Thursday, April 23, 2015

Announcing my Write-In Campaign for the Executive Committee of ACM SIGGRAPH

draft / please feel free to make comments, suggest annotations, etc.

It is with some nervousness that I announce my candidacy for the Executive Committee of ACM SIGGRAPH as “Member at Large”.

A “member at large” is one who has a vote but has no particular responsibility besides participating int he discussion and voting on the issues. I would not want the responsibility of being Treasurer, for example, or President.

So there are three things to discuss: why I am running, what I would do if elected and finally the mechanics of being allowed to run for office. The third issue, how to get nominated, is the least interesting, but of critical importance. I want to discuss this first, and then get into the more complicated matters of why and what I would I do.

To run for the board of SIGGRAPH, one must stand for election and be voted in by the entire membership. But, in order to stand for election one must either be nominated by a nominating committee or one must run a write-in campaign and get a certain number of signatures from members of national SIGGRAPH. The number of signatures required is 1% of the current national membership which translates to between 90 and 100 people. 100 to be safe as usually in these matters a few signatures will be disallowed for one reason or another.

I first attended national SIGGRAPH in 1980, but I had been attending local SIGGRAPH since 1978 or so

Obviously, running a write-in campaign is a hassle, why not just be nominated by the Committee? Good question. The answer is that I tried but they failed to nominate me. I had a very pleasant and informative meeting with the Committee which I found quite entertaining but it did not result in my nomination. I may have given the Committee some reason to believe that I would work in support of issues that they did not think were appropriate for SIGGRAPH to be concerned about, such as the collapse of computer animation production employment in this country and its failure to be provide substantial employment outside of the Entertainment industries.

But even if it turned out that my ideas were not appropriate and practical, I think it is of great importance that we discuss these issues and see to it that we can do what we are allowed to do. At the very least, SIGGRAPH can acknowledge that there is a problem instead of blissfully ignoring it and enticing people into a field where they will not be able to work. Which has been their policy for over a decade. Archaeology can make it clear what the odds are of a budding archaeologist to work in that field, Computer Animation can as well.
There is also some belief out there that SIGGRAPH only wants educators to be on the Executive Committee, which, if true, is a very bad idea on their part and certainly needs to be discussed with the membership. The strength of SIGGRAPH was always interdisciplinary and serving the interests of any one or two groups would be contrary to the spirit that made SIGGRAPH the phenomenon that it once was and which it is not any longer.

Whatever their reasons may be, SIGGRAPH allows for nominations of another sort. In this second path to nomination, one must collect the signatures of 1 percent of the eligible members of national SIGGRAPH. I believe that translates to roughly 90 or 100 signatures. If one gets those signatures in a proper format then one can run for election. One still has to be elected by the general membership of course.  This just gets you on the ballot.  

I will discuss in future posts why I believe I am qualified and why I bring a legitimate point of view to the board of SIGGRAPH. But at the very least, should I be elected, I will write about what decisions SIGGRAPH makes and why in a form that may be of interest to those of us who are not educators per se. Thus, at the very least, I think I will provide a useful service should I be elected.

And so I am asking my friends and colleagues to find me at SIGGRAPH in LA this year and, if you are a member, sign a petition to allow me to run for election. If it were possible to put up some sort of notice at your place of work or anyplace else you think that SIGGRAPH members might be, that would also be helpful. Or if you are not attending this year, but are a member, and you want to help, contact me and we can make arrangements for you to sign a petition without having to track me down on site.

Even if I get the appropriate signatures, and even if I am elected, I am chronically underfunded and I may have to make special arrangements to actually serve on the board. But I won't worry too much about that now nor should you. If I am elected, I am sure I can scrounge something up for airfare and hotel or whatever else this activity will cost.

I want to leave you with the thought that we once believed that SIGGRAPH was very important in creating this revolution and that we owe it to the organization and its history to try and make it as good as it can be in the circumstances of the tragedy of its simultaneous great success and failure which is the situation that we have today.

Thank you.

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