Minutes of the

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

Sept 12, 2009
Bloustein School, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Last update: Oct 18, 2009. Send corrections to kjell@ieee.org

1. Welcome and Introductions

The meeting started at 10:15AM. The President welcomed everyone. The Board and attendees introduced themselves.

2. Adoption of the Agenda

The agenda was approved, with ISTAS 2010 moved forward to accommodate Holly Tootell and Katina Michael who used Skype from Australia.

3. Approval of Previous Minutes

The minutes of the previous meeting were approved.

4. President's Report (see attachment)

In the summer e-newsletter, the president called for volunteers for various positions. Thirteen people responded and the following appointments have been made:

The next society review has been brought forward to February 2010, largely due to our financial situation. At the TAB meeting in June it is clear that there are serious misunderstandings about SSIT. People see us as financially irresponsible, even though our financial situation is outside of our control. People don't know what we do and don't understand how we see ourselves in TAB.

IEEE has been developing a tool called Technology Navigator. This is a search tool that works across all IEEE sources. Xplore only allows searches through one publication at a time. Navigator will find all sources that match a search term.

Question: Is this more than a keyword search? Answer: Yes.

Discussion: We should gain an understanding of how this works because that might help us. The way it works is by clicking on clouds that represent concepts, and the clouds lead to other related clouds. We should be sure that "humanitarian" is a top-level word and that it leads to us. The IEEE humanitarian initiative will help us.

The IEEE Toronto International Conference on Science and Technology for Humanity will be held on Sept.26-27. We should send copies of T&S to attendees. Special issues of T&S on humanitarian topics are in production. Perhaps extra copies could be printed and sent to attendees.

5. Past President's Report

No report.

6. Director's Report (Mark Montrose)

No specific report, but Mark says he is still working on defining our structure within IEEE. A number of people are interested and working on this.

7. Treasurer's Report (see attachment)

We are in bad financial shape. Membership is down. We will no longer have the book broker money we had in the past since that category will be removed. The deficit may not be as bad as projected. There are 1100 paying members. This is so few that we now lose money for each member added. We need about 2000 members to gain money for each member added. ISTAS 2009 resulted in a $4000 loss, mostly because we did not meet the guaranteed attendance made to the hotel.

The money we get from Xplore does not amount to much. The highest download rate is for papers that present incremental technical improvements.

Question: In the 2008 expense column of the spreadsheet, why is interest listed as a negative? Answer: This is due to stock market losses. Those numbers will not be updated until the end of the year and might be better by then.

Our projected reserves are $173,000 for the end of 2009 and $131,400 for the end of 2010. Without conference non-periodical income, we will go through the reserves in two years.

Discussion: The loss per member is due to IEEE fixed costs and publication costs. The financial situation is critical, but we are just nibbling around the edges. The changes in the TAB allocation formula is what is killing us.

Question: The amount of deficit is about $25K per year. That is not really much. We send $90K to IEEE. Can't we bargain with them? Have we tried some serious squeezing? Answer: The loss of the book broker income will raise the deficit to $70K.

Comment: Encourage people to make voluntary donations to IEEE on behalf of SSIT. We need to look at a mechanism to do this. Put this in the newsletter. It does not seem to be easily done on the IEEE renewal form.

Question: Can donations be made directly to SSIT? Answer: A specific fund within the IEEE Foundation is needed, but money put there can't be used for operating expenses.

Discussion: IEEE is a 501(c)(3) organization under the IRS code. SSIT is a subsidiary of IEEE, so donations are tax deductible. The Communications Society can accept donations, so SSIT must also be able to. People who donate to use can ask for an IRS tax exemption letter, which we must make available. The Treasurer will look further at this. Maybe this could be put in an editorial in T&S.

Some years the conference gets an NSF grant.

8. Publication Committee Report (Bob Whelchel) (see attachments)

A. Managing Editor Contract. This is the only paid staff person for T&S Magazine. In the past, contracts have been for two years. This year, there are two versions: a one-year version and a two-year version. Both versions are essentially the same. The changes are that now there is provision for one 6-8 page interview. This takes about 40 hours of work to do. Alternatively, it could be billed separately at $75 per hour. The page budget has increased. The new budget includes this. The two-year contract includes a 2% cost of living increase. A list of what the managing editor does is attached.

Question: Has IEEE billing been checked to be sure it is correct? Answer: Yes.

Discussion: Is this the most economical way to produce T&S? Previous experience with IEEE has not been satisfactory, because we are so small, they give us little attention. We get a much better product this way. It might be even more expensive to go with IEEE. Our editor would then have to do more of what the managing editor does. IEEE is sending much of this work overseas and reducing staff.

Can we still afford the style of magazine that we have? Should we get out of print entirely? WIE did that, but the members did not like it. There are members in Asia that had problems with access. Essentially, they created an electronic version of a print publication. This is probably a mistake. WIE went back to print, but reduced the number of issues. Perhaps we should total change our model. But then we would be in the Web business, with a new set of problems.

Motion: To approve the one-year contract with a 2% cost of living increase. Motion Carried.

B. Other Publication Issues. IEEE has outsourced production to India. They appear to be passing along the savings to us; $40K costs have shrunk to $32K. In the past, we have looked at doing production work outside of IEEE. The cost is always dramatically less, as low as $22K per year. But then IEEE charges us for taking the work outside. Possibly this has changed since now they take the work outside.

Motion: That the president direct the publication committee to do a study of methods of publishing the magazine which would include, but not be limited to, the current method, the current method but production outside of IEEE, converting to a transactions, and online only. The report should be produced by July 1, 2010. The committee has the option to form an expanded committee by adding more people to do the investigation. Motion Carried.

Discussion: Transactions would be cheaper, but greatly different. Would need IEEE approval to do this. Some publications are dual format: on-line and paper. This would be part of the study. Two different concepts: (i) formally change to transactions, and (ii) change to transactions, but keep the title as it is. How IEEE charges us depends on the format: magazine or transactions. If we go on-line only, we will have to tailor the publication to on-line format, not merely produce a print format without paper.

Ming Ivory has been added as a second associate editor to develop content. She has a B.S. in mathematics, a M.A. in history and sociology of science, and a Ph.D. in political science from MIT. She is currently at the Integrated Science Department of James Madison University and has been chair of that department. The Integrated Science Department has an interesting web site. The sense of the Board is that this is a good choice for an associate editor.

We will pick an article in each issue of T&S for on-line discussion in the virtual community.

A voluntary page charge has been looked at for T&S. Every author gets the standard IEEE form for this. It is rarely used.

Discussion: could we do bulk resale of T&S, especially of special issues of interest to outside organizations? We have done this on a smaller scale before. A large sale has to be arranged before publications since an issue can't be reprinted. Technology, Education, and Design organization might want a bulk distribution of T&S to their members. They have an interesting web site, www.ted.com. It would be important to get information about special issues out early. A nice theme for a special issue would be a 2011 issue on the Technology of Elections, in time for the next election.

Motion: Schedule a special issue on the Technology of Elections. Motion Carries.

9. Conference Reports

ISTAS 2009 (Tempe, AZ, USA). Attendance was hurt by economy and concerns over Swine Flu. We budgeted for 60 attendees, but got only 40. We have to pay the hotel a penalty because of the lower attendance. We are still negotiating with the hotel; not yet clear what the penalty will be. There was $18K in revenue. Loss including penalty is likely to be around $4K. There is some vagueness about which conference should be credited with some attendees. The conference CD is now available in Xplore. The special issue of T&S is going forward.

Programmatically, the conference was a success. Joining the Sustainable Systems and Technology conference worked well. Attendees from each conference went to each-other's sessions. IEEE President John Vig has appointed Clint Andrews and others from this meeting to a sustainability initiative. The scope of the conferences maybe expanded. We should continue to work with SS&T. Is the SS&T conference going to merge with us? The challenge is where in IEEE sustainability will go. Sustainability should be visible at a high level within IEEE. But SSIT should not just become sustainability. Most sustainability work is in mechanical or civil engineering.

The next sustainability conference (ISSST 2010) is in Washington DC, in May. It has some very energetic organizers, but they mostly think from conference to conference and not about sustaining a society. There have been e-mail discussions about their future conferences. The Computer Society will likely want to keep this conference. Some SSIT members may want to go to ISSST 2010.

Motion: That the Conference Committee negotiate a financial position with SST for their conference in May. Motion Carried.

ISTAS 2010 (University of Wollongong, Australia). (See attachment.)

Holly Tootell and Katina Michael joined us from Australia using Skype. Holly Tootell is the organizing committee chair and Katina Michael is the program committee chair.

The Conference Committee report was discussed. Overview: The conference will be 7-9 June, 2010 at Wollongong. The theme is the Social Implications of Emerging Technologies. The call for papers has already gone out. We are hoping for 100 to 200 delegates. Asia is being targeted, with a marketing campaign aimed at India, Japan, Singapore, and other Asian nations.

The conference will be held on campus. This allows for variability the the number of attendees. There are several rooms to choose from, depending on how many attendees there are. There are many attractions on campus, and the campus provides many facilities for audio/video and recording. The conference will be held during a student vacation week. Several other meetings of potential interest will be on campus about the same time as this conference: a nanobionics meeting, a national security workshop, and a hobbyist RFID group. There may also be a RFID certification course and a workshop on Web 2.0.

Some high-quality journals have approached the organizers; however T&S will have first pick of the papers. The conference is using the university's conference staff. They are very experience. The university runs three or four IEEE conferences per year. The conference is well-connected it the Australian SSIT chapter and their chair is on the organizing committee. They have funding to sponsor three of the keynote speakers and are attracting top people.

Question: How many attendees are expected from Australia? Answer: There are 140 SSIT members in Australia; forty to fifty are expected to attend. The National Security Conference is well attended and its attendees will be interested in ISTAS.

Question: Are dorm rooms available for housing? Answer: No. Classes are still in session. There are many other cheap housing options, however. The venue is 30 minutes by train from Sydney and there is a good bus system. There is no need for a car. There is a local camp ground.

Motion: To approve the ISTAS 2010 Budget and Report in principle. Motion Carries.

ISTAS 2011. The venue is not yet clear. There is potential for a site outside of Chicago. A place in Chile is also a possibility.

ISTAS 2012. Delft, Netherlands is a possibility. The Delft 3TU (Three Technical Universities federation) may do a conference in areas similar to ISTAS. This might become ISTAS. Several people there are working on engineering ethics. Clint Andrews may contact them.

10. Committee Reports

Nominations (Perusich). The candidates for membership on the Board for 2010-2012 are: Ron Arkin, Lew Terman, Steve Unger, and Bradley Kjell. This slate is a revision of the slate approved in May and was approved by e-mail voting of the Board members.

The current Vice President, Gerald Engel, would ordinarily become President for 2011. However, this would be a conflict of interest. So, instead, Karl Perusich will become President. Raul Tongia will become Treasurer. Ken Foster will become Vice President for one year. There is still a need for Secretary.

Motion: To approve the above slate. Motion Carries.

Membership (Ingerman). Membership is down by six percent. Peter sent out a letter to those that did not renew. The IEEE membership committee meets monthly by phone. But they seem to miss the motivations of engineers and focus on social rather than professional goals. There is a new survey from IEEE on what members think is important. It shows that professional networking is important, but that social networking is not.

The Computer Society gets 10,000 new members a year, but loses about that number in the same year. We have many life members; we are not attracting younger members.

Discussion: The origins of SSIT was in activist issues; this attracted younger members. Now SSIT is merely a place to present papers and young engineers are not interested. The last activist issue SSIT was involved in was the Wen Ho Lee affair. Maybe we should get out of IEEE altogether. The publication could be put on-line, and we could charge $20 per member and avoid the IEEE infrastructure charges. We don't really get much from the $50 per member that IEEE charges. The IEEE Ethics Committee is not allowed to give advice.

Discussion: Many students, from high school on up, are interested in humanitarian efforts. Students start projects in the third world; there are many projects that could be undertaken. There are great opportunities for humanitarian work. People are willing to go to underdeveloped areas. SSIT should somehow be involved in this. The IEEE mission statement is: IEEE's core purpose is to foster technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity. This is clearly what SSIT is interested in.

But the social implications of technology are larger than just humanitarian efforts. Most members of IEEE don't know we exist. The IEEE director of marketing had never heard of us. It may be time for a membership drive. If more IEEE members knew we existed, we might attract more members. We should participate in other society's conferences by presenting papers or by having a panel or track. The only way to get undergraduates involved is to have actual projects; they don't see the benefit of networking at the intellectual level. We need task forces that include many types of engineers working on actual projects.

Membership Drive: Emily Anesta and others (Peter Ingerman, Bob Whelchel, Mani Mina) will look at the possibility of a membership drive.

Fellows (Foster). One applications was received, but the application should have been vetted, first. Fellows that have gone through the process should look over an application before it goes forward. The IEEE committee looks at hundreds of applications, and applications that don't make an immediate good impression are passed over.

Virtual Community. Tom Harris is the new moderator. He was a student of Carl Barus, years ago. His short-term assignment is to revitalize the forum, to "salt" the forum with discussion questions that link to T&S articles. His long-run assignment is to think about new technologies that may be a better way to do this. A wiki framework might be used. Emily has set up a demonstration of this on a free hosting site. We should experiment with this.

Ethics Committee. The Committee is looking for candidates for the Barus award. None have been found so far. A notice will be put in the magazine. IEEE has established an ethics award. They have found no one this year, either.

Chapters/GOLD: (See Attachments) There has been a flurry of chapter activity. Nicolla Di Miscio has been active in coordinating European chapters and new chapters are forming. Chirag Warty in Los Angeles has been working on reviving that chapter. Western Puerto Rico, Japan, and Australia have been very active recently. Thirty-five sections have more than twelve SSIT members, and so could form a chapter. Emily may contact the section chairs. There are several sections in India that have potential.

11. Old Business

Constitution. We need 2/3 of the Board to change the constitution, but (this late in the meeting) we do not have that. Voting on the proposed changes will be done electronically. Electronic voting requires that 100% of the Board vote. Confirmation should be sent to those voting so they know that their vote was received.

12. New Business

Divisional Representatives. What is the role of divisional representatives? Perhaps divisional representatives should be involved with getting SSIT a session at major conferences within their division. The representative could discuss upcoming conferences at each Board meeting. The GIIS 2010 conference wants publicity and is a possibility for this. We need this to be normal procedure. It would be nice to have a panel which is made of the host society members and SSIT members. We need a one page handout on SSIT to distribute at conferences. Janet will work with Terri on this.

Publicist. To get SSIT in front of the world, we need to be more active and should use a publicist to do this. IEEE membership development is not useful for this. SSIT needs a more active role; the sense is that SSIT does not actually do anything. SSIT could produce white papers on social implications of various technologies, for example, on the implications of embedding RFID into passports.

Humanitarian Technology Challenge. The IEEE HTC is a collaboration between IEEE and the United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Technology. There is a humanitarian challenge for college students. Ohio State is supporting capstone courses and has a server to host material. On the Humanitarian Technology Network site people can say what they are doing, report best practices, and share ideas. Look at ieee.htn.org. The language is English; might be nice to also implement the site in Spanish. The two special issue of T&S that are coming out should be sent to people that are involved with this work. Could the IEEE foundation fund extra issues for distribution? Maybe seed money from the New Initiatives Program could be used. Action: the President will try to find a way to request fund from the New Initiatives Program to print 1000 extra issues of T&S.

IEEE has started a Public Visibility Initiative, which seeks to increase the public awareness of engineering and of IEEE. They are looking for people to volunteer for a variety of activities.

Motion: Thank the President for excellent leadership. Passed by acclamation.


13. Next Meeting

Feb 20, 2010, Washington, DC, at the IEEE Computer Society offices.

Adjourn: 4:15 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
Michael Cardinale AESS Liason cardinal * ieee dot org
Gerald Engel U. Connecticut, Stamford gengel64 * aol dot com
Ken Foster BoG kfoster * seas dot upenn dot edu
Joe Herkert Arizona State U. joseph.herkert * asu dot edu
Gene F. Hoffnagle Div. V/ CC Chair G.F.Hoffnagle * ieee dot org
Peter Zilahy Ingerman BoG pzi * ingerman dot org
Jim Isaak BoG cs2010 * jimIsaak dot com
Bradley Kjell Secretary kjell * ieee dot org
Andrew U. Meyer IEEE-ACC, Div. X meyer * njit dot edu
Mani Mina IEEE Magnetics mmina * idstate dot edu
Keith Miller Editor. T&S miller.keith * uis dot edu
Robert Newcomb CAS & IEEE-USA newcomb * eng dot umd dot edu
Karl Perusich Past Pres, Treasurer perusich * sbcglobal dot net
Janet Rochester President j.rochester * ieee dot org
Barbara Terman IEEE l.terman at ieee dot org
Lew Terman IEEE Past Pres. l.terman at ieee dot org
Mehmet Ulema IEEE Comm Soc m.ulema * ieee dot org
Steve Unger BoG unger * cs dot columbia dot edu
Robert Walp Comm. Soc. Liason rmwalp * earthlink dot net
Robert Whelchel Chair, pub committee bjwangola * gmail dot com