Computer shortcomings cited by dignitaries

Computer industry veterans Alan Kay and Andries van Dam aired complaints about the current state of computing during a Monday evening conference panel session, with gripes about security, browsers, and system integration.

Kay, noted for his work in object-oriented programming and the GUI, and van Dam, who has done work in computer graphics, hypermedia, and pen-centric computing, spoke at the conference in San Jose, Calif. The event featured tributes to the works of computer mouse inventor Doug Engelbart.

Van Dam stressed privacy and security as an issue. "I think it could well be the killer of our field if we don't as a field deal with that problem," he said. "Cyber warfare and serious attacks on information bases are occurring."

"That could cripple everything we've been working on," he added.

The Engelbart vision was about integrated systems, something that does not exist today, van Dam said. "What we have is silos.

Silos do not communicate or interoperate. Instead, specialized programs are used, such as Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, with importing and exporting of bit maps serving as the common denominator." (The panel session was held at Adobe headquarters.)