There Won’t Be a 2011 NSS Members Manual and Here’s Why

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Re: There Won’t Be a 2011 NSS Members Manual and Here’s Why

Postby gregmathis1 » Jun 16, 2011 10:20 am

Rather than printing a manual on paper it could be burnt on a cd and mailed out at a fraction of the cost.
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Re: There Won’t Be a 2011 NSS Members Manual and Here’s Why

Postby tncaver » Jun 16, 2011 11:08 am

gregmathis1 wrote:Rather than printing a manual on paper it could be burnt on a cd and mailed out at a fraction of the cost.
Greg


That is an excellent idea Greg! Failure to publish a members manual could alienate new members and old members my feel they
are not getting their money's worth for their dues. Publishing on CD is indeed very cheap yet can maintain high quality. :kewl:

Publishing on CD is also a green method of publication. Think of all the trees that will be saved by not printing on paper.
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Re: There Won’t Be a 2011 NSS Members Manual and Here’s Why

Postby Bill Putnam » Jun 16, 2011 11:30 am

Several years ago, some members of the BOG pushed through an act banning electronic publication of the Members Manual (Act 84-817, approved in 2009). I have introduced a motion on the July meeting agenda to repeal that ban. Several Board members are opposing it. They fear that any electronic publication would expose "sensitive" information on the Internet. I feel that the ban is unnecessary and ill-advised, as it prevents us from providing services that members have been requesting for many years now.

Electronic publication would be in the form of a PDF version of the MM available to members only, and access to a searchable database of member info (similar to the Member Search feature we have now, but with more features). Both would be protected from public access, and would only be accessible to members in good standing who request and receive a unique login ID and password. Also, anyone who is concerned about that information being published already has the option to have their information omitted from the Members Manual.

Repealing the ban would allow the IT committee and the Members Manual committee to explore ways to make member information available to members through a private, limited access, password-protected web page, as many organizations already do.

No one has proposed eliminating the print version of the Members Manual at this point, but some (including myself) have questioned the value of spending more than $20,000 each year to print and mail each member what is essentially a telephone directory. At some point we should consider making the MM electronic by default, with print copies available for purchase from the bookstore. A print-on-demand service could produce copies for about $5 to $10 each, and a PDF version could be made available for download by members who prefer to print their own.

I would like to hear from members who have strong feelings about this - would you like to have access to the MM info online? How about a downloadable PDF version? Are you concerned about having your MM info available on a secure web page (individual login with userid and password) on the NSS site? Do you prefer the paper version of the MM? Would you feel cheated if we went to electronic publication and you had to pay $5 extra for a paper copy (or print your own)?

Post here, or email me at woputnam@gmail.com. I will bring the comments and suggestions to the attention of the Board.

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Re: There Won’t Be a 2011 NSS Members Manual and Here’s Why

Postby Bill Putnam » Jun 16, 2011 11:52 am

gregmathis1 wrote:Rather than printing a manual on paper it could be burnt on a cd and mailed out at a fraction of the cost.
Greg

Can't do it. Board Act 84-817 prohibits electronic publication of the Members manual. It was passed in 2009 when some BOG members convinced a majority of the Board that "sensitive member information" might be compromised.

Here's some background:

We spend just over $20,000 each year to produce, print, and mail the MM, so the cost of printing and mailing the MM is less than $2 per member. It costs about $1 per copy to print, and about $0.75 per copy to prep, label, and mail. After printing ($11K), the postage ($5K), labeling/prep costs ($2K), and production expenses ($1K) are the main components. Those would be about the same for a CD as for a print publication. Burning and mailing CDs would cost about $1 each. The savings would be about $11K.

However, several Board members believe that there are a significant number of members who prefer the print version of the MM over any electronic version, and they oppose dropping the print version. Most of these folks also oppose any form of electronic publication of the MM, mainly because they are concerned about the possibility of exposing sensitive member information on the Internet.

Personally, I want to see the ban on electronic publication repealed so we can explore that and see what we can do. Perhaps members will prefer that - perhaps not, but at the moment we can't even explore the possibility. If, over time, it turns out that members no longer want the paper MM as a standard benefit of membership we could consider making it available at nominal cost (say $5) through the bookstore using a print-on-demand service.

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Re: There Won’t Be a 2011 NSS Members Manual and Here’s Why

Postby Phil Winkler » Jun 16, 2011 11:59 am

Bill,

How is burning a MM to a PDF on a cd sent to a member publishing electronically? I think good pdfs can't be copied as data. That is their point.

How would the user IDS/passwords for a secure site be maintained? Automatically or humanly?
If banks can't secure their sites I have little confidence that we could.
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Re: There Won’t Be a 2011 NSS Members Manual and Here’s Why

Postby Bill Putnam » Jun 16, 2011 12:08 pm

tncaver wrote:A lot of Cave Chat members post their NSS numbers along with their bio. Will the posting of their NSS number pose a greater threat that someone will be able to access an online member manual?

No, because we would probably not use the NSS number as the userID for exactly that reason. Most similar online member directories or member-only access areas of web sites use the member's email address as the login ID and a randomy generated password for the initial login, then make the user choose a secure password of their own.

tncaver wrote:If hackers can hack current online member forums, isn't it possible they could gain access to an online members manual if they already have a name and NSS number provided by Cave Chat? Just asking.

Again, the NSS number would not be used for login info, but of course anything is possible when it comes to hackers. However, the info in question (name, address, telephone number, email address) is would be only what you have already approved for publication in the MM. That' not really sensitive info, and for most people it is already available on the Internet in some form. Also, if you don't want your info published, you already have the option to be omitted from the paper MM, and you would similarly be omitted from the online version upon request.

One advantage of the electronic version would be that you could update or change you information yourself, as needed, and you could have it omitted (or a portion omitted, such as the phone number) yourself by choosing what information you wish to have displayed (sort of like you do on sites like Facebook.) You would actually have more control over your information than you do at present with the paper MM.

Another advantage is that MM info would be available from anywhere you have web access - wifi hotspots, smart phones and PDAs, etc. So you would not have to carry a print copy when traveling.

It also resolves the age-old issue of "state by state sort" vs. "alphabetical by name sort". We presently alternate formats each year, but an electronic listing can be sorted or searched any way you like.
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Re: There Won’t Be a 2011 NSS Members Manual and Here’s Why

Postby Bill Putnam » Jun 16, 2011 12:17 pm

Phil Winkler wrote:How is burning a MM to a PDF on a cd sent to a member publishing electronically? I think good pdfs can't be copied as data. That is their point.

How would the user IDS/passwords for a secure site be maintained? Automatically or humanly?
If banks can't secure their sites I have little confidence that we could.

Computer-readable media are considered electronic form.

Locked PDFs can be cracked and redistributed. Security is relative, and depends on the sensitivity and value of the information to be protected.

Banks do in fact operate secure sites. Some get compromised, but it is very rare. It's just that there are so many of them. The amazing thing is that they are as secure as they are. But that's not the point! What is so sensitive about the member info in the MM? Nothing!

People who do not want to be listed would not be, just as those who do not want to be listed in the print MM are not.

There are off-the shelf solutions for secure web sites with password protected areas. Maintenance of user login info is automated. Password are stored only in encrypted form using one-way encryption and cannot be decrypted, even by administrators. Surely we all have used such web sites. There are many off the shelf solutions being used to managed data far more valuable and sensitive than the NSS Members Manual.

I repeat: If we remove the ban and try this, anyone who does not want to participate can and should opt out. That will just make the searches run faster for the rest of us. ;-)
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Re: There Won’t Be a 2011 NSS Members Manual and Here’s Why

Postby Phil Winkler » Jun 16, 2011 1:08 pm

Bill, good answers. Thanks.

As for hacking our data the appeal here is the potential for stealing aggregate information of highly qualified leads. I know it's a stretch to think on our speleo dealers would do this, but, hey, maybe a Petzyl counterfeiter would!

Still, your logic and the cost savings for the NSS are strong arguments for doing this.
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Re: There Won’t Be a 2011 NSS Members Manual and Here’s Why

Postby wyandottecaver » Jun 16, 2011 4:43 pm

I'd like to know who on the BOG is opposing it......

The IN Cave Survey maintains an online database of our cave locations, maps, landowner info, and scanned versions of most of the IN caving publications going back decades. The cost to the Survey is nominal. Can a hacker get in if they wanted? sure. Just like they could probably hack the NSS Office computers if they wanted.

The MM has data that is probably available commercially, (the gov buys it all the time, trust me) and the simple fact is that its both unlikely to get hacked, and if it does, then the data they get isn't going to be that unique.

The main benefit of a PDF MM isn't even the cost. Its how EASY it is to actually use by the members to find folks.
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Re: There Won’t Be a 2011 NSS Members Manual and Here’s Why

Postby Bill Putnam » Jun 16, 2011 5:11 pm

wyandottecaver wrote:I'd like to know who on the BOG is opposing it......

Your pal Bill Liebman, for one. He sponsored the motion that created the ban in 2009, I think, and is apparently still concerned about electronic publication in any form. Concerns have also been raised by Jay Clark and Carol Tiderman, but their concern was that we not stop publishing the print version and replace it with an electronic version. I haven't suggested that we do so at this time, though I expect that eventually we may have to consider that as a cost-saving measure ($20K per year).

Right now all I an trying to do is get the prohibition removed, because neither I nor anyone else in the IT group is going to waste time researching and developing ways to do something the BOG has forbidden. I'm viewing this matter primarily as a way to increase services to members and add value to NSS membership, rather than as a way to reduce costs.

wyandottecaver wrote:The main benefit of a PDF MM isn't even the cost. Its how EASY it is to actually use by the members to find folks.

Exactly. And I'd love to have an NSS Member App for Android and iPhone users that would include an interactive MM, access to Cavechat and the web site, and access to other NSS publications as well. But right now we are not allowed to do any of that.
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Re: There Won’t Be a 2011 NSS Members Manual and Here’s Why

Postby Wm Shrewsbury » Jun 16, 2011 6:09 pm

Bill Putnam wrote:...He sponsored the motion that created the ban in 2009, I think,...

Peri made the motion. Not to speak for her now, but from my memory, it was due to the concern that our membership's information not be distributed in a format that would allow marketers to deluge us. I agree that either a PDF or better look-up system is valuable. With the advent of smart phones (Peri now owns an IPhone) it would be easy to carry around the member's manual with you and just click on their number. My Android any my wife's Iphone both automatically highlights phone numbers and emails, making both means of communication much easier looking up an address.

Bill Putnam wrote:And I'd love to have an NSS Member App for Android and iPhone users that would include an interactive MM, access to Cavechat and the web site, and access to other NSS publications as well. But right now we are not allowed to do any of that.

Our CaveChat Administrator, David Grimes, has been working on many fronts over the last few months. One of them has been writing IPhone and Android apps for CaveChat. Please don't start emailing him about when it will be ready - let's let him work. An app for membership look-up would be nice down the road as well once we have worked out the logistics of the database design.
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Re: There Won’t Be a 2011 NSS Members Manual and Here’s Why

Postby agosnell » Jun 19, 2011 2:29 pm

I know a lot of cavers that down own a computer. So how is the CD gonna help them?
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Re: There Won’t Be a 2011 NSS Members Manual and Here’s Why

Postby Bill Putnam » Jun 19, 2011 4:37 pm

agosnell wrote:I know a lot of cavers that down own a computer. So how is the CD gonna help them?

It's not. That's why we are still producing the print version.
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Re: There Won’t Be a 2011 NSS Members Manual and Here’s Why

Postby NZcaver » Jun 19, 2011 6:27 pm

But... how can you be a caver without owning a computer? :question: I don't understand. :cavechat: :tonguecheek: :laughing:
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Re: There Won’t Be a 2011 NSS Members Manual and Here’s Why

Postby Scott Shaw » Jun 19, 2011 9:00 pm

I'm sorry, but seriously, the whole "I know a lot of cavers that don't own a computer" thing is kind of hard to fathom. 10-15 years ago, OK, I could see that. But today - 2011? Not getting it. Like it or not, the world today pretty much requires you to be connected, somehow. You know, the 6-o'clock news is 12+ hours behind most times.

Hate to rant, but as a former newsletter editor for two different grottos, and former ACS Cave Files Director, that excuse was the cause of many a headache when it came down to a discussion about saving $$ by publishing electronically.

I like printed items as much as the next guy, but I can print my own, as could most of those who voice against it.

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