Dear Kairos:

I congratulate you on your first issue and would like to take this opportunity to explain why I think what you are doing, and what the ACW (Alliance for Computers and Writing) is doing, and what a growing number of online knowledge sources are doing by moving what I call our discipline's "knowledge domain" increasingly onto the Internet and into web pages is so exciting.

I am the principal manager for the ACW's web pages ( I got into the webmeister business not so much to support the ACW, although I wanted to do that, as to find out how knowledge domains of the future were going to be constructed at the nuts and bolts level, as I had found out about local-area-network instruction (Daedalus) and email lists (Megabyte University), mostly by diving into the middle of the lake and thrashing wildly for shore. Nicholas Negroponte ( in Being Digital  ) makes clear that knowledge acquisition in the future will move from emphasis on the producers (publishers, editors, retailers) to emphasis on the consumers (internet connectivity, browsers, etc.). In order for the knowledge consumer to navigate hugely blossoming knowledge access, the consumer will need to acquire "agents" to help her. These "agents" will undoubtedly include computerized agents (i.e., the search engines we can direct to find certain subjects, pages, etc.), but more and more organizational agents, such as the ACW pages, Yahoo, EINet, and so forth.

I'm not going to get into whether it is better for the "filter" of our knowledge to be at the production end (publishers and editorial boards) or at the consumer end (search engines and various indexing schemes). But we should realize that we cannot drink productively (I hate this image, always have) from the firehose. In the past, Harcourt Brace and Houghton Mifflin and such have kept the potentional firehose down to a useable flow, but at some cost, I think. The knowledge managers of the future will operate as the consumer's agent, YOUR agent, not the agent of the writer/knowledge maker. But in terms of paradigm shifts from what we're all used to, we're talking other end of the galaxy.

Let's assume for a minute that something like the ACW pages can act as an agent for the knowledge consumer, a consumer concerned with the rather specific region of universal knowledge known as "computers and writing." How would that agent act most responsibly? Right now the ACW pages simply categorize things much like YAHOO, although understandably emphasizing the more perishable items (announcements, calls for proposals). Mere indexing schemes seem not very useful, since, like on YAHOO, the links can rapidly get up to 30,000, which is firehose strength. The Internet is expanding rapidly.

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