Kairos: Past, Present and Future(s)

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Kairos Was ...
(Doherty's Thread)

Kairos logo circa 1996.
Doherty Responds ... Page 1

The most interesting aspect of Mike Salvo's commentary on the once and future history of Kairos is this: by my count, in 26 of the 36 nodes he's written, including 16 of the final 18, there is no actual mention of the journal itself.

But then, Kairos was never about Kairos — it was about kairos. About exploring the possibilities of creating the present occasion of electronic publishing in radical new ways. Everything Mike brought to Kairos — and I suspect, everything he took away from it — has informed his vision of hypertext studios and large-scale textual creation.

Now, as it happens, I think he's wrong. This shouldn't surprise anyone, least of all Mike himself, because we've rarely agreed on — well, much of anything. That was one of the reasons we worked so well together.

I loved Snow Crash, and Stephenson's concept of the Library is engaging, even a bit intoxicating. But consider Mike's explanation:

    " ... the system can also employ writers, and ask them back to write additional blurbs, based on how well received their blurbs are ... If students consistently find your explanations helpful, you get a bigger payoff, and more opportunities for additional writing ... When the organization decides whether or not to re-hire a specific individual writer, the database is consulted ... "
No, it's not precisely a "micropayments" scheme, but it seems at least possible that a "We will rehire you if your work is popular" approach to text development could lead to a dumbing-down, or at least a homogenization of the final product.