Minutes of the meeting of the Board of Governors (BOG)

of the
IEEE Society on the social Implications of Technology (SSIT)

at the Engineering Research Building, University of Wisconsin, Madison
April 30, 2005

1.   Welcome and Introductions

The meeting was called to order at 10:20 AM. President O'Connell welcomed the attendees. Attendees introduced themselves.

2.   Adoption of Agenda

The agenda of the meeting was approved.

3.   Approval of Previous Minutes

The minutes of the previous meeting were corrected and approved.

4.   President's Report (Brian O'Connell)

(a)   Five-year Society Review. IEEE requires a society review every five years. For SSIT this is coming up in June. The President and Editor will meet with the Society Review Committee at Chantilly, VA in early June and present a report on the Society. The information included in the report is more detailed than before. Officers and conference organizers should keep careful records in anticipation of the next review. A vision statement for SSIT will be created after the Board meeting.

(b)   Membership. Membership is increasing. SSIT is the only division 6 society that has a continuous gain in membership.

(c)   Outreach. Ken Foster gave a talk to engineering students of the University of Wisconsin the day before the Board meeting. The talk was sponsored by the University Lectures Committee, Science and Technology Studies, the Biomedical Engineering Department and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of the University of Wisconsin. The talk attracted a good turn out of students, who stayed for a reception following the talk. Ken Foster also presented this talk at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angelas the day before the December 2004 Board meeting.

Officers hand out Technology and Society Magazine to interested parties at conferences and meetings they attend. Brian O'Connell attended the December meeting of the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society at Valley Forge, PA and gave a brief talk about SSIT and discussed collaboration possibilities. SSIT may be a technical co-sponsor of their next meeting.

Brian O'Connell is a member of the Working Group for Professional Responsibility of IFIP (International Federation for Information Processing). He attended their January 2005 meeting. There were people there that were active in the Glasgow ISTAS. They were interested in renewing collaborations with us. In late June Brian will attend a meeting at Turku, Finland.

(d)  Robotics and Automation Society. This society held its annual meeting April 15-23 in Barcelona, Spain. Brian O'Connell spoke at a workshop on Robotics and Ethics. This was a full-day meeting, with about 100 people in attendance. SSIT may co-sponsor another meeting on this topic. People working in this area have trouble finding places to publish.

(e)   International Conference on Medical and Care Compunetics (ICMCC). (See attachment). Swami Laxminarayan is involved with this group. They have an annual meeting at the Hague. At the 2005 meeting (June 1-3), Brian O'Connell will speak at a small plenary session. Michael Lightner, president-elect of IEEE will speak at the plenary session.

(f)   2005 Sections Conference. This is a big meeting of all the sections. This year it will be held in Tampa, FL. SSIT will make a presentation. It would be nice if we had a brochure that explained SSIT.

(g)   AAAI. (See attachment.) The American Association for Artificial Intelligence will hold a Symposium on Machine Ethics, November 3-6, 2005, in Arlington, VA. The AAAI has not in the past worked with IEEE, but they are interested in working with SSIT. SSIT is a technical co-sponsor of this symposium. We might put together a panel for this.

(h)   Committee on Earth Observation. The Committee on Earth Observation (CEO) is the IEEE interface to the Group on Earth Observation (GEO), which is an international body of 60 member countries and 40 organizations. GEO is creating the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), which will unify all Earth observation systems by defining standard data formats and information exchange protocols. SSIT and IEEE Computer Society are represented on the CEO by Bradley Kjell.

(i)   ASME. SSIT continues to work with interfacing with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. See the Past Presidents Report, 5d.

5.0   Past President's Report / Division VI Director's Report (Clint Andrews)

(a)   IEEE Board Meeting

(i) Financial Matters. There is a growing sense the the revenue that IEEE has been making will reach a peak. Open access to publications bring finances into question. Eventually the problem of declining revenues will filter down to SSIT. There may be a mismatch between what IEEE supplies in academic publications and the rising demand for industrial tutorials. SSIT should look at ways to break into the area of industrial tutorials. Other societies are experimenting with this. Conference revenues will be more important in the future. Conferences should aim for a 20% gain. This is bad news for SSIT, because our conferences are usually low profit.

(ii) Membership. There are about 300,000 members in IEEE. Society memberships are dropping. Since 2002, the societies lost 80,000 members. This may be a result of the uneasy employment situation and the easy electronic access to society publications. Many question the role of the societies. All the growth in IEEE membership is overseas. There are 121,000 world members, and this is growing at a 4% annual rate. There are many implications of this for the dues structure, for the languages of publication, meeting venues, and the structure of IEEE.

(b)   New Technology Directions Committee

This committee is concerned with finding ways to create new societies, new publications, and otherwise meeting the opportunities of emerging technology.

(i) The committee seems to be using a top-down approach: starting with the old, established societies and finding people within them that might do something with a new technology. A bottom-up approach might work better: IEEE might set aside a pot of money that could be used like venture capital to sponsor new technology initiatives that are not connected with an established conference or society. People that are passionate about some topic might do creative things with it, which might further the goals of this committee.

Discussion: Top-down approach does not seem to be working. Bottom-up approach seems better. Younger engineers are the ones with the new ideas, and would benefit the most with support. The Philadelphia Section has some successful experience in sponsoring small workshops.

(ii) New Technology Discourses Initiative. IEEE is not very good at leveraging what it already has. This initiative is to develop a process that scans across IEEE to determine what resources it has in a new technology. The resulting resources would be bundled into a workshop on the topic, tutorials, a review article, a special issue in a transactions, and a Spectrum article.

Discussion: Standards had a problem. People with ideas for a standard could not figure out where within IEEE to go for sponsorship. IEEE is not good at guiding people where to seek assistance. The IEEE Web site is confusing.

(c)  ASME. Many engineering societies are interested in sustainability and eco-efficiency. The ASME has invited SSIT and others to their annual meeting in Orlando November 9th, for a session on this topic.

5.1   Division VIII Director's Report (Gene Hoffnagle)

(a) Financial Matters. Societies an now get a commission when they give a lead in selling or upgrading an electronic library product. The rate is generous: 20% the first year and 15% after that.

(b) Membership. IEEE is seeking more partnership with corporations; this initiative has been going on for the past year. IEEE is seeking corporate support and attendance for conferences. This should benefit both, since IEEE would gain members and corporations can ask for cooperation from IEEE. What corporations might want from IEEE is being investigated.

Discussion: America is loosing its edge in science and technology. America has become less friendly to the outside, and this may hurt science. Would be nice if IEEE took a higher profile on international cooperation.

Discussion: Cooperation with the for-profit sector is not without danger.

The Membership Development Committee is looking at all IEEE relationships with other organizations and wondering which should be made stronger.

There is a new grade of membership: Graduate Student membership has been adopted. They will be voting members.

The non-US membership is growing. There is a clear need to acknowledge this growth, perhaps in reorganizing the structure of IEEE. It might be that soon most members of IEEE will be outside of the US. Many engineers in India and China are not IEEE members. Most of the leaders of IEEE are in the US. Most meetings are in the US. Maybe in the future the shift will be to Asia. The Transnational Committee is investigating such matters. In the future the IEEE may be a truly global organization.

Societies are losing members. Is the decline due to electronic libraries?

(c) Executive Committee. The members are consciously trying to improve the organization of IEEE. The Executive Committee just had a meeting in Paris. The search for the new executive director is proceeding. The previous director has left. A search firm has been hired, and many IEEE members are involved, also. The notion is that the new executive director should be aware the IEEE is a volunteer organization, volunteer-driven, and that everyone on the staff should know this. The four presidents have been working directly with the management council. Essentially they are running the IEEE. They are getting quite an education in how things are really done. The search will end this summer. It is already at the stage of sifting candidates.

5.2  Division VIII Director's Report (Steve Diamond)

The search for the new Executive Director is particularly relevant to SSIT. The volunteer base of IEEE has not been well understood or appreciated as a significant aspect of IEEE. It is crucial that the new Executive Director understand it. This has implications for society membership. One of the distinct competencies of IEEE is its volunteers. The staff and board need to understand this. Sometimes intellectual property development and distribution is treated too much like a commercial enterprise, done only for profit. Perhaps society members sense this and feel that membership is no longer relevant. The SSIT should look at the social implications of Board directions. The implications of Xplore were not well understood before it was launched. The Board needs to focus on these issues before it is too late. The search committee has been written about these issues.

Discussion: Volunteers that go on to IEEE leadership soon seem to forget the volunteer basis of IEEE. This is a very serious problem that needs to be addressed before the new Executive Director is picked. Maybe this year's ISTAS could do something with this.

Some people think that intellectual property would continue to flow without the societies. But intellectual property is not just generated, but is certified by peer review which depends on volunteers. Some have talked about auto generated per review, like reviews on Amazon.com, or have talked about using the distribution of MP3s as a model. However, authors publish in iEEE journals because they have an excellent reputation, but if this declines, authors will look for other places to publish. Following the wrong publishing model may lead to a decline.

6.   Treasurer's Report (Karl Stephan, conveyed by Brian O'Connell)

(See attachment.) Nothing much has changed since December. We are OK for now, barring any surprises.

Motion: That dues be kept at $24, that the page count be 224, and that the non-member rate be set as per the recommendation of the IEEE staff. Passed.

Discussion: reasons for the membership gains and losses. Membership undergoes considerable churn.

7.   Publications Report (Loui / Herkert / Perusich)

(See attachment.) There is a proposal for a special issue on Security and Usability, with a solid list of proposed authors.

Motion: Approve the special issue. Passed.

IEEE is asking if our electronic newsletter is an official newsletter or not, and if it should be included in the publications review of SSIT.

Statistics of institutional downloads from T&S are available. The face recognition article by Kevin Bowyer (Spring 2004) is the most heavily downloaded, followed by the article on digital identity by Jean Camp.

Discussion: the Publications Committee should look at download statistics and determine trends.

8.   Conference Reports

(a) ISTAS 2005. It looks like this will be a small conference, but it is also a low-risk conference. Most things are under control.

(b) ISTAS 2006. Clint Andrews visited the site in Queens College. The site looks good. The conference will be held in the library. It has a nice auditorium that holds 200, there is space for break-out rooms. There is no place for a banquet, but there are places in near-by Flushing, and a Sheridan hotel. Many of the restaurants are Chinese. The cost structure is right for us, with a university setting, and most things provided. The only risk is the banquet. A preliminary budget has been worked out.

There is pressure from the IEEE Conference Committee to show a 20% profit. Also, they want the difference of the cost to members and the cost to non-members to be greater or equal to the cost of IEEE membership. We are looking at: regular advance registration, $270, regular non-member $350-$400, day-of-conference member rate $350, day-of-conference non-member $475-$600. Maybe the differential could be based on the cost for affiliate membership, $75. For some ISTAS, the majority of attendees were non-members.

We need a student rate. About 10%-15% of registrants are students. Maybe corporate sponsorship could underwrite students. Some students could get discounts by working at the conference.

Topic of ISTAS: Roberta Brody has suggested changing the topic to usability, from the original theme of scholarly publishing (see attached).

Discussion: why have a special topic at all? Our most successful conferences had a broad theme. Intellectual property as a topic may be of some importance to use because IEEE is wrestling with the subject of open access. The New Technologies Initiative has a committee on intellectual property. There is a need for a summit on this topic. New York City has many publishing houses and we might expect attendees from them. The conference could discuss peer review practices, what libraries think about IEEE publishing, what the effect on membership is, and what publishers think. Perhaps we could have a workshop on this, not a conference. The last three conferences had about 50 attendees. Maybe we should have an open theme, but a workshop track within.

Motion: accept Queen's College's offer to host ISTAS in June 2006. Passed.

Simon Byrn has stopped doing conferences. We are not successful in transmitting wisdom from one conference to the next. We need a conference committee that knows how to work with IEEE, helps fill in the forms, that knows how to deal with logistics, that keeps records, and serves as a corporate memory.

Motion: That the President appoint an active conference committee. Passed.

(c) ISTAS 2007. This may be in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, and sponsored by the Canadian National Research Council. We have received e-mail from them indicating that they would like to begin discussions. There are IBM software labs in Toronto which may work with the NRC on the conference.

9.   Committee Reports

(a) Distinguished Lecturers. (See attachments.) There are four current active lecturers. Three others have volunteered.

Recommendations: (1) We continue to offer the program to all IEEE entities, (2) We publicize the program, using the web page, the newsletter, and T&S Magazine, (3) We add the three additional volunteer presenters, (4) We budget a fund to be used to subsidize travel expenses.

Motion: Accept the recommendations as described. Passed.

Discussion: what is the mechanism by which SSIT subsidizes expenses of the lecturer? IEEE requires and answer to this on their Web site for distinguished lecturers . The expectation is that the inviting institution pay most of the lecturer's expenses, and that the fund take up any shortfall. The sense of the discussion is that the chair of the committee has discretion of how the fund shall be used.

(b) Virtual Community. The virtual community is doing well; there are many posts and threads. Some new names have come to the fore. What about awarding active members somehow? There is an emerging community of volunteers. Perhaps they should be sent an encouraging letter.

(c) Chapters. New members wish to join local chapters, but there are few such. New members have been told to get involved with local IEEE chapters. Perhaps there should be a fund to help local chapters start up. For example, the Boston chapter was starting up again, but the impetus was lost.

(d) Awards. Dr. Kymn Harvin has been told of her award. The citation has been passed to the Awards Committee. The award will be given at ISTAS, and possibly a second time in New Jersey with congressman Rush Holt taking part.

(e) Society Development (Pfatteicher). Membership could be increased by encouraging more participation and volunteerism. This might be done with student paper competitions, awards for current volunteers, incentives for bringing in members. Subscriptions to T&S might be increased by returning to the practice of seeking national awards for it and by reducing subscription cost. The ISTAS conference needs to be developed, perhaps by developing loyal attendees. We should form a blue-ribbon committee on ISTAS that builds on past practice. Maybe the conference could be held in New York City every other year. The T&S special issue for ISTAS could be eliminated, but papers from ISTAS could still be published as regular papers. We might want do have a retreat to deal with these issues. The above thoughts will be turned into a motion by the June meeting.

(f) Web Committee. IEEE staff has proposed to redesign the Web site and host it on the IEEE site. There are some benefits to this: the site would look better, it would follow the IEEE web site templates, reliable personal would support it, site management tools would allow content to be edited from off-site. There are concerns about copyright issues, censorship of controversial material, accessibility. The cost would be $5000 to $15000, but there would be no monthly hosting charge. Discussion: NC State uses a program called Contribute, with Dreamweaver. This needs to be further investigated.

11.   Old Business

No old business.

12.   New Business

The possibility of an on-line ISTAS conference was discussed. This might meet part of the demand of industry for tutorials. It might not be a full conference, perhaps an on-line workshop.

2006 is the 25th anniversary of SSIT. We may wish to do something special. Perhaps a special anniversary issue of T&S Magazine. An ad hoc committee was formed to investigate this.

13.   Next Meeting Data and Place

The next Board of Governor's meeting will be Friday, June 10, at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angelas.

14.   Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 3:50 PM.

Attendees at the April 30, 2005 Meeting

NAME AFFILIATION EMAIL (replace # with @)
Clinton Andrews SSIT BOG; Div. VI c.j.andrews#ieee.org
Terri Bookman T&S Managing editor t.bookman#ieee.org
Steve Diamond Div. VIII s.diamond#computer.org
Ken Foster SSIT BOG  
Joe Herkert Editor T&S joe_herkert#ncsu.edu
Gene Hoffnagle SSIT BOG; Div. V g.f.hoffnagle#eng.umd.edu
Bradley Kjell Secretary kjell#ieee.org
Michael Loui SSIT BOG  
Brian O'Connell President oconnellb#ccsu.edu
Karl Perusich Vice President  
Sarah Pfatteicher SSIT BOG spfatt#engr.wisc.edu
Janet Rochester SSIT BOG j.rochester#ieee.org