That said, we fully understand that Tech Talk has been a valuable, and well-used resource by those AHA members taking advantage of it's function.
And still is a valuable resource to those 2500 members reading it every day
1. Tech Talk costs a disproportionate amount of capital, and more importantly time vs. the forum.
Jake, the 2500 members reading TechTalk do not view the forum as an equivalent. And it's not because they don't know better.
They like having a condensed, organized beer/brewing only digest delivered by email.
The forum has more participation,
TechTalk has more participation than many features provided by the AHA. Should all resources used by a minority of members lose their support?
strikes a more egalitarian form of dissemination,
How is the forum more egalitarian? Any member can post to the forum or TechTalk.
and has the ability to evolve with user interaction and new technology.
Yes, as does TechTalk as demonstrated by those using their phone to read and reply. It's an email digest, we're not talking about chiseling runes onto a rock.
Tech Talk is a media avenue that is being phased out in most areas of retail, marketing, social interaction, and online communication. In other words, if not ended now, it would surely end within the coming years as more robust forms of online media are developed and users become more educated.
Please tell this to those people at ConstantContact so I can stop getting all their messages in my inbox
There is a smaller but active participant group with Tech Talk now, but trends in internet marketing and communication point to this audience being in fast decline, and altogether becoming a drastically marginalized demographic. In business parlance: When does an asset become a liability, and when does an entity assess the risk and loss in it's efforts related to said asset/liability? The AHA would be remiss to not make proactive decisions in regards to use of member funds, and serving a growing majority vs.a diminishing minority. I know, this sounds heartless and corporate, but these are the pains of growth. And to ignore good business practice in place of allowing our hearts to guide us would surely be a mistake. The heart must inform the mind, but the mind must make logical decisions. Sometimes, they are inexorably at conflict...such is life.
When is this point reached? When 2500 members of a 20,000 member association are using the resource? The costs involved in TechTalk could be lowered, as many people have pointed out in TechTalk responses. But even still, at this 15K figure, TechTalk is easily covered by the dues paid by the 2500 readers.
Where is this line drawn? At what point does a group of members no longer matter?
2. Secondary to this is the member usage, it is estimated that only about 2,500 people actually open the email vs. the over 15,000 (closer to 19,000 now) that are being sent out. At best (based on 15,000), this is 17% success/use rate. It should also be noted that not all 2500 that open the email respond, and/or even read it. This, by most estimations with email campaigns, is marginally successful. Also, we have seen explosive membership growth in the last year, and the overwhelming majority of these new members do not use Tech Talk. Therefore, the 17% will quickly diminish if the current membership trending holds true. The 2,500 will become a further minority due to a growing majority. This said, this minority segment is important, vital, and has all the same rights to consideration and support as the majority. So the question becomes: Does the AHA continue to spend a disproportionate amount of time and capital to serve this segment? Or, do we make efforts to replace their needs with something comparable and strike a better balance with the majority, knowing full well that there will be backlash and protest? We have chosen the latter, and I think it is a sound decision. Change is usually not welcomed, but it is the byproduct of growth and progression. If one wants a better service/advocacy, one must expect and accept a reasonable amount of change.
TechTalk is used by a far larger percentage of the membership base than many other services/features. Should we cut everything used by less than a majority of members? The 'only 2500 members use it' line of reasoning does not work as long as the AHA devotes resources to features used by less than 2500.
3. The Forum is a robust and quality resource which serves almost exactly the same function of Tech Talk. I use this forum myself, and find it to be one of the better online resources for Homebrewing currently available on the internet.
The Forum also serves almost exactly the same function as Zymurgy. Articles could be posted including pictures, and links to multi-media presentations that a magazine simply can't do.
Should we get rid of Zymurgy? After all $35 out of every yearly membership goes to the magazine - talk about disproportionate amount of time and capital (masthead, Zymurgy Vol. 33 #4 'memberships are $38, $44 international and include a $35 subscription to Zymurgy)
At Northern Brewer, we have had a forum for many years, and it has been enormously successful. Never have we considered an email format such as Tech Talk, because of the labor vs. gains, minority audience, and most importantly the fact that there are more robust and effective avenues such as forums, social media avenues, and especially video.
I love Northern Brewer, a wonderful retailer providing great service to the Homebrew community. If 2500 Northern Brewer customers were asking for a daily email would one be sent?
Likewise, the AHA must start thinking and working toward developing new, better means of serving it's members. Better discounts, increased resources through the website, increased efforts to protect homebrewers' rights and interests on State and Federal levels, providing more events and avenues for homebrewers to connect and create communities, and exploring new media that can better serve the homebrewing community at large and AHA members.
Seriously, that sounds great. Should we assume that if any of those benefits would cost 75 cents per year per member that the AHA will not pursue them? We are after all dropping a valued resource who's cost is 15,000 divided by 20,000 members, to make room for these efforts.
Reformatting TechTalk with labor usage, or the structure of the content would only solve one of the factors which is time/capital. And, this effect would be finite as the minority user demographic shrinks, the capital/labor equation eventually does not "add up" once again. We'd be right back where we are now.
The capital/labor equation doesn't add up when fighting for homebrew legalization either. Should we not fight in those remaining states because it would only serve a minority of members?
This is the tipping point for me. We, as a culture need to start thinking more proactively, rather then reactionary. If we do not re-align our way of thinking about how to manage this community, hobby, industry, and culture we will surely see an end to "Golden Age" of homebrewing we are currently in. Historical data would suggest that the higher the numbers climb, the larger the valley will be. If we do not take an analytical, and sometimes brutally honest look at what we are doing, we shall not be able to create sustainable models to stabilize our current prosperity.
Proactive and reactionary reside in the eye of the beholder. The TechTalkphiles see the 'voluntary redundancy' of TechTalk as a reactionary move taken to promote the forum.
And I'd say that when a movement falls from a peak, it's often because it loses track of what it was originally built to do. Such as cutting off a knowledge disseminating resource used by it's members, when one of the main goals of that organization is disseminating knowledge.
It is the AHA's responsibility to be the guardians of Homebrewing's health and direction. Taking on that responsibility means making tough decisions, and not always being able to please everyone. Those disappointed, aggravated, and those who would take their protest in the form of obstaining from renewing their memberships have EVERY RIGHT to feel the way they feel. We can only ask to consider the criteria which has been given, and join us in making this transition. This should not be perceived as a line in the sand, but rather an opportunity to asses where the AHA has been, and where it shall go in serving all of it's members in the most democratically feasible way.
Thanks Jake, I don't doubt the work that went into this decision by you and the others. I know you are trying to do what is best, and I hope the clear message being sent out by those that want TechTalk to stay is considered.