College Composition and Communication Online


Editorials from 51.3 February, 2000

From the Web Editor


As a kid, my favorite Disney ride was Space Mountain, which is an indoor roller coaster ride, mostly in the dark, that seems to last about 90 seconds, although the waiting line is typically thirty to forty minutes long. Originally, as you exited your rocket-ship roller coaster seat, moving sidewalks and escalators herded you past Disney's vision of domestic life in the new millennium. As I recall, the exit exhibit included four or five scenes depicting a bright-eyed, white, Cleaver-like family in various animatron postures of ordinary life in outer space: dad fixing the space station, grandma video-calling family members in other parts of the galaxy, teenagers listening to odd-looking musical disks in their bedrooms, robots cleaning the house, mom shopping for cookware online. This fantasy was familiar to many of us who grew up in the age of moon landings, the Jetsons, and Kubrick's "2001."

I recently saw an advertisement for a new vacuum cleaner: a shiny, shin-high orb that quietly trolls your living room on its own, inhaling debris like one of those automated pool cleaners. Thus, even though Disney didn't foresee the future perfectly (especially in terms of demographics and space travel), it's astonishing how much of the fantasy is now within our technological grasp. Realizing the vision culturally and politically remains, sadly, an enormous challenge. I can video-conference toll-free with my friend in Dublin who once rode with me on Space Mountain, but I have no means, Internet or otherwise, to contact a teaching fellow abroad for a semester in Ghana--she has disappeared in the new millennium.

Likewise, CCC Online remains limited more by politics and culture than by technology. For example, it would take less than five minutes to upload a full-text electronic copy of each issue of the journal, compared to the twenty or so hours required to prepare an issue of CCC Online in the current format. But no one is sure how an online, full-text version of the journal might influence subscriptions, so we hesitate to offer a full-text edition just yet.

Still, I am optimistic about the role and the future of this online journal, even in its safe, current form in which the contents of each issue are available online (except for the articles, of which we only offer abstracts). In my inaugural editorial in March of 1998, I wrote:

I firmly believe that the Internet is superior to paper as a medium for archiving, distributing, and sharing most of the research, scholarship, and information in our field. I am convinced that increasing access to this body of work will benefit our profession and, concomitantly, our students.
I remain confident that the Internet is superior to paper as a medium for this journal. Truth is, online publication can offer readers much more than print. In addition to the content of the typical print issue, CCC Online continues to publish CCCC position statements, archives of past issues, a powerful online bibliographic database (see the "Index"), and electronic materials and articles that simply cannot be presented on paper.

Beginning with the February 2000 issue, CCC Online will publish much of its content in PDF format, which means that readers can download, read, and even print content formatted exactly as it appears in the print edition of CCC, including original pagination. Depending on how your Internet browser is configured, these PDF files will either appear seamlessly on screen or need to be downloaded and opened on your local computer. Most of you already have the software (Adobe Acrobat) necessary to read PDF files on your computers, but those who do not can obtain this software at no charge ( PDF format can be easier to read and search than a Web page, especially for readers with less than perfect vision. The new format preserves pagination, which is important for citation. More importantly, PDF format promises to make long-term archival more consistent and to hasten the eventual transition to an online, full-text edition of CCC .

But perhaps the most significant change is that the journal now accepts hypertext article submissions for publication in CCC Online. Hypertext article submissions will be refereed according to the same standards and procedures as a typical print submission. And, once published, hypertext articles in CCC Online will be considered for the annual Braddock Award for the best article in CCC. In other words, the editors of CCC aim to demonstrate that hypertext publication can be as scholarly, valuable, and rigorous as its print counterpart.

Online journals can and should be more interactive than their print siblings; however, to date, CCC Online has not generated much email from readers. To improve reader response, CCC Online will now offer an online, interactive Internet forum for discussing the articles published in CCC (see "CCC Interactive").

Of course, no re-vision of a journal, either in print or online, seems complete without a new look. Marilyn Cooper, Editor of CCC , has worked with Barbara Yale-Read to redesign the print edition, and CCC Online has been redesigned to complement those changes. Readers of CCC Online continue to have the option of three interfaces: a more robust graphical interface, a mid-range frames-based interface, or a pure-text navigational system. This design allows the content files to remain in their original format while enabling a choice of navigational interfaces. The high-end graphical interface is now animated, but the other options remain the same. Users who wish to view the graphical interface but would like to avoid much of the introductory animation can take a shortcut (at On the one hand, such stylistic changes are admittedly superficial. It's difficult to assert that an animated "cover" to CCC Online signifies a substantial improvement; it will probably even irritate some users who wish to access content as directly as possible. As editor, I have always felt that CCC Online should emphasize substance over style (see "Current Issue(s)"). Yet, the new design has designs. The animated cover suggests that subscribers to the journal and the members of the organization it represents are leaders rather than followers in the evolution of communication, especially online. We are as savvy as Disney, if not more so. I believe that our students, our scholarship, and the profession will become more powerful as we first embrace and then shape multimedia communication. Beginning February 2000, each cover of the print edition of CCC will feature a new photograph. As simple as this change may seem, it acknowledges that the profession and this journal must consider "composition" in a variety of media, not just print. Perhaps this signifies the return of the fourth "C"?

Todd Taylor
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
February 2000

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From the Editor

CCC 2000

It is both a daunting and exciting task to take on the editorship of CCC. I am at the same time mindful of the legacy handed on to me--and especially of the good work done with the journal by Joe Harris--and engaged by possible changes we could make that could help the journal better serve the needs and desires of college writing teachers at the beginning of this new millennium. The changes that have occurred over the past half-century raise pressing questions for us, questions about how and why we teach writing--and what we should be teaching. Who are our students now and what kinds of writing or communicating (in what genres, using what technologies) will they be required to do, or do they want and need to do? What are the standards for written language, format design, and representation in general now: how much variation is encouraged, allowed, or desired, and how do different genres and technologies of communication affect those standards? What are the possibilities and limitations of the current institutional structures, public expectations, and government policies that make up the environment in which we design and administer writing and communication programs? What can we do--and what do we want to do--in our teaching of writing and communication to contribute to making our society a better one: fairer, more equitable, more forward thinking and more concerned with the common good?

When I go to CCCC and the other composition and rhetoric conferences, when I talk with other writing teachers at their institutions, I hear lots of ways of thinking about these questions that never occurred to me, that startle me and move my thinking and teaching in new directions. I take hurried notes on bits of paper; I have intriguing and too-brief discussions of new ideas, experiences, policies, theories. The journals I read are never quite as stimulating as these conversations. Of course, journals can't mimic the give and take of face-to-face conversation or publish the thoughts of as many people as one talks with at conferences, but I can't help but think that they could be sites where more perspectives get to rub up against one another and compare and conflict and reflect. I know, too, that journals are shaped by those who read the journal and those who send in their writing as much as by the editor, and so I'd like to enlist the help of all of you--teachers, administrators, scholars and researchers, tutors, theorists, students, community literacy workers--in making CCC this kind of site, a place where we can share perspectives and experiences and listen to each other and think hard about what it means to teach writing and communication in the social contexts of the twenty-first century.

I am also especially concerned that articles published in CCC speak to the diverse readers of the journal, including teachers of writing in a variety of positions (full-time and part-time faculty, staff, tutors, graduate teaching assistants) and at a variety of institutions (two-year, four-year, and liberal arts colleges; research universities; community literacy centers), as well as graduate students in rhetoric and composition programs and (sometimes) undergraduate students, administrators of writing programs, department chairs and (sometimes) upper-level administrators, community literacy workers and literacy program developers, and even (sometimes) legislators, employers, parents, and alumni. I think it is necessary for us to communicate our perspectives on writing pedagogy to a broader readership if we hope to develop and gain support for more inclusive and effective writing and communication programs.

As I hope this issue demonstrates, I don't think speaking to a broader readership means that we must avoid detailed discussion of pedagogy, or consideration of difficult theories, or complex discussions of research and issues, just that we consider the interests and perspectives of the variety of readers who are affected by our theories, pedagogies, and policies. It also means that we must be more open to alternate genres and formats for presenting research, scholarship, and reflection, alternatives that enable new perspectives and draw in new audiences. The issues that concern us can--and indeed must--be made understandable to those outside as well as inside our profession without loss of rigor or precision, as can the theories we find useful, the research we undertake, and the pedagogical practices and program policies we wish to promote.

I am also trying out a new section of the journal, "In Brief," which will provide information on laws, policies, and decisions that affect our teaching. In this issue, the Caucus on Intellectual Property offers guidelines on the vexed question of fair use, and Barbara Gleason, whose compelling article reporting the successful mainstreaming of "basic" writing students at CUNY will appear in the June issue, reports here on the paradoxical decision of CUNY's Board of Trustees to require students who fail the Writing Assessment Test to take a remedial course at a community college.

We are also working to make CCC Online more interactive and to add features that supplement the print journal: be sure to check the update on the offerings of CCC Online that will appear in each issue at the end of the table of contents. And also please attend to the new "CCC Guidelines for Writers" included in this issue.

The heart of the discipline of composition studies is its dedicated teachers. Each of us is dedicated to different visions, and together we represent a multitude of perspectives on language and writing and communicating and teaching. We have a lot to learn from one another--and from those outside our profession who are equally concerned with how writing and the teaching of writing shapes the society we live in. Let us dedicate the pages of CCC to learning from each other and to teaching writing and communication in a way that promotes a fair and just and diverse society.

In praise of Joe

I join all readers of CCC in thanking Joe Harris for the dedication and wisdom with which he edited the journal for the past six years. The issues he published--especially the two 50th Anniversary issues--set a high standard for scholarship in rhetoric and composition studies, and his acute and caring responses to all submissions were a tremendous contribution to scholarship in our field. Joe's work with the journal--as well as his book A Teaching Subject, which I review in this issue--is a powerful argument that scholarship is not a matter of finding time for "our own" work, but of recognizing and articulating the knowledge we make together in our teaching, our writing, and our professional service. For the example he set, for the arguments he has made, our field is much indebted to Joe Harris, and I am honored to follow him as editor of CCC.

Marilyn M. Cooper

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