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It's not the ugliest argument I've seen, but it's not pretty.

The discussion about increasing the dues by $2/year to provide restricted funds for the archives has yet again gotten bogged down in the discussion of private vs. public information. We've got some chapters who don't think that it's worth funding the archives if we make (the majority? any? all?) of the archives available to the public.

We've got a simple business problem: The archives needs a mission statement so the board reps know what the hell they're voting on. This is separate from the ICG's mission statement, but encompassed by it.

We've also got a more basic issue: The archives will never completely be made available to the public on the web.

While the bandwidth to provide video is becoming available, we don't have the storage and we don't necessarily have the licenses (particularly the ASCAP licenses) to publish these videos on the web. They can (and should) be cataloged, and if the archives team ever has enough people to support it, made available for members to purchase for duplicating costs.

I believe we have books in the archive too. They can (and should) be cataloged. If we can include member reviews in the catalog to guide people who might want to get their own copies, that would be cool. We can't practically or legally provide reproductions, though.

We have a lot of photos in the archive. We are only going to provide screen-resolution images to the public on the web. Again, photos should be cataloged (and the web gallery is a great tool towards this end), and if the archives team ever has enough people to support it, high-resolution copies or prints could be made available for members to purchase for duplicating costs.

It's going to be really difficult to do any of this, even with a volunteer crew, without funding. It's also going to be really difficult to get submissions from non-members (and we don't care where the submissions come from, we just care that they're costume-related) if we don't have a fairly large web-presence.

Arguments about keeping resources private to members are moot if the archives are only available by driving to the archivist's house, and there is no catalog. Right now that's pretty much the case. The online archive gallery has been a spur to get some of our images scanned, cataloged and uploaded so they're available at all. Don't use it, or its configuration, as a lever to say the archive shouldn't be funded. It's made more archive materials available to members than ever before; so what if it's also made those archive materials available to the public?


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 26th, 2007 10:45 pm (UTC)
I'm sure someone's noted that making the archives public is a great PR tool for the ICG. Non-members get a much better idea of what the ICG is about & who's in it if they can see photos. Makes the whole thing seem far more interesting & can go a long way towards creating a positive presence & reputation for the group among new communities. Esp. online.

Re: video, what about going the YouTube route? Maybe not for massive amounts, but certainly it could be useful for select clips. Gets around storage, & YouTube hasn't gotten shut down despite the vast quantities of potentially copyright infringing content on there yet. I'm not saying it's right, but it's certainly being done by various 3rd-party sites to embed vids.
Jul. 26th, 2007 10:57 pm (UTC)
We've talked about YouTube. I believe that they pay huge ASCAP and BMI synchronization licenses to cover use of music in videos on their site.

Right now, though, it's a distraction from getting work done on the photo collection. That's a huge accumulation of materials, and, in spite of its size, the easiest to deal with.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 26th, 2007 11:01 pm (UTC)
That's another problem unto itself.
Jul. 26th, 2007 11:10 pm (UTC)
video digression
I'm not so sure about YouTube paying license fees -- otherwise, how would this have happened? Again, not saying it's right or anything. 99% of the stuff uploaded there is by random folks w/out regard to copyright, & AFAIK, the company hasn't gotten into trouble mostly bec. the flash format keeps the files from being easily downloaded (unlike P2P).
Jul. 27th, 2007 12:08 am (UTC)
Re: video digression
ASCAP and BMI don't care about use of less than (I think) 45 seconds of a piece. We were discussing the gory details when Michael Siladi was getting the ASCAP performance license for Westercon.

They're not the recording industry, though. They're just the artists' licensing associations, who obviously wouldn't know or care about protecting an artist's rights.
Jul. 26th, 2007 11:09 pm (UTC)
I passed this on to the BOD list just now.

My personal thoughts: history and perpetuity are nice. As a history major and museum lover I am attracted to the thought. But it seems like so much of the discussions right now are on these available-to-everyone things, and no one is taking on the issues generated within the past year and membership leaving the organization past the tax-free thing. Archives are nice, but I'd like to see them paired with some members-only benefits as well, dollar-for-dollar.
Jul. 26th, 2007 11:26 pm (UTC)
Well, there's a really basic problem there.

We're a volunteer organization.

We had a drop-down drag-out fight on the Archives committee about how we could maintain member-only access to sections of the gallery.

I championed a very precise system of having an assistant treasurer for membership services maintain the member account group on the gallery, and use that for access control.

Bruce Mai proposed a shared-login scheme where, with each newsletter, a shared username (like "ICG-Member") and password (to be changed with each newsletter or with the annual newsletter) would be distributed. All members would log in with the same ID and password to see member-only services.

Both have flaws.

The member-group system would have been a heavy administrative workload, but would guarantee that only current members could see the member-only sections. Bruce MacD has had no luck getting an assistant treasurer to handle existing work, so putting more work on a position we can't fill in the first place is stupid.

The shared-login scheme would likely allow non-members fairly easy access (either after their membership expired but before the next password change, or by having members release the id/password to non-members), and would have required members and non-members who wished to upload to have a separate personal username and password. It just makes things messy for the users who want to contribute.

After a month or so of arguing effective security vs. minimum administrative workload, we tossed both ideas out. The solution we came up with (namely "The web gallery will be public") got the committee back on track to release the gallery.
Jul. 27th, 2007 12:14 am (UTC)
Grrrr ...
Going to play devil's advocate here. Ready - hold your breath, here I go!!!

It'd be a Good Thing to keep at least some of the benefits to paid membership just that - benefits to membership. The archives included. If the logistics (e.g., passwords, whatever ...) can be worked out (and I realize that's a big "if,") I'm not in a huge hurry to have my paltry $8 in membership fees used to benefit people from other groups that won't contribute to the ICG as well, but only use our resources for their own good. The ICG isn't such a big ugly monster any more, and adding membership $ and support to same could certainly help keep those services and that organization alive.

Not to mention the fact that with only a few benefits out there to paid members of the group (besides the mind-numbingly gorgeous newsletter, of course), who's going to keep paying? The ICG, while supporting the arts, needs to also support itself, lest it inevitably disappear, and its hard work with it.

There. I said it. Let the flames fly.

Jul. 27th, 2007 12:31 am (UTC)
Re: Grrrr ...
And still I come back to my basic statement. The online gallery isn't the archives.

For the last two years, the argument has been "So what about funding the archives? I never see any benefit from these mythical archives! Why should our chapter pay ICG dues?"

The online gallery has brought more archive materials to the members than any previous effort. Without this project, the members would have had no access to those materials. Nobody would have had access to those materials. It's still only the tip of the iceberg, just 800 photos of a collection numbering in the thousands.

Now it's flipped to "Why should I support the archives? Why should non-members see what we've got? Why should our chapter pay ICG dues for something that benefits other people?"

We're not talking about funding the online gallery, we're talking about funding the archives. The online gallery is a tool to help promote the ICG and the ICG archives. It may help us get more members. It may help us get more volunteers for the archives.
Jul. 27th, 2007 12:36 am (UTC)
Re: Grrrr ...
In words of fewer syllables:

The Archives are HUGE. Books, videos, photos, convention pubs, etc, etc, etc.

A small fraction of the photos are going into the public gallery as a SAMPLE for the world to see what we've been preserving.

You like this sample? You want access to the other stuff? You have to be a member to get it!

In other words: Only The First Taste is Free

(This is independent of the physical cataloging/access problems that Andy mentioned).
Jul. 27th, 2007 12:53 am (UTC)
Re: Grrrr ...
Awww, that's cute, words of fewer syllables. And now that our mutual literacy (not to mention online thesaurus programs -
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Awww, that's cute, words of fewer syllables. And now that our mutual literacy (not to mention online thesaurus programs - <wink!>) has been established, here are more of my thoughts:

As long as the only portion the ICG currently has accessible of the archives is the gallery as it stands now, the ICG should consider retaining it as a members-only benefit. At least until they've figured out how to make the rest of it (e.g., the videos, the books, the convention publications) accessible to those who are paying.

Stated differently, why are people going to buy a membership if they have the galleries/partial-archives available to them now? Is the barest promise of a hope of more to come, someday, what we're hoping will bring in more membership revenues via new members joining? Does that seem likely?

Instead, we should restrict the gallery to ICG members (or maybe restricted after a one-time viewing, "somehow" tracked via email address ... is that possible?). The funding from additional membership revenues received as a result of this benefit of membership can then used to further expand what's available.

I really don't think it's such an unreasonable question, nor that paying membership to access online resources is such an unreasonable concept overall. Otherwise, it's a question of buying cows when milk is free ...
Jul. 27th, 2007 01:03 am (UTC)
Re: Grrrr ...
Read my above comments to auroraceleste. Making the gallery members-only is a huge undertaking, even bigger than getting archive materials uploaded. Even bigger than labeling, folding and stapling all the newsletters, and it has to happen monthly.

As to the free milk question, I'll refer you to a quote from Kaja Foglio about switching from commercial comic book distribution to free webcomic distribution:

Doom level: Astonishingly, pretty low at the moment! We're working on paying off the last of our ten years of hideous crushing debt and sales of Girl Genius just keep going up. We should have gone online years ago. Thank you, everyone who has supported us and stayed with us through all of the changes and weirdness; and thank you, all you new readers who have given us such a boost!

By offering their product serialized free on the web, they have reduced their overhead while simultaneously increasing sales of collected volumes, boosting their profits and helping them get their back-catalog back into print. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but it's what happened. You can't talk to Phil or Kaja without hearing about the turn-around that free web distribution made possible for them.
Jul. 27th, 2007 01:33 am (UTC)
Re: Grrrr ...
Ok, not to beat a dead horse here (and I promise this is my last post on the subject), but (c'mon, you knew it was coming!) do you see that the genius Girl Genius folks had other products (books of past strips, etc.) that they could sell and make money to keep going, by publicizing their strip through free online access?

If we had something (in addition to the previously mentioned, fabulously-wonderful newsletter) to sell as a members-only benefit that could then be boosted as a result of the free publicity, this would be a great marketing idea. But we don't. And so until we do, we need to retain some personal benefit to joining. And that, right now, is the archives (along with, of course, the Newsletter. Did I mention the newsletter?).

See you Saturday! Can hardly wait - am SO excited!!!!!!

Love -

Jul. 27th, 2007 02:03 am (UTC)
Re: Grrrr ...
Building the gallery is a very inexpensive project, and it's a project that people are excited about and working on. It, in itself, isn't costing us any more than maintaining the website already does. It's providing a benefit to members. So what if it's not an exclusive benefit to members?

Is it more important that you have the benefit, or is it more important that non-members don't get the benefit? Right now that's the decision. We can, for the cost of people points, make archive materials available to everybody. We have the resources to do that. Or we can say "Screw it. We don't have the resources to do this as a members-only benefit." That's the consensus of the archivists and their team of technicians and systems administrators who reviewed the alternatives.

Regardless, the archives need funding. They need money to move boxes from New Jersey to Lincoln, and they need money to continue to acquire materials (because not every photographer is willing to donate a set of prints or a CD of images from a major event; it's not like the Costume-Con Archives where the committees negotiate that well in advance).

We've got to get the archives to Pierre, figure out how to get them cataloged, digitized and perhaps restored in the case of old film and video, if we can find skilled volunteers to do the work.

Then we can look at providing member-exclusive benefits from the archives. Right now let's do what our resources allow.
Jul. 27th, 2007 01:00 am (UTC)
Re: Grrrr ...
That's, essentially, what I've said above, only much better worded.

So there's the archives, and they're wonderful. And we like them and support them and leave them public.

Now let's work on some members-only stuff to offset the loss to membership of members-only benefits.
Jul. 27th, 2007 01:05 am (UTC)
Re: Grrrr ...
Aaah, but if we can get more volunteers on the archive team, there are member-only benefits that can be derived from the archives.
Jul. 27th, 2007 01:10 am (UTC)
Re: Grrrr ...
Ok, so have I been living in a hole the past 6 months (entirely possible, I realize school has murdered me these last two semesters) or has there not been a plain-word request for the volunteers? If there has, I just missed it from pure oblivion, but if not, there should be some kind of spelling-out of this, both on the BOD list and on the D-list (and I'd forward it to SilWeb and expect the BOD to forward it too). Something that says exactly what kind of volunteers are needed and whether they have to be local to the archives or not. Make it easy to get the volunteers needed.
Jul. 27th, 2007 01:28 am (UTC)
Re: Grrrr ...
There hasn't yet been a request for volunteers. Right now the physical boxes of archive materials are sitting at Carl & Elaine's house in New Jersey, waiting to be schlepped to Pierre & Sandy's in Lincoln. This is somewhat impeded by Carl's recent quad-bypass.

Anyway, back after the annual meeting at CC24 in Des Moines, Nora chartered a committee to figure out how to make archive materials available online. Pierre and Bruce (new archivist and assistant archivist) recruited some folks with technical, photo and publishing experience to that committee (I'm on it, as was K because of his work on the CC galleries), and we've spent the last year or so banging out the details of making things work. We're currently publishing materials that are already in Pierre and/or Bruce's hands.

When the rest of the archives are in Pierre's hands, I expect that there are going to be digitizing parties and cataloging parties. A friend of mine is an art history librarian and a fan (and soon to retire); I'm going to see if I can suck her into this project to help us design the catalog. But there's limits to what can be done right now.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 27th, 2007 08:02 pm (UTC)
If you haven't already, you should have jeff_morris put your comments on the BOD list.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 27th, 2007 08:39 pm (UTC)
I've been routing my "as a member" comments through my board rep, and my "as a committee member" comments through the committee chair (Bruce).
Jul. 27th, 2007 08:41 pm (UTC)
...and I've been feeding Nora arguments as to why the public/members-only argument isn't necessarily subject to a BoD vote.
Jul. 27th, 2007 09:28 pm (UTC)
Looks like he brought up the main point: that the gallery and the archives are not one and the same, and choose a topic, please - choose and perish!
Jul. 27th, 2007 03:24 pm (UTC)
God, people can be such whiners...

First, we're talking about 2 USD here. That's what - a half dozen buttons? a yard of trim? Also, the reason the dues are tax deductible is because they're for the larger community (charity, remember?) and not for the benefit of the member.

Second, the BOD couldn't a decent mission statement if their lives depended on it. It's really simple:

"The ICG is dedicated to promoting the art of costuming. Members donations through this dues increase can help ensure that the history of our craft is placed in an organized archive that will permit both future costuming research and the continuing preservation of our heritage."

Let me know if we start a "we paid your dues increase for you, now stop your whining" fund - I'll be willing to pony up for a good cause...
Jul. 27th, 2007 08:01 pm (UTC)
They are whiners. It is the endless narfing about things that should be intuitively obvious that really slows us down. If we could just work together and be drama-free for a damn minute, we might actually get some serious shit done.

As for an STFU fund: unfortunately, it wouldn't have the response it deserves, which is red-faced embarassment from those who have been the major obstructions in the flow.
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )