Logging On

Cheryl Ball, Editor

Building a new publishing platform

As many of you may have heard by now, West Virginia University received a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation this past month to build an academic publishing platform that will host scholarly multimedia, print-based work, and data sets. This is a three-year project, and the platform will be open-source and free to use. I am the co-principal investigator on this grant, along with Andrew Morrison, with whom I worked closely last year while on Fulbright at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. After 10 years of working towards this project with Douglas Eyman and many other staff members and volunteers along the way (too numerous to name here), Kairos—and many, many other publishing venues—will get the editorial system that they’ve been imagining all along. This platform’s fantastical feature list builds on what Doug and I crafted, thanks to Andrew’s vision to change the fundamentals of academic publishing, Bengler principals Even Westvang and Simen Svale Skogsrud, and designer Jørn Knutsen (of Satellite Lamps). Together, the project team and design studio’s acute sense of what could be done and how to get us there brought the whole project together in a few short months. And, it was Bengler’s modular design process, using modules that they call “Pebbles” to build content-management systems, which led us to the final name of the platform: Cairn. By stacking the pebbles together, we will build a wayfinder for academic authors and editors publishing in the 21st century.

I am one lucky gal to get to work with these brilliant folks, especially to do so on a project that will benefit so many people. Since we are just getting started with the grant project, I won’t say too much more here, but stay tuned to Kairos’s Facebook and Twitter feeds for more information about our in-progress work as it relates to Kairos. (Cairn will have its own publicity materials soon!) And if you want more details about the proposed project, you can read the grant narrative on my website: http://ceball.com/2015/01/08/cairn-an-academic-publishing-platform-proposal. I am just so excited that the collaborative ideas I proposed five years ago in “Reconceptualizing A Role for Digital Media Scholarship in an Age of Digital Scholarship” have already started to come true!

Writing Studies at MLA

As always, I enjoyed my time hanging with rhetoric, composition, digital writing, and digital humanities peeps, as well as the CELJ editors and other literary folks, at this year’s Modern Language Association convention in Vancouver. As many of you may already know, the MLA restructured its convention organization this year to include Rhetoric, Composition, and Writing Studies as a capacious category in which writing studies has several existing and potential discussion forums that can be proposed. For instance, the new Literacy Studies forum proposal was accepted by the MLA Executive Council last fall, and that forum began its work, which includes a guaranteed session at next year’s MLA convention, the day after MLA ended (January 13, 2015). The new executive committee for that forum includes Jim King, myself, Suzanne Blum-Malley, and Alanna Frost. If you’re interested in serving on the executive committee for this new forum, please contact one of us ASAP, as we will have to put forward a name for nomination in February. This is an excellent way to shape the way writing studies is present and participates in the ever-changing MLA.

One way that writing studies could better participate in MLA is by providing better access to its research on digital scholarship and (digital) promotion and tenure issues. Writing studies has done a TON of research in this area, and one issue that kept arising during such conversations this year was about the role of collaboration in digital (humanities) projects. Well, if there’s an area that writing studies has researched, it’s collaboration. But we’ve also gathered a lot of research on assessing and evaluating digital scholarship, as exemplified in particular by the work of James Purdy and Joyce Walker, among others, in this journal and outside of it. Rarely does that work manage to cross the bridge into more monograph-driven areas of scholarly inquiry, and so those (yawn!) stodgy areas of the humanities in which many of our fellow digital humanities colleagues might feel trapped by outdated T&P guidelines don’t even know where to look to find this excellent body of digital-tenure research we’ve been doing for the last 20+ years!

I know I’ve expressed mixed feelings about doing similar projects in the past (digital pedagogy bibliography, anyone??), but creating some kind of annotated list of T&P-related scholarship from writing studies would actually be useful not only to our own junior scholars and graduate students but to folks outside of our discipline. I suspect that it is more difficult to discover this scholarship than it would be for digital pedagogy scholarship, for instance, because the keywords might not be what people are expecting. And, in comparison to digital pedagogy, this list would actually be manageable. So, who’s got a grad class that wants to jump on this project? We’ll publish it on the Kairos wiki, or cross-publish it wherever folks want—as long as it’s accessible. If you’re interested in working on such a project, please get in touch with me (kairosed@technorhetoric.net or s2ceball@gmail.com). I’ve got 20 articles off the top of my head that we could annotate, and I’m sure there are another 20 we could find. Or maybe you have a better way of approaching this project? If so, I am all ears.

Staff Comings and Goings

The Kairos staff sends out a warm thank you to Dundee Lackey, who served as one of our inaugural PraxisWiki editors for several years. Dundee did a great job holding down that ever-changing fort of wikiness that we had to replace her with three people ;)

We have SO MANY new staff members to announce in this issue that we have to list them by roles to keep them all organized! We had a record number of applicants during our last call to hire, this past summer, and “interviews” (ha, they all know by now how much I HATE scare quotes!) by way of the World’s Most Challenging Editing Quiz. This time we hired 11 people and promoted two. The field just keeps producing excellent candidates for these positions, and we are ever grateful that they keep wanting to work with us.

PraxisWiki Section Editors: Kristi McDuffie (promoted from Associate Editor), Kathryn Perry, and Matthew Vetter
Communications Editors: Freddie DeBoer and John Jones
Disputatio Editor:Moe Folk (promoted from his long-time position as an Assistant Editor)
Assistant Editors:Phill Alexander, Elizabeth Chamberlain, Brandy Dieterle, Carly Finseth, Josh Mehler, Dawn Opel, and Bret Zawilski

20th anniversary issue CFP

We are gearing up for the 20th anniversary issue of Kairos, which will be published next January 1—a few weeks earlier than usual to coincide with the inaugural issue’s release on that date in 1996. We have a few webtexts in progress for that special issue, but if you have an idea to revisit a piece, a concept, or a collection of webtexts from our archives, or want to forecast what our field’s or our journal’s next 10 or (gasp!) 20 years might look like, send us an email! Final webtexts will be due by June 1, but there’s PLENTY of time to put something together and have us review it before that arrives.