16 December 2006


ASI President's Letter (December 2006)

Below are the first few paragraphs of my letter as ASI president, published in Key Words. The full letter is available in the December 2006 issues of the bulletin, available to ASI members at the ASI website, as well as by request.

ASI: Prospective and Retrospective, a Presidential Perspective

At the end this year, I’ll write a letter to “Seth of 2008.”

For a number of years I’ve been sending snapshots of my life to future “selves,” capturing a year’s events, achievements, and desires onto a couple pages. Even though I’m writing to myself, however, I’m trying to communicate with versions of me that don’t yet exist. Who will I be in 2008? Why will I want to know about today’s “me”? What about the Seth of 2014? So, after warming up my pen with details about family, house, job, art, and health, I inevitably get to the tough stuff: ambitions, anxieties, hopes, and disappointments. There’s an irony to the whole thing, knowing I’ll be reading the letter with perfect hindsight. It’s an incentive to improve every year.

ASI’s strategic plan is just such a letter. With its many strategies and priorities, we’re informing our future society about some critical information. Our members have shared with us a vision in which indexing will be recognized and respected more; to reach this vision we’ll have to look critically at who we are, now and soon. With the hindsight we’ll have in 2008 (and 2010 and 2014), I don’t want us to feel nostalgic when we look back. I want us to feel successful. I want us to be glad that we live in better times.

The conflict between the needs of the immediate and our goals for the future is real. To function as a society, we need people in charge of what’s happening right now, as well as people in charge of what’s happening in the future. Week to week, ASI manages a long stream of important details: chapter name changes, SIG formations, PR construction, training course materials, administrative shifts, the Philadelphia conference, membership drives, and so on. The board gets a few dozen reports from committees, fourteen chapters, SIGs, and task forces. This is the “ASI of 2006,” focused on bylaws and meetings and content development.

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