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logfest results - much IMPORTANT news

A brief report on LogFest

First of all, I want to invite David Twery, Art Protin, John Cowan, and
Bob Chassell to all offer their own observations and feedback on LogFest
for the list.  If you all enjoyed as much as you seemed to, we might get
a few more people to come next year.

(How self-serving!)

Summary of the weekend

Thurs nite - the first 3 arrivals
Friday - getting ready
Friday all nite - a discussion of electronic distribution policy, finances,
   etc. in which many of the ideas discussed below surfaced.
Saturday - a slow start due to late sleepers - group translation activities
   involving aphorisms (see below).  Watched the Lojban video.  Misc discussions
   into the evening.
Sun - annual meeting starts at 1030; continued till 5pm with a 45 min recess
   for lunch; afterwards and into the evening, most played Lojban "reno preti".
Mon - 3 people left (Two are staying until mid week)

Total attendance 17, most of whom were there all weekend; 7 were from
out-of-town.  About half were skilled enough to converse at least
minimally in Lojban.

13 attended the business meeting on Sunday.  John Cowan was elected to
the Board of Directors and Albion Zeglin dropped his Board and voting

Technical decisions - minimal; we had decided that LogFest was supposed
to be FUN, not all work.  "spero" as a culture word for "Esperanto" was
voted down, and the baseline of the gismu was reaffirmed; few of the
'old-timers' want even minimal change.  "navni" may be broadened to
include "inert gas", but this is semantics.  The 20 gismu proposed last
year were made just before LogFest, and are posted in a separate
message, along with a more complete set of rafsi.

A last minute proposal assigns rafsi to fo'a, fo'e and fo'i (selma'o
KOhA).  These assigned to names with du or goi plus several other cmavo
rafsi (mi, do, vi, va, vu, ti, ta, tu) can be used along with names to
allow more abbreviated expressions of cultures not included in the gismu
list. e.g. fo'e du la suomis (finland).  .i mi cilre lo fo'enselsanga.
(I learn a Finnish song.)  Since the most useful culture words are those
for 'my' culture and 'your' culture, "mi" and "do" wil be used heavily
in this manner.

The grammar was rebaselined with all proposed changes incorporated.  No
grammar changes will be considered until the textbook is completed, and
at that time, any new ones will be considered as part of review

Finances - awful, and we are taking more drastic action than last year:

1. JL will be converted to a prepaid subscription basis over a period of
around a year.  If this means that we lose bulk rate, so be it.  Price
will be $20-$25/year, payable in advance.  People with negative balances
will be cut off, unless supported either by volunteer credits (see
below) or by direct donation by another person.

2. The first step will be a fund-raiser and direct-mail announcement of
the new policy, probably in the next month or two.  Every subscriber to
JL will be sent a card to be signed and returned indicating that you
want to receive JL.  If not returned and you have a negative balance,
you will be dropped as a JL subscriber, but will receive LK instead.  If
you have a positive balance, we still need the cards returned because if
we get enough of them, we can qualify for 2nd class mail, with lower
postal rates and more timely service.

Thereafter, the negative balance cutoff for JL subscribers will be
raised each issue, and people not making the cut will be dropped to an
LK subscription.  We will give people a one issue advance notice of
cutoff.  They must either pay up their balance, or negotiate with either
the LLG volunteer credit review committee or with some other person, to
cover their balance or to continue getting issues.  Real feedback after
each issue recieved will probably be considered as a factor in such

There will be no exceptions.  Some of you with very negative balances
may wish to decide what you want your status to be, and possibly to
negotiate with someone or with us to continue to receive issues.  If you
have done things for us, including active participation on lojban-list
such that we use your material in JL, you can possibly negotiate a
partial amount to be paid to zero out your balance.  We ask however that
for those who can afford to, you pay most or all of your balances off so
that we can help out others who cannot.

We do not intend to drop LK subscribers until the textbook and
dictionary are done, except upon request.

3. Given the cutback, we hope that our financial condition improves to
the point that we have a surplus.  If so, the following will work better.

A 'volunteer credit' donation fund will be set up.  People who donate
can specify donations for general expenses, or specifically for this
fund.  In addition, a specific portion of any excess revenues (profits)
will be put in this fund.

A committee will accept recommendations of people who have contributed
in a wide variety of ways from commentary on JL, learning the language,
participation on lojban-list, recruiting (especially) overseas.  They
will also get a list from me each issue of people whose balance is less
than the subscription cutoff, along with notes on any special
circumstances that might allow them to be retained as JL subscribers.
The committee will allocate the funds among the possible recipients,
so as to allow the maximum number to be retained as JL subscribers.

4. We will seek direct donations of larger amounts of money from
companies, especially from computer companies who might profit by the
positive image of supporting non-profit scientific and educational
research.  We are asking ALL lojban-list subscribers who are associated
with a company who might be willing to help support us, and who either
have some influence in such decisions, or know who we should contact to
request such assistance in your or in other companies, to let us know.
We will also be directly seeking out ideas and information from a couple
of you whom people have recommended that we specifically ask.

We are seeking donations, probably in the $1000-$15000 range, to support
specific or general research projects in Lojban applications, and also to
support publication of the textbook and dictionary in amounts large enough
to keep the price down and allow wide distribution.  We also are seeking
specifically from companies that manufacture and sell computers, unrestricted
donations of one or two small machines.  Unrestricted donation means that
we could use or sell the machine - selling it to get money for support or
using it for research purposes.  Two machines would allow us to sell one and
keep one.  Donation of machines to LLG is apparently of greater benefit to
such companies than direct cash donations.  Again, ideas are welcome in
this area.

Even one such donation will greatly ease our month to month financial
pressure, and a larger donation or more smaller ones would allow us to
make intelligent financial decisions on how to complete our projects and
to get serious research started without the distorting effect of living
hand-to-mouth.  Please help if you can.

5. We will establish a 'Sustaining Membership' similar to other
non-profit organizations.  Probably costing $50/year, the benefits will
be minimal - perhaps acknowledgement in our books, periodicals, and our
annual reports, perhaps a 10% or 20% discount on purchases, and higher
priority on orders and services.  The main 'benefit' will be knowing you
are helping LLG make Lojban a success.  Details will be announced later
this year.

6. Finally, I will be getting a local-to-DC net account which will
significantly cut LLG's phone bill.  We are also trying to get my 386
MS-DOS 4.0 machine rigged with a UUCP substitute that will allow me to
access the net in bursts rather than by direct account login, so that
I can get limited news and net mail directly on my machine.  Several people
know there are packages available for this purpose, but we need someone
who can supply a copy of the package and properly install it, since I
know nothing about UUCP and the net.  Contact me if you can help.

ALSO, anyone who knows a sys-admin in the DC area who might let me have
access for burst mail and news services for free (paid services will run
us $30/month or more) should contact me directly.

Finally, due to volume, we are looking for a sys-admin on a machine
close to the net backbone who is willing and able to host the mail
reflector processing for lojban-list.  With nearly 100 subscribers and
the high traffic volume on this list, we are stressing the connection
path for the snark machine.  We believe we can continue to manage the
list from eric's machine, but need someone who can handle a few thousand
extra messages per day due to the mail reflector.  Please contact
lojban-list-request@snark.thyrsus.com if you or someone you know is
willing to help.

The LLG/Institute split - In accordance with a unanimous vote taken at
the time of LLG's original charter in August 1987, when we started
"Lojban - The Realization of Loglan", now also known as "Loglan/Lojban"
or just "Lojban", the LLG has made repeated efforts over the last
several years to mend the political split with The Loglan Institute,
Inc.  A settlement offer earlier this year that would have remerged the
two current versions of Loglan into one, and guaranteed an honored place
for JCB, as well as organizational and possible financial support for
the Institute, has been ignored.  More recently, a posting on this list
by Steve Rice, one of the three 'Loglan Academy' members that would
probably negotiate such a merger from the Institute side, was
unambiguously hostile.

The Lojban design is essentially complete.  Time has run out on making
changes to facilitate a merger - we can no longer make significant
changes without corresponding impact on those who have and will learn
Loglan/Lojban.  Our version of Loglan is substantially better than the
Institute's, and we have up to a dozen people capable of speaking the
language as well or better than anyone (possibly including JCB) ever has
spoken any version of Loglan, with new skilled people constantly being
added to their ranks.

As a result, the LogFest attendees voted, by my reading of Nora's notes,
unanimously, that "Expending resources towards reconciliation with JCB
or the Institute is not a good use of resources at this time, but we
remain open to such reconciliation should their position change in the
future." and "There is no longer special authority given to
pronouncements of JCB or the Institute about the language."

We hope that this decision eliminates constraints on Loglan/Lojban's
growth and success in the near term, and that JCB and the Institute will
change their position so that we can restore JCB to the position of
honor and esteem that he once held.

Electronic distribution - Simply put, we are adopting the draft policy
posted last month by John Cowan, with a minor rewording.  All published
language definition materials will be placed in the public domain, and
will be distributable without restriction.  Some draft materials, and
all JLs, will be distributable not-for-sale with our retained copyright.
New materials like JL issues may be made available on a delayed basis to
encourage subscriptions.  Athelstan's written mini-lesson will be posted,
and we will provide answers by some as-yet undetermined means.

Our point of original distribution will be the Planned Languages Server.
Over the next few months, as time allows, I will prepare materials for
distribution, with our standard data headers.  We will also supply data
directly on diskette for an initial price of $10 per uncompressed
diskful, in any of the 4 diskette formats we can support (5 1/4 and 3 1/2
high and low density MS-DOS).

Data released in this manner will have NO special formatting effort
made.  Highly formatted materials such as JL's may be hard to read or use.

All materials will be released directly by me to Jerry Altzman of the
PLS.  I will also maintain and update a directory of dates and version
numbers of all such releases that will be posted in the same directory.
The official directory will include an MD-4 (tamper-resistant) checksum
for each file so you can verify that material you obtain has not been
modified.  We will also publish a printed MD-4 checksum list.

I will be asking Jerry to set up a sub-directory so that text,
information files and other materials generated unofficially can be kept
separate from our official releases (which will be voluminous).  We will
encourage people to submit materials to this subdirectory and will check
it occasionally and advise Jerry and Mark as to what materials we think
are useful and current.  (We ask that we get a copy of all such
submissions, with a note that you plan to so submit them.)

We also welcome comments on draft materials that are released to PLS.

Textbook/Dictionary and Priorities

The textbook continues to lag.  Based on suggestions at LogFest, we are
adopting a change in priorities.

1. I will get JL15 and LK15 published within the next few weeks.

2. After updating financial records, the next fundraising drive and the
   conversion to JL subscription basis will begin.

3. I will complete Lesson 1 of the new draft textbook, which will probably mean
   about 80 pages will be done.  This draft will be posted as draft on the PLS.

4. I will update in a minimal manner the 6 draft textbook lessons, and
   incorporate them, the negation paper, the attitudinal paper and selected
   short writings that teach the language into a teaching notebook.  This will
   be published as a bound book, probably Velo-bound.  Total page count will
   exceed 400 pages.  Price will be around $25-$30, depending on number of
   advance orders.  I will try to announce this later this summer.

5. A draft Lojban reference notebook will be prepared.  This will include:
   la lojban. mo
   Machine Grammar and E-BNF
   Synopsis of Phonology, Morphology, and Orthography
   gismu list updated with new place structures and Roget number codes.
   sorted rafsi lists
   cmavo list with clearer definitions
   a glossary of linguistic and Lojban jargon terms
   a selected list of le'avla borrowings and an algorithm to make more
   a selected list of Lojbanized names.
   a selma'o catalog describing the grammar with many examples
   as many sample lujvo as we have time to verify and space to include

   This will also run about 300-400 pages and be bound.  The contents of the
   dictionary will be as much like what I intend the Lojban dictionary to
   eventually be as is possible without taken undue time, but it will be
   a draft document.  But in a sense it will be the first edition dictionary.

   It will probably cost $25 depending on orders.  I intend to have this
   done by the end of the year, hopefully much sooner.

6. Depending on the material available, I and others will accumulate a volume
   of Lojban text, graded as to difficulty and complexity, to be published
   early next year.  All material published will be brought up to the current
   grammar and vocabulary standard.  Some of the material will be translated;
   some of the translations will be annotated.  All Lojban text in JL will
   be updated and included in this book.

7. Meanwhile during 6, I will return to and hopefully finish the textbook.
   With all of the other things that have been hanging behind us done, and
   hopefully with a year to improve our financial stability, I can move more
   quickly on this and GET IT DONE.

Comments on this plan and priorities are welcome and encouraged.  I
believe it is a good plan that will improve our collective morale and get
more people learning and using Lojban sooner.

Successful Lojban activities - The two major in-language activities we held
were successful, even for inexperienced Lojbanists.  One was translation of
one-liner aphorisms, which everyone else tried to back-translate to English
and understand.  The other was a Lojbanic version of '20 Questions'.

These were so successful that we are going to try in the next couple of days
to find a way to do each on lojban-list.  Keep watching this space.

lojbab = Bob LeChevalier, President, The Logical Language Group, Inc.
         2904 Beau Lane, Fairfax VA 22031-1303 USA