CoverWebs are perhaps the most ambitious element in Kairos . A Coverweb is not one main hypertext written at one site by one or two authors, it is instead a constellation of pieces written at many sites by multiple authors. By using the ability of hypertext on the Internet to link to other documents, we hope to break through the limits of print collaborations--which while wonderful and rewarding, often result in single-argument, single-voice essays.
Further, a particular Coverweb's genesis might occur because Kairos receives many submissions around the same theme; it can occur in response to a specific call from a specific editorial board member or contributor who would like to coordinate one; it can occur because the editor commissions contributions for a Coverweb from specific colleagues; or it can occur from a group of writers generating their own idea for a coverweb and then contacting Kairos. Since each scenario carries its own dynamic, how the coverweb is coordinated and reviewed will vary. Bringing a Coverweb together is perhaps the most gratifying challenge an editorial board member may engage. The Coverweb Editor and Co-ordinator(s) will usually author the Coverweb Bridge, the piece which gives the readers an overview of the Coverweb.
There are two important aspects to the Coverweb, besides of course, standards for good scholarship: one is that the disparate contributions are integrated, meaning the contributors must keep in touch, not only with the Coverweb co-ordinator but also with one another; and two, by keeping in touch, contributors act as commentators and peer reviewers for one another's contributions. The goal is to create appropriate cross links among the Coverweb elements and to benefit from the feedback of the other contributors. It is an exercise in collaborative scholarship. However, because the form is so new, and because the technology for creating the collaboration is subject to pitfalls--misread messages, lost e-mail, occasionally down servers--the Coverweb coordinator has to work very carefully to make sure everyone is clear on what will be expected and when.
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