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SIG/CON: Beginnings

SIG/CON (Coterminous Operation of neo-Nodes). A new proto-SIG, pulled together too late for inclusion in the printed program, will put on its program session Thursday, October 29, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Clarendon Room (Program updates, 1975, p. 1).

With this notice, published in the ASIS 1975 (Boston) conference newsletter The Crier, SIG/CON was born. Conception had taken place earlier, as chronicled by Dr. Puppybreath ("The origin of specious," Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science, 1984, 10[4], 29).

One evening in early 1975, after a San Francisco ASIS chapter meeting, four attendees were reviewing the meeting and tasting their second liter of a quaint, but unassuming, California "white." The after dinner whine produced an interesting effect on the participants, who were, as I recall: Brain Aveney, Sue Martin, Hank Epstein, and myself (in spirit).
Someone . . . remarked about their mixed reactions to a conference speaker who was giving a rather uninspiring presentation. In such a situation, one has the occasional urge to laugh at some of the speaker's remarks, but being polite, and not wishing to embarrass the speaker, one endeavors to restrain oneself.
Another person commented on how it might be quite amusing if the speaker were actually presenting a humorous paper with an entirely serious and scholarly demeanor, such that the audience would have the urge to laugh, but would feel it improper to do so. In this case, the speaker would be deliberately putting one over on the entire audience (actually I believe the term used was "putting on" the audience).
Since three of the wine tasters were "systems" people, they proceeded to institutionalize the rather informal concept. . . . In the true sense of systems analysis, these rules were never written down. . . .
Given that the idea was apparently of some limited use, in some undefined environment, the systems concept had to have a name, or at least an acronym, for it to be put into practice. Since the idea was conceived after an ASIS meeting, it was agreed that part of the name should be "SIG". Many scholarly, literary, and technical terms were suggested, and dismissed. The term that lasted the shortest time was SIG/HEIL. Finally, at the end of the next liter, someone mentioned . . . SIG/CON. The rest is history.

At the next annual ASIS meeting, in Boston, in 1975, a room was requested at a time which would not conflict with other sessions, and speaker arrangements were made. The tentative SIG title and program were submitted to the conference newsletter. Some 200 people attended.

Those who stumbled into the first SIG/CON session, found it to be one of the most informative and intellectually challenging sessions of the conference, a tradition which continues to this day. The success of the proto-SIG in 1975 was so great that it became a fully established ASIS SIG on the spot, and has sponsored a session at the Annual Conference every year since.

The perpetual Chair of SIG/CON, distinguished scholar Llewellyn C. Puppybreath, III, first appeared (minus the III) in the index of participants at the 1974 annual meeting (giving a talk in session 999), and subsequently in the ASIS Membership Directory in 1975. His presence was again noted in the conference program participants' index in 1975 and for most of the ensuing years. His corporeal presence has yet to be firmly established, although he has attended all sessions in spirit, and in some cases in more substantial non-corporeal forms.

Footnote: It is said by some that "LCP3", as he is fondly referred to, does not exist at all, and is based on the logo for the 1973 ASIS meeting in Los Angeles, described by an informed source as "a little guy in a parade uniform, pounding a large drum". This is clearly delusional, as the events of Dr. Puppybreath's rich and full life are a matter of public record (see Our Founder).

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