More for Less: Putting Delights on Offer
Values and Delights
Dearly loved by many of its members, but facing difficulty in finding mew members, the ASC has a valuing problem. The generation that grew up in a culture that valued its delight in its cybernetic aesthetic is facing gradual extinction. To the generations that follow, the current costs of membership of the ASC do not match membership delights we currently have on offer. We hence need a process of reducing membership fees and increasing membership delights on offer to reach a breaking-even point at which we become viable again. Finding out where this breaking-even point is may take a process of gradual and ongoing adjustment. Such adjustment should however be applied as little and as carefully as possible to not undermine our trustworthiness. The following proposals are cybernetic in the way that the relationships between demand and supply are cybernetic. They aim at sustaining a healthy ASC. In the following, I offer my best guess through which a good result may hopefully be immediately achievable. We are proposing the following list of new membership recruiting tools and membership delights to attract new members to the ASC:
1) Modified membership categories and fees
Regular (USD24 instead of USD100)
Fellow (USD50 including one free new member invitation instead of USD100)
Educator (USD100 including four free new member invitations)
Life (USD180 instead of USD750)
All fees (except Life) and invitation rights are per annum. I propose to reduce fees so that the financial threshold to becoming a member of the ASC is no longer an obstacle at least to most who have access to education and the internet. The ‘student’ membership category thus becomes superfluous. I further propose a new membership category named ‘Educator’, aimed at those who are most likely to introduce newcomers to cybernetics. Both Fellows and Educators pay a higher fee than Regular members, but are allowed to introduce one (Fellow) or four (Educator) more new members to the ASC annually as a membership delight and as a means to grow our membership. Such invitation privileges should be included in non-student conference registration fees that include membership for the conference registrant.
2) An embeddable flash button which can be placed very easily by anyone on any webpage by copying and pasting a small piece of html code. This button should be capable of retrieving data specifying current membership delights, categories, fees, current announcements and the URL of the ASC’s current payment system from the ASC web server at any time and of displaying them as a small button with pop-up capabilities when a mouse pointer hovers over it. Clicking on this button will take internet users immediately to the ASC’s membership payment system where they can join immediately at the above described affordable rates. Use of this button should be relentlessly promoted by the ASC and its members wherever possible.
3) Cybernetic Colloquium: The ASC establishes an Education Working Group in conjunction with the Membership Committee and the Electronic Publications Working Group. The new working group invites a willing (senior) member each month to choose and discuss within the membership a key cybernetic topic or paper (which is not authored by themselves and suitable for wider audiences). This member acts as a mentor and moderator during that month’s online discussion. Each month’s online discussion is deleted early in the following month to reflect that education is a process and not a commodity (we are short of active engagement of members, not of archives of past exchanges). I think that the immediacy of a volatile discussion that eventually disappears will give the online discussion more value and produce an incentive to join and to participate.
Members who took part in an online discussion have the option of subsequently submitting a (teachback) text online in which they summarize the insights they gained from the discussion in say no more than 400 words. The gradually accumulating teachback repository may:
a) be used by the ASC as promotional testimonials and
b) serve as the basis for formal recommendation letters the ASC’s Educational Working Group offers its members for career advancing purposes on ASC letterhead upon request by individual members.
Moderators of the Cybernetic Colloquium should actively nurture the production of cybernetic writing based on the topics and papers discussed. Writings originating from engagement in the Colloquium may be collected and published in dedicated journal issues at regular intervals (see below).
4) Emphasis on accessible avenues for quality publications: Many involved with the ASC are academics, who have to keep an eye on the high quantity and quality of their publications. It should be continuously emphasized that joining the ASC and its conferences offers access to a stimulating intellectual environment as well as rigorous and supportive peer review processes in which members can develop high quality journal papers. There are two avenues for members to accomplish high quality publications with and through the ASC:
a) the ASC conferences and the journal proceedings they produce since 2009 (already in place)
b) the Cybernetic Colloquium: Participants in discussions respond to classic papers with their own statements, which can result in a journal issue per year. Tutors may also choose to write papers with those they discussed with.
The ASC may attract additional members if possibilities for publications are made more widely known.
5) Proper account management system on the ASC website: We have no choice but to give electronic delights away for free as long as our online presence is incapable of distinguishing members from non-members. Investment in the setup and continuous maintenance of membership accounts on the ASC website is a critical requirement for offering membership delights online.
6) Fresh Aesthetics: Besides marketing tangible delights such as study opportunities, conferences, career advancement and publication, our tacit value proposition should be: As a member of the ASC, you have the opportunity to participate with like-minded people in creating and enjoying an aesthetics that will stick to you, make you better and more interesting. The delightful aesthetic we can offer must be reflected in our promotional efforts besides tangible delights:
a) The current website has to go. A much smaller, beautiful and dynamic website is needed. This website must give members “face”, which is a possibly very powerful membership delight.
b) Conference venues: The ASC must avoid positioning itself as dusty, outdated or provincial. EMPAC was a good start, we need more of this. We may need to find sponsors for this purpose and we may have to be prepared to pay for adequate conference venues out of ASC funds. Likewise, we may aim for consistently alternative, low-end contexts (Woodstock style) and emphasize youthfulness and creativity. Mediocrity, however, should be avoided at all cost.
c) Stickers: Attractive, high quality stickers bearing the ASC name, logo, URL and outlining the essence of the costs and benefits as outlined here (“Engage-Grow-Publish for $2 per month”) should be produced and distributed by ASC members in academic venues and meetings relentlessly.
d) We need brochures along the above lines aiming chiefly at growing our membership. These should be placed and handed out at academic and other events and venues by ASC members.
7) ASC Membership for ASC endorsed events organized by ASC members: ASC meetings (not our annual conference) addressing specific topics at universities worldwide should help with image building, giving face to local members and helping grow the Society. Members should be given the opportunity to get the ASC’s endorsement when holding local meetings (if the theme of the meeting is related to the concerns of the society). As one benefit of their registration in such events, participants in such meetings can be offered a free one-year membership.
Author is elegible for HvF Prize (aged under 35): NO