As always the news you are reading comes directly from your fellow volunteers. In particular, I would like to thank: Jack Balde, Evan Davidson, Alina Deutsch, Madhavan Swaminathan, Rao Tummala, Bill Moody, Rolf Aschenbrenner, Ephraim Suhir, Ralph Russell, C. P. Wong, Anthony Chan, Paul Wesling, James Morris, Dale Stamps, and Rajen Chanchani.
All members should have the IEEE election ballot by now. Please take the time to read the candidates position and vote. At least all the candidates say they want to "balance the budget." However in the United States all our candidates running for national office say that up front and then spend without regard to income. None of the candidates have a history with CPMT this year so we can not offer any deep insight to help in your decision.
The big decisions that have to be managed by IEEE, many other professional organization, many schools, and some information companies concern how to distribute the information that historically represented an 'income per page.' The fear is that if all the transactions and proceedings are made available to members freely over the internet, then where is the income that currently comes from the libraries and members getting many pounds of paper each year?
Since all papers and presentations are provided by engineers to IEEE at no charge, are reviewed and edited at no charge, one would think that the internet providing an inexpensive way to search for and deliver any paper in the IEEE archive to any member would be a dream come true. The change came too fast. It is as if publishing went from Gutenberg to Amazon.com in a decade. We have thousands of manuscript scribes shocked to find people buying mass produced books or simply photocopying old manuscripts. Rather than rejoice that everyone can own a library with any books of their choice, the scribes natural inclination is to lock up their manuscripts to force the old system to keep supporting the profession they are so good at.
And so here your volunteers and dedicated IEEE staff find themselves. As long as they have dreamt of a cost effective system that will get all the right IEEE archived articles/presentations to each members desk, they are now grappling with their dream come true with many unexpected consequences (such as little need for their well honed paper-based skills).
However, there still is a great need for each member to have access to the volunteer produced IEEE archives, to take continued education courses so they can interpret the archives, and to conference with active engineers in their specialties. So the reason for IEEE is as strong as ever. The tools to fulfill the reason suddenly became much more cost effective. Sounds like the problem that is really an opportunity.
Now this statement is just an existence proof that there is a great solution to the problem. But as every engineer can remember from their Differential Equation class, there is a big difference between knowing an equation has a solution and actually knowing how to find it. One thing for sure, we need a lot more CPMT engineers trying out IEEE Xplore, using the CD-ROM ECTC proceedings, reading this newsletter on the web, and using the CD-ROM transaction collections. From this use should arise a collective wisdom on the value and trade-offs of electronic/computer information delivery over traditional paper.
Come on in! The water is fine. -- Dave Palmer, editor