ISA acquires

ISA has always been a commercial entity. For years, until the IRS rules changed and they no longer needed to, ISA¹s magazines were owned by ISASI (ISA Services Inc.), of which I was at one time the chairman. ISA makes money selling advertising, selling books, selling training courses. It is, in fact, a commercial entity. It is also a standards entity. One of the ways ISA affords its loss-making standards activity is to sell standards, books on how to use the standards, etc. This isn't either new or bad.

Walt Boyes
Former vice president, publications department, ISA.
Bob and Walt,

> ISA has always been a commercial entity.

True, to varying degrees. ISA used to have major businesses in trade shows and publishing (full disclosure: like Walt, I was on the ISASI board for a number of years). These were the cash cows, milked for the benefit of the members.

These activities always had a carefully-tended educational rationale. The trade shows supported excellent conferences, and the publications were heavy on editorial content.

But with the shifting times and the advent of the web these have experienced dramatic changes, presenting economic challenges to the organization. At the same time, budgetary constraints in industry have left members less able to participate in ISA activities.

As long as I can remember, there has been something of an undercurrent of tension between ISA as a member society and ISA as a self-perpetuating commercial entity. The former role is the rationale for ISA's nonprofit status - the latter may be an economic necessity, but at what point does it move further from the primary educational mission of the nonprofit organization?

Ken Crater
> I got an email from the ISA stating they have acquired

> I am not sure I am real comfortable with a standards entity also owning a blatantly commercial entity.

Walt is correct. 99% of organizations (Standards or otherwise) are commercial organizations. Most people don't know that, or stop to think about it. Just like they don't think of colleges (especially community colleges) as commercial organizations.

The secret, as Walt pointed out, is to promotionally/publicly keep the commercial aspects appearing to be different. I think ISA promoting the additional acquisition with via email was a bad move. It will make more people realize they are just another commercial entity, thus eroding further the illusion they are a non-biased, non-profit standards organization.

Another deceptive example, george brown college with a just about a different website for every course they offer online. You have to look close, or in some cases do some serious digging to figure out all those different entities is really just one money making entity.

Similar to these automation discussion groups. Because the users use anonymous names like "sparky1234", you think you are getting non-biased replies, or forum is moderated in a non-biased way. When in reality the poster or moderator is often a company owner, and ironically use the rule of no commercialism in discussion board to block anyone's post that may go against their own commercial interest.

The bottom line to all the above, it is very very rare, you really get something for free, or that you are really getting non-biased advice. Everyone has to make a living. :)

Don Fitchett