TEI: Agenda for TEI Board Conference Call: Tuesday, July 14, 2009, 1400 GMT

Daniel O’Donnell


Contact information for the teleconference is available in the following email on the tei-board mailing list: [tei-board] Conference Space information. If you have forgotten your tei-board archive password, you can find instructions on how to get a reminder in our Procedures, Customs, and Practices Document.


Chair’s Report

As I have done previously this year, I have tried to report on my activities as chair since our last meeting by email to the Board List as they have arisen. But some highlights:

  • Tite-Mellon Grant: Since our last teleconference, the Tite-Mellon committee has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP), received the resulting bids, and formulated a shortlist. The second stage of the competition, in which finalists are asked to encode specific representative sample texts, finalise the details of their bids, and demonstrate their project management systems, begins on Monday July 13, 2009 (one week behind schedule).

    The first round of the competition went very well. We received a total of 12 submissions, with a number of other companies expressing more general interest in our membership as a market (including a few not in the Keying/OCR business but rather other aspects such as scanning). Most of the bids we received were viable within one or more of our parameters for price, management structure, and range of material. With some difficulty, we were able to draw up a short-list of vendors who seem likely to be able to meet our preferences. It now seems quite likely that we will receive a bid from one or more vendors that will allow us to proceed with the benefit at a price that will make the benefit attractive to potential members and with a structure and covering a range of material that matches our needs as an organisation.

    The process is still on-time for an announcement (should the programme prove viable) at our November meeting–and certainly for the close of the grant on Dec. 31, 2009.

  • Outreach: The TEI is currently engaged in answering two requests for information.

    • A request for participation by a contractor from the EU in a survey on the future direction of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) within the EU.
    • A public Request for Information (RFI) from NASA regarding the digitization of the Werner von Braun archive.

    LR and DO are in the process of collecting information for a response to the EU survey. James Cummings and DO are coordinating a response to the NASA RFI from the TEI and (potentially select interested members). The NASA contacts for the RFI have not responded to two requests for basic information about the archive, however (e.g. size and type of material), so we may also abandon this.

    Other activity include requests to DO to attend workshops in Oslo and (with LB) Russia this coming fall. In both cases funding is being taken care of by the hosts.

  • Education SIG journal proposal: After the board approved the Education SIGs proposal for a journal, there was some back-and-forthing about formats, some of which (involving TEI and CMS systems) was on tei-l. James Cummings and LR are being cc’d on the correspondence involving this project, and I’m happy that they are proceeding in the right technical direction.
  • Shopping Cart and Credit Cards: I was supposed to have a budgetted proposal ready for this meeting for the implementation of the shopping cart system approved in principle by the Board last teleconference. Delays in getting information from the Bank of America about merchant accounts (getting on five weeks) are holding this up. The situation is beginning to become desparate, however, since we need to set up the shopping cart immediately for conference registration purposes. If we cannot get an answer out of the Bank of America within the week, I believe we may need to find an alternate solution.
  • Per Diems: After much discussion of per diems on the Board list, we left the issue unresolved. There was some discussion about whether VL and SS could put together a formulation based on their experience with European agencies.
  • Vault: I was asked last Board meeting to keep an eye on the progress of discussions about the migration of the Vault to Virginia. The main block here–except for inertia–is a new council interest in using the archive for permanent URIs of guidelines versions. James Cummings and David Sewell have almost completed a proposal on this, which turned out to be more complicated than was initially thought. I hope we will be in a state to move further on this this coming quarter.
  • Real time updates of membership lists: I was asked with VL and CR to investigate real time or cronjob updating list of members from member database as part of migration to shopping cart software. Since the Shopping cart software is behind schedule, I have not done anything on this.
  • Polling Membership on increasing size of board: This is still on my to-do list.
  • Upcoming action: Among upcoming actions, I hope to mail out service appreciation letters to members of council, the board, and our committees. I first proposed this last year but was unable to act on it in 2008.

Conference Committee Report

The conference committee is busy finalising the programme for the conference. The committee finished vetting submissions for posters and papers last week, with acceptances going out on Friday July 10. We have a strong slate that looks like it will produce a full programme of parallel sessions.

The committee experimented this year with putting out a Request for Proposals for pre-conference workshops. Three proposals were received, of which two were ultimately withdrawn for financial or time reasons. We will be having a full day pre-conference workshop from the Philologic group at the University of Chicago. In addition, there will be a muti-day pre-conference meeting/workshop organised by the Ontologies SIG. Still finalising workshop(s) but looks like it will be philologic (with perhaps second run by Syd). There is also a {{two}} day workshop planned by the Ontologies SIG.

We have now implemented the late registration fee as discussed on TEI-Board.

The conference planning committee is behind on sponsorship requests. It is planning to focus on catching up in this area at its meeting this coming Wednesday.


[The nominations committee (Malte Rehbein, JF, and CW) announced the slate of nominations on TEI-Board. See also the agenda item].


From TEI-Board:

Veronika informed me this morning that two of the $5000 members have resigned. That represents roughly 10% of our revenue. I will not have time to go over all of the numbers throughly to see if there is any indication of “silent” resignations (simply not paying without formally resigning), but we should all be thinking about how to cut expenses. I will know more after I have a chance to go over the numbers more thoroughly, but I suspect the real pain will come in next year’s budget. We came into the year with a small reserve.

I worry that next year will also present an additional decrease in revenue. American universities are being hit very hard. The University of California cut salaries by 10%. UVa has not cut salaries or laid off anyone, but if things get any worse, we will be approaching such measures. When institutions are faced with losing staff, non- essentials such as membership in TEI go first.

Per diems

The relevant threads start hereherehere, and here. At the conclusion of our discussion, we had decided that my proposals were too complicated, but there seemed to be a general consensus that this was worth pursuing. I had suggested that VL and SS might want to develop a proposal based on their experience, but no decision was taken as to further action.

Election Slate

We need to decide about the immediate issues raised by Christian in his email, particularly the question of what an adequate slate looks like in relation to the number of vacancies (and how to go about ensuring that we have such a slate).

Host RFPs

Article VI.3 of the Bylaws indicates that hosts must be renewed every four years:

Thereafter, the Board of Directors shall select a minimum of four TEI-C Hosts, using a public Request for Proposals process. Hosts may be re-appointed for second and subsequent terms, but they must participate in the RFP process.

In our description of the responsibilities of the Host positions, we further note:

Hosts typically serve for four years at a time, with renewal cycles in 2009, 2013, and so on. A call for hosts is sent out at each renewal point, when the existing hosts decide whether they wish to continue their role.

2009 is a “renewal points” for Brown, Oxford, Nancy, and Virginia. We need as a board to decide what we would like to do. The two most obvious choices are:

  • asking the hosts if they would agree to an extension of our current agreements for another year while we work on questions regarding the structure and focus of the board (and discover the impact of the current economic climate on our finances)
  • proposing a new RFP asking for hosts willing to commit to a new four year term carrying out specific functions.

Host Representative Vacancy

In January of this year, the Hosts agreed after some discussionto leave the representative seat vacated by Sebastian Rahtz temporarily vacant. In the course of discussions then and in recent weeks, it has become clear that there are several by-law issues at stake:

  • The maximum allowable number of members of the Board (Article IV.1, sentence 1)
  • An injunction that the host representative positions must be filled by (normal or special) election “[i]n the event that the appointive option of any of the Hosts or the original sponsoring societies is not exercised” (Article IV.1 sentence 4).
  • An injunction that the number of elected and appointed members of the Board must be “as nearly equal to the other class as possible” (Article IV.2)

Given that adding a new host representative would have brought us over our maximum of nine members, it is not unreasonable that we have left this position unfilled thus far this year. Assuming we are able to resolve the issue of the maximum number of Board members, we do need to decide on a course of action for filling this vacancy, no later than the next regular election (i.e. November 2009).

Council Report

After the council face to face meeting that took place at the end of march in Lyon, most of the activities of the council have focused on finalising source forge entries to produce the June release. The concil has also tackled some core discussions related to its connection to SIGs and special customisations (e.g. Tite). Moreover a workshop proposal has been submitted to ESF to find funding for a special brainstorming meeting on the possible evolutions of the TEI framework.

Approach to re-examining the structure and activities of the Board

We have noted several times over the course of this year, in relation to a variety of issues, that we may want to consider reviewing the activities and structure of the Board (and, possibly, the length of term for council members). Issues that have touched on this include discussions of:

  • The future role and responsibilities of Hosts
  • The balance of elected and appointed members of the Board
  • Questions of finance (particularly administrative inefficiencies)
  • Difficulty recruiting candidates for the Board
  • The visibility of the Board and its activities.

To this might be added a general pattern of increasing difficulty in finding suitable meeting times (see figure 1) and the likelihood that financial difficulties caused by the current recession will require active and vigorous activity on the part of the Board.

These issues are larger than we can deal with in a single meeting. Hopefully we can use this time to decide on a course of action, with a goal of having recommendations ready for the incoming Board in 2010.