Sadly, I did not go to SXSW (mom, that’s not “S-W-S-W” but South by Southwest). But I may as well have been there based on how many times I’ve seen it mentioned online over the past week. Sigh…maybe next year.
At any rate, one of the thousands of SXSW things that flowed through either my Twitter stream or Facebook news feed caught my association eye–the announcement of a new Council on Ethical Blogging and Aggregation, a “committee aiming to establish standards for (content) aggregation.” Cool, I thought–I always like seeing associations get media coverage and the article was in the New York Times. But wait…the article goes on to state that the council is a self-organized effort, not the purview of an association:
“[The organizer of the council, Ad Age Editor at Large Simon Dumenco] compares his effort to the editorial rules promulgated by the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME), which have come to shape how magazines distinguish editorial from advertising. It’s an imperfect system with a fair number of outliers, but over time the magazine group devised guidelines that had significant influence and at least set standards that people could argue about”
Is it just me or does this seem like either a missed opportunity or a failure on behalf of ASME? Granted, it’s not like the effort is necessarily a great one–while this council is purporting to establish standards for bloggers, no actual bloggers (who are not also magazine editors) are involved, and some are criticizing the entire venture as unnecessary and worthless. Yet, to me, this self-organized “trade group” effort smacks of the larger issue of the relevance and sustainability of the association model.
What does does it say about associations when members organize their own committees or councils independent of the association? Or is this nothing new and nothing to worry about?