciences have established long-lasting traditions of transmitting their key issues, raising public awareness including highlights such as the Nobel Prize or the Fields Medal (rarely is the public aware of the ACM A.M. Turing Award).


Computer science is not yet where it should be in this regard. The reasons for this may lie in the relative youth of the area, the rapid advances in the field, as well as the fast-moving technology that computer science is related to. Computer scientists face the drawbacks of lacking public awareness. They are confronted with low enrollment numbers and low funding, and to some extent, they feel ignored and misunderstood. The purpose of this article is to provide suggestions for what you and your faculty can pragmatically do to increase coverage of computer science in the media.

In the article, Frances Rosamond (Charles Darwin University, Australia) and colleagues provide 10 tips to begin advancing one’s research broadly, from finding the right hook to establishing personal contacts to using the enthusiasm of one’s students.

Ultimately, the authors conclude:

…We must all work to “sell” computer science, not just to increase the numbers of students or to promote our particular research area, but to maintain a scientifically literate populace in an era when even the word “science” sometimes brings a negative reaction.


The public applauds performers, and sees the practical applications of economists, businessmen, engineers or other scientists as the main performance, because the computer scientist hasn’t come out to take a bow. We can write ourselves into the script as the originator of useful results, or certainly insist on ovation as the playwright holding the first-step creative thought processes. No more standing behind the curtain in the wings.

I encourage you to check out “Become a Computer Science Ambassador” in the March CACM, if you haven’t done so already.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

“Become a Computer Science Ambassador”

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