Ad Hoc Computer On Line Committee

September 25, 1997

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Meetings were held by the committee from 12:30-1:45 and 4:00-6:00. Attendees included members of the Ad Hoc Committee, LMSC webmasters, and Nancy Miller, chair of our sponsoring committee.

The first order of business was to recommend to the planning committee a course of action for the future of our ad hoc committee. Four options were considered:

  • Dissolve the committee and create a single webmaster position, similar to the SWIM Editor.
  • Create a new Computer On Line standing committee.
  • Place the responsibilities for the web site under an existing standing committee
  • Create a new standing Communications Committee which would be responsible for communications in all media, including the web site and our SWIM magazine editor.

The consensus of the committee was to draft legislation to be submitted through the Planning Committee to create a new standing Computer On Line Committee. Committee members expressed concern over a single webmaster position that some oversight to the webmaster's activities and direction are needed and that the job may be too large for a single person. No existing standing committee could be identified whose charter covered the breadth of the responsibilities of the Computer On Line Committee. Finally, it was felt that a new Communications Committee could be objectionable to other standing committees who feel responsible for all of their communications goals, and that the Computer On Line Committee serves more than just communications goals - for example, services rendered to other standing committees such as on line member registration and national event registration.

The mission of the Computer On Line committee was discussed, with the following areas of responsibility defined:

  • Provide direction for the webmaster in terms of identifying future projects and relative priority of projects.
  • Provide ideas for on line services that could be useful to the other standing committees.
  • Provide support and technical implementation of on line project ideas brought forth by other standing committees.
  • Investigate the use of future on line technology as it becomes available.
  • Provide resources for LMSC's on how to go on line with their own web sites.
  • Define and provide standards for on line implementation for the USMS site and for LMSC's.
  • Provide access methods to LMSC and local club web pages.

Web Site Access Statistics: Packages showing web site access statistics for the USMS site and the Pacific Masters site were distributed and discussed. While these statistics can not be 100% reliable due to caching schemes of web browsers and servers, a summary of the access statistics for the USMS site follows: Approximately 200 people view the USMS "home" page per day. Approximately 48% of our visitors are using the latest Netscape version 3.0 or 4.0, and 26% are using Microsoft's Internet Explorer version 3.0 or 4.0. The most popular sections of our web site continue to be the results of our national championships, the calendar of events, the places to swim pages, and the training articles. The traffic to these sections is much greater than the traffic to any other portions of the web site.

E-Mail Aliases: There are currently 292 personal E-Mail aliases set up for members representing 47 LMSC's. 28 of our national officers and committee chairs have E-Mail aliases set up. 139 LMSC officers from 32 LMSC's have E-Maili aliases for their LMSC office. We are actively seeking out LMSC officers from the remaining 21 LMSC's to be represented in this fashion.

LMSC Web Sites: Thirty of our LMSC's currently have their own web sites on the Internet. A new feature also exists on the USMS site that in effect provides a simple web site for all LMSC's. This can be found at http://www.usms.org/lmscinfo.php. A simple URL leading to each LMSC's information in this area will be developed so that the LMSC can advertise this as their web site. The desire to create an LMSC web site attached to the USMS site such as www.usms.org/lmscname was expressed again this year. This topic was researched as part of our search for a new service provider to host our web site this year. Unfortunately, none of the suppliers contacted could provide an economical solution that would meet our requirements of name linkage to the USMS site and a separate password for the LMSC site.

LMSC Officer Listings: There are currently three areas of the USMS site where LMSC officers are listed. Each LMSC's Chairman and Registrar's name, address, phone number, and E-Mail address is listed in a link off the LMSC map in the Places to Swim section. In the administration section, there is a list of E-Mail addresses for "masters leaders", which includes LMSC officers. Also, a searchable list of LMSC officers E-Mail aliases can be found for each LMSC or each office across all LMSC's at http://www.usms.org/usmsdirsearch.php. Jim has received the complete LMSC officer listing that appears in the LMSC handbook from Bill and Diane Black, and we would like to use this data to unify the three lists that we currently show on the web site. After discussion, we decided that we will keep the address and phone number of the Chairman and Registrar's on the new list, but will only list the names and known E-Mail aliases for other LMSC officers by default (if requested, full details for other officers will be shown). This was decided in order to protect the privacy of the LMSC officers.

Mindspring Affinity Agreement: Our affinity marketing agreement with Mindspring is now in place. With this agreement, USMS receives a 20 MB web site and three dialup accounts for free (a value of $2170.20 per year). In addition, USMS will receive a $10 affinity payment per member that signs up for Mindspring dialup services through USMS. In exchange for this, we have agreed to name Mindspring as our Internet Services provider of choice and to promote their services to our membership. In order for this agreement to stay in place, USMS must provide Mindspring with 100 new subscribers in the next 6 months. Signup sheets for individual Mindspring accounts will be distributed to the House of Delegates, who will be encouraged to promote this program in their LMSC. Since Mindspring is a nationwide provider with over 200 points of presence across the country, most of the USMS membership should be able to find a local dialup number in their area.

Places to Swim: The latest addition to the USMS web site is the complete contents of the Places to Swim publication. This data is provided via an on line searchable database, where visitors can search for a place to swim by LMSC, city, or state, or any combination of the three. Included with the on line version is the ability to add, modify, or delete any of the places to swim listings via on line forms. These forms are mailed to Tracy Grilli for verification and database updates (currently sent to Jim Matysek until we get the tools transferred to Tracy). The database that was developed for this information will be turned over to Tracy Grilli for maintenance, and includes tools so that she can create the version needed for the web with a push of a button. We will also show Tracy how to upload the data to the USMS web site to provide for continuous updates to the data, and a print format will be added to the database so that new versions of the printed publication can be generated easily. Please note: the existing Places to Swim publication did not list the LMSC that each entry was associated with, so this information had to be researched and entered by hand. There may be some errors in LMSC association for some places to swim. We ask that LMSC representatives check their listings and submit updates where necessary. The Places to Swim data is currently only accessible through the LMSC info page at http://www.usms.org/lmscinfo.php, but will be added directly to the Places to Swim section of the web site very soon.

On Line Registration and National Event Registration: This committee will research the feasibility of providing on line member registration and national championship registration in the coming year. Some thought has already been put in to these areas, and it appears that they are technically viable, but there are some procedural and organizational obstacles that need to be overcome. Both of these areas have two needs that we must resolve: the need for a signed waiver from the individual and the need for payment. We will check with our Insurance representatives and Legal Counsel to see if a web form that shows the required waiver and requires the user to click on an "I accept the terms of this waiver" button to continue is acceptable (this route is used commonly to enforce licensing agreements for on line software purchases). The payment issue is more involved. In order to ensure payment via the Internet, USMS must set up a credit card vendor ID and account with a bank. There is a charge associated with credit card payments, and we need to decide where that charge will be taken from. Also, we need to work out the procedures for providing payment back from USMS (who takes the credit card payment) to the LMSC for registration or to the meet host for national championship registration. The assumption is that once the credit card information is verified through an Internet payment service, the information received for the member registration or national entry will be transmitted to the LMSC registrar or meet host via E-Mail for normal processing. The area of web commerce holds a lot of promise for the future of USMS, but has many issues to explore before we jump into it. These issues will be actively worked over the next year.

Report submitted by Jim Matysek, chairman.

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