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SIOP Committee Report: Electronic Communications Committee

The SIOP ECC had two courses of action over the past three months. First, we continued and refined our previous work on the microsite. Second, we began coordinating with the SIOP Visibility Committee regarding an I-O Wikipedia entry. Each activity will be described in turn.
1.      Microsite: The SIOP Exchange
Our committee began work on an idea for a SIOP microsite in summer 2008. We submitted early plans for consideration by SIOP administrators and staff in fall 2008 (outlined in our previous report). More recently we have worked closely with Stephany Schings in SIOP administration to refine the microsite platform, proposed content, and processes for launching and maintaining the site.
Some preliminary decisions included the following. First, the site will have the “look and feel” of a blog. There will be invited and unsolicited commentary in two main venues, a shorter format (200-400 words) and a longer one (500-700 words). It was noted that abstracts for conference submissions are capped at 100 words, thus 400 to 700 words will allow for both concision as well as exposition. 
Second, there will be the capacity for RSS feeds from various feeder sites (e.g., APS, APA, Academy). Also, individuals will be able to post links to studies or white papers, similar to the old Personnel Psychology “Validity Exchange.” There is a possibility for future expansion into videos and other platforms not yet imagined.
The software suggested to support the microsite will be Typepad, which is relatively inexpensive (~$15/month) but highly flexible. Also, we believe this platform provides technical support as part of the subscription for the service.
We have also begun to collaborate with incoming SIOP President Kurt Kraiger regarding the site.
Finally, the ECC collaborated with SIOP administration to choose a name for the microsite. After heated debate, we decided upon The SIOP Exchange.
Our next steps for the Exchange include: working further with Kurt Kraiger to align strategically the Exchange alongside other SIOP media; developing a roster of initial contributors to “jump-start” the site; and preparing a demonstration version for presentation at the SIOP conference in New Orleans.
2. Wikipedia
It was brought to our attention by several parties that one (or more) individual(s) had made a posting on the Web-based free encyclopedia, Wikipedia, regarding I-O psychology. This posting was confusing and in many ways erroneous, so much so that the Wikipedia site editors had taken it down for poor content. The ECC was asked to cooperate with the Visibility Committee in rectifying this situation, not only because the site was woeful but also because comparable sites (e.g., the Academy of Management’s HRD “measures tool chest”) were clearly superior.
Acting together, we contacted four SIOP member text authors asking for assistance with content. (One of these authors also brought to our attention a woeful description of I-O on the Discovery Channel site.) One of these authors contacted his textbook editor, who has promised to provide us with materials for our use – though the exact content and timeline of these materials has been opaque. In the meantime, ECC and Visibility have developed some introductory material for inclusion on the Wikipedia site.
Future activities
The ECC will be busy over the next several months launching the Exchange. Activities will include demonstration, solicitation, light editing, marketing, member education, end-user technical support, and so on. Also we plan to work closely with the incoming SIOP President and SIOP administration to align all SIOP media within our purview with SIOP’s strategic communication goals.
ECC will also continue to work closely with the Visibility Committee, and any others, whose mandates may in part overlap with the ECC’s mandate.
Final Note
This report has been submitted in January 2009 by Ted Hayes on behalf of my outstanding committee associates, Zack Horn and Charles Handler. We started our committee’s activities last year working out ways to resuscitate the “electronic newsletter,” a publication that at least two of our committee members never even received! This brought to light the limitations of one-way (association to member) communication. The inception of the Exchange will, we believe, allow for true multi-directional communication – peer to peer, even public to peer. No one knows where this will lead us but we trust the intelligence and creativity of the membership. We note that a key reason given for attending the annual conference is to re-connect with old friends and make new ones. While the Exchange will never replace that, it’s the next best thing and will allow members to remain engaged with the field and its people at a level of interaction previously unavailable. My fellow committee members have been the right people for this job and their performance has been truly exceptional.