Logging On

Michael J. Faris, Editor

As we enter the fourth calendar year of a global pandemic, scholarly publishing continues to be challenging, and I'm incredibly grateful to the wonderful staff at Kairos who have brought this issue together by providing authors with feedback, editing webtexts, and most of all being charitable and kind humans. Additionally, I am constantly amazed by members of our editorial board, who volunteer to review submissions and provide some of the most generous and generative feedback I've witnessed. Kairos is only possible because of the volunteer (unpaid!) labor of so many wonderful people.

We're excited about a few staffing changes at Kairos. Longtime Editor Cheryl Ball has joined Doug Eyman as a Senior Editor. Cheryl has already been collaborating with Doug on many of the Senior Editor duties for some time, so this transition is quite natural. I was trying to figure out what to say about Cheryl, so I gave OpenAI's ChatGPT (more on that below) the following prompt: "write a paragraph about how amazing Cheryl Ball has been as an editor for the journal Kairos." And here's what it spit out (unedited), which is pretty spot-on:

Cheryl Ball has been an exceptional editor for the journal Kairos. Her leadership and dedication to the field of digital rhetoric and writing studies have been instrumental in shaping the journal's content and direction. She has fostered a community of scholars and practitioners who are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in digital rhetoric, and her passion for the field is evident in every issue. She has worked tirelessly to ensure that the journal is at the forefront of cutting-edge research, and her efforts have resulted in Kairos becoming one of the most highly-regarded journals in the field. Her ability to balance the need for rigorous academic scholarship with a commitment to diversity and inclusivity has made the journal a go-to source for scholars and practitioners alike. It is an honor to have her as an editor, and her contributions to Kairos will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on the field.

In practical terms, Cheryl's change in position means that she'll continue the wonderful work that she's been doing, and I'm now solely responsible for production editing and this Logging On column. I went through the journal's archives to read some of Cheryl's early work, and I'm struck by what Cheryl and her Coeditor Beth Hewett, along with Senior Editors Douglas Eyman and James Inman, wrote in the tenth anniversary issue, when Cheryl became Coeditor—yes, 17(!) years ago:

We are working to balance the mission of "pushing boundaries in academic publishing" and supporting "the voices of those too often marginalized in the academy" with the complicated and untimely procedures of publishing what has become a major journal in the field. This moment for Kairos, we believe, is a fine balance between beginnings and what-will-become, fun and scholarly value, flexibility and credibility. (Ball et al., 2006)

I write below about the pace of technological change, but it amazes me how, while Kairos has changed quite a bit in the last 17 years, the commitments to both pushing boundaries and social justice have remained firm (as has our commitment to fun!). This unwavering commitment is, in large part, due to the leadership of Cheryl and Doug and to the many others who have worked for and/or continue to work for Kairos. I'm looking forward to more "beginnings and what-will-become."

We've also hired a new Reviews Coeditor, Jonathan Marine, a PhD student at George Mason, who will work with Ashanka Kumari, and a new Social Media Co-Manager, Cameron Cavaliere, a PhD student at Miami University of Ohio, who will work with Vyshali Manivannan. One of the great joys I've had in my tenure at Kairos is working with new colleagues who bring energy, excitement, and innovation to the journal, and I'm excited to have Jonathan and Cameron join us.

In This Issue

Our Spring 2023 issue includes four great webtexts that we're excited to share with you. In the Topoi section, Eric York theorizes and categorizes dark patterns—or intentionally deceptive interface designs—in "Deceptive by Design: The Visual Rhetorical Mechanism of Dark Patterns." York provides examples of a variety of practices related to dark patterns and argues that we need to understand and combat these deceptive practices.

Lyra Hilliard's Praxis webtext, "Synchronous Interventions: Revisiting Web Conferencing in the Composition Classroom," shares her practices with web conferencing and collaborative use of word-processing sites (like Google Docs) in hybrid courses with sychronous online components. Hilliard's piece is timely as many writing programs and teachers are considering how to best deliver both online and hybrid courses "post"-pandemic, and she shares some useful practices to bolster interactivity, to promote teacher and student presence, and to make learning more visible to students.

This issue also has two Reviews webtexts. Angela Laflen reviews Amanda Licastro and Benjamin M. Miller's edited collection Composition and Big Data, and Stephen Paur reviews Bruce McComiskey's Post-Truth Rhetoric and Composition. Both of these reviews are delightful, showcasing the possibilities for born-digital book reviews to provide something different than traditional reviews. In Laflen's case, she provides an engaging video overviewing Composition and Big Data. Paur's webtext provides some metacommentary on post-truth rhetoric by sharing pop-up editorial commentary from "the Intrepid Fact-Checking Squad."

Technology Changes: Twitter, Mastodon, ChatGPT, TikTok

It's become a truism that technology is rapidly changing and that keeping up with those changes is increasingly difficult. (Indeed, this why Kairos has made sustainability a central priority in our publishing process.) Scholars and teachers of writing technologies are often challenged to research and teach in ways that our work matters with current technologies but also translates when those current technologies become obsolete. As my advisor, Stuart Selber, told me when I was in graduate school, we should write about new technologies in ways that will continue to matter for years to come.

The last few months have shown us just how much technological shifts can alter our work as scholars and teachers. Twitter—a site of scholarly and political conversations across disciplines for over a decade now—was purchased by Elon Musk for $44 billion in mid-2022. Since that takeover (and even before), many were debating—and continue to debate—whether Twitter would continue to be a useful and ethical space to continue public conversations. In short, Twitter has become a dumpster fire as policies shift and change, as employees are fired, as some abhorrent behavior now goes unchecked, and as journalists get banned (Farhi, 2022).

Kairos editors and staff are currently discussing if we'll stay on Twitter (as many others are debating), but we do want to encourage scholars in the field to join Mastodon, a federated microblogging platform that has been gaining momentum over the last few months. Humanities Commons has developed a Mastodon Quick Start Guide for Humanities Scholars (Vincent, 2022) that we've found quite useful for those new to Mastodon. And they run the humanities.social server if you're looking for a Mastodon instance to join. (The Washington Post has a guide to Mastodon as well [Kelly, 2022].) While Kairos doesn't have a Mastodon account yet, we will once we onboard our new Social Media Co-Manager.

2022 also brought the release of OpenAI's ChatGPT, an automated intellegence chat interface that quite quickly caught the attention of educators because of how sophisticated the chat responses could be. Soon, folx like Stephen Marche (2022) of The Atlantic were sounding the alarm, announcing "The College Essay Is Dead." Of course, the situation is more complicated than that. Kairos readers interested in the effects of ChatGPT on rhetoric and writing pedagogy might check out the following:

  • This episode of What Next: TBD (Peck, 2022) (transcript), in which guest Alex Kantrowitz explained some of the dynamics of ChatGPT and automated intelligence.
  • Steven D. Krause's (2022) blog post "AI Can Save Writing by Killing 'The College Essay'." Krause shared how he asked students last fall to "cheat" using ChatGPT and reflect on their experiences using the AI. Krause concluded (in a line that many writing teachers are familiar with) that AI is going to be less of a problem for plagiarism if we teach writing instead of merely assigning writing.
  • John Warner's (2023) Insider Higher Ed post "How About We Put Learning at the Center?" In a similar vein as Krause, Warner wrote, "when people express concern that students will use ChatGPT to complete their assignments, I understand the concern, but what I don't understand is why this concern is so often channeled into discussions about how to police student behavior, rather than using this as an opportunity to exam[ine] the kind of work we actually ask students (and faculty) to do around learning. If ChatGPT can do the things we ask students to do in order to demonstrate learning, it seems possible to me that those things should've been questioned a long time ago."

Last, I want to mention one of my favorite apps, TikTok, which became one of the most popular social media apps worldwide during and after the lockdowns of 2020. I know many scholars are studying TikTok, and at least a few rhetoric and writing teachers are using it in their classes. Kairos editors have discussed whether the journal should create a TikTok account, but some editorial staff discouraged doing so because of potential threats to TikTok's usage in the United States. Due to concerns about TikTok owner ByteDance's potential ties to the Chinese government, the app has been banned from government-issued devices in many U.S. states and banned from use on some university campuses' Internet networks (Schaffer, 2023). I imagine these bans, whether motivated by real security concerns or by political grandstanding, will continue. I raise this issue about TikTok not solely because I love the app (I do!) but because it reminds us as researchers and teachers of new media to consider long-term issues about new media. (Download and archive those videos you're studying. Have backup plans for teaching with new media in case your desired platforms goes away. Keep local copies of social media productions you created or student examples you want to show future classes. Write scholarship about new media in a way that transfers to other sites and isn't just applicable to the specific site you're studying. And so forth.)

Other News and Updates

  • Over the last few years, we've hosted various open houses to answer questions and mentor potential authors. Managing Editors Chris Andrews and Erin Kathleen Bahl are planning more, probably one in March 2023, so be on the lookout on social media (whether Twitter or Mastodon or elsewhere) for announcements.
  • Increasingly folx are reading websites on their mobile devices, and over the last few issues, we've tried to make sure webtexts are responsive to screen size. But our landing pages and other static pages currently don't work so well on mobile devices. We're working on it! Associate Editor Nupoor Ranade has volunteered to work with Doug to make the journal's site responsive so that (soon we hope!) you can read Kairos on just about any device.
  • We've also transitioned how we solicit reviewers for Tier 2/Editorial Board reviews. In the long-ago days, we used YahooGroups to communicate with the Editorial Board and solicit reviewers, but when YahooGroups went away, Managing Editors emailed individual Editorial Board members asking if they were available for reviews. We've moved back to the old-school style, using GoogleGroups, and it's improving response time and review time considerably. Also, when Cheryl started the new GoogleGroup for the Editorial Board, she asked folx to (re)introduce themselves, and we all had the pleasures of reading Ed Board members' memories of working with Kairos over the years. We've also merged the Kairos Editorial Board and the editorial board for the PraxisWiki section (which were previously separate). And we've had some comings and goings on the Ed Board, so be sure to check out the current Board and alumni.
  • Cheryl is running KairosCamp Lite—A Mini Institute, a half-day virtual mini-institute to give "scholars at any point in their careers the guidance to successfully move digital projects along their paths." It's a three-hour interactive workshop for folx who want to build digital humanities projects, webtexts, or other digital publishing projects and need guidance on how to get started. I encourage you to sign up if that's you. Her next workshop is January 27, 2023, from 12–3pm Eastern.

Support Kairos through Patreon or Paypal

A reminder: We have a Patreon page where you can pledge to support Kairos. We currently have four levels: You can support the journal for $2, $5, $10, or $20 a month. Kairos is currently 100% volunteer-run, and server costs and other costs add up.

A special thank you for new supporters since our last issue's publication:

  • John Gallagher
  • Margaret Price

Patreon supporters have helped us raise over $925 in the last year, which helps to pay for server space (storing and sharing 27 years of multimedia online is expensive!) and other expenses. We also have a Paypal donation page for one-time donations. Thank you all so much!


Ball, Cheryl E., Hewett, Beth L., Eyman, Douglas, & Inman, James. (2006). Logging on: Kairos: The next ten years. Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, 11(1). https://kairos.technorhetoric.net/11.1/binder.html?loggingon/index.html

Farhi, Paul. (2022, December 16). Musk suspends journalists from Twitter, claims "assassination" danger. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/media/2022/12/15/twitter-journalists-suspended-musk/

Kelly, Heather. (2022, December 17). A guide to getting started with Twitter alternative Mastodon. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/12/17/how-to-join-mastodon/

Krause, Steven D. (2022, December 10). AI can save writing by killing "the college essay." Steven D. Krause: Writer, Professor, and Everything Else. http://stevendkrause.com/2022/12/10/ai-can-save-writing-by-killing-the-college-essay/

Marche, Stephen. (2022, December 6). The college essay is dead. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2022/12/chatgpt-ai-writing-college-student-essays/672371/

Peck, Emily (Host). (2022, December 9). Let's talk, chatbots. In What next: TBD [Audio podcast]. Slate. https://slate.com/podcasts/what-next-tbd/2022/12/chatgpt-is-a-promising-and-only-slightly-scary-ai-chatbot

Shaffer, Aaron. (2023, January 10). There are TikTok bans in nearly two dozen states. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/01/10/there-are-tiktok-bans-nearly-two-dozen-states/

Warner, John. (2023, January 4). How about we put learning at the center? Inside Higher Ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/just-visiting/how-about-we-put-learning-center

Vincent, Alana. (2022, November 27). Mastodon quick start guide for humanities scholars. Humanities Commons. https://hcommons.org/docs/mastodon-quick-start-guide-for-humanities-scholars/