An OWL by Any Other Name

Jane Lasarenko, West Texas A&M University

As in the natural world, cyberOWLs come in a variety of species, from completely online, full-service writing centers to those that serve to announce their existence. Rising early enough one day to hunt OWLs, I went searching through the dark, wooded forests of the cyber-jungle and identified the names of some 93 self-styled OWLs! I was astounded by the numbers, amazed that there should be so many of these new "critters," stunned that such a relatively new concept had proliferated so rapidly. Indeed, at the current reproductive rate, traditional writing centers are well on their way to becoming an endangered species.

Such a phenomenon certainly invited greater investigation, and in a truly antiquated, nineteenth-century spirit, I endeavored to gain fame and acclaim as the first cyber OWL taxonomist and un-naturalist. At the bottom rung of the OWL evolutionary ladder lie those OWLs that serve as advertisements for a university's already established traditional writing center, listing hours, services offered, and location. I shall leave it to the paleo-cybergeneticists of the future to investigate more thoroughly the complexities of these ancient beginnings. On the next rung of the evolutionary ladder lie those OWLs that offer on-site tutoring services, with specific writing tips, style guides, and other helpful writing instructions online with links to other OWLs and information. At the top of the current evolutionary scale, lie those OWLs that offer a complete set of online services, including online manuscript submission and feedback. I offer the following alphabetic taxonomy and description in an attempt to create some order among the welter and confusion that the current term "OWL" entails.