[ASC-list] Let's see what ASC members want re conferences

Philip Dooley phildooley at gmail.com
Sun Nov 17 17:55:41 UTC 2013


While I support the idea of asking asc members, practically speaking the
response rate to such surveys has always been distressingly small . It's
really hard to get good data.

Hoping a get proved wrong by a deluge of opinions though.

For example when Jenni Metcalfe was president a pretty exhaustive survey
was done. The upshot as I recall was networking and professional
development as member main wishes.

Phil
On Nov 17, 2013 11:36 AM, "Mobile Science Education" <
info at mobilescienceeducation.com.au> wrote:

> A thought out reply to the below will be coming later; work comes first.
>
> But I must quickly ask Niall: which part of Nancy's email would you
> consider
> an over-reaction? The part where she shows herself willing to engage in
> discussion, or the part where she suggests a vote?
>
> I absolutely did not expect people to be okay with criticism - no one likes
> it, and we're all only human. But what I did expect was some actual
> rationality and professionalism. What I, and the others who have commented,
> have gotten instead is a disproportionate amount of issue dodging, changes
> of subject, condescension, defensiveness and snark. Cut it out - it's not
> deserved, appropriate or welcome.
>
> And could those of you who don't have to pay your own way stop handing out
> unsolicited budgeting advice to those who do? Assume we have dutifully put
> aside our pennies over time - at the end of the day, after gathering a
> large
> sum of money in one place at one time we then have to decide if there are,
> in fact, better things to be done with that large sum.
>
> I know that there are plenty of people reading this list who are no longer
> members of ASC. I would love to hear from you - why did you leave?
>
> Thanks
>
> Lee Harrison
> Mobile Science Education
>
> 0430 588 757 or (08) 8395 9586
> info at mobilescienceeducation.com.au
> www.mobilescienceeducation.com.au
> PO Box 556, Ingle Farm, SA 5098
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: ASC-list [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of
> Niall
> Byrne
> Sent: Sunday, 17 November 2013 1:37 PM
> To: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
> Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Let's see what ASC members want re conferences
>
> Dear Nancy,
>
> I don't think we need to overreact to a few individual criticisms on the
> list.
>
> We know that the conferences are valuable because many if not most of our
> members attend them and we get a spike in membership when we hold them.
>
> And they're not funded by membership fees. I'm not up to date with the
> finances but I expect that our (small) membership fee does little more than
> cover the cost of running basic infrastructure - admin, book-keeping,
> website, newsletter plus capitation for branches.
>
> Almost everything else is the work of volunteers or self-funded.
>
> Someone comes up with an idea and a group of people volunteer to organise
> it
> and/or find someone to fund it and/or organise it.
>
> And this is likely to always be the case. We've had 400 to 600 members for
> most of the past 20 years. I reckon that with a lot of work we could get
> that to say 1,000 but it would be hard work. Our sister organisation in the
> US - the National Association of Science Writers has 2,600 members although
> it's also a bit more specialised as its name suggests.
>
> The conference happens because a group of members come together to make it
> happen. The atheists conference is not a good comparison. In the ASC we're
> generally organising things for ourselves, not for a wider audience. It's a
> professional conference, not an ideas conference appealing to a wider
> audience.
>
> It's a debate we had in the Vic branch a few years ago. Did we want to
> organise small events for ourselves or large events for the public. My
> answer was we exist for ourselves. The ASC isn't a science advocacy
> organisation though it members may be. It's an introspective organisation
> for people who to a large degree are looking outward during their work but
> want also to share ideas with their peers.
>
> Sue, similarly the ASC conference isn't a conference of 'invited speakers'.
> It's a self-organising community. We all chip in and organise sessions.
> None
> of us should expect to be paid for those sessions or subsidised for
> attendance. It's different to our professional work when we may expect
> payment. It's a cost of doing business. For me participation in the ASC
> conference provides training, business development and networking. It's
> cheap at the price.
>
> One thing that is worth exploring is the idea of self-organising chapters.
> If Lee doesn't like the service offering at present in particular the lack
> of education focus, then he might be encouraged to organise a chapter
> dealing with that. I might similarly be interested in organising a chapter
> more geared to journalists. And the national exec might be willing to put
> seed money into these kinds of activities?
>
> The bottom line. We get the ASC we're prepared to volunteer to work for.
>
>
>
> ________
>
> Niall Byrne
>
> Creative Director
> Science in Public
> 82 Hudsons Road, Spotswood VIC 3015
> PO Box 2076 Spotswood VIC 3015
> 03 9398 1416, 0417 131 977
>
> niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
> Twitter scienceinpublic
> Full contact details at www.scienceinpublic.com.au
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: ASC-list [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of
> Nancy
> Longnecker
> Sent: Sunday, 17 November 2013 1:01 PM
> To: Mobile Science Education; asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
> Subject: [ASC-list] Let's see what ASC members want re conferneces
>
> Hello Lee,
>
> It is fascinating to hear such diversity of opinion. We don't usually hear
> so much diversity on the ASC list and this discussion is really forcing me
> to think about why I am passionate about ASC and what it provides that I
> value.
>
> One argument against holding the conference is that members who do not go
> are subsidising members who go. Personally, I don't mind part of a very low
> professional membership going to support things that I don't always use. It
> is part of supporting the community at large. But there are obviously
> differences of opinions here and it would be good to get a more accurate
> view of what the majority of members want.
>
> RE ASC SPENDING RESOURCES ORGANISING A BIENNIAL CONFERENCE How do we find
> out what the majority of members want? Our AGM is coming up. If it is not
> too late (constitutionally) to have a vote on this at this year's AGM, I
> suggest we put whether or not ASC should continue to organise biennial
> conferences on the AGM agenda for a vote.
>
> SARAH: You may be able to advise how to put a motion for vote at the AGM
> along these lines. I'm happy to move a motion if that's what is needed.
>
> NB: Members who can't get to the AGM can vote by proxy.
>
> (The next conference would be 2016 if we follow our pattern. Personally I
> would suggest shifting the next one so that it is out of sync with PCST
> which is also a biennial conference. That way, the main international
> science communication conference and the main national one would be in
> alternate years.)
>
>
> IS AN ASC CONFERENCE VITAL TO THE ORGANISATION?
> To reiterate why I think the ASC conferences are vital, I want to address
> their value. Many of us have highlighted the value that the ASC conferences
> has had for us personally. Some conferences are more valuable than others.
> The value of any particular conference is highly personal since it depends
> on where one is in their career, what new things are learned, existing
> networks that a face to face conference provides an opportunity to catch up
> with, etc.
>
> It is a juggling act to plan the ASC conference. We are trying to provide
> learning experiences for early career communicators, opportunity for
> extension of skills and knowledge for those of us who have been in the game
> longer, pushing along the theoretical base of our profession, networking
> opportunities for all and with any luck some inspiration and motivation to
> keep us all going. Those are our objectives. Some we'll hit; some we'll
> miss.
>
> TIMING OF CONFERENCES; ORGANISE THEM NOW OR WAIT UNTIL ASC GROWS?
> If ASC used the strategy to not have conferences until the membership base
> grows, we would be unlikely to have conferences in the near future. ASC has
> worked to build its membership since its conception. ASC could be bigger
> than it is now but seems likely to always be a relatively small
> organisation. Phil Dooley listed some of the main reasons - many members
> are
> communicators AND something else. ASC is likely to be one of a number of
> organisations to which they belong and may not be their primary community
> of
> professional interest. Regan made that point as well.
>
> ARE OTHER ACTIVITIES/ SERVICES MORE IMPORTANT THAN A CONFERENCE?
> Your argument about ASC organising a conference seems to hinge on wanting
> to
> see ASC spending its resources in other ways. It would be useful and
> interesting to hear specifics about what you are suggesting.
>
> Are you suggesting greater proportion of our membership being returned to
> branches to support greater branch activity? When I represented WA on the
> executive I argued for  a higher percentage of membership coming back to
> the
> branch. That was a while ago and things may have changed. At that point, a
> compromise was reached, capitation was set at a level that would support
> both local and national activity and a pool of money was set up to allow
> any
> branch to bid for special funds to do something that required more money.
>
> The important question is: what would your branch do if you got more money?
> As Jess, Phil and I have all experienced, more money doesn't necessarily
> mean there will be more local activity.
>
> If you have good ideas for increasing ASC membership and running things
> locally (or virtually or nationally) that will benefit more people, please
> share them. New ideas would be a huge benefit to ASC and many of us would
> be
> keen to hear them.
>
> Regards, Nancy
>
> Professor Nancy Longnecker
> Science Communication
> School of Animal Biology, M092
> The University of Western Australia
> 35 Stirling Highway
> Crawley, WA   6009
>
> ph: 61 8 6488 3926
> nancy.longnecker at uwa.edu.au
>
> www.animals.uwa.edu.au/research/science-communication
> www.facebook.com/pages/UWA-Science-Communication/139535189461853
> skype: nancylongnecker
>
> CRICOS Provider No. 00126G
> ________________________________________
>
>
>
>
>
>
> On 17/11/13 6:29 AM, "Mobile Science Education"
> <info at mobilescienceeducation.com.au> wrote:
>
> >Both of the Global Atheist Conventions held in Melbourne were
> >significantly larger, very well organised, had no government or
> >industry support and cost less than half of the ASC conference.
> >
> >How did they do this? By having a large pool of paying convention goers
> >to draw upon.
> >
> >This is the point that I have made repeatedly but no one is addressing.
> >I am not against having a conference - I am against having one now with
> >such a small organisation when the time, money and effort could be used
> >to better support the state chapters and grow the base.  Once the
> >support base is there (members) the conference monetary costs will come
> >down thanks to simple economies of scale, and the time and effort will
> >be shared between the larger number of staff that a larger member base
> >can support.
> >
> >Lee Harrison
> >Mobile Science Education
> >
> >0430 588 757 or (08) 8395 9586
> >info at mobilescienceeducation.com.au
> >www.mobilescienceeducation.com.au
> >PO Box 556, Ingle Farm, SA 5098
> >
> >Lee Harrison
> >Mobile Science Education
> >
> >0430 588 757 or (08) 8395 9586
> >info at mobilescienceeducation.com.au
> >www.mobilescienceeducation.com.au
> >PO Box 556, Ingle Farm, SA 5098
> >
> >-----Original Message-----
> >From: ASC-list [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of
> >Rod Lamberts
> >Sent: Saturday, 16 November 2013 4:17 PM
> >To: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
> >Subject: [ASC-list] A couple of things on conferences and paying
> >
> >Just wanted to throw in a few things about conferences from my
> >experience to help add more context to the stuff being batted about on
> >the list these last few days.
> >
> >I've been attending and speaking at conferences around the globe for
> >16+ years, most Sci comm related, and I have seen that:
> >
> >1) In every single case, unless specifically invited or contracted to
> >deliver a keynote, or their mere presence clearly would boost
> >attendance, speakers paid registrations fees and also covered their own
> >travel and accommodation. Every single case. The closest equivalent to
> >ASC would probably be PCST conferences, and this is certainly the way
> >it happens there.
> >
> >2) I've never been to or been part of organizing a conference where
> >there weren't (usually many) more people vying to speak than spaces
> >available for them. Given point 1, it seems to me that's a solid sign
> >that many people/organizations see value in speaking at conferences...
> >
> >3) I have never been to a decent (or even crappy) national or
> >international conference that's cheaper than the ASC conference. In
> >fact the only really cheap conferences I'm aware of have immense
> >industry backing. For example, medical conferences subsidized by
> >pharmaceutical companies.
> >
> >Yes, I'm fortunate in that conferencing is part of my job and so
> >covered by my employer.
> >Yes, that's not the case for everyone.
> >But, I imagine if my employer wasn't paying and I still felt our
> >conference might be useful to me, I'd probably take the 2 years between
> >each ASC event to put the cash aside. Twenty, maybe twenty five bucks a
> >week over the 100 weeks between conferences should cover it pretty well
> >I'd say...
> >
> >Cheers,
> >R
> >
> >
> >Dr RG Lamberts
> >Deputy Director
> >Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science A Centre for
> >the National Commission of UNESCO
> >
> >The Australian National University
> >
> >_______________________________________________
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> >list at asc.asn.au
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> >5
> >
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