Proceedings Under Construction:
The Process of Assembling Kairos 3.2James A. Inman
"Go! Impress us all." This was Mick Doherty's charge to me when I accepted responsibility to help shape this first proceedings issue. What happened, interestingly, is that the many people who worked diligently to put together this issue have instead impressed me. Mick's charge, then, might be altered to read, "Watch them go! They'll impress you." And, this is where I want to start this essay: with the idea of Kairos 3.2 being the result of a team effort. Below I'll talk about the people who have teamed together to make this issue work; and then, I'll reflect a bit about how we have defined the idea of a proceedings.
People Power: An Issue in Development
For this issue, the idea of a team begins with the Special Issue Editorial Team that was assembled. Lisa Gerrard, Barry Maid, and Donna Sewell worked with me to encourage presenters at Computers and Writing 1998 to submit their work for consideration in Kairos. The diverse and outstanding texts which appear in the different sections of this issue are the result.
What this team also did, however, was to be patient with Kairos in general and with me specifically, as, through conversations with staff, I constantly (re)defined the role(s) we were to play. Originally, I believed that the team was to screen presentation texts as they were submitted and to make some official decisions about which texts would move forward in the publication process. In the end, though, this didn't happen: the Editorial Board evaluated the texts in a two tiered editorial process. The strong efforts of Editorial Boarders made a significant difference.
Where the issue really began to come together, in my mind, is when John Barber, Dene Grigar, and Becky Rickly committed to authoring the CoverWeb. John and I had a chance to chat about this idea briefly in Gainesville, but their hard work is what made it happen. With assistance from CoverWeb Editor Douglas Eyman, they actually completed their text a month before their deadline. This, as I'm sure readers recognize, is a significant and rare accomplishment.
The authors who publish texts in this issue also deserve a great deal of credit; they came through for us again and again with thoughtful webtexts and thorough revisions. It's important to realize that they completed the majority of their work over the summer and that they worked through at least two different rounds of revisions. These authors have invested themselves in the process, and their work has played a significant role in our consideration of this issue. Their texts, in essence, represent our collaboratively-defined first look at a proceedings.
The idea of team extends to specific Kairos staff members as well, many of whom put significant amounts of extra time into their work for this issue. Greg Siering, in his new capacity as Editor, encouraged and pushed us, just as an Editor should. His vision also helped to shape this issue: the idea of having performance texts, like that of Michael Spooner and Kathleen Blake Yancey, resulted from the official decisions he made about the direction texts should take.
Claudine Keenan has taken on additional responsibility for this issue as well. In addition to her normal duties as Managing Editor, she has teamed with Jennifer Bowie to create the abstract response concept they present in the Response section. She continues to help us focus, and as always, encourages us. Jenn's enthusiasm and dedication have positively impacted and shaped our work; and in efforts like the MOO she presents in her Response section of this issue, she's taken the lead in preparing texts which are among our most engaging. CoverWeb Editor Douglas Eyman also jumped into this process and assisted with the preparation of the response window, including pulling the files onto his server and writing the scripts.
Nick Carbone, amidst a move to Colorado, was still able to put together an excellent Reviews section, as he always does. In particular, he was able to include some texts which look at aspects of Computers and Writing 1998, and he was also able to help authors develop a series of other texts for the section.
Sandye Thompson and her copy staff, as I write this, are eagerly awaiting their chance to work with the issue's texts, and by the time you see this column, they'll have worked their magic, shaping and carefully proofing texts. Their role in the generation of any issue is substantial and important.
Also ready to begin work with this issue is Jeff White, our archivist, who's actively been helping us think through important issues in the developing of the issue. With Jeff, for example, I was able to find a way for the workshop materials to be published in the News section and readily archivable, even though workshop presenters still had to be able to maintain an active site associated with their work. We also wanted to ensure they receive full credit for their work's being in Kairos.
And, last, no mention of people involved with this issue would be complete without a nod to Anthony Rue and his team at the University of Florida who put on a wonderful conference for us all. Their hard work and enthusiasm are directly responsible for the memorable event we shared in Gainesville. Anthony's generosity also allows us to use the abstracts from his Computers and Writing 1998 website in this issue.
So, How Is This a Proceedings Issue?
Kairos 3.2 is what I think might best be described as a dialectic space, or at the very least dialectically-conceived. Included in this issue is a range of webtexts and ideas which have been the subject of many debates these past months. I choose dialectic instead of dialogic here because I think it most fairly represents the struggles we faced as a staff: we did not always agree. This, to me, is a good thing.
When we undertook this project, we knew collectively that we would be writing tradition, starting and defining a new genre of proceedings. This, in no small measure, weighed on our minds as we prepared our sections and especially as we formulated, thought about, and implemented the processes which guided our decisions and work.
Let me suggest a few ways that I think Kairos 3.2 represents the idea of a proceedings:
And, here are ways in which Kairos 3.2, to my mind, redefines the idea of a proceedings:
- Webtexts in this issue were, in various forms, presented at Computers and Writing 1998;
- Individual sections work to share an issue-based emphasis on Computers and Writing 1998; and
- The structure of this issue represents, as closely as we can see, the structure of the conference: the Town Hall meetings are our CoverWeb, individual presentations are offered, and interaction is encouraged.
Kairos is, as always, constantly evolving, and we would like to invite your input about this issue: what you like, what you don't like, what you think should be done with future efforts, what should not be done again in future efforts, and anything else you'd be willing to share.
- Webtexts presented in this issue, despite being based on actual conference presentations, were required to go through our extensive review and preparation process;
- Presentation texts are included here, in ways which would be impossible in a print medium, both in terms of reading styles (linear v. non-linear) and in the multiple media included; and
- Conference presentations normally not suited for proceedings publication are presented here: these include the workshop materials, which are presented in the News section.
James A. Inman is the News Editor for Kairos. He is Spencer Fellow at the University of Michigan, where he is writing a dissertation theorizing and exploring computer literacy as ecology.