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Looking back at 28 years of IFSR Newsletters
Johannes Kepler University, Linz, Austria
Systems Science builds on interdependence which in turn needs communication of humans. In 1980 the time had ripened for the creation of an international umbrella society for connecting different Systems Research activities. This resulted in the IFSR, the International Federation for Systems Research, founded in March 1980 by the (then only) 3 systems-oriented societies, the Society for General Systems Research (SGSR, since 1988 'International Society for the Systems Sciences' (ISSS ), the Austrian Society for Cybernetics Studies (OSGK), and the Systeem Groep Nederlande (SGN). These societies were headed by 3 far-sighted persons: George Klir, Robert Trappl, and Gerard de Zeeuw(see –>Newsletter 1-1)
At that time the primary medium for international communication between the members of societies were newsletters. Soon, in autumn 1981, the "IFSR Newsletter" was created and printed in 4000 copies to be distributed to the members of the IFSR member societies and other interested individuals. Newsletters were published 2 to 4 times a year and throughout the years reflected the activities of the IFSR, its member societies and the system community at large. (See: ’Good Bye IFSR! IFSR Newsletter vol 35, (2018) no.1, pp3-7).
Within time, with the growth of the Systems field and the IFSR, the Newsletters also changed. Some of the milestones of the 28 years of the IFSR Newsletter's existence respond to the growth of the Systems community and also to changes in technology:
- By 1986 the IFSR already had 12 members which increased to 45 members in 2018 and continued to grow. Copies of the Newsletters were sent as bulk mail to individual members societies for distribution to their members.
- Initially the Calender of Events on the last page of the Newsletters was one of the key contributions to the systems community. It listed relevant conferences/meetings. Although it only appeared at most 4 times a year, and thus often introduced a 3-month delay for the announcements. The information was still of relevance and highly appreciated.
- Initially the Newsletters type-set and printed via a printing office near Linz. Figures (even black and white!) needed a special treatment and were rather costly.
- When I was nominated Professor at Johannes Kepler University in Linz in 1992, I was also took over the position of Secretary General of the IFSR and of Editor-in-Chief of the Newsletter and could forthwith build on the excellent work of my predecessors.
- In order to reduce mailing costs Gordon Rowland, Ithaca University, printed the bulk of the Newsletters for the American addresses. Paper size, however, differed and required some awkward reformatting of the typescripts.
- In 1993 Desk Top Publishing was available and I could produce the complete Newsletter on my desk, reducing the production costs, allowing more pictures to included and creating an electronic version of the Newsletters - a highly useful feature. The camera-ready Newsletter was sent to the printer and surface-mailed from there.
- Technology continued to develop new features and from July 2000 onwards I was able to complete the printing process at the University of Linz, further reducing printing cost. And we printed only one hard-copy of the Newsletters for each member society (and a few public relation addresses) and asked our member societies to distribute the electronic version.
- With the availability of IFSR's web-site (1997) the Newsletter lost its prime communication function. Announcements and short-term information went to the IFSR Website (see www.archive-ifsr.org and later www.ifsr.org), the IFSR Newsletter morphed into a collection of historical events and reports.
- The printed Calender of Events was discontinued in 1999 in favor of announcements on the IFSR homepage.
- Starting Sept. 2001 a sketch by my wife Janie Chroust was usually placed in front of the December Newsletter.
- We increased the Newsletters' prestige by acquiring ISSN Numbers for the printed and the electronic version of the Newsletters in 2006.
- Jurgen Lenk, archivist of the BCSSS, supported by Gary Metcalf, IFSR, scanned all previous print-only Newsletter and made them generally available in 2013.
- In 2018 the Newsletter was discontinued - replaced by monthly News-Flashes reporting on up-to-date events in the Systems World.
I believe that the collection of Newsletters is a means of preserving in our memory some of the events in the history of the Systems movement including the acting persons.
I sincerely thank all Editors-chief ( see Table below) and all contributions to the IFSR Newsletters for their support and supplied material in making the Newsletters a remarkable memory for the Systems Science world and for IFSR in particular.
Editor in Chief 1993 - 2018
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