Minutes of the

Board of Governor's Meeting of the
IEEE Society on the Social Implications of Technology

May 18, 2009
Mission Palms Hotel
Tempe, Arizona, USA

Last update: Sept 2, 2009 . Send corrections to kjell@ieee.org

1. Welcome and Introductions

The meeting started at 8:30AM. The President welcomed everyone. The Board and attendees introduced themselves.

2. Adoption of the Agenda

The agenda was approved, with some additions to New Business.

3. Approval of Previous Minutes

The minutes of the previous meeting were approved.

4. President's Report (see attachment)

The President attended the February TAB meetings in San Juan, Puerto Rico and presented the plan we developed during the previous meeting. Mark Montrose prepared a proposal for SSIT's future (see below). Several of the Board received invitations to the first Brian O'Connell Lecture held at Central Connecticut State University. The lecture was on how science, technology, engineering and math education should be combined through problem-based education. The lecture was well attended.

5. Past President's Report

No report.

6. Director's Report (Mark Montrose)

Division VI consists of seven societies. The Director oversees these societies and provides guidance. Division directors sit on the Board of Directors of IEEE. What will make SSIT viable? We need a program and a vision (see below under Old Business).

7. Treasurer's Report (see attachment)

Membership is down. Our budget is based on our previous membership level. The deficit has gotten to the point where it looks like we will never generate enough to keep going beyond a few more years. Might be that the structure of a society does not work for this organization. Need to have a strategic plan.

8. Publication Committee Report (Bob Whelchel)

The e-mail page count proposal failed for lack of a quorum. We are considering an editorial reorganization to extend our outreach and are considering ways to increase our web presence. (Discussion: ) We need to move with the times. We need fast response to issues, but we do not at present have the mechanisms. We need more than a quarterly print publication. Some of the ways to do this are very expensive, and require many volunteers to implement. But there are other ways, such as Web-X and Skype. Many societies are dealing with these issues and we should pay attention to what they are doing.

Two motions were brought forward by the Publications Committee, and voting was performed by e-mail. Both motions failed the e-mail vote for lack of a quorum. The motions are repeated here:

Motion 1: We move that the Board approve an addition of 16 pages to the annual page count of Technology and Society Magazine for the current 2009 year. Passed.

Motion 2: We move that the Board approve an annual page count of 264 pages for Technology and Society Magazine for the 2010 year. Passed.

(Discussion: ) We have a one year backlog of papers, which the motions address. Perhaps adding pages is being done in the wrong way? Should the magazine be on-line? Articles should be published in a timely fashion. The current motions are only for the years mentioned. Timeliness and format will be a separate discussion (the May 19 meeting of the Publications Committee).

The Publication Committee should look at the issues of publishing on-line and timeliness, especially for current topics.

9. Conference Reports

ISTAS 2009 (Tempe, AZ, USA). Attendance has been hurt by the ailing economy and possibly by concerns over Swine Flu. The conference fees were higher than usual because the conference was joint with the ISSST and there needed to be just one fee since attendees were encouraged to attend whatever talks they wanted. The location was nice, but expensive. We budgeted for 70 attendees, but got only 40. We have to pay the hotel a penalty because of the lower attendance. Loss is likely to be $3,000.

It was interesting to do this jointly with another society. There were plusses and minuses. We have lots of overlap with the other society, but their larger attendance meant that their way of doing things sometimes dominated. Their attendance was also lower than expected. We need a lessons learned summary. Each ISTAS director has written a report of how their conference worked. Susan O'Donnell had written one for ISTAS 2008.

The cooperative arrangement works well if it can be used to do less work. There is no reason to have two entities arrange the hotel, food, registration, audio visual, and other things. Another possible model is to sponsor one track in the conference of a larger organization for a percentage of the take. But this would result in a loss of the ISTAS identity and have negative implications for the proceedings. Perhaps ISTAS could be part of a federated conference held with several other groups. Many conferences are losing money, now. A twenty percent decline in attendance is common.

ISTAS 2010 (University of Wollongong, Australia). Several Board members had a teleconference with Katina Michael, who is organizing ISTAS 2010, on Saturday (May 16). Katina said the discussion was helpful. The conference may be more in-house than was previously planned. Excellent key-note speakers have been arranged. Two hundred attendees (mostly from Australia) are expected. There will be another conference immediately following ISTAS at this venue, which may make ISTAS more attractive.

Technical Cosponsorship. We have been technical co-sponsors of several recent conferences. This help get our name out. We have not yet gotten to the point where we can financially co-sponsor a conference for a percentage of the profit (minority partnership). Technical cosponsorship opens up our membership to publicity from the sponsored conference.

(Discussion) Perhaps the call for papers for a conference that we co-sponsor should go out to our members. But usually we are asked to co-sponsor a conference too late for that. Have we been looking far enough outside our traditional subjects? There is an IEEE survey about the smart grid, which has lots of social implications. Many members are interested. SSIT should get involved. But the usual problem is the lack of volunteers. Also, we need to address subjects that are of interest to international members. Perhaps we could send an ambassador to other conferences to sit at a table with literature. This might be combined with technical cosponsorship. One free registration and room for the table might be put in the MOU with us.

ISTAS 2011. We need a plan. Someone should think about where to run this conference somewhere in the Americas.

Motion: The Board thanks Joe Herkert and Clint Andrews for all their work with ISTAS 2009. Passed.

10. Committee Reports

Nominations (Perusich). The candidates for membership on the Board for 2010-2012 are: Ron Arkin, Lew Terman, Steve Unger, Peter Ingerman.

Motion: To approve the above slate. Passed.

Fellows (Foster). Ken is working with one nominee. The nomination will go forward to the IEEE fellows Committee.

Membership (Ingerman). Membership is down. Peter sent out a letter to those that did not renew.

Student Membership (Gawkowska). Anna has future plans to develop student membership.

Virtual Community. Clint Andrews stepped down from managing this. We have not yet found a successor. Need to be more systematic in tying the community to the magazine. Perhaps the author of an article should "salt" the forum with provocative questions and moderate the ensuing discussion. The forum has been mentioned in the magazine, but we need to do more.


Motion: To cover the travel expenses for Sarah Cox to ISTAS 2009. Passed. (The hotel room was comp 'ed, the registration fee was waived.)

SSIT has been asked if we wish to participate in the revitalized W. I. G. Baker Award. But it is not in our field of interest. The sense of the Board is that SSIT will not participate.

11. Old Business

Follow-up from the Strategic Planning Meeting:

Mark Montrose (Division VI Director): A first draft of a restructuring proposal has been sent to the SSIT BoG. The direct and indirect infrastructure costs of membership in TAB is killing SSIT. SSIT can last only another year or two at the present rate of depletion.

It it proposed that SSIT withdraw from TAB, dissolve as a society, and become a standing committee of the IEEE, similar in structure to WIE or GOLD. The major advantages of this are we would avoid the indirect infrastructure costs and will have much more exposure within IEEE. A standing committee exists at a higher level within IEEE and would be funded by the IEEE BoG. If the SSIT BoG approves, this proposal will be brought to the IEEE BoG in June. It will take much work to make the transition, perhaps a year or two.

SSIT would still have membership and still have conferences. The magazine could still be published. We would give up a role in TAB. We would have a year-to-year budget. Any surpluses would drop into the IEEE coffers. The initial funding would come from the IEEE Foundation (perhaps).

(Discussion: ) This would have huge implications for our finances. Right now, societies run semi-autonomously. As a committee, this would not be so. The Technical Committee on Earth Observations is similar to what is proposed. Other issues: what happens to the SSIT BoG? There are issues of integrity to consider. It seems that "Society" is actually at a higher level than "Committee." Could we still publish refereed papers?

The group would be called "IEEE Social Implications of Technology." The word "Committee" would only be used within IEEE.

(Discussion:) Maybe all the other Societies on the watch list will do the same thing. This will largely remove any advantage of this move. The IEEE BoG can make their own rules about what happens to one of their committees, and could dissolve us on whim.

IEEE must present a benefit to society for them to remain a not-for-profit organization. So the Board will not likely dissolve the committee.

(Discussion:) Maybe the infrastructure reallocation formula will change yet again and this proposal will not be to our benefit. There are ways to reconstruct the allocation algorithm that would keep SSIT viable. Maybe we should focus on other ideas than this proposal.

Action: Jim Isaak and Mark Montrose will form an ad hoc committee to explore this issue. June 20 is the IEEE BoG meeting, so this committee needs to resolve these issues by then. The committee members are: Mark Montrose, Jim Isaak, Gene Hoffnagle, Clint Andrews, Emily Anesta, Bob Whelchel, and Luis Kun.

12. New Business

Member Survey (see attachment): A membership survey was recently conducted electronically, with 367 members responding. This is a 25% response rate, which is pretty good. 40% of respondents were from outside the US. There were ten questions, and places for open-ended responses. Most participants were male, however, the newest members tend to be female. 77% belong to other IEEE societies, with the Computer Society being the most common. 44% rated the magazine as extremely important. Lots of members write papers and go to conferences, but not to ISTAS. ISTAS was rated as "not at all important" by 23% of members. 32% conduct research, 25% engage in professional engineering activities.

Some respondents had suggestions for what SSIT should be doing, but they seemed to expect someone else to do it. SSIT has a lack of volunteers to do things.

A full spreadsheet of the data is available, and further statistical analysis could be performed if anyone is interested.

(Discussion: ) Many firms will fund travel to a technical conference, but not to ISTAS, which is not perceived as technical. Within IEEE, international membership is the fastest growing sector. Perhaps the survey should be kept open so it keeps accumulating data, or it could be made an annual activity. A summary of the survey should be presented in T&S with the full data made available on the web.

Constitution. The Constitution needs to be revised before the By-laws are revised. There are two points of concern: Article 1 section 5 and Article 1 section 6 which exist for historical reasons. It is the sense of the Board that these sections be removed. Should the term of the President be made two years? The sense of the Board is that it remain at one year.

Discussion of other business postponed for lack of time.

13. Next Meeting

The next BoG meeting will be at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, September 12, 2009. (This date has been confirmed by e-mail from Janet Rochester.)

Adjourn: 12:10 PM.

* == @
Clint Andrews Div VI representative c.j.andrews * ieee dot org
Emily Anesta BoG eanesta * ieee dot org
Terri Bookman Manag. Ed. T&S tbookman * comcast dot net
Jayne Cerone IEEE j.cerone * ieee dot org
Gerald Engel U. Connecticut, Stamford gengel64 * aol dot com
Asi Eugene Indust. Sustain., Germany asindum * yahoo dot com
Anna Gawkowska Student Representative gawkowska * gmail dot com
Joe Herkert Arizona State U. joseph.herkert * asu dot edu
Gene F. Hoffnagle Div. V/ CC Chair G.F.Hoffnagle * ieee dot org
Jim Isaak BoG cs2010 * jimIsaak dot com
Bradley Kjell Secretary kjell * ieee dot org
Luis Kun BoG kunl * ndu dot edu
M G. Michael U. of W., Australia mgm * uow dot edu dot au
Keith Miller Editor. T&S miller.keith * uis dot edu
Mark Montrose Div. VI Director m.montrose * ieee dot org
Cindy Oandoff SSIT corndoff * fgcu dot edu
Susan O'Donnell BoG susan.odonnell * nrc dot ca
Janet Rochester President j.rochester * ieee dot org
Bill Tonti IEEE Rel. Soc/ EDS w.p.tonti * ieee dot org
Robert Walp Comm. Soc. Liason rmwalp * earthlink dot net
Peter Wiesner IEEE staff p.wiesner * ieee dot org
Robert Whelchel Chair, pub committee bjwangola * gmail dot com