Message from the Program Director

Gary W. Strong

Program Director, Interactive Systems
National Science Foundation
Arlington, Va.

The occasion of this principal investigators meeting is both exciting and auspicious. Exciting because this is the first meeting of its type for this program, and auspicious because it is an experiment in science engineering. The Interactive Systems Program is one of the most multidisciplinary programs in the Foundation, spanning computer science, electrical engineering, linguistics, psychology, education, human factors, and a host of other disciplines. I believe it is also a harbinger of science in general as well as computing in the next millennium. When I worked at Bell Labs, I learned a very powerful lesson: the real impact of technology depends upon the multiplier effect. Therefore, while computational science will certainly have an impact on each of the separate disciplines it serves, better computer interfaces will impact all of society. Also, science itself is changing. Whether this is due to universities reinventing themselves to survive or to more general social pressures, the fact remains that multidisciplinary approaches, training, and teams are becoming increasingly important to continued progress in science.

As director, I see that the Interactive Systems Program is a representative, if not a paradigmatic case in point, of trends in both science and computing. You need only briefly scan the project summaries in this collection to convince yourself of the multidisciplinarity of the program. Furthermore, the excitement accompanying your investment in your research indicates to me that you also believe you will have a major impact on both the future of computing and society itself. As computing support throughout the Federal Government reshapes itself in the twilight of the government-wide High Performance Computing and Communication initiative, we need to recognize the strengths in what we are already doing and use them to advance human-centered computing as a new basis for computer and information science and engineering.

I am very excited to be a part of this meeting and to have a role to play in the evolution of computer and information science and engineering. The role of director pales, however, in comparison to those of yourselves who are the real actors upon the stage. I wish you well in your efforts and seek to encourage your meeting with each other and finding common threads with which you can weave your future.