Join the ACM for the magazine, stay for the books
The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has nearly 100,000 members, which makes it the world’s largest computing society – but you’ve probably never heard of it or forgotten all about it. I’m going to tell you to join it, and tell you why I think it’s such a good idea (the title kind of already gives it away though).
Let’s talk about the membership fee first, because ACM memberships aren’t free and some of you might see that as a dealbreaker. It costs $99 per yearIt’s slightly less if you’re already a member of IEEE or a national “sister” society, and significantly less if you’re a student.. That’s about €88 or about 23 Big Macs (which you most certainly don’t want to eat unless you’re depressed or hung-over).
So what do you get for that $99?
For starters, you get a print subscriptionIf you live in Europe (as I do), Communications will take an entire month to reach your letter box, by which time you can already find the next issue online. I don’t mind, because I prefer reading from paper. But hey, maybe I’m just old-fashioned. to Communications of the ACM, a monthly science magazine that covers topics in computer science and information systems. This magazine alone is worth the $99 and is the primary reason why I originally joined the ACM.
What’s so special about Communications?
Here are some of its most well-known and cited articles:
- Go to statement considered harmful (Dijkstra, 1968)
- A method for obtaining digital signatures and public-key cryptosystems (Rivest, Shamir & Adleman, 1978)
- Time, clocks, and the ordering of events in a distributed system (Lamport, 1978)
- A literate program (Knuth & McIlroy, 1986)
- A relational model of data for large shared data banks (Codd, 1980)
- MapReduce: Simplified data processing on large clusters (Dean & Ghemawat, 2008)
But there’s more! You also get a digital subscription to ACM Queue, a bi-monthly magazine for computing professionals like developers, architects, and engineers. And discounts on tickets for ACM conferences (which are probably paid for by your employer, but still).
There are a lot more membership benefits, but most aren’t that interesting. Except… for the ACM Learning Center.
The Learning Center gives you access to several learning platforms, all of which are an absolute must-have for professionals:
- O’Reilly’s Learning Platform offers more than 40,000 online books (also from other publishers) and more than 5,000 video courses that teach you anything you want to learn. Subscribing to all of this as an individual would already cost you four times as much!
- Elsevier’s ScienceDirect platform offers more than 1,200 DRM-free reference titles from renowned publishers, mostly about technical computer science topics.
- SkillSoft provides online courses, e-books, and videos that help you gain in-depth knowledge about specific IT domains. These can be incredibly useful if you intend to get official certifications.
For just $99 per year, you can get: