Kairotically Speaking: Kairos and the Power of Identity

Dismantling Kairos...

To begin the process of dismantling Kairos's identity, let's take a moment to review a few aspects of Langdon Winner's (1977) concept of autonomous technology and its theme of mastery. For Winner, autonomous technology is a perspective that sees technology as neutral with a will of its own and that it is out of control of "human agency" (p. 15). Notes3 As a distributed technology, the Internet and the World Wide Web—digital scholarship's publishing venue—can seem "out of control" for several reasons: (a) Because there are no apparent gatekeepers or central nodes controlling what is published, much of what is published is perceived as (and may be) junk, and (b) because the code controlling publication is largely invisible to the average user, known only by those who attempt to learn or master it.

For these reasons, Kairos (as a Web-delivered journal) might be connected to a perspective of technology-as-autonomous, but to hiring and tenure committees, Kairos may seem even more autonomous and out-of-control (a) because, originally, it was edited by graduate students (Mick Doherty, 1999), (b) because it's free and, therefore, may be perceived as lacking investment, and (c) (most obviously) because it's not print. Online journals—especially scholarly journals like Kairos that exist only online—have faced significant resistance from scholarly communities because of these perceptions.

Dismantling Kairos's identity is not about revealing the essence of its technological frame; rather, it's about revealing the possibility of changing, remediating, scholarly practices. To make our way into a discussion about identity, let's follow Winner's lead and engage in dismantling, or what he calls epistemological Luddism, a method of inquiry designed to "take apart" technology identified as problematic in order to study its "interconnections" and "relationships" to human need, that is, "what [it is] doing for or to" humankind (p. 330). Winner suggests various methods for dismantling an autonomous technology: (a) disconnect, temporarily rendering the technology unworkable, (b) withdraw from selected technologies and techniques, (c) disconnect crucial links, or (d) refuse to repair a technological system (pp. 330–333)—none of which are really useful for revealing Kairos's identity. By breaking away from Web technology, unplugging network lines, or removing Web browsers, we may discover our addiction, but these actions would not reveal anything about online scholarship. What does seem feasible, in order to dismantle Kairos, is to redefine what constitutes scholarship (and the practices of scholarship, including tenure systems) in ways that remediateNotes4 traditional publishing formats and practices. Thus, dismantling Kairos's identity is a matter of taking apart the autonomous technology that is tenure, a process that might provide a clearer picture of Kairos's essence and, therefore, its power.

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Dismantling Kairos 1
Dismantling Kairos 2

Autonomous Technology of Tenure 1
Autonomous Technology of Tenure 2
Autonomous Technology of Tenure 3

Kairotically Speaking 1

Myth of Transparency 1
Myth of Transparency 2
Myth of Transparency 3
Myth of Transparency 4

Kairotica of Kairos 1
Kairotica of Kairos 2
Kairotica of Kairos 3
Kairotica of Kairos 4




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