[AUUG-Talk]: Re: AUUGN Format

David Purdue david.purdue at auug.org.au
Wed Dec 8 09:50:06 EST 2004

Dear AUUG members, and other AUUG-Talk hangers on,

With the amount of discussion here over our decision to stop producing
AUUGN on paper, I think this is a good time to explain this decision,
and put it into the context of a number of efforts to revitalise AUUG.

To understand what we are attenpting to do, we first must understand
what AUUG is. The current board put a lot of time and effort into
defining this - and it was a difficult task to attach a set of words to
what Michael Paddon astutely called the "AUUG zeitgeist."

So, as a refresher, here are the words we came up with (they appear on
the AUUG home page - http://www.auug.org.au/):

AUUG Incorporated
The Organisation for Unix, Linux and Open Source professionals

AUUG's role is building a community by connecting, supporting and
promoting people with an interest in interoperable computing - which we
see as a key to achieving fitness for purpose and value for money in
Information and Communication Technology.

Our members are professionals who care about

     * Unix operating systems from proprietary vendors
     * Linux, BSD and other Open Source operating systems
     * Open standards, specifically those which enable the free and 
unrestricted interchange of information
     * Open Source applications, regardless of the platform they run on
     * other cool technical stuff

The operational phrase in that statement is "building a community", and
so the question becomes, "Does AUUGN, in its present form, help to build

It would be wildly inaccurate to say that dropping a paper based AUUGN
was an easy decision. I have been on the AUUG board for over a decade,
and I think it has been discussed almost every one of those years.

What we have to look at is the aims of AUUG and the resources we have to
implement these aims. As noted above, our main aim is to build
community. Our main resource is volunteer labour - but these days that
is not a limitless resource as our members attempt to balance the
increased demands of the office with some home and personal life. We
also have some financial backing - but as was noted at the AGM AUUG is
currently making a small loss year on year. Which BTW means that 
although the board would like to reduce membership and other fees right 
now, prudent management means that reductions will not be possible until 
after a sustainable position is reached. AUUG believes that the changes 
being made will result in stronger financial performance. Lower fees are 
widely seen as desirable, and may be possible, but only as a flow on effect.

A paper based AUUGN eats up a lot of that resource - it eats up money
and it eats up at least one whole volunteer, a bunch of other volunteers
and a good deal of our staff time. Does the result build community to
the extent that would justify the investment? I would contend that it no
longer does.

What can AUUG do to foster community that is more valuable to members
than joining free mailing lists or doing Google searches? Well, one
thing we have identified, and the first we are putting a lot of effort
into, is organise events - physically get people together to natter
about their shared interests over a beer (or a cola if you prefer). You
will shortly see the fruits of this effort with AUUG's announcement of a 
full program of events for 2005.

Does this mean that AUUG will stop communicating with its members? Far
from it. The quarterly CD releases, which have been very popular, will
continue; and, along with some free software for you to kick the tyres
on, we will be sending out a version of AUUGN that can be read on your
computer or printed out to read in bed, on the train, or in any of those
other places where you do not carry your laptop. We've also been looking
into switching to sending DVDs; obviously we could distribute a lot more
software and content; we're still checking on the cost factors involved
but it looks promising.

We are also looking at ways to make it easier for more people to 
contribute content. The events help here - events tend to generate 
papers that can be published. We are also looking at changes to our web 
site to make it easier for all members to contribute. In this regard, 
Michael Paddon has forshadowed some of our plans - we have commissioned 
a design of an online portal that would provide timely content to 
members and provide online discussion forums that could then lead to 
content for online and mailed out publications. This design is showing 
promise, and we a now working on plans for implementation of this portal.

I have always said that the most valuable benefit of AUUG members is 
other AUUG members. With AUUG going through some changes and 
reinvigoration, now is a good time to think about what you can do to 
contribute to the organisation: Organise an event? Recruit a member? 
Write a paper? Make a presentation at your local chapter meeting? The 
board is committed to fostering community, but the results depend on the 
response of you - the community. It sounds cliched but the small efforts 
of each of you can dwarf those of the board many times over. We believe 
the changes underway will provide a more dynamic and vibrant environment 
in which each AUUG member can contribute, benefit and prosper.


David Purdue, President
AUUG Incorporated
Ph: +61 2 8824 9511;  Fax: +61 2 8824 9522;  mailto:david.purdue at auug.org.au

More information about the Talk mailing list