The WAC Clearinghouse

CCCC 2001 in Review: B.30 9:30-11:45 Electric Prophesies: On the Future of Electronic Publication and Discourse in Rhetoric and Composition, chaired by Cynthia Selfe

Presenters: Cynthia Haynes, Lynn Worsham, Christopher Thaiss, David Blakesley, Byron Hawk, Sharon Quiroz, Douglas Eyman.

This roundtable discussion explored the future of electronic publishing. Each presenter talked for about 5 minutes, explaining the editorial philosophy of the e-journal they edited.

Haynes: PreText Electrolyte
Haynes made the point that ejournals should provide multiple directories for readers to explore rather than explicit directions for the field to take. She explained that the editors espoused a "theory of non-submission" which was intended to foreground the technology itself.

Worsham: JAC Online
This journal was the first print journal with an online presence in composition studies. Worsham suggested that it has great potential for "reviewers being reviewed"-- possibility for interactive dialogue between readers and writers. She also suggested that the profession needs to work toward changing the perception and politics in department to overcome the preconceived notion that ejournals lack rigor and substance.

Thaiss: Inventio and English Matters
Both of these journals are cross-disciplinary and multi-media in focus. English Matters is put out by a new media group in the department. This collaboration across different segments of the department has had the benefit of working to involves faculty to change attitudes together and to cross traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Blakesley: The Writing Instructor
This traditionally print journal is being resurrected as an ejournal: "a networked journal for a digital community." Blakesley made the point that online communities are always reconstructing the "code" of the profession.

Hawkes: Enculturation
Hawkes posed the question: "How does a journal qualify as an e-journal?" Many print journals may also have an online presence, but print is the primary vehicle of distribution. He stated that all journals, but especially ejournals, need to pay attention to their ethos. It will help if peer review processes are open--perhaps peer reviews can even be posted on a searchable database. The advantages of ejournals include timely dissemination, new forms of media and the ability to push the boundaries of the media. We should "celebrate the e in ejournal."

Quiroz: Language Learning Across the Disciplines, available via a Academic.Writing
LLAD focused on practitioners who may not be from English departments. Even though the journal itself is a print journal, the review processes, editorial process, etc are all electronic. Some kinds of journals are better in print format for readability sake and for reaching the intended audience.

The goal of KAIROS is to use the media in a new way. One of the principle advantages is the volume of readers reached: KAIROS went from 30 hits per month to 10,000 hits per month in about three years. Ejournals could be used in more creative ways--to report on the Q&A sessions of conferences or other institutional or professional conversations, for example.

During the Q&A session, the following questions were raised and discussed:

Electronic indexes? How can these journals be made easier to find?

ERIC database, 4Cs bibliography, etc. Journal editors plan to make more effort to be certain their journals are widely indexed.

Maybe the ethos problem is not a cultural problem but rather a technical problem or lag in screen readability?

Benefits of ejournals? Why have them?

Start-up costs are significantly less
Looks at what we do differently
Reaches much broader audience
Works in progress can be made accessible
Flexibility in use of images, length, form
Can revise earlier articles that were printed
Need appropriate citation styles for such changed editions
Published versions could be linked to authors' evolving version
Participate in a medium that produces knowledge-so we begin to know differently and represent differently (Ontological vs. epistemological)
Knowledge vs. skill-melding of form and content
Knowledge of writing as an activity rather than product
Consent forms-the profession needs to figure out how these can be captured for information that is displayed as audio or video
Where is knowledge as well as what is knowledge?
Public knowledge, communally constructed
How is such knowledge evaluated? [CH]

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