RhetNetFebruary 1995

Authority: Focused of diffuse?

Eric Crump

Hmmm. Here's a curious thing. We don't need to have anyone in charge of MBU-L* for participation to occur, do we? I mean, Fred (from whom I have learned much) intensionally and publicly declines to take charge in any conventional sense--which is not to say he has no influence. His stance sets the stage. People respond to the tone he sets by persistently fanning the flames of conversation. It's a list with momentum. Same with CREWRT-L. Lots of momentum. Lots of energy. No moderator. No imposed standards or regulations (standards & conventions emerge from the community). No assignments. No deadlines. Just 'public' discussion/debate/diddly-doodle.

So why, when we use the terms 'publication' and 'editing' do we assume there must be a semblence of hierarchy, a locus of authority, and some mechanism of developing and enforcing values from 'above' so to speak?

>In short, maybe we need an editor.

Sure. OK.

(I'm smiling to myself because I suspect there are about two dozen different conceptions out there of what and who an editor of this gig would be, what they would do, and how. And why. What a job! Where do I sign up?)

>The second choice (my favorite) is don't edit anything-- make people sign >the materials so they know that they're responsible for it, and simply >publish it.

Yeah. Sounds interesting. Sounds like it kinda fits what I am thinking editing entails. We should maybe call it 'expansive editing' as opposed to the 'subtractive editing' that occurs in print. That is, editors of a print journal must, because of the nature and cost of the medium they use, continually work toward a very efficient final product. The text has to be pared down to its purest form, succinct. Online, as you note Steve, we have elbow room. We can edit by accrual, adding clarification and commentary and concurrence and dissention ad infinitum (more or less).

So when someone sends in something, and it gets put on the web & gopher servers, the fun is just beginning: that's the start of the editing process, not the end. We're not avoiding editing or 'peer review', we're just relocating and reconfiguring those functions.

* MBU-L@unicorn.acs.ttu.edu is a mailing list for computers and writing teachers/scholars/students. It was started about 1989 by Fred Kemp, director of composition and Texas Tech University and continues to host a thriving network community.

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Date:         Thu, 2 Feb 1995 13:54:51 -0500
Sender: CyberJournal for Rhetoric and Writing 
From: Eric Crump 
Subject:      Re: all: editing?

Do you have something to say?

steve's note mick's note