As I mentioned yesterday, reduction of the use of paper in governance is a high priority for us. The positive news from the Office of the Secretary & General Counsel is that we are making great strides to make the Board and Board committee agendas electronic. Starting with the June Board meeting, all agendas of Board and Board standing committees will be electronic only, unless paper is explicitly requested. Also, as I mentioned, the quarterly Councilor Bulletin and Committee News publications are now distributed only electronically.
A problem with providing an electronic Council agenda is that we could not provide power for 400 plus laptops at the Council meeting. It is unlikely that Councilors would accept having the agenda on a screen and not be able to access the material on their own. Would this mean having 4 separate screens at the meeting – how would petitions be discussed? Forcing people to print locally is actually less sustainable in most cases than using our efficient print shop here. Administering an opt-out list would also be more time intensive than mailing. The cost for alternatives quickly becomes much more than what we do now.
The Yellow Book contains private information about our governance leaders. We would like to move to an electronic version but there are also some hurdles. We would need to make it password protected in order to let all 1500 recipients have access to it electronically. Also, people currently need to request addresses to send information/email blasts out to governance leaders. If it was simply converted to a PDF or database file, there would be no way for CPC to limit communications to official business or for N&E to screen mailings on behalf of candidates. We would have to set it up where you can access only one person at a time. This would be a substantial new IT Project request and would have to be prioritized with the other projects currently on the table in this time of constrained resources.
We are monitoring best practices at other associations, and as soon as workable and cost-effective approach becomes available, we'll consider it. It is certainly good to continue to suggest ways where we can better set a sustainable example. If you have additional suggestions, please post and I'll pass them on.
At the meeting in SLC, I referred to my agenda book only a couple of times. For the most part, it remained on my lap, unviewed. Eventually, I just put it away. Sitting in the meeting, I see many of my fellow councilors acting similarly. In addition, the battery on my laptop will operate my computer for over 4 hours, especially if I'm not doing anything too intensive. Viewing a PDF document does not qualify as intensive.
At heart, I am an experimentalist. I suggest running the experiment. Produce a PDF version of the agenda book and publicize a way for members to download it. Allow councilors to request not to receive the book as a component of the download (if done in sufficient time). Find out how many people use the electronic materials. After the meeting, conduct a survey to find out how those using the electronic agenda felt it worked. Repeat in Boston.
As far as the yellow book is concerned, I thought that the ACS web was intended to contain an intranet. In fact, I need to login to get on the network. I do not know if this area is in fact restricted to members, but ACS should certainly have a members only section on its web. That is where the yellow book belongs. I believe that the issue of proecting the e-mail addresses of governance leaders to prevent e-mail blasts is a red herring - if a PDF version of the book is produced, someone could copy a series of addresses from the book and forward information to them, but copying 1500 addresses would be impractical. And if our governance leaders are afraid of hearing from individual members, then they shouldn't be governance leaders.
I understand that there are challenges to adopting a paperless Society, but we should continue to work towards that goal and task people with identifying workable, practical solutions to some of these issues. To simply say "it's too hard" should be unacceptable to a scientific society. If we don't make the request, we won't find a solution. So let's make the request, and stop making excuses.
OK, now time to get off my soapbox. Thanks for reading.
Here are my 0.015 Euros on this topic:
I do find that I don't really need all the pages that are printed in the agenda book. The ones I actually refer to during the Council meeting are limited. They include the agenda, sometimes the pages on those standing for office (refresh my memory from what I read previously), items for action (or considerationn if there is any discussion), and possibly the material for the extended council discussion. So perhaps I use about 20-25% of the pages on Wednesday morning. For the past 2 IUPAC assemblies, I've found that I read the .pdf in advance and then print the few pages that I actually need (double sided) to take with me to the meeting. That would work for me with the ACS materials (especially if the .pdf was prepared with tabs for easy navigation).
My opinion: I would rather not have to bring my laptop to the Council meeting. First of all, it currently runs about 30 min on battery (making changes is not an option at this time). Second, I don't find it a comfortable and ergonomic situation for working (chairs too close together, etc). Perhaps the most important issue: the temptation for multi-tasking is too large. There are usually a large number of things that need to be addressed following a national meeting, and I think it is likely that I (and many others in the room) would start to work on them during the Council meeting. And maybe I don't want to hear all the clicking of keyboards around me during the reports from officers and committees.....
Like many others, our committee did go to a paperless agenda book without any obvious problems. I offered to provide paper for anyone interested, but no one asked for a copy. I prefer that committee members don't spend a lot of time looking at their PCs during the discussion (since for the most part, they don't need to reference many materials).
Hi Carolyn and Colleagues All,
I share carolyn's view in that I don't need to carry in my computer or print all of the slides that will be shown at a discussion group at all of the meetings I will attend except perhaps as a backup in case projectors fail. With regard to replacing paper with computers, I do feel that when many are typing and/or scrolling during a group discussion, the effect is not one of warm conversation, but some diversion. My preference is to print the materials that I know I will refer to and count on the projectors for the rest. I will take my computer, but not count on using it consistently during the discussions.
Also, with regard to these teamwork conversations
I have a number of interacting groups, but none can be continuoustoo much is going on. Please do as in this case, let all messages that must be seen come by e-mail. My e-mail is too often neglected by the demands of the moment, so I probably will not reliably consult some website. I don't want to be negligent by accident.
Best to all.