Ellen might be on to something on the vendor/practitioner ratio here in Ning (practitioner right here). Certainly any vibrant community is going to need to have significant participation by practitioners to be viable. My intuition tells me this is easier for practitioners to be active participants (or consumers at least) with a "sanctioned" organization such as SCIP.
I think Arthur is right that a central organization like SCIP is going to be necessary if we are ever to proceed to any sort of legitimate certification of CI professionals (though I may be opening a can of worms there). What I hope the current financial situation will make apparent is the need to use new processes and technologies to reduce the costs of having such an organization (such as the cost of governance) and delivering greater member and community value at that lower cost.
Mark is right that there still is an important role for in-person conferences even in a Web 2.0 (and beyond) world. One of the ways to make that physical gathering valuable in our modern world is to break down the barriers between the physical and the virtual. I want people who for whatever reason cannot attend in person to join in the conversation in SOME way (podcast sessions, follow social postings a la Twitter, aggregate the RSS feeds of all of the presenters' blogs, etc.). Breaking down the real world/virtual world barrier will increase the value for all.
Another book every SCIP board member, staff member and active volunteer should be reading is Jeff Jarvis's "What Would Google Do?" He encourages us to ask what value we're really providing and what it is we're really selling. Companies can create surprising revenue streams and innovative business models by re-evaluating where the value they deliver really originates.
Just my $0.02 before I head out for a lunch meeting. I'm really enjoying reading the conversation here.
When SCIP put out an RFP with respect to building an electronic courseware for CI 101, my gut reaction was why? This community has the knowledge and can put the courseware in a wiki, along with other relevant resources such as ethics, pointers to key literature and news coverage of the space, legal rulings which affect us, and so on. With the future of SCIP itself being uncertain, I think there's more motivation to band together to build this sort of resource.
As you might imagine, I still think it's a no-brainer, killer idea! Would Traction be willing to donate some software to the effort? If so, let's just go ahead and do it - I'd certainly chip in what I know. Heck, we'd even be willing to donate the server space if that was an issue for you guys.
I'll bring the idea up with the folks here. We could do CI 101, ethics and literature as three key areas to cover.
We could consider a simple services directory as well, probably with nominal contribution fees which would serve to qualify vendors that manage a page in the directory, and help ensure that they keep it up to date.
Human Cost: While the administrative task is not hard, We'd need a few folks to act as "gardeners" of sorts. This wouldn't require anything close to the gardening task for Wikipedia, but would involve some oversight on the structure of the system, and some monitoring of user behavior.
Infrastructure Cost: Insofar as infrastructure, we manage sites in Amazon's cloud now and, so, its easiest to keep it there. There is a material cost to running a server, some of which we could absorb in "sponsor" terms but would be desirable (and fairer, across the board, I wouldn't want "traction software" to get an unfair share of visibility as certain other vendors get right now by virtue of services they offer via scip) to open up for other sponsors as discussed above.
Thanks Jordan - let me know how those internal discussions progress - I think there's still an opportunity to put something collaborative together but don't want to be a burden on your business either.