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Plain Talk for a New Generation

There is something new about ASTM. There is our new name, of course–ASTM International. But there’s something else. There’s a new energy abounding, something extra added. It’s the feeling that we’ve taken on the new millennium and everything’s fine. And we’re doing well.

There’s a new language about, the language of the information age, the language of this age. Our vocabulary is rife with words and phrases like digital workflows and the Digital Path.1 Thirty years ago, when I first came to ASTM, the volumes of the Annual Book of ASTM Standards were the benchmark for publications of their kind. They still are. But ASTM International is now using technologies that will improve everything about the way standards are published and delivered. Electronic publishing is fast, efficient, accurate, and flexible. Still we’re not satisfied. We’re upgrading the system.

Online task groups, committee Web pages, Web balloting, and other electronic marvels are revolutionizing the ASTM International standardization process. Our electronic network means standards development can take place without the limitations of time and space. It means participation is possible for those for whom it had never been possible before. It means an ever-widening dissemination of information. It means that transparency has taken on new meaning, and access to ASTM International is limited only by one’s ability to go online. Openness has never been so open.

And what about our new name? ASTM started out as the American chapter of an international standards developing organization. Long before this millennium, ASTM standards were developed by an international membership and applied far and wide. Long before the word globalization became a part of the lexicon, ASTM standards were the standard of choice in countries all over the world.

Globalization is not a new concept here. It’s just intensified. Its growing importance is directly related to the growth of the globalization of industry, of our members. It’s time we had a new name. It’s who we are.

Who are we? Experience has taught us that public perception is sometimes accurate, sometimes off the mark, and nearly always fickle. The accurate portrayal of ASTM International, its values, and its opportunities, is a responsibility we take seriously. Whether it is before a Congressional committee, an international audience, through a dynamic Web site, participation in international policy activities, or an article in SN, ASTM International is constantly spreading the message, repairing misconceptions, and supporting one of the best ideas to come along in a very long while. Communication is the best accompaniment to progress.

It’s easy to be enthusiastic these days, because ASTM International is in exceptionally fine form, engaged, alive, and energized. We’ve taken on the new millennium and everything’s fine. We’re doing well.

James A. Thomas
President, ASTM

1 See the March 2002 issue of SN.

Copyright 2002, ASTM

James Thomas
President, ASTM

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