Volume 7, Issue 1 Spring 2002
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Sonja Bagby and Krista Homicz
INTERVIEWS EDITOR, kinterviews@earthlink.net


Introducing the new Kairos Interviews Section

Sonja Bagby and Krista Homicz

The art of interviewing has an inherent tension. The progression from the spoken word to the written word is laced with ambiguity, write Andrea Fontana and James H. Frey. That ambiguity creates a tension that haunts an interviewer desiring to convey accurately the intent of a creator of information to receivers of the information.

This tension increases as the interviewer attempts to communicate an image of the speaker and the ideas he or she presents during the give-and-take of the interview encounter: What kind of a person is the speaker? What does she stand for? Should we respect her? Can we trust what she is saying?

Further tension grows as the interviewer designs a method for delivering the interview to an audience: How much of the interviewer's point of view should be evident in reporting and interpreting the speaker's words? What parts of the interview should be included or excluded in the final reporting? How should the interview be presented - in what medium or format? And how should the audience be involved in the final presentation?

No doubt even more tension will arise, as the potential for ambiguity in interviewing grows, when we progress not only from the spoken to the written word but also into the realm of technology with various multimedia formats using written, spoken, and visual images. In her book, On Photography, Susan Sontag speaks of a certain "grammar" in photographs and images. She speaks of pictures as giving us "a new visual code" by which to interpret reality. A technology-based interview format, likewise, might provide a code by which we critically examine and analyze the ways scholars represent themselves in various multimedia, and we may also be able to better understand the ways media can shape audience impressions. With an "Environment for Multi-Media Authoring," Kohei Suzuki says that nonsymbolic representations, such as image, video and sound, can be rich in semantics and may have multiple interpretations. Therefore, the possibilities for creating or for plumbing the depths of tension and ambiguity within the multimedia interview genre are limitless. That is why the interview format, with its many tensions created from interviewing and from examining the conscious construction of an interview, promises to provide an exciting dynamic for the academic online community.

Because the interview serves scholars' purposes both as a science of data collection and as an art of translation, representation, and knowledge-making, this genre has much to say about how we represent what we do as scholars and teachers with regard to rhetoric, technology, and pedagogy. We are challenged professionally to represent our own forms for being simultaneously technologists and humanists with our theoretical designs and our educational practices.

To meet this challenge, our aim in this "Interviews Section" of Kairos is to theorize new ways of interviewing and to call upon those who read, write, and conduct interviews to envision with us the possibilities for innovative interview formats - ones that account for the varied forms of writing we engage in with our scholarship and with our students: creating hypertexts, building and chatting in MOO spaces, collaborating with CMC, including multiple and competing voices, designing in multimedia, making ethical choices for ordering in and ordering out bits of knowledge. Representing interviews through new and emergent forms will be a focus for this section.

In our interviews, we mean to give attention to "rhetoric . . . technology . . . pedagogy" - their order, their space, the gaps between, and the bridging we mean to do of those gaps. However, we do not feel that it is our job always to stand in those gaps, to connect or to "quilt" these perspectives. We also mean to attend to the fact that sometimes we might not connect, and we may cut the "golden thread," as it were, that normally unites these themes in Kairos.

Through extended interviews with leading scholars, we will seek to clarify the issues in scholars' works that fascinate and perhaps confound us. We also desire to seek out the "emerging" scholars and report their ideas and accomplishments.

Tell us about the people you would like to hear from in Kairos! Contact Krista L. Homicz or Sonja S. Bagby at kinterviews@earthlink.net with your suggestions for interviewees or with suggestions for interview forums.

Fontana, Andrea, and Frey, James H. "Interviewing: The Art of Science." In Denzin, N.K., and Lincoln, Y. S. Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. 1994.

Sontag, Susan. On Photography. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1973.

Suzuki, Kohei. Environment for Multi-Media Authoring: eMMa--A Knowledge-Based Environment For Multimedia Authoring. http://www.ipa.go.jp/STC/MMP/index-e.html. 1997.