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Re: New: Disaster dilemma - Get Involved

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<<[Wish]  Sorry Frank, but if you feel that the use of the list is simpy to
stand on a
soap box and vocalize, you have condemned thousands of engineers from doing
more than pissing into the wind.>>

There's no argument that the listserv  is a useful source of information and a
good tool for communications **on an individual basis**.  But, at least as
things stand now, it isn't an effective tool for activists who would use it to
change the status quo and problems of our profession.   It's like using a pipe
wrench for a hammer, but would be even less effective than that.

<<[Wish]  It's very unfair to judge the quaility of one's 
involvment by physical presence in a time where a new invention such as the
list provides a means for those who can not physically attend and still have
opinion. So you negate any professional who can't stand in front of your face 
and say the same words that he can write on the net. ....  It's the same as 
needing a reader for a book because your too blind to read it yourself.
The rhetoric makes sense, not the expense to do it in person. If those that
weigh the needs of the community can't evaluate a letter, post, or other
forms of written communication, we have no hope.>>

This past weekend, I was at a family event and, mindful of postings on this
thread from last week, discussed this very issue with a nephew who works for a
major computer company.  He's on several IEEE committees that develop,
establish, maintain and revise industry standards in areas such as
communications between computers and peripherals, bus architectures,
telecommunications protocols, etc.  All committee members work for high tech
firms, and have access to powerful workstations, T1 connections, and
teleconferencing facilities.  Yet, they find that while some amount of
committee work can be accomplished electronically, **the greatest progress and
most important decisions and concensus are made during face-to-face
meetings**.  Why this should be the case, I'll leave to folks who understand
psychology and group dynamics to explain.  The nephew further indicated that
his company has a world-wide intranet and videoconferencing facilities that
link all their sites via satellite, but that these capabilities have only
modestly reduced the number of company meetings he attends.  If our fellow
eecs compatriots have found it difficult to completely replace the old
paradigm (face-to-face meetings) with a new one using today's communications
capabilities (which they have in much greater abundance that we listserv
subscribers), I predict it'll be a long time before the old order gives way.

<< [Wish]  Sorry about my vernacular, but many of the
list members are not of equal means - with employers who pay for our time
off, offer travel expense and living subsidies to attend meetings and

Now you are belittling the contributions of many engineers who participate on
their own time on after-hour activities, which are the most numerous.  You
also are unfair to engineering principals who pick up the costs and salaries
of engineering employees, and their own, when they attend activities during
working hour.  

<<[Wish]  Bill Allen was being cynical for just this reason.>>

I don't know if cynical is quite the right word.  Based on his stated reason
for temporarily quitting the listserv a while back, I think Bill recognizes
the limitations of 'preaching to the choir' on this listserv in effecting
changes to our profession.  Bill,? 

<<[Wish]  Finally, if SEA, NCSEA, ASCE, CELSOC and the other professional
organizations can only meet the needs of those that attend the meetings and
dinners, they don't need my support since I no longer have a voice.>>

C'mon, Dennis.  We can't have it all.  Life's full of choices.  Many of us who
are 'geographically advantaged' (for professional activities) have to put up
with longer commute times, higher housing costs, and perhaps questionable
schools and higher crime rates.  I recall you saying you moved to the dessert
to, in no small part, get away from these urban hassles and ills.  I guess
half a loaf is better than none - give them your financial support even it you
can't give them your time.

<<[Welliver]  ...the ability to find a way to influence decisions 
that affect our well being is key>>

Right on.  And it would be great if that influence could be exerted primarily
via the listserv or other hi-tech avenues.  In that regard, I share Dennis'
hopes.  But as indicated above, I'm not holding my breath.

<<[Welliver] .... I am able to attend some meetings here in Utah ....  and
I may not be what you call a mover and shaker I carry my little voice to 
occasional meetings and  work for issues I feel strongly about.>>

A sensible and commendable approach.  The level of such participation must, of
course, vary with our individual circumstances.

There's truth in the saying, 'no pain, no gain'.  Participation through e-mail
is almost painless.  We control when, where and how much attention to give the
e-mail stream.  No hassles from meetings that we have to work into our
schedules and fight traffic and use gas to get to.  And absolutely no
additional costs if we have a fixed price isp plan and a local access number.
On a one to ten scale of committment, it's less than five.  Of course, things
could change.  It used to be that 'painless dentist' was a joke, but now it's
the norm.  So perhaps painless and *effective* e-mail participation may arrive
someday.  But, it's not yet here.

<<[Welliver]  I think if you watch the political process you see that it is
sometimes hugely unfair. And being there IS an important influence upon those
that make decisions. I see the argument about having INFORMED persons
attending these meetings with well considered opinions which reflect actual
cross sectional thinking.>>

Good observations, and well expressed.

<<[Welliver]  If we acknowledge our needs, we should find ways to
make things happen. Perhaps with the immediacy of this communication forum, we
get caught up in the lack of immediate results. Revolution changes things
quickly. What we have here is not a revolution necessarily, but a growing
community of support for action. Our patience and persistence can and will
result in changes. We need to find the way.>>

More good observations.  However, as I indicated above about the observations
of my nephew at Hewlett Packard,  the obstacles that must be overcome appear
to be much more human than technological in nature.

Frank Lew, SE
Orinda, CA