Minutes of ACH Executive Council Meeting
Charlottesville, VA June 9, 1999
Present: Renear, McCarty, Bush, Mylonas, Chesnutt, Faulhaber, Flanders, Gants, Hughes, Ide, Kretschmar, Lavagnino, Morgan, Olsen, Unsworth
Allen Renear opened the meeting with a few words about the activities of hte previous year. In the interest of time this was short, and the meeting moved on to the various reports.
The council approved last year's minutes.
CHuck Bush reported that ACH currently has a balance of $11.5K with all encumbrances paid. The membership is at 154, of whom 140 are subscribers to CHum.
A discussion followed Chuck's report on whether there should be a discount for renewing for 5 years at once. (Note: of the $65 subscription rate, Kluwer gets $50, we get $15. Students and retirees pay $55). The council decided that there should be a discount, in order to provide incentive. Chuck will look at the numbers, and make a proposal to the list for the exact amount. The figures $300/5 years were suggested. This is a discount of $25. The amount will have to be revisited each year, to make sure that it is still advantageous to us and the subscribers, as well at taking into account if the price of the journal has changed.
Another discussion which took place after Chuck's report was about using some of ACH's money. Suggestions were made at several points in the meeting about using it various purposes. (For the Record: Mike Newman suggested, in the open meeting, that some of it be used as a bursary for young scholars presenting papers.)
Julia Flanders, Bill Kretzschmar and Willard McCarty were named to the nominating committee. They will choose a chair from amongst themselves.
Report on Chum
Nancy Ide reported on CHum. She started with the facts and figures: Institutional subscription figures are down. There were about 720 institutional subscriptions in 1998, only about 520 now. Kluwer says that we only have 113 membership subscriptions. (Chuck says we have 140).
The good news is that CHum is no longer behind. After publishing about 9 issues in one year, we are on target. The journal is also going to fall back to about 4 issues a year for a year or two, in order to allow the editors to concentrate on improving the quality of the journal even further. Nancy foresees returning to 6 issues a year after that. There may be some negotiation with Kluwer about increasing the page count of the 4 issue volumes.
CHum now has a lot of good material being submitted, and can afford to have an acceptance rate of about 30%. The editors are also receiving a lot of submissions from authors who are not members of ACH. It is being seen as a place to publish information on corpora, encoding, resource building–areas that are not represented in other journals. For example, the organizers of a conference on formal methods in music turned to CHum to publish selected papers from their conference. The CHum special issues are quite popular, and some have been published as books.
The bad news: There are almost no submissions from members of ACH. We have to do something to get ACH members to publish in their own journal. Other bad news that have to be acted on quickly are that Dan Greenstein, the co-editor with Nancy of CHum, has stepped down, and it is necessary to find a replacement for him. The new editor should be complementary to Nancy's areas of expertise. Nancy is working with Kluwer to find a new co-editor, and will present more to ACH when they have one.
With the opportunity of the new editor, it is time to restructure the editorial board, to represent new people and new areas.
Finally, althouth there is a CHum web site at Kluwer, Nancy is not happy with the information it provides. She wants to be able to add her own information, both to attract new authors, and to help submitters. She will talk about this with Elli, to see how to tie it in with ACHWeb.
The relationship of CHum to ACH, and its possible role in attracting members was also raised. We should have a membership form in the back of CHum, and we should make sure that potential members are aware that a CHum subscription is part of their membership benefits.
Report on Humanist
Willard McCarty reported on the status of Humanist: It currently has 1100 members (about the same as last year). This is not a true indication of the number of people reading Humanist, as some of the subscriptions are institutional or redistribution redistribution lists.
Humanist runs out of 3 places: runs out of 3 places: Princeton, IATH, Kings College. UVA has helped with the subscription mechanism, and the archive, so they run smoothly. Malgosia Askanas in NY has also helped a great deal with scripts for automating the procedures. Willard concluded that he currently doesn't have any areas of improvement to suggest, everything is running well.
Some discussion on Humanist followed: Julia Flanders asked if there were any figures on active participation. Willard said that he hasn't done that recently. There was also some discussion on whether it's possible to get around the digested form of Humanist, and make it easier to follow threads of discussion. As it now stands, Humanist is digested by hand, and titled according to issue. This works against Hypermail's (the archiving software's) threading and grouping features. There were several suggestions: stop digestifying the list, send postings to Hypermail before they are put into a digest, and use identifying short titles on the digests. Willard and John Unsworth will think about the possbilities and see what is feasible for both users and technical support mechanisms.
Report on MLA
(John Lavagnino) We have an organizational relationship with the MLA which allows us to organize 2 sessions at the annual MLA conference. They had asked for a long report on the ACH, to reconsider the status of the relationship. Because we have our own conference, we may only be allowed to host 1 session at the MLA. We will find out very soon what our status is, as the MLA has already voted. John will report on the results when he learns them.
John has been in charge of organizing the ACH sessions at the MLA, and will continue to do it. However, he won't be attending the MLA for the next few years, as he has just moved to the UK. Leslie Z. Morgan will act as local agent for John. The report that John wrote for MLA
Although in the past John has made a rather popular list of computer related sessions at the MLA, he may not continue to do this exhaustively as the number of compute related sessions are proliferating.
Report on ACHWeb
Elli Mylonas reported that the ACH web is being redesigned to give it an aesthetic and functional facelift as well as to put more information on it. We have added several new features to the web, for example the database of conference abstracts and the "current feature". We would like to add a bibliography of humanities computing articles and books. In order to do this, Elli requested that people send her their own working bibliographies. Finally, we need to redesign the brochure.
The Web redesign and feature upgrade was based on discussions held between Elli, Allen, Julia and John Lavagnino.
Elli tried to get Joe Raben to write the history of ACH using the ACH archive the she inherited as secretary from Randy Jones. Joe said that he had a nostalgic time reading through the archive, but could not write a history based on that information. Nancy will help Elli at least get the officers straightened out.
Discussion followed: Joe Rudman had compiled a bibliography of older Humanities Computing articles. This could form a basis for older work. We might also ask ACH to pay for a student for 1 semester to develop the bibliography. John Unsworth has a db for handling bibliography. We should use topics of discussion on Humanist as seeds for topics for the "current issues" feature, and perhaps use Humanist as way of discussing the topics once they are on ACHWeb. Nancy wants to consider how to use ACHWeb or a link to/from it for putting more information about CHum online. The idea of having a projects db may overlap with some work that is being done by IATH and NINCH. Elli will talk with John Unsworth and David Green about that.
Julia Flanders and David Gants offered to help redesign the brochure.
[Michael Sperberg-McQueen came in]
Report on the TEI
David Chesnutt reported on the transition of ownership of the TEI from ACH/ALLC to the TEI Consortium; a move designed to make it self supporting. A great deal of this was discussed and decided at a meeting of ACH and ALLC representatives and consortium hosts in London in January. There are some complications remaining arising from the differences between European/American laws for tranferring ownership. The structure will be that there are four consortium hosts who will define structure, plan activities for next few years, as well as about 12 members. (For a full organizational description, see the consortium web site). As an interim measure, sponsoring organizations, hosts, and TEI editors will all be on the "transition team." This team will work out issue of copyright and consortium activiities.
John Unsworth reported on the form and activities of the consortium. The principles of the consortium are on the web site, as is a basic description of the roles of hosts and members. The four hosts are UVA, Bergen, Brown and Kings College, London. They will each pay $5K and contribute $5K in kind. Consortium members will pay $5K each. Specifics are on the web site. The first product of the consortium is the CD that is distributed at the conference with P4 beta and some SGML software. This was made by Bergen.
Michael Sperberg McQueen was there to answer questions. Some discussion followed on what kinds of membership might be and on the benefits of membership, given that the TEI is committed to a free dissemination of their work. David Chesnutt will remain the ACH rep on the transition team
Report on the Busa Award
This is the first year which will have a normal election of a Busa award recipient (last year it was awarded to Father Busa himself). The committee consists of 3 ACH members (McCarty, Sperberg-McQueen, Jones) and 2 ALLC members (Opas, Fortier) who will meet at this conference to elect a chair and secretary.
Elli asked if Michael could write up the procedural particulars of the Busa award, and any other decisions/information that is relevant, so we can have a document to refer to. Michael will do so.
Funding the award is the biggest issue at hand. ACH and ALLC have different funding arrangements. In order to fund the Busa Award in the years in wich it is repsonsible for it, ACH will launch an appeal to membership that will yield $2K or less every 6 years–about $5K. The form ofthe funding appeal: 5 people have pledged to give $500, conditional that it be matched by the membership at large. Chuck Bush will look into setting up the appropriate kind of bank account so that contributions can be tax-deductible.
Morgan suggested looking into contributing the Busa award endowment from ACH funds. It was decided to take this up later.
[Michael Sperberg-McQueen left]
Report on ELTA
Although it was on the agenda for the EC meeting, we decided to consider the ELTA proposal from Susan Hocky, Geoff Rockwell and Tom Horton later, on the discussion list in the interest of time. Other than becoming aware of the ELTA initiative, ACH is asked if they would sponsor it.
[5 minute break]
Discussion about the ACH
Allen Renear introduced a general discussion on organizational development. He pointed out that we need to do mmbership development, even if only for CHum and our commitments to Kluwer. He reminded us of the discussion we had on ACH-EC-L last spring, where one point of view, voiced by David Chesnutt said we should be "a big tent", bringing in and providing a home for as many areas as possible. Michael Sperberg McQueen represented another point of view–we do something fairly particular, and other people who are interested can go ahead and join. Renear commented that this isn't really the issue at the moment. We need to be big enough and flourishing enough to be fun and interesting to be part of for a small group or a big group. So, who are we isn't the first problem to be solved.
Ide: This is a scope issue. One reason why ACH, CHum have trouble getting people is that their scope is ill defined or appears too broad. We need to think of what the scope of organization is, but in the short term. We shouldn't have to rewrite the charter of ACH, instead, we should think of it in terms of a focus that shifts with the times. This allows us to take advantage of current interests and currents that are expressed by the membership or the people we thing should become the membership.
Mylonas: The conference is an important benefit of membership, and it is very important that it reflect the interests of the ACH and its members. However, as currently formalized, it is difficult to influence and guide the conference. We may want to think about this, perhaps discuss it with the ACH.
Kretszchmar — We should make informatics and visualization a more explicit part of our scope,
Morgan — We can use the web bibliography to specify areas in which we want more information/categories of information. Even if we can't fill up a category right away, having it indicates that it is one in which we are interested. This would help define areas of ACH.
Unsworth — People at UVA who do humanities computing projects have never heard of us. Many people don't know about us, don't find us when they look for relevant information. It's a problem of visibility.
Flanders — We should form a committee to work on membership, in an organized fashion.
Morgan — How aboaut local chapters? They help bring in people.
Hughes — NEACH is being revitalized, but needs more support from ACH. This would work synergistically for both organizations.
There was a motion to have Julia form a committee on membership — approved.
McCarty — Why is the ACH not even mentioned in the organizations listed by the MLA computer committee?
Report on ACH/ALLC 1999
John Unsworth reported on the current conference. At least 220 people registered for the conference. Eastern Europeans attendees were funded. The break even point for this conference was: 200 people/16K total. John will send out a full report when it's all over.
[ALLC representatives came in]
Proposal for ACH/ALLC 2001
Lorna Hughes proposed holding ACH/ALLC 2001 at NYU, and was accepted. The dates will be June 14-18.
Report on ALLC/ACH 2000
Jean Anderson and Fiona Tweedie presented detailed information on ALLC/ACH 2000 which will be held in Glasgow. Standard registration will be about 150 pounds.
[ALLC representatives left]
Program Committee for ALLC/ACH 2000: Julia Flanders, Nancy Ide, Matt Kirschenbaum and Willard McCarty.