CCCC Online began in 1994. Eric Crump was, at the time, involved in creating C&W Online 94 when he thought about the possibility of creating a similar space for CCCC. Soon after, Crump and a few others sent a proposal to Jackie Royster, the CCCC94 Program Chair, who gave it the thumbs up. The first incarnation of CCCC Online was a modest affair, consisting of texts, donated by various presenters, posted on the web.
In 1995, Crump got funding from CCCC and was able to hire an assistant, and CCCC Online began to take on the much more sophisticated form that it has today. The convention program, abstracts, announcements about MOO sessions, CCCC projects and other events were listed on the site. Blinking text even made an appearance (ah, the heady days of the mid-90s). At this point, CCCC Online had completed its first major accomplishment; it had become a clearinghouse for CCCC related information. Throughout the history of CCCC Online, The University of Missouri has generously supported CCCC and Eric Crump by providing extensive computer support and web space.
The next effort, one which is still going on, is to transform CCCC Online into a truly interactive forum for people to exchange information and generate ideas related to the conference and its mission. While much of the framework for this is in place, the limited level of participation is still a major concern.
Eric Crump and CCCC have created a dynamic, decentralized communication forum. Of all the major organs of communication in our field, CCCC Online is arguably the most democratic. The only problem with it is that people aren't using it. The most disturbing trend is the number of posts from newcomers that go unanswered. CCCC Online is a valuable arena of communication, but it can't live up to its fulfillment unless people use it. As Crump said in a conversation in Daedalus MOO, "CCCC Online is a grassroots effort that belongs to the members of the organization.... The thing is there, established, something to be *used* if folks will...."
Part of what CCCC Online has going against it is the structure of the profession. Nobody gets any credit from their department for participating in a HyperNews forum. And that isn't going to change until participation in these kinds of places takes off. The simplest way for this to happen would be for the members of the computers and writing field to take a more active role in following and participating in some of the online discussions. Perhaps a centralized listserv, because it seeks you out rather than waiting for you to seek it out (once you've signed-up for it), would be an effective way of keeping CCCC Online more visible in the months leading up to the conference. But in the end, the key to CCCC Online living up to its vast potential lies with the members of the computers and writing field. If we use it, it will grow.
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