of the American Society for Information Science and Technology       Vol. 27, No. 3       February/March 2001


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Inaugural Address

New ASIST President Offers Challenges and Plans for 2001

Editor's Note: In our continuing coverage of the 2000 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, we present the Inaugural Address of President Joseph A. Busch, who accepted his appointment at the ASIST 2000 Annual Business Meeting.

by Joseph A. Busch

T he Information Society that people my age talked about in the 70s is no longer a vision. We live in unprecedented times, when the change from a manufacturing to a services or knowledge economy is well established. Put simply, information about things how to make them, how to use them and their significance is as important as the things themselves.

This transition from a culture of atoms to a culture of bits has an inertia that is following and sometimes exceeding the steep trajectory of Moore's Law. In 1965, Gordon Moore observed that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year since the integrated circuit was invented. This feat of engineering continues to be accomplished. Digital storage capacity is now doubling at a faster rate every nine months. The speed of transmitting packets of data is ramping up quickly as optical fiber technology is rapidly being deployed. We live in a time when the vision of Vannevar Bush Memex, an easily accessible, individually configurable storehouse of knowledge is possibly within reach.

3000 years of information science and technology:
Transition from a culture of atoms to a culture of bits.

Click here for larger view

Click here for larger view

In the year 2000, the American Society for Information Science changed its name by adding "and Technology" to it. We did this to expand the reach of our information science society in response to these dramatic advances in technology. This change is an important opportunity for us to take advantage of the new value being placed on information science and related information technology applications. This is a time for us to reaffirm and build on the core values of our Society theory, research, applications and service.

The year 2000 was a successful one for the society. Thanks to the hard work of Past President Eugene Garfield ( garfield@codex.cis.upenn.edu), the Board (board@asis.org), our Headquarters staff (asis@asis.org) and many volunteers, the Society executed numerous activities:

  • A well-planned, well-attended and, thus, profitable Annual Meeting
  • An exciting and profitable Summit on Information Architecture that was energized by a new and diverse audience of Web developers
  • A new contract with John Wiley & Sons the publisher of our journal, JASIST which includes the addition of a new JASIST e-format

Membership was up. Headquarters trimmed staff and moved to less expensive office space. All of these accomplishments contributed to an improved financial basis from which we can build for the future.

In 2001, our change of name (but not our soul) provides us an opportunity to revise our mission and goals, to focus on making sure that we are providing unique member services that meet important member needs and to change the ways we market the Society. At the last Board meeting, we adopted a new mission and vision for ASIST. The updated mission of the Society is

To advance the information sciences and related technology by providing

  • focus,
  • opportunity and
  • support

The updated vision for ASIST is

Establish a new information professionalism in a world where information is of central importance to personal, social, political and economic progress.

  • Advance knowledge about creation, properties and use.
  • Provide analysis of ideas, practices and technologies.
  • Value theory, research, applications and services.
  • Nurture new perspectives, interests and ideas
  • Increase public awareness of benefits to society

In 2001 ASIST must focus on what we do well, take advantage of the opportunity to exploit the membership's interests and activities and build effective services to support the practices of each and every member.


Producing and publishing scholarly and practical content that defines and sets the standard for the field of information science is one of the activities that ASIST does exceptionally well. Our journal, JASIS, and the annual review, ARIST, are regarded as the best information science publicationClick here for larger viewClick here for larger views available. We must strive to maintain the depth and breadth of coverage in these publications, improve their timeliness and increase awareness of and subscriptions to these critical content resources. But we also need to find ways to enhance our applied research offerings, including the Perspectives sections of the Journal and the Bulletin articles, as well as summary papers in the Proceedings, and new in-depth publications. Re-branding and expanding member services at asis.org to reflect our name change is very important, as is adding easy-to-find content to make asis.org the primary Web destination for members as well as anyone seeking to learn about information science and related technology.


ASIST is the interdisciplinary destination for researchers and practitioners. It is the place to meet people from universities and research institutes, government agencies, NGOs, corporations and the information business. ASIST is one big information science and related technology interest group. It is also a collection of many communities of interest, including interest areas such as bibliometrics, bioinformatics, classification research, digital libraries, information architecture, information retrieval and knowledge management. Our summits and workshops, SIGs and listservs provide meeting spaces where participants can be surprised and delighted, can learn about technical developments and practical applications that can provide insights and can help them solve problems both in their research and in their practice. ASIST must enhance and expand and manage these meeting spaces to keep up with the evolving interests of information professionals so that communities of interest can mature into communities of practice.


ASIST must deliver a package of relevant services that engage and provide real value for the members. Once a year, nearly a quarter of the ASIST membership gathers for the Annual Meeting. This is not just an exercise in scholarship, but the forum (literally) where much of the Society's business gets conducted. Some 10% of the members are active volunteers who participate in the planning and execution of the ASIST program or contribute in many other ways such as presenters, authors, referees and sponsors. This annual forum is where personal professional associations are formed that can be the defining relationships of our careers. ASIST strives to replicate this opportunity for professional development regionally through its chapters. Supporting the information professional diaspora is one of the greatest challenges we face. Aggressively expanding corporate and institutional memberships; providing career services such as Jobline and recruiting on the Web; developing mechanisms to support virtual governance, such as mailing lists and expanded committee membership to involve more members; and revitalizing liaisons to related groups are several steps that the 2001 Board with the assistance of Headquarters staff is undertaking.

2001 Objectives Coordinate and Communicate

ASIST is well positioned organizationally and financially. What we need to do in 2001 is take advantage of what we do well, to coordinate these products and services, and communicate effectively with our members and others who are interested in information science and related technology.

Coordinate content and context. As in most organizations, ASIST content resources exist as independent entities. They are "content silos." For example, the topics of in-depth review chapters in ARIST are not the same topics covered in high-level summary articles in the Bulletin. Likewise, policy and practical topics that are the subjects of Bulletin articles are not the same as those covered in ARIST or JASIST. Aligning our content channels and meeting programs, and building explicit and implicit linkages between our content products so that we serve the needs and interest levels of all ASIST members, is a very high priority. In 2001, ASIST will begin to re-architect its information infrastructure and Web presence in order to provide enhanced products and member services. In 2001, ASIST will work on building a business plan and "meeting machine" that can support many summits and workshops, as well as provide centralized services to SIGs and chapters to help them build and manage their communities of interest. In 2001 ASIST will work on building relationships to support a scalable digital library to make our current and legacy content easily Web accessible.

Build community . One of the greatest strengths of ASIST is its membership and their interests. We have organized an expanded Membership Committee chaired by Steve Hardin (libhard@isugw.indstate.edu) which has an ambitious agenda to advise and assist the Board and Headquarters in expanding membership and enhancing membership services. In 2001, we will focus on developing new leadership by identifying and mentoring member volunteers. In 2001, we will provide members-only services on asis.org, including personal access to your directory information. In 2001, we will work on developing a marketing plan that will include re-branding the organization to reflect the name change, focus on identifying what services and benefits are desired by our members, and begin to implement a targeted marketing campaign to corporations, institutions and other high value audiences. In 2001, we will work on developing an understanding of how to transform communities of interest into communities of practice.

I hope you share my excitement and enthusiasm about the new ASIST. Please contact me with your suggestions and comments. It is 2001 and we have a lot of work to do! Best wishes for a great year.

Joseph A. Busch
President, American Society for Information Science and Technology

Joseph Busch is the current president of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. He is also VP Infoware at MetaCode, where he can be reached by mail at 139 Townsend St., Suite 100, San Francisco, CA 94107-1946; by telephone at 415/222-0100; or by e-mail at jbusch@interwoven.com

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