Logging On

Douglas Eyman, Senior Editor


The unofficial theme of this issue is multimedia/multimodal composing -- many of the webtexts focus on new forms of composition, ranging from Jennifer Bowie's Topoi and Praxis articles on podcasting, Daniel Anderson's revealing look at the creative processes and design decisions for multimodal production, to the PraxisWiki Digital Poster Sessions from the 2011 CCCC, many of which explore new media and multimodal composition.

In the Topoi section, we begin with Jennifer Bowie's "Rhetorical Roots and Media Future: How Podcasting Fits into the Computers and Writing Classroom." Within the webtext, users can access a seven episode podcast series that examines podcasting as a classroom activity and also theorizes the ways in which podcasting provides new ways of engaging and shaping the canon of classical rhetoric. This same approach is replicated in her Praxis webtext, "Podcasting in a Writing Class? Considering the Possibilities," which provides a practical, "how-to" companion to the more theoretically-oriented "Rhetorical Roots." The Praxis piece, through a six-episode podcast series, provides a number of podcast assignments and also considers issues of organization, tools, and assessment of the final products.

Also in Topoi, Derek Mueller's "Views from a Distance: A Nephological Model of the CCCC Chairs' Addresses, 1977-2011" provides a system for visualizing what Franco Moretti calls "distant reading," using word clouds to represent key themes and issues that appear in the chair's keynote speeches at the Conference on College Composition and Communication from 1977 to 2011. There's a strong interest in the field in exploring digital visualization's utility as a writing research method, and this is a clear and well-theorized example of how such a method can be put to use. It also provides an interesting window on the evolution of composition/rhetoric as a field, revealing the challenges and interests over nearly three decades of disciplinary development.

In the Inventio section, Daniel Anderson's "Watch the Bubble" uses an innovative interface to focus on the process of creating digital works that bridge the gap between creative performance and scholarly knowledge production. The reader is provided access to the decisions Anderson made as he creates the piece itself (highlighting, as he notes, both emergence and performance). This kind of work also strikes me as a good model for students to see a metacognitive approach to writing in action (that is, paying explicit attention to rhetorical and design decisions throughout the process of production). As Anderson puts it, he has provided us with "a Möbius compositional loop that looks back and flows forward as the reflections are mixed into the project before you"—but rather than disorientation, this movement and shifting between product and reflection is clear, accessible, and inspiring.

In addition to Bowie's podcasting how-to in the Praxis section, this issue's PraxisWiki presents two projects whose scope is not limited to this issue alone. In "Gregory Ulmer's Electracy: An Archive" Jeremy Cushman and Alex Layne work to enact a version of an "electrate" compositional space, drawing on Ulmer's framework to set up an introduction to the concepts and a collaborative space for readers to contribute to the archive; we hope that you will consider joining the fun and contributing to the wiki.

PraxisWiki also debuts what we hope will be an annual feature, presenting an edited collection of the Digital Pedagogy Posters presented at the 2011 Conference on College Composition and Communication. This is a great collection of digital pedagogy resources that look at HTML, animation, video composition, Twitter and other social media networks, and remix assignments. Look for this collection to grow as there is another excellent collection of digital pedagogy posters slated for this year's conference as well.

In the Disputatio section, we present "Messages to Gail" (co-published in Computers and Composition Online), which is a tribute to Gail Hawisher's career, as commented on by a number of people in the computers and writing field who have been influenced by her work. Also in Disputatio, we present "Ode to Sparklepony: Gamification in Action" -- the publication of which was a reward for being one of the top three winners in the Cs the Day game that ran at the 2011 CCCC convention in Atlanta (the other two winners will be publishing their works in Computers and Composition Online, and Enculturation -- a reward we plan to offer again following this year's Cs the Day game in St. Louis). Kyle Stedman was one of the three winners, and collaborated with Wendi Sierra, one of the game designers and administrators to produce a reflection on the game itself and how Kyle took that gaming experience and used it at his institution as a pre-semester FYC-instructor professional development activity. Finally, continuing the theme of multimodal production, David Staley's "syncretism: mashup" provides a text/image juxtaposition, which the author describes as "a meditation on the associations between syncretism and the mashup."

We round out the issue with a number of timely reviews of both books and digital projects. The four books reviewed are: Michael Neal's Writing Assessment and the Revolution in Digital Texts and Technologies, reviewed by Jeanne Bohannon; Dilger and Rice's collection, From A to <A>: Keywords of Markup, reviewed by Kevin Brock; Stuart Selber's edited volume Rhetorics and Technologies: New Directions in Writing and Communication, reviewed by Pearce Durst; and Joddy Murray's Non-Discursive Rhetoric: Image and Affect in Multimodal Composition, reviewed by Erich Werner. The two digital projects are the National Writing Project's Digital Is, reviewed by Karen Forgette, and Charlie Lowe and Pavel Zemliansky's open-source textbook project, Writing Spaces (volumes 1 and 2), reviewed by Sergio Figueiredo.

Staff News

In staff news, Mike Edwards has agreed to take on the new role of Topoi Section Editor. A Topoi section assistant editor since 2006, Mike has been serving as one of two Associate Editors for the journal for over two years. Mike has been doing an excellent job of working with authors and the editorial staff, and we welcome Mike to his new post.

We also have three departures to announce: three of our assistant editors are stepping down from their Assistant Editor positions -- but, thankfully, all of them have agreed to join the editorial board. Derek Van Ittersum and Virginia Kuhn from the Praxis section and Mike Trice from the Topoi section are making that all important shift in their lives to focus on other projects, but their expertise in pre-reviewing will be invaluable on the editorial board.

Kairos in the News

In its January 6th issue, Inside Higher Ed reported on the MLA panel on peer-review that included Cheryl Ball's description and overview of the Kairos peer-review process. We're always happy to get good press!

Submit to Kairos

Kairos would like to invite all readers to consider becoming authors. We take submissions for Topoi, Praxis, PraxisWiki, and Disputatio on a rolling basis. If you would like to publish a reflection- or process-based piece in our once-a-year Inventio section, we'd be happy to hear from you as well. And, as always, we are always in need of reviews for books, websites, software, and other technologies, as well as interviews of famous or should-be-famous people of interest to Kairos readers. For more information about querying and submitting to any of these sections, please contact the section editors listed on the Submissions page.