A row over the future of the British Computer Society (BCS) is heating up ahead of a crunch emergency general meeting that will debate a no-confidence motion against the chief exec and current board of trustees. Disaffected members are angry about the governance and spending plans of the venerable society's current leadership, …
Since joining BCS, I've started to question it's vale for money, in terms of it's recognition within the industry. This in-fighting has put the nail in the coffin that I won't be renewing next year.
I dont think I will be renewing this year either - its become quite a sideline really - they arent as much of a power (or even respected) as they used to be.
What power ?
I've been a member since I was a student some 14 (?) years ago, and to be honest each year I wonder why I let my auto-renew continue. I think it has only been down to the possibility I may actually make a branch meeting as some of those do sound interesting.
As to power in the industry and respect, I've never known it to have any and those few friends of mine in IT who still want to be a member of a professional body are all in IEEE instead.
This spat has highlighted to me two groups at the top with which I find myself at odds, so I will not be voting as I support neither and perhaps I may remember in time to stop my auto-renewal and resign my membership.
I've been a member too for some time and agree with others that all this in-fighting has really put me off continuing to be a member. To be honest I'm not particularly interested so won't be voting. I do attend most events in my branch and on the whole they are interesting and worth attending. Apart from that I can't honestly say that I find the fee good value and if anything it is quite expensive.
The wrong tone
Sadly, I think the complaints made by the 'disaffected members' on the bcsreform web site contain as many statements that read like paranoid conspiracy as they do valid points. They talk about suspicion of suppressed information and then later talk about it as if it were proven fact, and describe people actively working to hinder certain activities that reminds me all too much of the oh-so-mysterious X-Files 'smoking man'. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean you're wrong but the tone alone makes it look like it's built on a shaky foundation and they present no actual evidence to we, the voting members, except for the collective weight of the signatories' credentials.
I find it remarkable that for a series of motions which includes a no confidence motion in the Trustees, the Trustees are allowed to "recommend" to the membership how to vote - i.e. to keep them in power. And then to make these votes effectively the default by presenting a "quick vote" option which votes against the no confidence motions, and in favour of the confidence motions! Talk about conflict of interests!
As a member who has half a brain, and doesn't like being told what to do, they succeeded in getting me to vote in favour of the no confidence motion, rather than abstaining. And given how little value I've had out of my membership, and the fact that they moved the CITP goalposts a month before I was going to be eligible to apply, I hope the incumbents get booted out.
Insignificant and irrelevant organisation. Zero industry recognition. Unfortunately for the BCS IT is a fast moving world-wide subject with world-wide forums and standards - if they want to make the society 'relevant' then make it international and bring it up-to-date. I fear it is still run like a cross between a hobby group and a university.
Have to agree.....
I've been a CITP for many years, and in all the job interviews I've ever attended, the BCS has never once been mentioned by the interviewer.
Having sat on both sides of the interview process, I have to agree.
BCS membership has never been of interest, even when it is mentioned on a condidate's CV. Interviewers that are worth a damn don't give a hoot about paper qualifications and membership of associations. Experience and approach. Do you know what to do and do you know how to do it?
they owned up to being about IT and not the wider field of computing at all.
..and change the goalposts too
One of the amendments that the Trustees want to wave through with this vote is to change the numbers needed to call an EGM from 50 to 2% of the membership so they hope they won't be bothered again
i.e. my votes have gone against the current Trustees
Does anyone remember "The Institution of Electrical Engineers"
The BCS seems to be going the way of the IEE. While the IEE as was might have been a bit fusty, it was a learned body.
During the great rebranding exercise that turned the IEE into the IET it appeared that the IEE first opened up the membership categories so that one could be a member of the IEE without being MIEE. There was thus a new polity which allowed the IEE to be diluted from a learned society into a membership services organisation. The words baby and bathwater spring to mind.
Separately, if Chartered Engineer ever did have any meaning, the Institutions and the Council allowed that meaning to be further diluted.
Somewhere in all of this James Dyson would have something relevant to say.
boring, irrelevant, expensive
I was a member for a year, and I found little of real interest happening, little of relevance to any of the IT stuff I was doing (development and sysadmin), and quite costly as you also had to join the sub-groups and pay for various activities.
Admittedly that was a few years ago, but nothing I've read since has persuaded me that the BCS has a real purpose.
If you simply want to hang out with geeks, join a linux user group!
I attended a lecture on professionalism by Sparrow the other month in Reading.
She was very keen to draw a distinction between plumbers and doctors, and asserted that 'we BSC members working in IT' were all doctors, with the strong implication that we were better for it.
I'd say being a plumber, and belonging to a trade body is a pretty good model. I wonder what the 'mere mortals' organisation might be for workers in computing.
I wasn't too impressed with what the IEE when it merged with the lower grade technicians institution.
The IEE was known through out the world, and the name told you exactly what engineering discipline it's members were in.
Merging with an organisation with lower grade technicians in my eyes was a dilution of the organisation and lumping us professional graduate level engineers with people with non grads. Ok, to some of the readers on here, that may seem a bit snobby.
But we professional graduate engineers have suffered for literally decades with low status, little regard by other professions, little recognition, merging us with a bunch of technicans from manufacturing industry I didn't think helped that.
One of they key justifications was that by merging the new body, the iET would have much a much larger membership and significantly increased influence in society, in government, promoting our interests, a bigger voice.
I'm not convinced this has happened, I'm not convinced that the British Government is more willing to listen to us now than before.
I've looked at the career and qualifications of the president of the BCS, and she hasn't done much in the way of techy work, and her qualifications don't really lend themselves to a really good through understanding of computers in a way someone with a degree in computer science or a degree in electronics can.
But then, is being a techy or ex-techy good qualifications for the leader? I personally, would feel more comfortable if the leadership had a more technical basis and I could feel they understood what is *I* actually do. I'd have liked them to have done some software development, some testing, to write a bit of embedded code, to run a software development project. But I just don't get the feeling she has done any of that.
President's background - explains a lot
A few years ago I was involved in the BCS discussions on what qualifications and experience were necessary to become a CITP. Most of the participants were people who could "talk the talk" but had no interest in the technical side, didn't see any point in knowing about it and most importantly had no respect for it. I've no idea how the discussions ended - I was a lone voice and I'd got work to do.
I joined the BCS about 25 years ago when IT almost turned professional and it was becoming necessary to the a C Eng (this was before CITP) to sign off design specs for some companies. I've remained a member as being an engineer does carry some status in Mainland Europe.
"Where's the IT angle" icon - well we are talking about the BCS.
Hardly a President
The President's background (like that of the CEO) is insulting to the BCS. Look at LinkedIn
or other internet sources.
Coming from a secretarial background, the highest debatable role she had in some government department was that of a Project Manager in the IT department. This frequently gets massaged by BCS PR into IT Director and occasionally CIO (by the President herself).
Having been unemployed for the past 9 years, how are we allowing this organisation to be run by someone of that background. How can someone who is completely out of touch with the industry be representing the FUTURE of the BCS?
I'm pleased to see someone else has already mentioned the abysmal "transformation" which has happened to the IEE (a learned society whose journals and activities and publications had some relevance to my industry and could have had some relevance to my Continuing Professional Development if my employers could spell CPD) since it became the IET.
The IET is, as far as I can tell, these days just the publisher of a design-award-winning (?) glossy magazine which could almost be mistaken for a Sunday supplement were it not for (1) the ongoing quantity of National Instruments coverage, (2) the fact it's once a month rather than once a week. Not sure the IET does anything else of note these days, which is a *real* shame. (No I don't have the time and inclination to go out there and "help" them improve matters either thank you).
Time for EurIng to be taken seriously, perhaps?
Various of the managers at an allegedly high-tech place I know well are FIET or FBCS or whatever. "Clueless" and "incompetent" are some of the more polite words I've heard to describe these folks, referring to both their technical knowledge and their management skills, so one wonders what the professional institution selection criteria are these days. It's a shame because there are one or two other people I know with similar badges that actually are well worth it.
One of the B Ark folks I'm thinking of was in charge of a major IT upgrade traincrash<<<<<<<<programme and was involved in a discussion on alternatives to traditional desktop PCs (quite sensibly, at first), for this organisation which has sites in various parts of the UK, and elsewhere. "Let's centralise", said PHB. "What about the network costs?" said techies. "We don't worry about costs, we'll save so much more on <whatever>" said PHB. "What about the latencies?" said techies. "We'll have a zero-latency network" said PHB. I know one of the big companies used to talk about the zero-latency enterprise but this was taking it a bit far...
Agree with the posts regarding lack of relevance, as the sole member of the society in a organisation which is technically savvy I question why I bother to pay every year. I disagree with the rebranding as CITP, employees aren't interested - indeed most roles in my world (and they are v. technical) don't require degrees just experience. The BCS should be highlighting the perils of the creation of large databases storing personal information and how to make the tech improve life in the UK for all citizens etc.
Voted against the trustees, renewal depends on result.
The Society has aspired
And it still aspires. And that's its problem. It isn't a professional trade body, and no one gives a shit about it.
If you can't manage that with 40+ years and a royal charter, you should probably give up and fuck off. I mean seriously, if I were them I wouldn't be calling attention to that charter at all, because the BCS have utterly failed in the 26 years they've had it to live up to any of the responsibilities made incumbent upon them by it. http://www.bcs.org/server.php?show=conMediaFile.372 [PDF]
Might I suggest that the cube jockeys and plug monkeys band together and form the Amalgamated Software Systems Hardware and Associated Trades union/umbrella group/trade body/coopertaive - delete so as to suit your particular favourite flavour of collectivism or acronymic punchline.
The revolt is no surprise
The BCS seems to me to have given up being a society which is to do with computing (science and technology) as opposed to one to do with expertise in office politics. Over the last couple of decades it has consistently refused (I mean "refused", not just "failed") to take a position on issues of data safety and have provided no useful input to our political masters or to civil servants on issues like NHS IT, the national identity register, the SCR, and so on probably because many of those at the top of the society haven't a clue about such abtruse technical questions. I decided not to upgrade my M to F back then, because each of the IEE and the IMA was more worthy of my subscription, and still see nothing that suggests to me that FBCS is a useful qualification or has any prospect of ever being one. Unfortunately the IEE has become the IET, and now seems to be heading for where the BCS has been heading for a long time: towards being a member services business run for profit instead of a charitable learned society. It's sad. I'm not sure I can be bothered to try to do anything about though, for either society. Thank heavens the IMA isn't going that way yet, at least one of my professional bodies is still a learned society (although the change of the F membership grade from something that had a significantly higher entry bar than other grades to something that all professional members can apparently choose to have if they want it may be a first step on the wrong path).
CEO and Deputy CEO in cahoots?
Has anyone twigged that the CEO's current pal (maybe his only one!) - namely the deputy CEO -
comes is the ex-MD of the company that did the BCS rebranding exercise - UffindellWest : http://www.uffindellgroup.com/
Did he join BCS before or after he left? Does that mean that there was a tender process? And how much has been paid to this former company of the deputy CEO?
No wonder the EGM callers want open and transparent financial information.
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