Reading the Archives:
A Digression: Assembling
While the Kairos approach of encouraging writers to take ownership of the appearance, media elements, and hypertextual structures of their webtexts may be relatively rare in current practice among online academic journals, it is not without historical precedent (though it is a precedent in the world of small press, avant-garde literary publishing).
At the beginnings of the late age of print -- that is, the late sixties and early seventies when disco, Richard "I am not a crook" Nixon, and Xerox machines dominated our imaginations -- literary magazines began appearing that resisted the cost structure and editorial controls of traditional small press publishing. Groups of authors were asked to submit not poems or stories but copies of finished pages on which they had written and designed anything they wanted, and those pages were then collated and bound by the editors into magazines. Editorial control came not in the review of the pieces but in terms of whom the editors invited to participate. Early examples of this form were Notebook and Omnibus News, both published in 1969 (Perkins, nd). The most well known and successful magazine in this genre, however, was Assembling magazine, edited by Richard Kostelantz. Here is how Kostelantz described the process of creating the magazine:
The magazines were produced by an almost anti-editorial process (arrangement was strictly by alphabetical order):
Kostelantz produced ten issues of Assembling and another three issues were put out by his collaborators, the last appearing in 1987 (). Though Kostelantz's magazine is the most well known in this genre, Perkins argues that in the seventies and eighties, "assemblings have flourished as an important international self publishing activity with approximately nine new assembling projects starting yearly from 1968-86" ().
Although Assembling solved many technical problems for alternative small press editors who did not have institutional support, the impact on the work of putting writers in control of the production and appearance of their work is I think even more fascinating. Consider these comments by Karl Young, one of the principle collaborators on the project:
Kairos does not have the same anti-editorial bias that these artists thriving on the margins of American Art culture embraced. Webtexts that appear in Kairos go through a rigorous peer review process. But the similarities are remarkable. Kairos even lists webtexts in alphabetic order within sections as Assembling did. Moreover, Kairos' philosophy and business plan (as Doug Eyman once said, "No money in, no money out"), its strong community, and its seemingly endless creative energy have clearly grown out of the same impulses as do assembling magazines and mailart exchanges.
An issue of Kairos is a sort of Happening done in digital mediaan Event created by its authors and editors, a form of performance art, or perhaps more accurately, a form of performance scholarship ().
You can continue to the beginning of the actual analysis of hypertexts in Kairos, or you can return to the home page.