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SEAOC Committee Meetings

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     Dennis Wish wrote:
     
     << The only necessity to have a physical meeting is for final 
     organization of work that is ready for publication. >>
     
     --------------------------------
     
     I disagree.  I think there is merit to having much committee work done 
     via electronic means, as part of the entire process.  However, there 
     are still many valid reasons for face-to-face meetings, with enough 
     benefits to justify the costs.
     
     1) Many of the SEAOC Committee meetings are attended by "observers" 
     who represent other organizations with a vested interest in the 
     matters under discussion.  They make a valid contribution to the 
     meetings by offering perspectives of ancillary industry groups.
     
     2) Most SEAOC Committee meetings are open to the membership.  I don't 
     believe we want to deny the membership access.
     
     3) It is very difficult to make meaningful decisions via a collection 
     of E-mail correspondence, especially when the participants are at 
     their office desks with all the necessary distraction of conducting 
     the "bill-paying" business.
     
     4) Attendance at meetings focuses the participants on the issues at 
     hand, at least temporarily leaving the "bill-paying" business concerns 
     aside.
     
     5) Electronic communications can never replace the human elements 
     necessary when an agreement must be reached.  Body language, voice 
     inflections, facial expressions, etc. cannot be replaced with 
     electronic communications.  (And no picture phones are not financially 
     viable for most SEAOC members.)
     
     I'll use an example the recent 1997 UBC seismic provisions and the 
     1996 Blue Book.  There was a lot of good hard work performed by the 
     SEAOC Seismology Committee to develop the SEAOC input to these.  This 
     committee also has the interface responsibility with the 1997 NEHRP 
     Provisions and the 2000 IBC.  Much of this work was conducted at 
     face-to-face meetings where differences were aired and compromises 
     were reached.  I don't believe that their mission could have been 
     completed in a timely manner if only electronic communication was 
     used.  Observers and SEAOC members also participated at these 
     meetings.
     
     I was able to attend two of these meetings as a SEAOC member and was 
     able to educate myself on how the committee works.  More importantly, 
     I was able to learn firsthand about the changes in the works.  As a 
     result, the new provisions in the 1997 UBC were not a surprise to me.
     
     Hopefully, we can reach a balance on committee work between the 
     electronic communication and the "face-to-face" meetings.  To say that 
     it must be all one way or the other is not being very objective.
     
     I patiently wait for the scathing Dennis Wish rebuttal(s).
     
     Rick Drake, SE
     Fluor Daniel, Irvine