Logging On

Cheryl Ball, Editor

On the Challenges of Producing an Online Journal

This 19.1 issue of Kairos is pretty exciting for a number of reasons. We are rolling out two new sections—KairosCast and ScholarNames—and are changing the publications schedule for the PraxisWiki section so that it's actually more wiki-like. You can read about all those changes in the New Sections portion of the Logging On column. In addition, we have some truly spectacular webtexts for you in this issue.

And, I have to admit, it's been a bit of madness getting it all pulled together on time. Since I took over as lead editor in 2006, there's been only one other issue that's felt so hectic to put together, and I can't even remember which one it was: I just remember sitting in my office at Illinois State on the day we were supposed to publish, finishing the Logging On column and emailing it frantically to Senior Editor Doug Eyman to put the finishing touches on everything. It could have been the Un/scholarship issue, which would make a nice book-end to this one, since that issue in some ways kicked off my connection to Norway and this issue comes after a year of living there.

Two major events happened this summer that made putting this issue together a bit challenging. First, the Kairos server experienced some significant networking issues in May and June that had us offline, and our in-production webtexts unavailable, for nearly a month. Scary. And frustrating. It was actually a friend's vagueposting update in mid-May that alerted us to the problem originally. At first, I was like, well, he can't be talking about Kairos, because Kairos never goes down. So I wondered what online journal was down, and then I looked. (Next time: just tell us! :)

But, wow, did we learn just how important the journal was to readers: We got a lot of FB messages, Wall postings, and emails asking us when the journal would be up again. Knowing that our server needed work anyways, Doug decided it was time to make a big leap and move the journal from a free, university-hosted webspace to a cloud-hosted company that we would pay for out of pocket. Frankly, I wasn't happy with this idea, because it moves the field away from its history of independent, bootstrapped journal publishing and undermines Kairos's longstanding business model of no-money-in/no-money-out.

We didn't have much of a choice, however: Get the journal back online as quickly as possible or futz around with more university IT partners to negotiate space for a newer server that sits in my office unused. So we made the choice to move off-campus, which may not be a bad decision for many start-up journals these days, given how cheap online hosting has become. We'll see how it goes. The only drawback so far--other than the two months Doug had to unexpectedly spend moving files and installing software on the new server space--is that we also had to upgrade and consolidate all of our wiki installs (a good thing), which broke a lot of links that still point to the old versions. If you find any, please let us know so we can correct them!

The second thing that put us behind on this issue was my moving back to the U.S. on June 20, 2014. It was a fabulous year, and I relished my time in Norway to the extreme. I put off the April/May copy-editing and proofreading work that follows the months assistant editors' work to prep the webtexts until—oops: server crash/network outage—late July, when I got settled in Morgantown, WV, and then had to dash off to the Dartmouth Seminar for two weeks of manual labor, many hours of which were secretly switching bewteen coding data and editing webtexts.

But there are also good reasons why getting this issue out was hectic: The two new sections—KairosCast and ScholarNames—needed summer lift-off. These are ideas that came together over the last year but that we organized and followed-through with this summer. Part of that work was accomplished during a mid-July week that Cheryl planted herself at Doug's house in Fairfax (yay for living so close to be able to do this now!) to both start and finish some major Kairos projects. Their combined to-do list had about 20 items on it, including finished the wiki install and transfer of old wiki materials to the new site; writing up job ads for new staff hires; planning the technological infrastructure for KairosCast with the new section editors; planning for a change of staff and publication cycle for PraxisWiki; coordinating editing of the CCCC Reviews; revising the submissions information and technical guidelines on the journal site; and planning for research Doug and I are writing about Kairos—including an editors' blog that will run as part of KairosCast, including more updates that I didn't have time to write about here (e.g., MLA's new Writing Forum!!, my role on the Porgram Committee and the Digital Humanities executive committee, and some super-awesome-currently-kinda-on-the-down-low grants we got going on).

There's a LOT going on at the journal! And despite all the newness and change, we still managed to get the journal out on time, and we hope that you will find the changes, and this issue, worthwhile.


In This Issue

In the Topoi section, Fred Johnson puts theorists of visual rhetoric into conversation with comics theorists and practitioners in order to look closely at the use of comics and comics principles for teaching students about composition, meaning-making, and critical reading. His webtext, "Perspicuous Objects," is woven with three threads: his theoretical and practical discussion of comics, his rich reading of a particular comic called "Sonic Medicine" by Scott Kolbo, and other comics examples that are laced throughout. It's a beautiful piece to read and is an excellent example of the crossovers possible between literary/media studies and digital rhetorics/writing studies.

In the Inventio section, we present another beautiful piece: "Satellite Lamps" by Einar Sneve Martinussen, Jørn Knutsen, and Timo Arnall. Like the breadth and depth of "Perspicuous Objects," "Satellite Lamps" also contains a multi-threaded argument presented in four multimediated, book-like chapters. It is at once a gorgeous film that explains how the invisible technological materiality of satellites function for everyday users, a history of Global Positioning Systems (GPS), a treatise on the methodologies of design-based research, and a media-rich glimpse into the design process of building the communication design objects that are the eponymous satellite lamps of this webtext. I have enjoyed working with this webtext and these authors over the last year, and hope to see more excellent communication design work such as this in future issues of Kairos.

In the Praxis section, we have an incredibly smart and useful piece called "Multimodal Instruction: Pedagogy and Practice for Enhancing Multimodal Composition" by Sherry Rankins-Robertson,Tiffany Bourelle, Andrew Bourelle, and David Fisher. Designed reminiscent of a content-management system, this webtext "argues for the use of multimodal instruction to design online writing courses with digital tools to deliver instructional content and facilitate feedback." The authors provide video, audio, and embedded PDFs of handouts that will give readers practical ways to implement multimodal instruction in their online writing courses.

In the Interviews section, we start with Michael Salvo's interview of Maxine Dodds, the founder and leader of Scottish Women in Games. Adam Stranz designed this interactive multimedia interview using Popcorn.js, which we think is a technological first-appearance for this HTML5 media framework in Kairos.

Our second interview with Paul Kei Matsuda is conducted by Alison Sutherland. In this case-study webtext, Sutherland talks with Matsuda about academic labor, building his career, and his workflow processes. For anyone who has ever asked themselves: How does Paul do it all?! Here's your answer. :) We are also pleased that Sutherland agreed to showcase some design edits we did on her Prezi-based webtext in our break-out KairosCast section. If you've ever wanted to know what design-editing goes on behind the scenes here, check out these two short videos.

We also have two reviews in this issue. The first review, by Douglas Walls, is of George Pullman and Baotong Gu's edited collection, Designing Web-Based Applications for 21st Century Writing Classrooms. This is our first video review, which we hope to see more of in the future. The second review, done in comics style, goes nicely with our Topoi piece on comics: It is John Jay Jacobs' review of the new comics-based textbook, Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing, by Elizabeth Losh, Jonathan Alexander, Kevin Cannon, and Zander Cannon.

Finally, in the PraxisWiki section, we offer three pieces for your edification. In the first entry, Lanette Cadle reminds us why academic blogging is still a valuable practice for us and our students in "Why I Still Blog". The second, "Digital (Re)Visions: Blending Pedagogical Strategies with Dynamic Classroom Tactics" by Gina Szabady, Crystal N. Fodrey, and Celeste Del Russo outlines three different ways that teachers can engage students in digital classrooms. The third entry, by Rebecca S. Richards, is on "Wiki Writing as Cyberfeminist Pedagogical Practice." In that piece, Richards briefly defines feminist, cyberfeminist, and cyberfeminist pedagogy before giving implementation examples.

Future Issues

Two quick notes about upcoming issues:

  • In May 2015, we will publish a special issue on social media, guest edited by Stephanie Vie and Douglas Walls. Look for it on May 15!
  • In January 2016, we will publish a twentieth anniversity issue of Kairos! We have been soliciting some pieces for this special issue, but if you have an idea to pitch us, please contact the editors by November 2014.

And, as always, we consider submissions on a rolling basis and are always welcoming Interviews and Reviews inquiries. We recently revised our submissions and staff page in an effort to make information easier to find. But if you can't find what you're looking for, send the editors an email.


Annually at the Computers and Writing conference, Kairos presents a series of awards to scholar-teachers in the field who deserve our utmost praise and attention within their specialties. This year, the winners include:

Best Webtext Award


Scott Nelson, Chris Ortiz y Prentice, M. Catherine Coleman, Eric Detweiler, Marjorie Foley, Kendall Gerdes, Cleve Wiese, R. Scott Garbacz, & Matt King — "Crossing Battle Lines: Teaching Multimodal Literacies through Alternate Reality Games," published in the Summer 2013 issue of Kairos.

Graduate Student and Adjunct Awards, sponsored by Bedford/St. Martin's Press

Jamie Henthorn (Old Dominion University) for Service

Jennifer Stewart (Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne) for Teaching

Harley Ferris (University of Louisville) for Research