Viewpoint: Change

Gary Schnitz
Chair, Journal Management Board

Gary Schnitz photo

The word “change” has become very popular in the English language. The concept of change is commonly talked about, written about, and even sung about. In fact, a quick check of the iTunes Store® reveals nearly 4,500 songs, whose titles or song lyrics include the word “change.” We obviously like to hear about others, who may be dealing with change, even if it’s on the radio, er, ...I mean an iPod.

In one of his most famous protest songs from the mid-'60s, Bob Dylan once sang, “The Times They Are A-changin.” I think we all can forgive Mr. Dylan for his use of that weird, double subject here (“Times” and “They”). After all, poetic license and 1960’s song lyric emphasis should always trump our stuffy junior high grammar. However, Dylan’s words have now become a catchphrase of sorts out in the business world, with much emphasis placed on dealing with the changes occurring in the areas of product development, manufacturing, sales, marketing, and customer service.

Dylan’s lyrics also mention, “...writers and critics” (perhaps also to be included here would be JBC Viewpoint authors, administrators, producers, audiovisual coordinators, media team leaders, photographers, and illustrators), “who prophesize with your pen” (and ink?) “...and keep your eyes wide ...for the wheel’s still in spin.” It appears at least from this songwriter that change is always ongoing and ever-present, perhaps never reaching an actual final destination.

Recently, we also have heard U.S. political candidates recently speak of change, often incorporating the word “change” into their actual campaign slogans, signage, banners, and even coffee mugs. Certainly for them and their supporters, a leadership change is a very good thing.

Changes also often occur within our associations’ management and leadership teams. This is the time of year when our associations’ leaders, including their officers, councils, and committees, elect new people to work for our associations and to represent our memberships. These volunteers are the engines that keep our associations going.

Our professional organizations may face other changes as they struggle to provide cost-effective services and important member benefits. Our association web sites have become portals for information that just a few short years ago had been printed and mailed (in what I call the dead-tree method of communication). Our association sites now have links to our annual meeting websites, wonderfully incorporating meeting and hotel registration functions. We now have electronic dues payment functionality, CEU tracking, Fellow point totals, and access to the AMI ListServ, BCATalk, and other bulletin board functions. I think that we would all agree that this transition to online functionality has been good.

Our association annual meeting teams are faced with change as well, as ever-increasing costs and budget constraints need to be factored into our meeting equations. Our program committees attempt to provide informative speakers and add overall value for the registrants, balancing all this with overall meeting costs. A specific meeting event or tradition that was effective and worthwhile just a couple of years ago, may now have become simply too expensive to continue. Sometimes this type of change is not easy to accept. Changes in our meeting city locations, hotel venues, meeting types, and our memberships’ own ideas may necessitate some forward-thinking and new approaches by our Meeting Committees and Planning Councils. Without question, these individuals and committees have worked tirelessly for us all, and we wish them continued success.

Our memberships often are required to balance their need for professional continuing education with other more immediate necessities, such as the purchase of camera equipment, computer hardware and software, professional dues, individual marketing costs, leisure time activities, and other individual or family necessities (like gasoline). Some members have elected to attend a meeting every other year because of their tighter personal budgets.

A recent graduate commented to me about her dilemma of whether to attend her annual meeting this year or purchase Adobe® CS3, as she could not financially do both. She also was struggling with changes as she transitioned from school to the working world. As much as I would have liked for her to attend our annual meeting, the choice was clear. She needed to do what would enhance her immediate wage-earning ability and promote success. Attending the meeting could have disrupted her student loan repayments. Attending the meeting might have deprived her of Photoshop-related income for the near future. Certainly, it was more important for this individual to establish her business, even if this meant staying home this past July... which, by the way, she did.

Our Journal of Biocommunication also experiences change. Perhaps our biggest change came when we transitioned from the printed version to our online format. In retrospect (and 15 online issues later), this change has been good for both our readers and for our Journal. Change is ongoing for your Journal and the Management Board, as we now have one less association represented in our 34-year-old publishing consortium. However, we continue to look for other biocommunication groups to join our group and share in the successful institution that we all call the JBC.

We are constantly striving to provide a valuable professional product for our subscribers in the midst of all their own changes.

Change is inevitable; might as well embrace it.

Gary Schnitz

Copyright 2008, The Journal of Biocommunication, All Rights Reserved
Table of Contents for VOLUME 34, NUMBER 2