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Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
Michigan Chapter
January-April 1998 Report

by John M. Dwyer, chair, CPSRMICH

Introduction

The Michigan Chapter of CPSR is a virtual chapter, the first of its kind in CPSR. It came into existance in the summer of 1997 through the active support of Netiva Caftori, the Midwest Regional Director of CPSR who created a listserv; and through the continuing interest of several "electronic" CPSR members in Michigan. Since our members were spread diversely throughout the state, a physical chapter was deemed impossible. Our efforts went instead toward the formation of a virtual chapter.

Communications

Our electronic communication methods consist of

  1. A web site hosted by the Huron Valley Community Network (HVCN), at http://www.hvcn.org/info/cpsr.
  2. A listserv hosted by Northeastern Illinois University. Anyone can subscribe by sending a message to listproc@neiu.edu. The subject should be left blank. The body of the message should be "subscribe cpsrmich firstname lastname".

    Since CPSRMICH is a virtual chapter, subscribers are welcome from the entire world. We especially encourage by the "unchaptered" among CPSR'ers.

  3. An electronic conference hosted by HVCN at http://www.hvcn.org/cgi-bin/pw/bt/pistachio/confhome?conf=cpsr. You can reach the conference easily by going to the CPSRMICH Web page.) The conference is open to anyone. Those who only wish to read it may do so anonymously. Those who wish to contribute will need an account with HVCN. It is free and easy to obtain. Instructions for either are on the CPSRMICH website.

At the end of March, CPSR implemented an electronic notification service for its website to notify subscribers about changes made to the pages. In mid-April, Excite and LookSmart! picked up and indexed some of our web pages. We have requested Yahoo! to review and list our site.

Activities

Physical Meeting

Our first chapter meeting of the quarter was, in fact, a nonvirtual meeting. It took place in Ypsilanti at Eastern Michigan University on the afternoon of Saturday, January 10, 1998 (scheduled to allow travel time for our more distant members). Nathaniel Borenstein (Special Director of CPSR) gave a lively presentation of the then-current draft of the One Planet, One Net principles.

We received some media coverage, primarily from the Ann Arbor News, WEMU (Eastern Michigan's Public Radio Station), and Michigan Public Radio. Most of us were pleasantly surprised at the degree of public interest in issues of computer technology and the Internet. The twenty-some participants included many who were not members of our virtual chapter.

Nonvirtual Newsletter

In response to concerns about CPSR members without Web access or otherwise left out of CPSRMICH activities, we decided to write them a physical newsletter asking whether and how they want to fit in. This newsletter will be ready soon.

Virtual Decision Making

We have experimented with virtual decision-making. Questions arose such as "What is a virtual quorum"? and "Are those who have not responded via e-mail or in the conference being disenfranchized?" These questions have not been fully answered, but consensus was reached on the following.

  1. It was proposed that CPSRMICH obtain an organizational membership in Huron Valley Community Network (HVCN) both to support their mission and to express gratitude for their willingness to volunteer the time and equipment to host our website and conference. We reached a concensus in favor of the proposal.

    Another process that required virtual decision making was the selection of chapter officers. We decided to combine the offices of the secretariat and treasury and create an office of web administration. Some members felt that it would be symbolically appropriate for a virtual chapter to leave the office of chair vacant. Eventually, however, we achieved consensus on the decision to fill all offices.

    Media Contacts

    In mid-March, CPSRMICH members submitted a list of potential press contacts in Michigan.

    Political Action

    Some of us have sent email or snailmail messages to state and national representative about issues of concern, including the "No Electronic Theft Act" and "Digital Era Copyright Enhancement Act"

    A Possibility for Next Quarter

    Netiva Caftori has informed us that there are many "geographically challenged" CPSR'ers in the midwest and has asked if we would invite the "electronically advantaged" among them to participate in chapter activities. I suspect that CPSRMICH members will discuss this issue next quarter. As for myself, I would welcome members from across the Midwest, the nation, and the world. Perhaps part of our mission will be to provide a chapter home for those without one.

    John M. Dwyer, Chair, CPSRMICH


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    last updated: 25 June 1998