Computer science is a global activity, yet it’s telling that Wendy Hall was the first president of the Association for Computing Machinery to live outside North America.
Hall, whose term as ACM’s president ended in June 2010, is a professor of computer science at the University of Southampton in England. Her current research focuses on the Semantic Web. In fact, along with Tim Berners-Lee, she is one of the founding directors of the Web Science Research Initiative, a collaboration between Southampton and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Looking back at her tenure with the ACM, which started in 2008, Hall said being president of the association was a great honor, mainly because she was able to make a difference at a global level.
“When I was president of the British Computing Society (from 2003 to 2004), it was a national [organization]. At the ACM, you have a chance to make a difference at a global level, and it is quite prestigious,” she said.
During her tenure as ACM president, Hall established additional ACM hubs in Europe, India and China, expanding the organization’s reach. She also developed the ACM Women’s Council and launched ACM-W activities in India.
“Increasing ACM’s relevance and influence in the global computing community has been a top priority throughout my presidency,” Hall said in her final report, published in January 2011. “By sharing ACM’s array of valued resources and services with a borderless audience, and by discovering, welcoming and nurturing talent from all corners of the computing arena, ACM can truly be distinguished as the world’s leading computing society.”
Hall was succeeded by Alain Chesnais (founder of Visual Transitions in Toronto), whose two-year term began July 2010.
Hall spoke with SD Times to explain how she got started with computers and where she thinks the World Wide Web will go next.