COMMON's 50th anniversary meeting will be held in Orlando this coming May, but despite having volunteered as speakers and in other capacities at every conference since 1988, this time we won't be there.
There are many reasons for this, one of them of course being financial, but in the end the financial aspects were secondary, merely the catalyst that caused us to re-examine our involvement with the organization. We first wrote about the planned changes at COMMON back in May of this year and have been wrestling with the situation ever since.
Had it not been for the need to examine our participation from a financial perspective, we would probably have continued on autopilot, delivering sessions along with our other volunteer duties, as we've done every time a COMMON conference rolled around. Being forced to think about whether we could afford to do that next year also caused us to think about why we were doing it in the first place and whether the time, money and energy we've been donating to COMMON represent the best way for us to help the community.
This weekend we found ourselves at the moment of truth, wrestling with the decision to either accept or decline our sessions that had been selected for the spring conference. We concluded that we still wanted to support the idea of COMMON, but increasingly it became apparent that the COMMON we wanted to support was an idealized organization that existed only in our minds. We had hoped the old COMMON could return and we worked with many other volunteers to make that a reality, but for whatever reasons COMMON's direction seems to be set. For the time being we'll remain members of COMMON and hope that things will change.
This doesn't mean we'll be giving up working with and for the IBM i community. We plan instead to take the time, energy and money we would have spent participating in the Orlando COMMON conference and steer it toward other IBM i community efforts. We haven't made any final decisions on that, but we're looking at our options.
For example, there are many wonderful local IBM i User Groups that still work hard for members and are struggling because they don't have cash reserves to carry them through the rough economic times like these. Because we support their efforts, we've always given User Groups a discount off of our standard rates. As a first step in our new approach, we've further reduced our rates for LUGs that we've worked with regularly over the years. Obviously, we can't afford to spend all of our time doing work for little or no pay, but we do now have a few days we won't be donating to COMMON.
We'll also be working more with the Young i Professionals. Now there's an energetic group that's doing really useful things for the community! And you can stop giggling--we know we don't qualify as "young," but we're both proud to be considered honorary members of the group and intend to do more with it in the future. We also hope to do more in terms of providing online resources through our own Web site and through System i Developer.
We also intend to put some of the cash that a trip to COMMON in 2010 would have cost us to work supporting the iManifest efforts here in North America. This is one of the efforts we had hoped COMMON might use its influence and position to support, so it seems an appropriate alternative use for the money.
We can't tell you how sad it makes us to be writing this. We firmly believe in the concept of User Groups, and feel that a national-level user group has a major role to play. We hope things may change and if so, we look forward to returning some day in the future to an organization more like the COMMON that exists in our minds.To the many, many friends we have made at COMMON over the years: THANK YOU. Hopefully we'll find ways to meet and work together again in the future.