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Autonomous Technology of Tenure...

For 185 years, then, tenure appears not to have changed that much. But when Kairos and Computers and Composition publish special issues on technology and tenure, and when Barry Maid (2000) feels compelled to write an article titled, "Yes, a Technrhetorician can Get Tenure," I worry that this Holy Grail of academia is no longer controllable, if it ever was. As we wait months to hear of our progress through the tenure process, it becomes more and more a story with significant plot development, character triumphs and trials, and climactic scenes of sheer relief or utter despair. And Maid tells us that this story could be ours, that we (technorhetoricians) can break through that "impenetrable black hole" that is surrounded by a "justifiable cloud of vagueness" (pp. 9–10) if we know the criteria for promotion and tenure, if we document everything, if we remember to be a rhetorician, and if we know our departments', colleges', and universities' histories—in other words, if we learn to play the gameNotes6 of tenure correctly (pp. 15–16). Maid's use of "justification" is intended to "help junior faculty best prepare themselves for tenure," not to reify "some vague notion of objectivity and commitment to quality" (p. 10). Like Kemp (2000), Maid's not wrong; we need to play by the language games established at our institutions.

Let me return once more to Jerz's critique to make one more point: he says that the purpose of Kairos is to distribute scholarly information, which suggests to me a commodity perspective of disciplinary conversations. But "Kairos is not commercial," as Doug Eyman (2000) reminds us in his response to Jerz, that "the problem here [is that he is] comparing scholarly and popular texts as if they had the same audience and purpose." Online journals are not ecommerce and their "users" are not shoppers; these language games represent a discipline and its conversations as well as the structure of their scholarly interface. Getting to Kairos's identity requires dismantling this scholarly framework not its technological framework.

As a scholarly framework, Kairos, or online journals in general, have some support from professional organizations such as the Modern Language Association's (MLA) statements providing guidance for understanding the "electronic journal … [as] a viable and credible mode of scholarly publication" as well as guidelines for evaluating work with digital media. (For more on this discussion, see Janice Walker's and Nahrwold's webtexts in Issue 2.1 [1997] in the CoverWeb section on tenure and technology.) While I don't wish to repeat previous arguments that have already made my point, I do want to point to a sentence from the MLA Guidelines for Evaluating Computer-Related Work in the Modern Languages: "And faculty members who pursue computer-related work as a part of their formal assignments should be prepared to make explicit the results, theoretical basis, and intellectual rigor of their work, as well as its relevance to the discipline." This statement was not only bolded but also italicized in the original documents suggesting that someone really wants that statement to stand out. And as Maid notes, the Modern Language Association's guidelines place the "onus of responsibility for justifying digital scholarship on the candidate while the Conference of College Composition and Communication's Promotion and Tenure Guidelines for Work with Technology statement emphasizes the reality of the situation, which is "educating administrators" (CCCC Executive Committee, 1998).



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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