RE: institutionalized confusion, ephemeris server, sample size

Bart De Pontieu (
Wed, 1 Jan 1997 16:37:00 +0100 (MET)

On Tue, 31 Dec 1996, Ted Molczan wrote:

> So I doubt very much that those who are stymied by maintaining elements
> and running predictions are going to fare much better when it comes to
> observing/analyzing.
> In the end, some folks have the necessary ability and drive, while others
> do not. 

I agree with most of what Ted writes about this topic. However, this
does not mean that one should not try one's best to promote the hobby
and make life for beginning observers easier (e.g. by what Walter
suggested). If one makes the hobby inaccessible to beginners and 
assumes the ones with the 'drive' will get there in the end no matter
what, I think you're missing out on many potential *good* and 
*motivated* observers. And it's observers we need, isn't it?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but there aren't that many *young* observers
in the business of tracking US spy sats, are there?

> The best way to make me lose interest in this hobby is to make it into a
> job. I already have one of those, and one is enough! (Hmmm, perhaps I 
> have stumbled upon Molczan's 2nd law.) We have all of the organization 
> we need right now. Through SeeSat-L, phone and fax, we have created an 

It's interesting to see you're placing SeeSat-L next to phone and fax.
Both of the latter are provided to you by companies/organizations that 
provide services, even if they're bogged down by administration.
Placing SeeSat-L on the same level as phone and fax and simultaneously
saying that we have:

> informal team of hobbyists, who work together on an ad hoc basis to pursue 
> whatever pleases them. 

indicates to me that you, and 99% of the other Seesat-ers have failed to
understand that for *us* (Neil and me -but in what follows I am only
peaking for myself) providing SeeSat-L and the VSOHP
(without which SeeSat-L wouldn't be much: bogged down by newbie questions)
-at times- is like a second job (Molczan's second law kicking in there)
and not exactly something that 'pleases them'. I, for one, have little
interest in analyzing and observing US spy sats, at least not as much as
some of you have. 

I put a message on SeeSat-L two months ago in which I suggest that some
more work-sharing is in order and perhaps a discussion about organizing
our hobby is in order, and the first public response I get is a casual
remark two months later saying:

> Well-intentioned folks might think we could benefit from more organization,
> but I doubt it. My experience has been that organizations tend to become
> bunged up by administration issues, often to the point where content becomes
> secondary. Voltaire's Bastards, and The Unconscious Civilization, both by
> John Ralston Saul, offer lots of examples and insights into this problem.
Then I can conclude that you have not understood my message two months
ago. You see: I am already bunged up by administrative issues, content
has become secondary. But I'm working on shedding them, since the lack of
response has thaught me that nobody (except for Jeff Hunt and some of the
FAQ people) is interested in sharing the workload. If the hobby becomes a
second job, it's time to get rid of whatever makes it a second job, don't
you think?

And no, this does not mean I hold you, Ted, personally accountable for
the lack of response. At least you did reply. And no, it does not mean
that I will stop running SeeSat-L, at least not for now.
But yes: it means I'm not going to work anymore at keeping the VSOHP
up-to-date. And yes: I am quitting as coordinator of the BWGS. And yes:
I am not going to do any more work for a possible Usenet-group devoted
to satellite observing. And yes: the DRA project is on hold until I can
see whether I can find the time for it. 

I'm not blaming anyone here, except for myself (for having taken on too
many administrative jobs in the satellite hobby). I wanted to illustrate
that having a somewhat more formal organization can have its advantages.
It might ensure better workload-sharing, less demotivation for those who
do take on 'service-providing' jobs, easier entry of beginners into the
hobby, larger public appeal in the amateur astronomy community, more
continuity, etc. I'm well aware that there are quite a few people who 
provide services in our hobby. I'm sure their work would be more
noticed, appreciated and rewarded if it were part of a somewhat more
formal organization.

But my position is obviously a minority viewpoint, and I don't feel
(anymore) like climbing mountains such as trying to persuade people and
organize things.

Cheers and happy new year to all SeeSat-ers,
     Bart De Pontieu, SeeSat-L administrator