Will SoTA soon be defunct?

dezcom's picture

I recently received my membership renewal from SoTA. It is hard to support a phantom organization.
Has SoTA ceased to exist? It seems they do nothing anymore. Other than the wonderful Ampersands for Haiti project, they seem to be in a coma. Last year, the somewhat ho-hum TypeCon program was barely posted before the event and this year is no better. By now, everyone should know who the speakers are and what the conference will cost. A Professional organization should be run, well, professionally.

It takes a lot to get me to bitch on a public forum but sometimes only the squeaky wheel gets oiled.

Chris

typerror's picture

You go girl!

blank's picture

Was there even a call for submissions for Typecon 2010?

nina's picture

I feel a bit bad to complain after the wonderful Haiti project; but I'd appreciate some reasonably timely information about TypeCon too. For those considering to fly in from further away, it might not be easy to deal with spontaneous/late information. (And I didn't see a call for submissions either.)

jshen's picture

SoTA is far from defunct, and we've been working hard to make this the best TypeCon ever. Granted managing the Haiti project took a lot of the board's time, but it was worth it. Watch your in boxes in the next week. There will be worthy news about TypeCon and calls for papers.

dezcom's picture

Delegation is a wonderful management tool.

William Berkson's picture

The schedule of events and speakers last time was made public so near the time of the conference that I'm sure the attendance was reduced by the lateness of the notices.

It also gave the impression of SoTA not having its act together.

I really enjoyed the conference, though, as I have every one I've gone to.

Si_Daniels's picture

SoTA has always had web site troubles - late opening of registration etc., So I would share Chis' concerns if this wasn't the same every year. They still seem to pull off a good conference even in troubling economic times.

I think it's really a case of having volunteers running the site who also have day jobs. Personally seeing the work put in by Michelle on the Haiti project and being hit up continuously (okay twice) for sponsorship by Jimmy-G SoTA seems to be as active as ever.

MichellePerham's picture

I'm also a board member. There is a lot going on behind the scenes. I actually spent part of my afternoon proofreading email blasts that are scheduled to go out next week. The call for submissions and venue information was included in these.

The conference itself is being held a little later than normal this year. It will be held a the end of August in Los Angeles, California. We're really excited about the location. LA has a great design community and so many good schools. We're working hard to re-vamp the education forum and to make this the best conference ever.

At the end of January, the Font Aid project distracted us quite a bit. We made an effort to put the project together quickly. We still plan to post the PDF speciman book to Lulu.com for people to print-on-demand.

Now that the Font Aid project is wrapping up, we're more focused on conference logistics and we plan to get more details to everyone very soon. We appreciate people being patient. The board members are all volunteers with busy day jobs, but we all care very much about SoTA and Typecon and want to see the organization thrive for many years to come.

Michelle

Si_Daniels's picture

>Delegation is a wonderful management tool.

Reminds me of the scene in the homeless shelter in the classic movie Scrooged...

Claire - fire these people!
Fire them?
They're volunteers. They're here out of kindness.
Because no one will PAY them!
It's Christmas Eve.
They're like this every day, I guarantee it!

So as Bill Murray would say "SoTA - They're like this every day, I guarantee it!"

dezcom's picture

"Personally seeing the work put in by Michelle on the Haiti project"

As I said before, this was a sterling effort showing what SoTA CAN do.

I still am convinced that TypeCons prior to last year were much better publicized and sooner publicized than Atlanta and this year so far.
I am sure they can make a liar out of me for this this year and I hope that they do!

Chris

russellm's picture

Delegation? Never heard of it.

Sounds something like MS Project.

:o)

Nick Shinn's picture

TypeCon is always a little late getting going, but it always comes through!

Bear in mind the degree to which the local community is involved.
That keeps things fresh each year, although it would no doubt be more efficient to trot out a standard package.

[I was a SOTA board member for several years, and one of the local organizers of TypeCon 2002 in Toronto.]

I have my speaker submission ready...

Grant Hutchinson's picture

This year, I am one of the n00b members of the SoTA board.

I absolutely agree with the comments that communication and timeliness have been areas where SoTA has needed to improve. This year will mark my eighth TypeCon. From my own experience, any delay which prevents getting important information out to the community can often be a source of frustration.

Speaking of delegation, one of my goals as a board member is to increase the number and the quality of these communications, particularly related to email blasts. We will be getting more information out to the community much faster and on a more regular basis as we move forward. I am dedicating a fair amount of my time specifically to this task.

I would also like to echo Juliet and Michelle’s statements that SoTA is actively working on several TypeCon-related announcements and updates. The general call for speakers (along with a call for the education forum) will be posted and delivered within the next week or so.

Naturally, any additional suggestions are always welcome.

(Thanks for squeaking Chris.)

Grant

MichellePerham's picture

And though the official call for speakers hasn't gone out, the program is already being discussed. Each year we make an effort to find interesting speakers in the local community. LA is providing us with countless interesting possibilities. Sometimes speakers approach us and sometimes we approach them. We've had several people already approach us this year who are well known in the Typographic community, but who have never spoken at Typecon. We're excited to have fresh faces on the program, but I don't think we can announce any names yet. I know that's a tease, but I don't want to make announcements until proposals are approved and people are 100% committed.

We're also putting together some great panel discussions including one Juliet is working on about post-graduate Typographic education in the US.

Feedback on our previous conferences is always welcome. After each conference we spend many hours discussing the conference, what worked and what didn't. As far as content we try to keep a delicate balance between history and technology, academia and industry. We're always curious how people feel about this balance and how we can improve.

Michelle

david h's picture

> LA is providing us....

Louisiana? Los Angeles?....

dezcom's picture

Bravo, Grant!

MichellePerham's picture

Los Angeles

pgariepy's picture

Hi Michelle, I hope its not too late in August to interfere with the start of the fall semester. I would like to volunteer again. The Buffalo conference was great. I couldn't make it to Atlanta. Looking forward to improvements to the education forum. Tell Michael Clark I'll drive him to California and be his assistant if he will do a workshop.

Best regards,
Peter Gariepy

Si_Daniels's picture

>I hope its not too late in August to interfere with the start of the fall semester.

Details... http://www.typecon.com/

TypeCon2010 announced for Los Angeles
Sunday, July 19 1:28 pm by tamye
SOTA is super excited to be bringing TypeCon2010 to the great city of Los Angeles. Conference hotel and headquarters is the Century Plaza Hyatt Regency. Mark your calendars for August 17-22, 2010!

MichellePerham's picture

Peter, we'd love to have you involved again. I'll talk to you offline about the details. Hopefully it will work with your schedule.

dezcom's picture

Thanks, Si! I see there has been a burst of activity!

Chris Dean's picture

Suggestion for TypeCon: Waive the conference fee for graduate students who are presenting in exchange for their chairing sessions.

Regarding fee's, if you go to TypeCon's 2008 site you can see conference fees range from $125 – $375 USD depending on your status, including a $50 half day pass (a nice touch).

Nick Shinn's picture

Too much formalization of quid pro quo bogs things down: the technique is, just volunteer and don't register :-)

MichellePerham's picture

Each year we have about 20 students who volunteer at the conference in exchange for free admission. Usually these are local students, but we sometimes have out-of-town students and a few professionals. It's a lot of work, but a great experience. We generally require that volunteers commit to 3 days of volunteering. The main conference sessions always start on Friday and we generally need the most volunteer help on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before that. I've been the volunteer coordinator for the last 3 years. We formalized the process a bit last year and required volunteers to submit an application. I haven't updated the application for Typecon 2010, but hope to get it out soon. With students, it's sometimes hard to pin them down too far in advance.

For students who aren't able to volunteer, we offer discounted rates. In the next week, we'll also be announcing a new student award that we're really excited about.

david h's picture

> Los Angeles

Wowww. So... maybe... this is going to be my... first time :)

Ale Paul's picture

Chris, are you going? I m planning to attend this year!

dezcom's picture

Yes, Ale, I will be there! Hope to see you again!

joeclark's picture

Based on these posts, the bottleneck seems to be the outdated (also dangerous and standards-noncompliant) practice of “E-mail blasts.” Can’t you just run a blog, with updates every now and then saying “We’re not dead. We’ve got a big announcement coming up,” then run the big announcement? RSS (and the twit’s RSS, Twitter) will get the word out.

Essentially, nobody’s asking you to typeset a brochure in InDesign just to tell us what’s coming up in the next conference. This seems to be the comparable level of pluperfection that is holding you back.

Grant Hutchinson's picture

Believe it or don‘t, not everyone will actively bookmark and read a blog on a regular basis. Nor will they subscribe to RSS feeds or actively engage via Twitter or Facebook. Yes, we should be more regularly ‘vocal’ through these other avenues (as described) … I’m not dismissing that at all. It’s just that email remains the single most reliable (and common) method of distributing (read: broadcasting) information in digital form.

The society has thousands of individuals signed up to receive information via their inbox (with more being added each week). We would be remiss to ignore this particularly powerful venue of communication. However, I promise that we will be spreading the word through Facebook and Twitter and other social channels. Honest.

Grant Hutchinson's picture

Oh, and here’s a teaser of some of the conference identity that Corey Holms has been working on for us. The typeface is the solid Heroic Condensed family by Silas Dilworth.

dezcom's picture

Looks like a Towering Smash so far, Grant! :-)

Grant Hutchinson's picture

Boom, baby.

dberlow's picture

Big Badda Baby Babel Boom!

John Hudson's picture

It's ironic, given the conference title, that I'm proposing to talk about something other than multilingual type design for the first time in over a decade.

Si_Daniels's picture

> I'm proposing to talk about something other than multilingual type design

Coming down from your ivory TOWER? :-)

Thomas Phinney's picture

All the pre-TypeCon stuff that the public sees is often pretty late, nothing new or shocking here. No big change in the organization or impending downfall needs to be predicted. It's still five months before the conference, as well.

Last year's TypeCon was poorly attended, it's true, but I always assumed that was mostly due to the economy, and perhaps secondarily due to being in Atlanta in summer.

.00's picture

Another reason for the poor attendance might be not knowing anything about the conference in a timely manner to decide to make the necessary arrangements to get there.

dezcom's picture

James, I heard a lot of comments along those lines myself. Hopefully, this year will be better.

david h's picture

> I heard a lot of comments along those lines

Whose Line Is It Anyway? :)

hrant's picture

Deep down, everybody knows LA is going to rule.

hhp

Tomi from Suomi's picture

I personally wait for Dublin; I used to live there. And Montjoy Square: I lived a block away. In 1990 two dealers were shoot dead by the gardá, and during St Patrick's day someone got kneekapped there.

That was in the early '90s. Since then that place has changed incredibelly: houses on blocks rebuilt and everything. I just hope the spirit of Barrytown and the Commitments still lives on…

Chris Dean's picture

Did S{o}TA just lose their domain?

http://www.typesociety.org/

MichellePerham's picture

We just renewed it last month. We're looking into the problem.

.00's picture

My problem from the beginning with Sota is that it tries to make it's Typecon conference be all things to all people. And it fails.

Everyone who registers for a Typecon conference sight unseen, without knowing who is speaking is essentially enabling a dysfunctional organization. If that continues, it will never change.

Just my opinion.

hrant's picture

You leave no room for faith?

hhp

John Hudson's picture

James: My problem from the beginning with Sota is that it tries to make it's Typecon conference be all things to all people. And it fails.

I think that would have been a fair criticism of the first TypeCon I attended, in Minneapolis (and the reason why I missed the next few). But I thought that last three were excellent and that the conference has found its own focus and balance.

blank's picture

My problem from the beginning with Sota is that it tries to make it's Typecon conference be all things to all people. And it fails.

Five days of nerds getting bombed and talking about type isn't a narrow enough demographic?

Thomas Phinney's picture

I think the problem comes in "be all things to all people" combined with a single track of programming, so if you're not interested in something, your other options are limited. At least during the main conference, anyway.

That being said, I think TypeCon is awesome and always look forward to attending. I was really bummed at missing the Buffalo conference due to family medical issues.

Cheers,

T

hrant's picture

A single track does have its good side though: belonging, immersion. Something BTW that was especially evident at the ATypI conference in Mexico City, due to that amazing cocoon of a presentation hall. And at the original TypeCon in 1998, it really became like some kind of family bonding experience!

hhp

eliason's picture

I love the single track.

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