You are right that I have argued for extending the vote to individuals since I was elected to the board 6 years ago.
The argument against it was not unreasonable, however, however much I disagreed with it, and it did have to do with numbers: at the time about 90-95% of our income came from institutional members and our individual subscribers base was far below what you'd expect for an organisation our size (it is still way below what one study suggests should be our natural size of a couple of hundred, but our income is now slightly less all from a single source).
This low subscription rate could be seen as a lack of interest in individual participation by our community. Given that we could not afford to risk losing the institutional memberships that paid the bills, the argument went, and that the numbers suggested that there was no obvious interest in individual participation, it simply made sense to focus on the institutional memberships. The fact that, at $50 a head it would have required 100 paid subscriptions to make up a single lost top tier institutional membership made the stakes seem even higher.
As I say, this has never been my opinion. But it was a rational one to hold in the absence of other evidence and the people who held it were reluctant, I think, to mess with a successful system in the absence of a pressing need. And there were many other democratising steps that could be taken in the run-up to this larger change--which we did and which got us, IMO, to the very good point we are at.
What is significant given this starting point, I think, is how much has changed over the last while. In general, going back a decade or so, I'd say, but increasing in the last while, the trajectory has been to more and more community involvement: the board was originally entirely appointed and council did not have a direct voice on it. Then we had some board elected positions. Then the SIGs, then the council had a direct voice on the board, then the SIGs got one, then the last appointed voting positions on the board were replaced with elected ones, and now we are looking at extending the vote to individuals in addition to institutions.
I think this is a natural conclusion of a long trend. Sometimes some of us might have wished that it went faster or slower. But whether they thought it was going too fast or too slow, I have been impressed in my time with the willingness of people to give their best to the organisation in positions that often demanded a lot of time and attention.
I am really glad to see us finally focussing corporately on individuals. I've long argued that the TEI is both a research project and a community organisation and that it has been engaged in a very long transformation towards recognising this.
Sent from my Samsung Captivate(tm) on Rogers
Wendell Piez <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
On 10/20/2011 3:45 AM, O'Donnell, Dan wrote:
> I'm really looking forward to the last stage in the democratisation
> of the consortium--the enfranchisement of individual subscribers. But
> even triple 14 subscribers is still a small number. If individuals
> want a direct say, they'll need to join: it costs $50 at
Forgive me for being dense, but how does the number of individual
subscribers bear on the question of whether they (we) get a vote, or the
same vote as institutions?
To the extent it does at all, I'd think representation of the
perspectives and interests of the institutional members would be more
diluted, not less so, by a greater number of subscribers, if the latter
But I suspect I'm just being a bit dense here. I think (and trust) Dan
means to paraphrase a point of view he doesn't share (there aren't many
of us subscribers so we shouldn't get a vote), so it doesn't actually
much matter what the rationale for this might be.
I myself have been a subscriber on and off, most recently on again.
Perhaps like others, I think I'm guilty of not representing my own
interests by hesitating to endorse the principle of one member, one
vote, on the grounds of supposed fairness. But at the meeting last week
I was swayed by Fotis Jannidis' implication that giving subscribers less
of a vote on the grounds that we contribute less is a particularly
19th-century way of doing things. (Yes, we contribute less $$, but how
does that amount to contributing less in general? Really it's impossible
to measure.) As well as by James's assurance that privileged access to
decision making plays no part in Oxford's support of TEI, to speak only
of a prominent example.
Maybe every subscriber and every institutional member should get a vote,
but individuals who have formal affiliations with member institutions
would (also) be eligible for a discount on personal subscription on that
basis? If Syd, for example, were a subscriber, he could vote, even as
Brown University (as a member) could also vote. This might help to blur
the formal and practical distinctions between the two camps, at least as
far as voting and policy-making are concerned -- as well as helping to
boost subscribership, quite possibly.
Wendell Piez mailto:[log in to unmask]
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