Mark Baker, commenting on my post about STC and its future, asked me a question:
Larry, I have to ask why you think it is so important that the STC survive per se? Is it because it performs some vital function that will cease to exist if STC folds? Or is it sentimental attachment based on time sunk into it, long time association, and long standing friendships?
I’ve pondered that question for a while.
Yes, STC has been good to me. But that’s not the only reason I want it to succeed.
Of course part of the answer, for me, is sentiment. My experience with STC has been extremely rewarding. I don’t keep up with friends from high school or college, but some of my STC friendships are going strong after 20 or 30 years. In STC, I feel an incredibly strong sense of belonging. This is my tribe.
I understand, however, that most people don’t share that sentiment. And I know it’s not a reason for wanting STC to survive per se.
So is there, in Mark’s words, a vital function that STC provides? I think there are several — or at least there can be.
The role of a society
What’s the role of a professional society in a field where credentialling — that is, licensing — isn’t a legal prerequisite to participation?
Start with networking and information exchange. Several of the more recently formed communities, like LavaCon and Write the Docs, provide both of those. It’s because of that, I think, that people are questioning whether STC has become outmoded.
Yet a professional society ought to perform other functions as well: