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Goldilocks & The Three (or Four) Digital Scholarship Books
Transcript of Goldilocks & The Three (or Four) Digital Scholarship Books
(1) Borgman's "Scholarship in a Digital Age" (2007)
(2) Willinsky's "The Access Principle" (2005),
(3) Fitzpatrick's "Planned Obsolescence" (2009ish), and
(4) O'Gorman's "E-Crit" (2007).
or Four Borgman, Christine. (2007). Scholarship in a digital age: Information, infrastructure, and the Internet. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (336 pp.) Contents Review
*Scholarship in a Digital Age* aims to "characterize what is going on today [in regards to scholarship], and to set those developments in social, historical, and technological contexts" (p. 245). Scholarship, Borgman implies, refers to traditional forms of scholarly output such as peer-reviewed articles, but also refers to new kinds of scholarly work, such as the large amounts of data that the sciences, in particular, are producing thanks to new digital tools and infrastructures. This book defines the processes inherent to scholarly production, defines, these new scholarly outputs due to digital technologies, and subtlely argues (so much so that I missed the point of the book for the first several chapters) for more and better cyberinfrastructure to support them.
On first opening Christine Borgman's "Scholarship in a Digital Age," readers sense that the table of contents listed above is highly abbreviated. The Detailed Contents for this book includes a listing of 214 headings and subheadings and spans seven pages. In these 214 sections, the book addresses scholarly minutiae such as “Informal and Formal Purposes of Conferences” in content blocks that average a page in length. What the brevity of topic coverage signals is an encyclopedic-like approach to all issues relating to, as the subtitle says, the information and infrastructure of digital scholarship.
In each chapter, Borgman’s impartial (and infuriating, to me) reporting of facts about "digital scholarship" feel more like Wikipedia entries than a scholarly book that speaks to the current issues in the field(s). That is, in an attempt to remain impartial (the reason for which becomes clear at the end of the book), Borgman's book on digital scholarship has little discernible argument, at least not in the way that rhetoricians would easily recognize. By listing and defining items related to the convoluted context of digital scholarship within the academy, but without putting those items into conversation within the book, Borgman succeeds at providing a mostly thorough (especially for the sciences) reference guide for administrators (and perhaps librarians and academics) who want a primer on current terms and issues with digital scholarship. Her approach is particularly "sciency," as evidenced by her reliance on the term "E-Research," which she indicates is borne out of the tendency in "Europe, Asia, Australia, and elsewhere" to use the term "E-Science" (p. 19). "E-Research," she says, "has begun to encompass scholarly infrastructure for all disciplines" (p. 20), which was news to me as a digital scholarship specialist.
Borgman begins to lay out her argument in Chapter 7, but it isn't until the last chapter that she most clearly states her argument: "We are currently in the early stages of inventing an e-Research infrastructure for scholarship in the digital age" (p. 254). And she's right. Because we’re in the early stages of building such an infrastructure (one which she argues we should pay more attention to), her infuriating impartiality on important topics in digital scholarship makes sense. This book isn’t about staking claim to any particular view of digital scholarship; it simply defines the terms that stakeholders have to pay attention to as they move forward in creating this e-Research infrastructure. But, don't be taken in by assuming that "scholarship in a digital age" gives equal treatment to the humanities, let alone our particularly quirky niche of digital writing studies. Borgman is almost exclusively talking about the ways that scientists and social scientists distribute their pre-print and published work in repositories, the need for more collective repositories that will house data (as opposed to scholarship about that data), and (in very short treatment) the way humanities scholars can benefit from the needed infrastructure for their "digitization" efforts. However, I suppose she gives about as much treatment to the literary-critical digital humanities (which has a much stronger national and international presence than digital media scholarship does) in comparison to the much larger investment and presence that the social sciences and sciences have in digital scholarship. Audiences & Uses Stakeholders interested in building large-scale repositories of e-Research. To include funding leaders, academic administrators in charge of Information Technology on campus, and digital librarians.Individual academics from across the Big Three disciplines (sciences, social sciences, and humanities) that plan on working with any of the above to build this infrastructure (keep in mind that Borgman doesn't think individual academics should do it themselves; it's too big a project).Individual academics across the Big Three who want to better understand the basic terms used when experts discuss digital scholarship. WAC scholars who are interested in seeing how scholarship works in the other Big Two disciplines (sciences, social sciences). For the most part, you can stick with Chapters 4 and 5, although you can clearly skim the other sections according to the headers Borgman provides in the Detailed Table of Contents. Methodology scholars who relish the thought of a whole chapter that defines "data."Digital journal editors in the humanities who want to see how our processes are and are not (mostly the latter) represented in Borgman's otherwise detailed view of how scholarship works in the Big Three. Only sparingly with undergraduates in a Digital Publishing class, to help get them up to speed on terms that academics use every day without thinking about them (e.g., peer-review, Internet vs. WWW, etc.). In the “Introduction” to *Planned Obsolescence,* Kathleen Fitzpatrick sets the scene for the “crisis in scholarly publishing” by telling the ironic story about trying to publish her first book, which was a commentary on the vitality of books and other cultural artifacts in an age of screen-based media. It was rejected by the press solely for economic reasons, at which point she began to reposition her own argument on books, not as dead vs. alive, but as “undead” (/undead/). She posits that neither the content nor the form of an academic book is the problem, but the “system surrounding its production and dissemination” (/undead/). From this position, Fitzpatrick has helped spearhead several projects that could change the broken academic-publishing system, including MediaCommonsPress, in which this version of her book was published in digital form. Like Willinsky does with Open Journal Systems in *The Access Principle,* Fitzpatrick describes projects like MediaCommons, its press, and related projects like CommentPress (more below) to advocate for large-scale rethinking of academic publishing and tenure systems: “We must collectively consider what new technologies have to offer not us, not just in terms of the cost of publishing or access to publications, but in the ways we research, the ways we write, and the ways we review” (/overview/).
Chapter One, on “Peer Review,” details the history and current-future of peer review. The history of peer review predates scholarly journals, which Willinsky also discusses in his final chapter, and possible futures are demonstrated through current uses of nontraditional peer-review systems like the pre-print venue ArXiv and the open-review experiment (that really wasn’t all that open) that *Nature* conducted in 2008. Although Borgman and Willinsky address many of these same examples, Fitzpatrick’s focus on them through the lens of peer review is different and serves to build the case that peer review is (for the most part) an inherently flawed system. Peer review isn’t a bad thing, Fitzpatrick notes: “The problem is in the implementation of that notion as an exercise in gatekeeping, and its subsequent transformation into a means of creating authority in and of itself” (/credentialing/). Her recommendation, which she explains in the latter half of this chapter, is to separate credentialing from the publishing process and create a community-based, peer-to-peer-review system that filters content, like Digg and Slashdot, through reviews of reviewers.
In Chapter Two, Fitzpatrick begins by address the conflicting theories of "The Author," connecting the shift between the author’s often-heralded rise and death to the moves that are required for scholarly work to continue successfully in the digital age. In many ways, this discussion will be familiar to readers of Kairos: There are quotes from Barthes, Bolter, Landow, etc., with a move into topics such as product to process, individual to collaborative, originality to remix, and intellectual property to gift economy. These moves provide a theoretical and practical foundation on which the field of digital writing studies has been built, but it’s necessary, given Fitzpatrick’s audience of literary and media studies scholars, to address these issues here. What's more,s it’s necessary for digital writing scholars to re-see our traditional theories (some of which are originally crossovers from media studies, such as remix) through Fitzpatrick’s lens. The key here is that she’s not putting these theories to use with student texts produced in classes, as our field has a tendency to do. Instead, she is pointing out scholars’ double standard about authorship in regards to our scholarship, particularly scholarship as it can reside in and change within digital networks. We believe in teaching collaboration, remix, process, and a gift economy; we just don’t want to take the chance to practice that kind of authorship ourselves. And when we do take the chance, the outcomes aren’t always successful. Fitzpatrick acknowledges the stickiness of each of these issues but encourages readers to attend to them because they are necessary shifts to understanding and authoring scholarship in a digital age. She ends the chapter with a section called “from text to… something more,” where she brings up the possibility of writing multimodally and with code as ways scholars can rethink their assumptions about authorship. (Again, something digital writing scholars have already done, but remember that we are not her primary audience.)
As if she had heard my silent qualms from the previous chapter, Fitzpatrick starts Chapter Three on “Texts,” by mentioning the multimodal scholarly journals Kairos and Vectors, but only in passing, as Fitzpatrick is quick to point out that while these are valid projects, “our attention in this project needs to remain on the book, as it is, to some extent, the endangered species we hope to save” (/three-texts/). This chapter examines how the forms that digital writing studies knows and can produce and critique all too well—ebooks, pages, hypertext, e-archives, etc.—offer limited ability to readers and authors to rethink book-publishing opportunities. That is, none of these genres or tools provides the kind of author-reader community that Fitzpatrick suggests can and should exist if we are to rethink the print book in the digital age. She concludes this chapter by describing CommentPress, a WordPress theme that allows paragraph-by-paragraph and whole-book commenting alongside the main text. CommentPress is certainly one way of introducing community discussion and review into one’s in-progress works, and it is the application in which this version of Fitzpatrick’s book is distributed. (See, e.g., my comment on Enacting Her Argument, above-right.)
In Chapter Four on “Preservation,” Fitzpatrick discusses three important issues to those working in digital scholarship: using appropriate markup standards, including metadata and locators, and providing continued access to and availability of digital texts. (four-preservation/) For those working on any kind of web-scale (or even just large) digital project, these issues, and the examples Fitzpatrick provides, won’t be new. But for those who are just embarking on digital anything, she provides brief, engaging summaries about the most widely used standards for access and preservation. Her histories on the Text Encoding Initiative, metadata used in HTML documents, and preservation standards reinforce Borgman’s and Willinsky’s takes on these issues, while also pinpointing their drawbacks (e.g., TEI is primarily meant for digitized text, not “born-digital” texts).
Chapter Five, on “The University” reiterates some of the arguments that Borgman and Willinsky made regarding the need for large-scale cyberinfrastructure and open-access for scholarship. Fitzpatrick goes one step beyond by speculating on the ways universities can impact scholarly publishing by building their own presses or publishing centers. She argues that “Publishing the work of its faculty must be reconceived as central to the university’s mission” (/new-institutional-structures/) and offers examples from the history of university presses to show that this model is a return to the original university press system, not a new, crazy, self-serving idea (/the-history-of-the-university-press/). Fitzpatrick suggests that university presses take on the role of mentors, helping faculty members at their own institutions produce and publish work in the school’s own press or publishing endeavor. While she addresses drawbacks to this model (not including the fact that every university or consorted group would need to hire a press director who has to coordinate this mentoring and publishing effort), it does pose a provocative model of access and distribution of scholarly works across several campus constituents such as the library and IT administrators. She concludes by suggesting that such ventures can be paid for through the services they’d offer to authors: editorial mentoring, marketing, etc., which isn’t likely in the humanities but is still an idea that I can relate to as a journal editor.
Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. (2009/forthcoming). Planned obsolescence: Publishing, technology, and the future of academe. MediaCommonsPress/NYU Press. http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/mcpress/plannedobsolescence/ Contents O'Gorman, Marcel. (2007). E-Crit: Digital media, critical theory, and the humanities. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. (141 pp.) Content/Review & Audiences O'Gorman outlines his agenda in the "Introduction": He is proposing (and testing) a new model for humanities research, pedagogy, and curriculum in light of digital technology and the predominance of the visual. The tone here and throughout the short book is provocative, and the argument is supported with Ulmeristic theories, taking readers through rhizomatic paths of iconic and linguistic evidence. His style is not unlike Geoffrey Sirc's work, with more puns and less subtle disdain for the traditional, scholarly elitism of literary-critical academics, as represented by this quote: "I think it's time to take a harder look at how disciplines rooted in the study and preservation of printed texts can remain relevant and viable in a digital, picture-oriented culture" (p. xiv). To make these attacks, he draws on John Guillory's "fetishization of 'rigor'" and Terry Eagleton's claims that "the end of the 'age of theory' [is] upon us" (p. xiv). O'Gorman's way out of this new crisis for the humanities is Willinsky, John. (2005). The access principle: The case for open access to research and scholarship. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. (307 pp.) Contents Audiences & Uses But... I assumed, when starting to read the book, that Borgman would address my needs as a reader who is highly invested in digital scholarship (both through my work with Kairos and in my own scholarship which leans towards assessing and producing digital scholarship). What I quickly discovered, however, was that there wasn't going to be much in the way of my interests -- more broadly speaking: Kairos' interests -- in this book. It is about scholarship that is distributed through digital means, not digital media scholarship that is distributed because that’s the only possible way it can be. I can't fault Borgman for that (with some exceptions noted elsewhere in this review), but I can say that I was wholly disappointed with the book's limited attention to humanities scholarship and media-rich scholarship that is the mainstay of this journal, my teaching, and my scholarship.
This book is written by a librarian for librarians (and maybe administrators) in a "this is a stub" Wikipedia sort of way. The book has its uses for readers invested in large-scale scholarly publication issues, but that’s not the typical digital writing scholar.
This is the story... of one Goldilocks scholar, teacher, and editor searching for the perfect book about digital scholarship -- one that acknowledges and provides insight about that peculiar brand of digital scholarship: the scholarly, multimodal webtext of the variety that Kairos and other digital media journals publish. I obviously have a stake in seeing discussion of digital media within digital scholarship research, and it colors my review of all these texts (for good and ill) in ways that other digital writing scholars may find troubling. This review is about my search for digital media scholarship in books I thought might have something to do with that topic. The Goldilocks factor came in wildly varied: too broad and sciency, too narrow, too linear, too literary, and, finally, just-about-right. In the end, most of these books did not speak about digital media scholarship in order to make their arguments. Perhaps because of this, I provide my thoughts on where *I* might have taken the argument if writing for an audience of digital media enthusiasts, and those comments are in the margins of this webtext. So, even through I was not the primary audience for most of the books, the journey of searching proved to be altogether a productive one for me and my future digital (media) scholarship. Cheryl E. Ball, Illinois State University, "Normal", IL Happily Ever After? Originally, this review was only supposed to be about Borgman's book, *Scholarship in a Digital Age.* I can't remember if I volunteered or whether Reviews Editor Joddy Murray approached me about it, but I wanted to read the book to see how Borgman positioned digital scholarship from her broad perspective as a librarian and within the humanities more specifically. That was my reading goal: to see if what Borgman had to say could be used to aid, explain, or support my mission of increasing the visibility of digital (media) scholarship in academia. Joddy ended up purchasing the book for me since MIT Press took (what turned out to be) eight months to mail me a review copy! In the meantime, the digital pre-print version of Kathleen Fitzpatrick's book came out, which I knew would make for a great comparison since Fitzpatrick's view is humanities-based. Then, as I was preparing to teach a new class, English 354: Professional Publishing in Theory and Practice, in which I was focusing on digital, scholarly publishing (no surprise there!), I finally got around to reading my copy of John Willinsky's *The Access Principle,* about open-access scholarship. I assigned portions of all three books for that course, and although Willinsky's book wasn't supposed to appear in this review (in part because I thought, mistakenly, that Kairos had already reviewed it), it's here because it complements the others and ended up being rather instrumental to my work in unexpected ways. Finally, after missing several deadlines with Joddy, I emailed him about juuusst ooonne mooooorrreee book recommendation (O'Gorman's *E-Crit,* about the pedagogy of digital media scholarship) I'd gotten at a mid-winter conference that I just couldn't justify leaving out of my review. Another deadline missed, but after a year putting these books together in my teaching, scholarship, and editing work, I hope this review provides some insight to the way digital scholarship is portrayed across several fields in light of the long work Kairos has been doing here. (Joddy said I should call this piece, "Pinkilocks." Duly noted. ;) For instance, here's the hands-off manner in which the "Publication" section begins: "Many of the debates over legitimization, dissemination, and access and curation rest on differences of opinion about what it means to publish something" (p. 98). Borgman starts this section about a highly contested issue in current publishing circles with a moderate tone, which I can appreciate even as it feels disingenuous to avoid the hot-buttonness of those issues by using a neutralizing passive voice.
She does briefly historicize the debate by citing "the Ingelfinger rule" in which the eponymous editor of the New England Journal of Medicine declared in 1969 that he wouldn't publish anything that had been previously published elsewhere, including papers that had been "released to the press before publication" (p. 98). He claimed such papers posed health risks since they weren't verified by peer-review. In 2000, another researcher discounted Ingelfinger's rule by showing that his ruling was really meant to "protect the revenue stream of the Journal" (p. 99). That's not a surprising story. But Borgman doesn't comment on his findings.
Instead, she continues the history lesson by stating that, "At first, these strong stances on what constitutes a prior publication were effective in discouraging online posting. Then the trend shifted" (p. 99). The trend she refers to is the use of arXiv, a pre-print repository for physics scholars, after which she declares "Posting a document online was no longer considered prior publication" (p. 99). I don't know which humanities scholars she's talked to lately, but in the two years I've been affiliated with the Council of Editors of Learned Journals, print and digital journal editors have repeatedly debated this issue on their listserv. This kind of distinction (and oversight) between the way science scholars and the way humanities scholars approach "the digital" is a fundamental flaw of Borgman's work, regardless that this book was published four years ago.
Still, occasionally she acknowledges the quirkiness of digital humanities scholarship. Immediately after declaring that online pre-prints are OK, Borgman says that Or, like I postulate in the conclusion of this review webtext, it's more likely that we're still such a small speck of hipness on the humanities-research scale, let alone within digital scholarship across the board, or even just 'scholarship' across the board, that we still have a LOT to do to make our voices heard. One of the most intriguing parts of Chapter 4 is the figure on page 50 called "The Dissemination of Scientific Information in Psychology," which was reprinted from a study published in *Science* by Garvey & Griffith (1964). The flowchart represented is a fascinating and detailed look at the life of a scholarly idea from inception to post-publication. I want (someone) to recreate this graph with digital media scholarship to see how or if it changes. Appendixes
A. Ten Flavors of Open Access
B. Scholarly Association Budgets
C. Journal Management Economics
D. An Open Access Cooperative
E. Indexing of the Serial Literature
F. Metadata for Journal Publishing image from MIT Press website: http://mitpress.mit.edu/images/products/books/9780262232425-f30.jpg image from MIT Press website: http://mitpress.mit.edu/images/products/books/9780262026192-f30.jpg image taken from screenshot of Google Scholar website of book: http://tinyurl.com/ogorman-cover This is how Willinsky describes the tipping point of open access: What is clear at this point is that open access to research archives and journals has the potential to change the public presence of science and scholarship and increase the circulation of this particular form of knowledge. What is also clear is that the role that open access will play in the future of scholarly publishing depends on decisions that will be made over the [next] few years by researchers, editors, scholarly societies, publishers, and research-funding agencies.
This is a book that lays out the case for open access and why it should be a part of that future. It demonstrates the vital and viable role it can play, from both the perspective of a researcher working in the best-equipped lab at a leading research university and that of a history teacher struggling to find resources in an impoverished high school [as well, Willinksy often notes, of the global impact of open access in developing countries]. This book presents my take on the case for open access as a focused effort, if not a wholesale movement. It is driven, however, by something broader which I term *the access principle.*
. . . [which] could be put this way: *A commitment to the value and quality of research carries with it a responsibility to extend the circulation of such work as far as possible and ideally to all who are interested in it and all who might profit by it.* (p. xi-xii) The introduction to Willinsky's *The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship* starts with a narrative. He relays the story of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), which in the very recent past could only afford five journal subscriptions, none of which were leading journals in the institute's research area of tropical diseases. In 2001, he says, the World Health Organization convinced six corporate publishers to open their online stacks to developing nations, which significantly increased access to the medical literature for institutes like KEMRI, even though they only had one computer with Internet access (with more on the way by the time Willinsky visited in 2003). In the same year, he notes that the top New Yorker story on educational testing could not have been possible without writer Malcolm Gladwell finding a key study published in an open-access journal. Willinsky argues that stories such as these, about open access to research and scholarship, can be the tipping point (harkening to Gladwell's other work) that changes the way we produce and consume scholarship.
For Willinsky, the change he wanted to create was made manifest in an open-access publishing project he spearheaded: the widely adopted Open Journal Systems (OJS). OJS is an open-source application for starting or maintaining an open-access (or closed-access, if one must) journal in an online environment. It automates the entire workflow of a print-like journal, from submission to review to copy-editing to publication and indexing. For open-access, and especially independent (non-affiliated) journal editors, OJS has been a godsend. (As of January 2010, the OJS website reports that there are over 5,000 digital journals who use the system. See http://pkp.sfu.ca/ojs-journals). *The Access Principle* lays out the reasons to buy into open-access distribution of scholarship and draws on Open Journal Systems as a model that enacts those principles. Willinsky's book offers a balance between argumentation and strategy without schilling the free program.
For readers of Kairos, which has always been open access, Willinsky's principle of open access probably already resonates. But if it doesn't stir your scholarly motivations, you should definitely read Willinsky's book, as it will probably convince you to take a second look at open access publication. Like Borgman's book, the chapters in Willinsky's *The Access Principle* are rather brief (the average is 16 pages), and a good portion of the page count includes six useful resources in the appendixes, including Appendix A, which includes "ten flavors of open access to journal articles." (Kairos is "Subsidized," but not in a way that most readers would recognize.) Also, unlike Borgman's book, Willinsky's narrative style makes for an engaging read. Each chapter is full of examples, statistics, and stories that provide both qualitative and quantitative evidence for the need, nay right, of open access to scholarship. As an editor of an open-access journal myself, there's practically nothing I didn't like about Willinsky's book, although I will admit that if a scholar has little interest in how scholarly publishing works, then this book will only provide a case study for how their area of interest (economics, copyright, global social networks) might be played out through academic publishing. Each chapter can be read on its own, and I won’t go into further detail (see Contents above) on those chapters, other than to recommend all of them, especially the Appendices for those interested in practicalities and numbers.
Since publication of his book in 2005, Willinsky has produced several other studies and scholarly works that address the beneficial impact of Open Journal Systems on the field of publishing, which I also recommend. All are freely available (some in pre-print form) on his or the OJS website. Again, as an editor of an open-access journal, I knew I was going to buy into this book from the beginning, which is (in part) why it wasn't originally part of this review. However, I wanted to include it to show it as a comparison in style and content to Fitzpatrick's work and as a contrast to Borgman's work. I used these three textbooks in the digital publishing class, hoping to progress from the basics, as Borgman's book outlined, to more sophisticated arguments for open-access and, finally, interactive multimedia (which none of these three books address in any detail).
I also address Willinsky's book here because I need to point out one tiny flaw in the OJS system and, thus, the book. While all (but one) of the online journals in rhet/comp that employ digital media are open access, they also all use homegrown (or home-tweaked) systems to manage the submission, review, editing, publishing, and indexing of that work. Such systems are not economically sustainable for a host of reasons, but (being humanities scholars with little time and expertise for building large-scale systems from scratch) we continue to use them, clunky as they might be, because we have no other choice right now. Neither Willinsky's book nor his Open Journal Systems software account for the unique infrastructural needs (to use Borgman's words) of multimedia publishing. This is a perennial problem for digital media scholarship, but it's at least one that Kairos and others might be in the position to change in the near future, thanks to the opened (access) doors that Willinsky's, Fitzpatrick's, and Borgman's books have provided with funding agencies. (These books certainly seem to be known entities at NEH’s Office of Digital Humanities, for example.) Without a system like OJS, built on Willinsky's open-access principles, we'd be a lot farther away from change. Willinsky starts this chapter with lots of numbers: of print journals produced, of the meteoric rise of electronic journals in the last 30 years, of numbers of titles that libraries subscribe to, of cost changes when big publishing houses took over, of impact factors, and more. Here's a telling example of what all these numbers point to: "Between 1986 and 2003," when the book was published, members of the Association of Research Libraries "managed to increase their budgets for journals by 260 percent. Even with this increase, however, the average library's collection had fewer titles throughout this period than it did in 1986, until finally in 2002 these leading libraries pulled slightly ahead of the 1986 levels -- by all of 14 percent (ARL, 2004)" (p. 24). This book is worthy to read just to have access to all these numerical and statistical examples in publishing. Caveats and Clarifications: IANAL. I am not on the CCCC IP committee. I don't do research on copyright issues. But I do approach all copyright and open-access issues in relation to my experience editing Kairos. We have a capacious -- some might say *too* capacious -- policy on copyright, outlined here: http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/submissions.html#copy. Our rule of thumb is if you can justify its use in your publication, and you cite it, we're good with that. Kairos does not make authors sign permissions forms for the right to publish their own work, nor does it require authors to get copyright holders to sign permissions forms for the citation and scholarly examination of their work. In rare cases, we've asked an author to revise a webtext because we think the author is using an unnecessary portion of a piece of copyrighted material, but in those cases, the issue is always rhetorical --> the author didn't *need* to embed the entire film clip, etc., to make hir point. That, of course, relates to the rhetorical work of design in one's webtext. Fair Use is really just a way to rhetorically analyze and justify one's media usage in a piece of multimodal scholarship. And it's not just "multimodal" stuff I'm talking about. I've been known to remove reams of unnecessary block quotes when editing print articles. (And authors never seem to notice.) The question is: What do you REALLY NEED to make your argument, no matter what mode or medium? Winner of the 2006 Computers and Composition Distinguished Book Award! the name of which MIT Press got wrong on the back cover, replacing "Composition" with "Cognition," signaling yet again the place that rhetoric and composition has in leading other fields in digital scholarship. Sigh. Review I don't have room here to share all of the convincing examples Willinsky offers regarding the open-access movement, but of note to Kairos readers is that shortly after PLoS launched, Elsevier (which publishes *Computers and Composition*) changed their own author policies to allow for pre-print publication of articles on an author's personal website. Many publishers of journals in our field have moved to this model in recent years, including Routledge's *Technical Communication Quarterly.* I'm sure there are others and perhaps we should start keeping a rhet/comp-specific list of closed journals that also allow for pre-print distribution.
My interest in such a list developed after going through the tenure process last year, in which I was allowed to apply for tenure using an all-digital portfolio. Since much of my work is in digital media formats, and most of it is published in open-access journals, my use of the digital tenure portfolio made (I hoped) the reading and review process for colleagues much easier. However, I quickly encountered a problem with one of two print-based articles I'd published: I only had one hard copy of the print journal, which I couldn't find (at the last minute! dummy me!), and my library didn't subscribe to the journal. As some of you may have seen, I put out a call on TechRhet and Facebook and received multiple PDFs of my own article within minutes. You all saved my butt.
But what this experience convinced me of is that I don't ever want to be in a position of not having access to MY OWN WORK. So I decided that I would take on dana boyd's challenge to only publish in open-access journals. (I haven't yet extended this outside the realm of articles and webtexts, but I can see that day approaching soon enough.) I'm also on the verge of taking boyd and Willinsky's challenge one step further, as EdTechie blogger Martin Weller has done by, only agreeing to review scholarship for open-access venues. (See his post describing his decision at http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/no_good_reason/2010/06/the-return-on-peer-review.html). Both of these decisions are problematic, although the publishing one more so than the reviewing one, given my concluding argument that Kairos needs to do more outreach, which inevitably means publishing in some closed-access journals. But that's reason enough to keep my tenure blog going -- whatever I cannot publish in an open-access journal, I will get permission to post publicly on my blog. And if they refuse? Then I won’t publish there.
To comment on Willinsky's writing style, I'll offer an anecdote. I was using Willinsky in my Spring 2010 Publishing class to talk about issues in digital publishing, particularly how open access is at the heart of a lot of these issues. The undergraduate students and I read the first couple of chapters from *The Access Principle* immediately after a good portion of Borgman's *Scholarship in a Digital Age.* As noted in the sidebar to that review, Borgman's work is encyclopedically dry in its style. After one day of Willinsky, by comparison, I could see the look of relief on students' faces. They noted that they could read more than 2-3 pages at a time, which was all they could muster for Borgman's prose, and they certainly had more to say (and questions to ask) about Willinsky's book. It is an easy and enjoyable read. Note that Kairos is not affiliated with any institution or organization. Yes, we have what we might call "supporters," that is, schools that provide us some service that promotes the good of the journal. For instance, Texas Tech gave us active server space for 10 years and retains our archives from those issues; Michigan State provides our current server space; and Illinois State provides me with a course release to complete my editorial duties, but none of these institutions are listed on the masthead, or in the About section, of the journal because they have no editorial control over the journal. It's that way on purpose. Kairos' global distribution, while pretty good (we have readers in over 180 countries), doesn’t mean we can rest on our current practices to reach (and reciprocally hear from) those audiences. Authors and editors need to remember that we're not just writing for U.S. audiences—a point that was made repeatedly in the dot mil issue (from an editorial perspective) in a number of good and bad ways. I have to think of ways to make the work that Kairos publishes more accessible to international readers through the jargon used in metadata, how abstracts are provided, and the technological accessibility of the journal’s "fancier" work. These are all issues I’ve begun thinking about more closely in the last year (since reading Willinsky’s work and presenting at two international conferences where English isn’t the native language). Chapter 1, "Scholarship at a Crossroads," reminds readers that the Internet exists has changed the way we deliver scholarship due to the exponential growth of data.
Chapter 2, "Building the Scholarly Infrastructure," defines the Internet, WWW, the Grid, digital libraries, infrastructure, and all things "e-" in several global contexts.
Chapter 3, "Embedded Everywhere," defines what "information" is and how research is conducted using information.
Chapter 4, "The Continuity of Scholarly Communication," outlines the print-centric "sociotechnical system" in which scholarship gets made and communicated, including how this system remains intact when print scholarship moves to digital spaces.
Chapter 5, "The Discontinuity of Scholarly Publishing," extends Chapter 4 into the digital realm, touching on hot-button issues such as trust, legitimation, access and preservation, open-access, intellectual property, copyright, economics, and more.
Chapter 6, "Data: Input and Output of Scholarship," defines and puts intellectual value on data as a growth area in scholarly communication.
Chapter 7, "Building an Infrastructure for Information," discusses the disciplinary practices of searching for and using data and scholarship, including collaboration and data sharing.
Chapter 8, "Disciplines, Documents, and Data," outlines the kinds of documents and data shared among researchers in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and the benefits and disincentives of doing so.
Chapter 9, "The View From Here," outlines the need for a cyberinfrastructure for information, which speaks to stakeholders involved in building this network (publishers, universities, funding agencies). Science is unintentionally situated as the primary focus of the book since it seems to have the most to gain from a digital scholarship infrastructure. The processes outlined in this chapter refer back to Latour, as well as similar social science and scholarship work, making it one of the slightly more interesting chapters for rhet/comp readers. In 40 pages. Given that students and scholars write entire dissertations and books on *one* of these issues, her treatment of these issues will seem inadequate for some readers. Argument on infrastructural needs begins in earnest here! Those of us working to build broad infrastructures for scholarship in our fields know that it's insanely difficult to forecast what will work in our own discipline in 5 or 10 years, let alone imagine what some group in another disciplinary field might also need. Yet doing so is crucial because we're going to have to share resources. We can't even agree on metadata because it changes so dramatically (as Borgman does a good job of pointing out) across disciplines and areas of the university, let alone the need for more structural support in the form of editorial infrastructures and workflows. We only kinda know what we need, and we don't really know what we're doing. Willinksy is pointed in not letting authors get away with taking some responsibility for the mess, calling them (er, us) "indifferent" and "all too happy, as a rule, to turn that ownership [of our articles] to publishers" (p. 46) when "uploading an paper to an archive, which takes all of about six minutes" builds greater research impact, according to his and others' research (p. 53). "Scholars everywhere need to question their assumptions about what constitutes an adequate circulation of their and others' work" (p. 109). Does reaching 200 subscribers seem adequate? What about 2000? How about ‘limitless’? Chapter 1, "Opening," starts in 2003 when the Public Library of Science launched *PLoS Biology,* which is open access and publishes top papers in the field. Willinsky introduces some of the hot-buttonest issues in the open-access movement (economics, intellectual value, etc.).
Chapter 2, "Access," describes the problem with the current economic model of (closed) access by providing multiple case studies, statistics, and stories.
Chapter 3, "Copyright," connects copyright, plagiarism, editorial honor, and pay for editorial work to show the intricate and inextricable complications that exist within the realm of closed- and open-access publishing.
Chapter 4, "Associations," pitches a publishing model in which institutions can make money by going open-access while also acknowledging the difficulties.
Chapter 5 on "Economics" is where Willinsky introduces Open Journal Systems (OJS) as a model for on-the-cheap open-access publishing. He outlines 10 kinds of open-access in Appendix A.
Chapter 6 on "Cooperatives” discusses repositories like JSTOR as access models and their usefulness in the humanities and social sciences, in particular.
Chapter 7, "Development," argues for the global imperative for open access as a fundamental freedom, using A. Suresh Canagarajah's "plurality of rhetorics" to remind authors that they can’t be let off the hook when deciding where to publish.
Chapter 8, "Public," advocates for the general interest that research holds for the public (made most evident in the naming of his foundation, the Public Knowledge Project, out of which OJS was created).
Chapter 9, "Politics," takes politicians (particularly of the Bush era) to task for not using more peer-reviewed research to inform their decisions while acknowledging that public readers have trouble understanding that scholarship isn’t Truth.
Chapter 10, "Rights" opens bluntly: "I may be taking a step too far...by suggesting that the excessive increase in journal prices over the last two decades is a human-rights issue" (p. 143). Willinksy addresses self-teaching (through after-class access) as a pedagogical necessity.
Chapter 11, "Reading," addresses the readability and usability of online journals when both reading habits and what's possible to publish within digital works (e.g., images, multimedia) have changed.
Chapter 12, "Indexing," discusses the use and importance of metadata in helping scholars keep track of all this open-access work.
Chapter 13, "History," traces the similarities between transitions in the history of print publishing and digital publishing. This chapter is presented last to avoid assumptions "that open access is simply another chapter in the unfolding story of scientific communication" (p. 190). (See Appendix A, Table A.1, p. 212, for descriptions of each category.)
Cooperative 10 Flavors of Open Access to Journal Articles Oh wait, I don't need to give them a copy because it's freely available at the MIT Press website (after registration)!
Too bad they'll never believe the book has an argument worth reading unless they get it in print format with a bound cover. I only wish I were joking. Stakeholders (at any level) in building open-access repositories for scholarship (e.g., librarians, IT administrators, etc.)
Print journal editors who need convincing that online, open-access versions (or partial-access versions) of their journals can be sustainable. (I would personally like to give a copy to each print journal editor on the Council of Editors of Learned Journals listserv when they complain about “the digital” ruining publishing. Oh wait, I don't need to give them a copy because it's freely available at the MIT Press website! Too bad they'll never believe the book has an argument worth reading unless they get it in print format with a bound cover. I only wish I were joking.)
Digital editors who need support for arguments about why open access is awesome.
Journal editors who need to see examples of moving from closed or partial access to some, or all, open access. (The Appendixes will be of most use to you.)
Scholars who are considering starting a new journal (either print or digital).
Students in publishing studies who need to see a broader array of publishing than print.
Education, economics, writing, sociology, anthropology, and other scholars interested in global knowledge-building issues, particularly how a U.S or European-centric view of scholarship (in authoring or publishing) can negatively hinder the creation of new knowledge in developing countries through inaccessibility. The access principle is also about reciprocally speaking to and with these nations in and through scholarship. This book was a complete eye opener to my undergraduate publishing students. First, they had no idea when the class began what scholarly publishing was about. ISU's publishing sequence has been exclusively geared toward literary, print publishing, which even in its focus on non-profit publishing has surprisingly little overlap with open-access publishing. When the students read Borgman's entries on peer-review, I didn't realize that they didn't quite get it -- how it worked, why it was important, etc. -- until we got to Willinsky's chapter on "Access," in which he states that "Faculty members run on a different journal economy than the library, one that is determined by the scramble among them for greater research impact: the vanity factor" (p. 21). I cringed when I read that because I knew he was right, and I knew the students would latch onto such a bold statement and dig deeper. Still, I was grateful because it gave me a chance to explain in some long, example-based detail what "publish or perish" means (which they'd heard of, but didn't understand), why faculty's jobs literally depend on several levels of vanity (and what the ugly repercussions of that can be), and how it's all boiled down to things like peer review (and how that works in a journal like Kairos, which I constantly had to remind them was totally different, in some ways, than the norm that their other professors endure). And so if they ever wondered why professors are a little nutty, at least those 16 students now know, as the dismayed (and somewhat disgusted) looks on their faces attested to.
Second, they had little understanding of the economics (broadly construed) of publishing. They understood the labor-intensive nature of composing and editing print (and very few digital) publications. And they understood that the literary, print publications they compose in other publications classes cost money to print and to buy. But, like many readers and editors of print in a digital age, they had little concept of the financial, material, and intellectual cost of digital publishing, which meant they had little conception of the economic differences between closed- and open-access publishing. This book made it pretty clear to them—whether it was through Willinsky's use of (lack of) access examples from developing countries, or the lack of access they will have to library resources once they graduate, or that a good portion of scholarship is produced on the volunteer backs of faculty members, or that some authors have to pay to publish (and, crucially, WAY more than creative writers do), or that some print publishing is losing money by the bucket loads compared to digital publishing—that there are great problems with academic publishing, but that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. The impact of economics on publishing in a global market was also made evident in multiple and compounding ways in Willinsky's work.
...although I would say that Sirc's work tends to be more thoroughly situated within the historical literature in rhetoric and composition than O'Gorman's is in digital criticism, which isn't surprising given that he really seems to intend the book to be a manifesto with legs. to create a new method of scholarly research -- which I have dubbed *hypericonomy* -- that is more suitable to a picture-oriented, digital-centric culture. ... *E-Crit* is a glimpse at what 'knowledge production' might look like, after deconstruction, in an age of computer-mediated communication. ... [It] covers a wide range of sites for potential revolution, from scholarly discourse, to pedagogical practice, to curricular structure... (pp. xvi-xvii) which, O'Gorman rightly says makes his book unique within new media circles. No other single-authored book gives equal weight to all three of these areas (scholarship, pedagogy, and curriculum) with as much power and style that O’Gorman’s sustained case study provides in *E-Crit.* Additionally, it is obvious that (unlike the other three books in this review, and any others that I know about) O'Gorman's focus is on the kind of work digital writing scholars might call scholarly multimedia, new media scholarship, digital media scholarship, and so on. In other words, the Introduction of *E-Crit* has set me up to hope for a book that understands the uniqueness and usefulness of the kind of work that Kairos publishes, a promise that the book keeps. Goldilocks has found her book.
Chapter 1, "The Canon, the Archive, and the Remainder: Reimagining Scholarly Discourse," challenges the typical methods of scholarly production in the humanities and digital humanities. O'Gorman uses Jean-Jacque Lecercle's notion of 'the remainder' of language, which O'Gorman defines as "the 'other' of academic or scholarly language,” “nonsense or rubbish,” “monstrous," and "hidden or repressed" (p. 4). The remainder is useful to confront conventional discourse and invent new knowledge, even as "those who seek to liberate the remainder will face political resistance, ideological dismissal, and even personal denigration" (pp. 4-5). Quoting Guillory, O’Gorman says the remainder confronts the ideology of literary tradition that is "always 'a history of writers and not of _writing_' (63)" (p. 5). In other words, the remainder is revolutionary and rhetorical. O'Gorman provides an example of the remainder confronting and illuminating the limited use of traditional scholarship: his solicited submission of a hypertextual essay to an online journal that was not accepted for publication because of its hypertextual qualities. He uses key phrases from the reviews of his rejected piece to outline three kinds of remainder writing -- structural, material, and representational -- discussing how each works. These three kinds of remainder writing, he argues, would help the humanities draw more on Ulmer's heuretics and away from "the hermeneutic circle" (p. 12) and, more boldly, teach students "the fluidity of creative thought" so they can work within a "mode of discourse more suitable to our culture of information overload" (p. 14). O'Gorman concludes this chapter by relating the remainder to Deleuze's notion of sense, or rather, "an overproduction of sense," which is ‘nonsense’ and argues that new media is a perfect instantiation of the remaindered/nonsensical because it refuses “to lay out a single path for all things" (p. 14). Although his focus isn't as fully multimodal as some of the work this journal publishes (e.g., he doesn't attend to aural, gestural, or spatial practices), I also have to acknowledge that when O'Gorman was writing this book (likely in 2003-05, published in 06), making a point about the importance of visuals in scholarly work was a very necessary thing to do. Yes! Yes! YES!!
Using editorial feedback from a rejected webtext to say what's limiting about print scholarship?! This is my kind of book! In the section on structural remainders, O'Gorman works with the notion of puncepts, or concepts made relevant through puns. "The linking of the film *Roots*... with Deleuze and Guattari's 'rhizome' theory is an example of the puncept at work," he argues, saying that "not only does this leap allow me to link the literal, historical notion of slavery to the theoretical, abstract concept of the remainder," which O'Gorman argued earlier takes on a slave relationship with its master (i.e., traditional language structures). In addition, he argues that "this *Roots* pun is a mnemonic device, reminding us of the physical violence that language can inflict when taken to the extreme of oppressive discipline" (p. 7). The structural remainder work that the pun performs in scholarship can be a powerful method of confronting certain kinds of violent scholarly discourse. Instead of the neat, nearly a-rhetorical package of chapters with subheadings that Borgman provided, or Willinsky's straightforward chapters full of numbers and stories that made it unnecessary to argue with, or Fitzpatrick's book which was nearly as straightforward as Willinsky's, Marcel O'Gorman's short book, *E-Crit: Digital Media, Critical Theory, and the Humanities,* engaged me in a totally different manner. His writing pushed me to speak back to it, to counter or contend with his accusations and ideas. Because of the breadth of O'Gorman's argument, in which he proposes remaking the humanities into something more useful and sustainable that its current print-centric form allows, his mere 116-page argument feels like a manifesto. Some chapters contains multiple sections that read as theoretically, example-rich articles that could each stand on their own, but are connected and compounded to provide a depth to digital scholarship and pedagogy that I've not seen in any other book. Because of the author's voice and style, as well as his unlikely albeit successful combination of brevity *and* breadth, I find it impossible to remove discussion of the Contents from the Review itself, as I did with the other books. Thus, this part of the review essay takes on a different format from the others, combining the contents of O'Gorman's argument with my review of his fascinating web of ideas. Who has an Amen? Can anyone say “tenure and promotion” with digital writing? Respectively, O'Gorman argues for puns as scholarly mnemonic devices (a structural remainder), a kind of media-specific analysis for digital media scholarship (a material remainder, in which he hilariously takes the majority of early Digital Humanities archiving projects to task for their print-centric redundancy), and the use of images "as a tool for invention, as a generator of concepts and linkages unavailable to conventional scholarly practices" (a representational remainder), the latter of which he defines as *hypericonomy.* Although space would allow me to treat each section in some detail, I won’t do that here because this review would need to be inordinately long to give justice to all the paths and touch points that O’Gorman provides along his rhizomatic journey. You could read the book in the time it would take to read the review. Know that this chapter is an instance of O’Gorman providing mini-articles that cumulate to his overall point, and each is worth spending time with. Throughout the book, O'Gorman sets his scholarly and pedagogical methods against the backdrop of Friedrich Kittler's fall guys, the uncritically traditional "Republic of Scholars, [who are] a republic entirely committed to 'endless circulation, a discourse network without producers or consumers, which simply heaves words around' (Kittler 1990: 4)" (p. 20). Chapter 2, "The Search for Exemplars: Discourse Networks and the Pictorial Turn," includes six sections that build towards O'Gorman's aim in this chapter to provide "the reader with a series of exemplars for constructing a new mode of academic discourse" (p. 19). This chapter makes three moves that enact the book’s argument: First, O’Gorman begins to use visuals that, second, he analyzes as a way to introduce and model his visual methodology of hypericonomy. Third, he implements a chapter-design strategy that uses a tightly cropped version of the main visual example and an epigram to head each chapter. The combination of visual-quote and text-quote reinforce each chapter’s main point. In each of these moves, O’Gorman exemplifies his hypericonomic methodology, which invokes images as "discursive inlets and outlets" (p. 19) that scholars should use to write *with* instead of *about* image-texts. He focuses on the avant-garde, which is ripe for hypericonomic scholarship, and points to exemplary studies of image and text (e.g., Mitchell, Gombrich, and McGann) and names Barthes, Foucault's study of Magritte’s work, Johanna Drucker, and Rosalind Krauss as exemplars of image-text creation and critique. He argues that such artists’ work can help us deprogram our typical thinking about art or scholarship, suggesting that "if the mode of representation in critical discourse is to be rendered more graphic, or if the image-text would come to be respected as a scholarly mode of presentation, such a change would require, or at least metonymically imply, some sort of structural change in the disciplinary system of higher education" (p. 36). It is at moments like these that this book provides a cool breath of air for me. That is, O'Gorman—practically in an aside, but that is never pitched as less important—quickly takes us from the big picture of Picture Theory (in this case) to the curricular imperative of digital scholarship pedagogy and back again, with a reminder that the whole book is a lead-in to his final chapter on curricular implementation of hypericonomy.
In Chapter 3, “The Hypericonic De-Vise: Peter Ramus Meets William Blake,” O’Gorman puts the hypericonomic methodology he laid out in Chapter 2 to further use-justification by diving deep into one image-text exemplar, William Blake, whose work O’Gorman suggests is the perfect precursor to the contemporary avant-garde’s fight against The Republic of Scholars’ traditionalism. This historical examination starts with a discussion that pits 16th century theorists Thomas Murner (advocate of pictorial logic) and Peter Ramus (advocate of tree-like/dichotomous, linear logic) against each other. Readers easily sense that O’Gorman leans toward Murner’s strategy in his own hypericonomic method and takes pains to show that Ramus’ method, which espoused efficiency over anything perceived as arbitrary (e.g., images), has led to a critically bankrupt model of higher education. O’Gorman suggests that Ramus’ beheading is a significant mnemonic device (a remainder strategy!) to remind us of the limited usefulness of print-centric logic. Although he cautions that Murner’s logic wasn’t all that great either, despite its use of visual logic. William Blake, on the other hand, was a better pedagogue of hypericonomic methods, which O’Gorman shows through a close (6-page), hypericonomic reading of Blake’s ‘Nurse’s Song’ from *Songs of Experience.* His summarization of Blake’s importance is analogous to digital (media) scholarship’s usefulness: Blake’s “work compels us to react in ways that might altogether change the way in which we *see* and experience the world” (p. 57). It is worthwhile to note that O’Gorman focuses on how media needs to be inserted into the digital scholarly arena. Otherwise we end up with lackluster digitization efforts, which he says is “a praxis of ‘division’ that Blake strived to denounce through his ‘chaosthetics’” (p. 58) and attention to the materiality (form::content) of his texts (p. 61). O’Gorman concludes this chapter by denouncing both traditional scholarship *and* traditional digital scholarship in favor of hypericonomy, which he likens to a graphic version of Ulmer’s mystory.
In Chapter 4, “Nonsense and Play: The Figure/Ground Shift in New Media Discourse,” O’Gorman begins by offering a series of studies on enhanced intelligence, creativity and visual-logic learning that the field of digital writing has become familiar with in the last few years (concomitant to O’Gorman’s book being published). He sums up these theories with a pedagogical imperative to shift the way we teach to accommodate these changes. He acknowledges that such shifts are not simple to make, but he offers three section-length, pedagogically useful examples: (1) the artwork of surrealist painter Max Ernst, in which he “toys with the figure/ground distinction” (as discussed by Krauss in her book *The Optical Unconscious*) (p. 78); (2) Children’s Literature (and games and TV shows), which makes room for the inclusion of nonsense, a fundamental component of remainder writing; and (3) digital media, which “offers us a forum, a material space, in which we can build our own models” to disrupt the “figure/ground shift that will short-circuit the discourse of the Republic of Scholars” (p. 82). His fourth example offers a specific digital media example that takes readers from the possible to the practical, leading us into the final, pedagogical chapter.
Chapter 5, “From Ecriture to E-Crit: On Postmodern Curriculum,” brings the book to its close by offering a specific hypericonomic assignment that O’Gorman tested at multiple schools (with both failure and success) as well as the case study of an overall curriculum that relies on digital, hypericonomic methods. Here, O’Gorman shortens the name of his hypericonomic curriculum to *electronic critique,* or E-Crit, from which the book’s name derives. This E-Crit curriculum was implemented at the University of Detroit–Mercy when O’Gorman worked there, with the help of several colleagues. (He describes part of that highly political process in some detail, which is always an interesting read for digital writing scholars who are often also administrators of writing programs and labs.) He provides an outline of the entire curriculum as it stood at the time of printing and is quick to point out that such a radical and necessary shift for the humanities should breach disciplinary boundaries and student rank. That is, an E-Crit curriculum should be fluid, transdisciplinary, and open to undergraduate as well as graduate students. O’Gorman’s book ends by acknowledging that this kind of postmodern curriculum isn’t always feasible and wonders whether the humanities can sustain this kind of change. He seems hopeful while, at the same time, defeated from the constant pressure to argue and defend this kind of work. Making such large-scale change in the humanities will never be easy, but I hope he knows that his book has instilled in at least one more digital media scholar the courage to keep trying.
O’Gorman also takes pleasure (as do I, admittedly) in pointing out that most digital humanities projects are rather Ramist in their designs. Here’s what he says, which made me write “lol” in the margins, and so I want to repeat it at length:“The Ramist spatialization and infinite binarization of the world, which Ong refers to as a ‘corpuscular’ episteme, haunts our educational apparatus to this day; the same technological drive toward efficiency that spawned textbooks on logic is now producing distance education and the ambitious electronic archiving projects that characterize much of humanities scholarship in the digital age.As I argued in the previous chapter, the result of this ‘fever for archiving’ does not transform the humanities in any significant way or render humanities research more suitable to a culture of computing. New media have done little to alter the practices of humanities scholars, except perhaps by accelerating – by means of more accessible databases – the rate at which hermeneutics can be performed. Once again, I should stress the point that I am interested less in hermeneutics (interpretation) than I am in heuretics (invention). More specifically, this book asks the following question: Just as Ramus’s scholarly method had a great influence in shaping a print apparatus that has persisted for five centuries, might it not be possible to invent scholarly methods to shape the digital apparatus?” (p. 50) My initial reaction to reading about Blake in a book about new digital scholarly methods is mixed: On the one hand, Blake is an obvious, even clichéd, go-to when talking about precursors to hypermedia texts. While that helps O’Gorman make a connection to literary scholars who may more clearly see his point about hypericonomy through an example closer to their experience (I’ve done the same thing), it’s highly doubtful to me that any such literary scholar would have ever picked up this book in the first place; and if they had, they most certainly would have put it back down again well before getting to this close reading of Blake’s work. And that is the fundamental problem with this book – one I understand well because I do it all the time in my own work: He is preaching to the choir, a choir that agrees digital (media) scholarship should be Humanities’ future, but this choir member is uncomfortable with an argument supported by literary examples that connect better with an audience of Scholars who will never read this book. However, I also see the flaw in my own logic: I assume that O’Gorman is out to change the current humanities climate, and I imagine that climate, at most schools, would be pretty hostile to his argument. But I can also imagine another scenario, one which speaks to the use of this book in graduate education, where NEW scholars (graduate students) read O’Gorman’s work, get to interact with it in a classroom setting, and use his reading of Blake’s text as a model to practice their own hypericonomic reading of another text, with a final outcome of creating their own hypericonomic text. At least that’s what I wrote in the margins on page 57 that I plan to do for the (Scholarly) Multimodal Theory and Pedagogy course I am teaching during Spring 2011. And, in fact, in the pages that follow in O’Gorman’s book, he suggests a similar assignment that he gave to first-year, general-education students. So in the end, I see value in starting from familiar territory to take students (and audiences) to an unfamiliar, nonsensical one. I’m just a particular reader who is as over references to Blake’s work as she is to Joyce’s—so standard, they’re less meaningful. And yet... Quoting Blake, O’Gorman writes that “new media, when used for something other than archival purposes…, may serve as a means of rousing ourselves from the ‘Single vision & Newtons sleep’ in which print technology has steeped us” (p. 66). The fourth section-length example offers the “dissection” of the first hypertext O’Gorman created in 1997 as a grad student of Ulmer’s. As an example, it might seem self-serving at first, but it serves several important and interesting purposes. In the text, punceptually called “1/0” (harkening to his extensive argument against binary logic in the book), O’Gorman traces his own history of coming to terms with the hypericonomy theory from the perspective of a student producing a hypertextual mystory that enacts hypericonomy. It’s interesting to have the ‘origin’ text on which this book is built, especially since the author treats it in detail, providing his rationale for design and including screenshots of the old website. The only move that seems out of place in this chapter (but which we saw foreshadowed in an earlier chapter) is O’Gorman’s dislike for distance education as a possible future for higher education. My sense is that he’s distancing his digital-production-specific curriculum from the catch all that conflates distance with digital pedagogy. This would have been a necessary move to make in the mid-2000s, when it was easy for non-technologically inclined faculty colleagues and administrators to confuse ‘teaching with technology’ and ‘online teaching,’ as happened to me on a number of occasions at my first job (which had several strong, and good, online programs in the department). But, while that misunderstanding was typical, O’Gorman’s distaste for distance education (e.g., “I’m more interested in discovering how transactive learning can take place in a learning space where physical, human bodies are present” (p. 103) seems unnecessarily harsh and, perhaps, a little premature. My recent search for the E-Crit curriculum on the UD-Mercy website resulted in a few 404s before I got to this page, http://www.udmercy.edu/dms/courses/index.htm, which readers will note indicates that the name of the program has changed to something a little more recognizable by outsiders, Digital Media Studies, and includes an entirely new track from which students must take, ironically, a large sampling of literary-critical classes. (Maybe that’s one of the reasons O’Gorman left Detroit for Waterloo. Snort. Or it evidences the problem of ‘cult of personality’ programs; once he leaves, others make it what they want, even if that means making it the opposite of its original intention.) The number of credits in the program also seems to have significantly increased from 30 to 72, perhaps moving it from its previous status as a certificate to becoming its own major? I can’t speculate what O’Gorman’s take on that would be, except that I have to wonder whether Digital Media Studies became its own silo, even as courses are cross-listed. The point with O’Gorman’s curricular argument seemed to be the study of, but also the use of, digital media to other humanist ends. It’s not clear whether that can still be the case if Digital Media Studies is its own major. 3 Kinds of Remainder Writing "The Republic of Scholars" !!! !!! Unlike Borgman’s book, which is geared toward the infrastructural workers of the university (IT, admin, librarians), Willinsky, Fitzpatrick, and O’Gorman speak to humanities-based workers. Willinsky speaks mostly about open-access journal articles (with strong support in the sciences for similar work) while Fitzpatrick speaks mostly about books (and the process of publishing long written texts that may take on a new form for the book), which appeals primarily to literary-critical humanists. O’Gorman speaks mostly about the process of creating new kinds of humanities scholarship, so it’s much different in scope than the other three. Borgman’s book has the widest scope on scholarship (and thus the least appeal, for my needs), but she also defines lots of the terms that Willinsky and Fitzpatrick discuss in more detail in relation to the broad and narrow humanities, respectively. All of these authors, however, are talking about the movement of print to online venues, which is the predominant culture of digital scholarship right now. So these books are good for helping digital writing scholars like myself to think outside our own field, see and remember what other fields do, while reminding ourselves that the work we do is different on the face but underneath, the code is the same.
Although I was disappointed while reading most of these books—because I wanted to expand my thinking on my own work in digital media scholarship, a thread that was missing from the first three books--in retrospect, I learned something about the direction my own work was taking due to the way such books treated digital media scholarship. There's a reason why media is missing from the discussion, and there's a reason (several, really) why digitized, archival, and print-on-screen work is so prominently discussed not just here but in any digital humanities conference sessions, grant outcomes, and (of course) at places like the Modern Language Association. What I'd been gearing up to do in my own work was to challenge those assumptions, but the way I'd been doing it (whining, as an individual) wasn't ever going to work. The lesson I take away from the first three books is that digital writing would do well to learn from these broader humanities, sciences, and info-sciences fields. What they’ve done well is to create consortia that work together to build standards that were originally unique to their interests but that have become useful outside of those narrow interests. (OJS, TEI, and Dublin Core are three perfect examples.)
Digital media journals in rhetoric and composition, such as Kairos, have just barely begun implementing any of these standards, which speaks to three issues that seem prevalent in our field—issues that, I believe, have inhibited us from moving outside of our siloed home in computers and composition. First, we have a DIY mentality that isn’t always productive. Although DIY has served the field well in creating new theories, pedagogies, and technologies, in many cases decades before other fields have come to them, sometimes we fail to recognize when we are reinventing the wheel. Second, although many in digital writing studies learned code a long time ago, we have left it to very few voices to remind us that -- especially in the landscape of burgeoning Web 2.0 content -- we have to think about making that work accessible, findable, and usable in the *process* of composing, not retrofitting the wheel after the fact. Third, if we know that wheel was built in someone else’s disciplinary silo (typically for some purpose other than rhetorical), we would rather ignore it or tear it down than figure out how to hack it for our own purposes. (Again: OJS, TEI, and Dublin Core are three perfect examples.)
An important fourth point: Borgman, Willinsky, and Fitzpatrick speak to their communities in ways that allow non-digitally interested colleagues into the discussion. O’Gorman, always the outlier in this review, speaks to his community as well, although I’m not sure how successful he is at reaching non-digitally interested colleagues. That’s not bad; it just sets his work dramatically apart from the other books discussed here. To use O’Gorman’s phrasing, he—and we (digital writing studies)—remain firmly positioned as people who work exclusively with and in the digital (media) while Borgman, Willinsky, and Fitzpatrick work through, or perhaps on top of, the digital. This is the difference between reconceptualization and facilitation, which is also the fundamental difference, I believe, between what technorhetoricians do and what Digital Humanities scholars do respectively. Reconceptualization is great work, and digital writing scholars are remarkably successful at it, but what we’re not great at is facilitating that work in an ongoing, sustainable, or promotable way. Thus, this is an area where we could learn a lot from Digital Humanists, including Borgman’s, Willinsky’s, and Fitzpatrick’s books. If these three books are all telling us the same things and showing us exemplary projects outside of our field that enact successful ways that digital technology can facilitate scholarship—particularly through creation of shared cyberinfrastructures, more and better usage of metadata standards, community partnerships, access and preservation provisions, and attention to they ways scholarship will change in the coming years—then we should pay attention. If these needs are useful for digitized scholarship, it’s probable that they will be useful for digital media scholarship in some ways, and we should take the time to explore those options.
This is not to discount the amazing work that Kairos and other scholarly multimedia venues have been doing in these areas for the last 15 years but to say that more work is always needed and, in some ways, we have some catching up to do. None of these books talk about digital media scholarship in any scalable, organized way that a journal would find useful, and that’s the facilitation part that online rhet/comp journals have been missing. We have bootstrapped and DIYed ourselves into a proverbial corner, and so our next move is to get ourselves back out into the room so we can take part in the larger discussion. I hope that Kairos always publishes authors that build fantastic, speculative work that is situated somewhere on the spectrum of DIY and standards-compliance, because that’s what its mission and purpose is: that’s what it does best. But I also want the journal and others like it to be sustainable far into the future, and that’s where this review now needs to turn. I conclude by offering brief descriptions of some projects that Kairos has been involved in over the last year, all of which are in service of putting our skills at reconceptualizing digital media scholarship and teaching towards facilitating the bigger publishing picture. If you have ideas about any of these projects, or want to help in some way, please contact me at cball at ilstu dot edu.
To introduce the individual reviews, I should start with my conclusion: Most of these books aren’t for us. As I finished writing the reviews for each book—having drafted Borgman’s, Willinsky’s, and part of O’Gorman’s within the Prezi interface, and then transitioning, ironically, to drafting the review of Fitzpatrick’s online-only book in Microsoft Word—I began to frame my response to all four books based on something that struck me in Chapters Two (Authors) and Three (Texts) of Fitzpatrick’s text: She advocates for a form of collaborative writing and review that is already prominent in Kairos, if not in rhetoric and composition as a whole. She assumes—rightly so given the individualistic attitudes towards writing that I’ve heard expressed from traditional (and nontraditional) literature, history, and other humanities scholars—that the writers she hopes to convince don’t already buy into collaboration or writing as a social behavior. It’s safe to say, however, that readers of Kairos DO believe in collaboration and writing (and reviewing) as social practices, and we’ve been working that way for years. Fitzpatrick’s argument is important, game-changing even, and it will be revolutionary for some readers (primarily those still solely invested in the book as the gold standard in scholarly publishing)—it’s just not an argument that will be new to rhet/comp scholars, especially digital writing studies scholars. I discuss in Fitzpatrick’s individual review above how her book can be of use to writing studies scholars, because here the point is not about her book (which allowed me to synthesize what I was seeing in all of the books—and that’s actually what makes Fitzpatrick’s ideal: she synthesizes the entire state of digital (print) scholarship in remarkably clear and easy to read fashion), but about the message that these books are collectively saying about the state and function of scholarship in a digital age and, in particular, to whom. So I want to turn to the bigger picture.
If my review of these texts sounds at all regretful, it is because—in Goldilocks’ fashion—I realized that they are written for some other audience. Borgman, Willinsky, and Fitzpatrick are speaking to a collective that would (or should) buy in to the issues of cyberinfrastructure, open access, and digital book publishing. These are not issues that can be tackled on an individual basis. Changing one person’s mind won’t change the bigger picture of (digital) scholarly publishing. Borgman and Fitzpatrick offer terminology and technology that the collective should be aware of, and Willinsky and Fitzpatrick (to a lesser extent) offer how-tos for creating that communal publishing base (using particular kinds of technologies). Only O’Gorman offers both an individual (pedagogical and scholarly) approach and a collective (by way of curricular) approach that includes a terminology and a how-to. But he’s not speaking to humanists or academics broadly construed, as the other authors are; he’s speaking, essentially, to English professors in a language (and literature review) that English professors will get. I think that’s why his book speaks to me the most, out of the four: Not because of the disciplinary thing, but because he’s speaking to *me* as an individual within a broken, siloed, academic and publishing system and, from within that system, he proposes breaking out by creating media-intensive projects. That is a solution I can relate to and one that I prefer over the alphanumeric options the other authors propose. I can readily implement his ideas in my classroom, my local curriculum, and (in a collective way) for the journal. Working with the collective isn’t a bad thing, and several collaborators and I are working towards this kind of large-scale integration. But what I’m saying in response to these four books, which speaks to the audiences and purposes with which they are written, is that there’s a different call to action in O’Gorman’s book that more closely speaks to my personal, pedagogical, and scholarly interests. Borgman, Willinsky, and Fitzpatrick, on the other hand, speak to my interests in serving the field.
And there it is: the split between Research/Teaching and Service (despite the fact that my national service is intimately tied to my research and teaching interests). It’s the difference between the always-related interests of the local versus the global. O’Gorman presents the individual and local as a possibility for global curricular and scholarly change while Borgman, Willinsky, and Fitzpatrick present the global picture of using digital tools to assist scholarship as a possibility for enacting change at the local, community, or disciplinary level. All four share the same topic—desiring change in the values we assign to different kinds of scholarly knowledge production and distribution—though from two different perspectives, and interest in any four of these books will depend on your own Teaching, Research and Service. Audiences & Purposes This transition was due to a change in location, from desktop to laptop, where working in Prezi with the amount of media I had embedded had become cumbersome. I also wanted to reread Fitzpatrick’s book at home, on my laptop, in the comfort of pajamas, and needed a space to take notes on my re-reading, which wasn’t feasible inside the Prezi interface, where I was transcribing my marginalia from the other books directly into prose. For the online-only book, I needed an intermediate technological step. We publish collaborative works, we ask students to peer-review and work collaboratively on projects, and Kairos has a fully collaborative review process. The journal hasn’t taken the reviewing process to the kind of open system that Fitzpatrick advocates (yet), but it has always been community-oriented and collaborative. And in consultation with Senior Editor Douglas Eyman, I am considering ways to open the system, which we prototyped at the Computers and Writing 2010 conference by live-reviewing (with full audience participation) a webtext submission by Daniel Anderson during the opening Town Hall session. If we are able to build a system that will allow reviewers and peers to interact with a webtext during a review cycle, then we’ll probably open up the system. But there isn’t anything like CommentPress that exists (yet) for scholarly multimedia work. But, as I describe in the Conclusion, Kairos is working on one, in part due to Fitzpatrick’s concepts. I acknowledge the usefulness of peer-to-peer review for some kinds of digital publishing, and it’s a move I’d like to see the journal capitalize on, for some texts, in the future. What I mean by that is that I can enact O’Gorman’s ideas directly in my classroom and editorial-mentoring practices (i.e., with students and authors who compose digital media scholarship) while the other books support the service work that I do in building an editorial infrastructure – work that remains behind the scenes, for the most part, in support of helping multiple digital-media venues become more sustainable and valuable in academia. Traditional scholars (mostly literary and media studies scholars) who believe that writing can be done in solitary confinement and could use a foundation on the social value of writing, which nearly always incorporates technological mediation these days. For these scholars, this book will be an introduction to these rhetorical ideas through a literary lens.Digital writing scholars and digital humanists who already know that writing is a social practice—happening through Facebook notes, blog posts, Twitter, hallway conversations (if we’re lucky), and conference presentations, which are rarely (unlike literature conferences) presented by reading a whole, finely polished paper. This book adds the component of taking those social–scholarly conversations and turning them into books. University and scholarly press directors and editors. Peer-to-peer review and, soon enough, audience-interactive scholarly books will become one norm in academic publishing, If NYU Press (via Fitzpatrick’s book) and Johns Hopkins University Press (via Shakespeare Quarterly’s recent open-review experiment) is attempting it, others will likely follow.I would use this book again in my Digital Publishing class. (I’d probably ditch Borgman’s book, but keep Willinsky’s partnered with this one, which we’d likely read first.) *Planned Obsolescence* would make a great introduction for students who don’t know anything about digital publishing, especially since the ones who enter ISU’s publishing program do so primarily out of literary-print interests. In that respect, I think Fitzpatrick’s book will speak to them perfectly. Finally, this book has a big-picture use that I address with the other books in the conclusion to this review. Audience & Uses CHALLENGE: As I finish writing this review (in early July), I note the blog-comment exchange I had with Ryan Trauman earlier this week that touched on exactly this topic. Trauman had posted some questions that related to editorial practices he’d encountered while working on our digital book collection with Debra Journet (*The New Work of Composing*). In the post he was trying to reconcile the tension a digital media editor experiences when deciding what role to play: intellectual mentor or technical code-fixer. I explained that, for me, those divergent roles come to play at different times in the relationship between author and editor (and, in some cases, it’s never the right time). But I also realized while responding to him that I’m best at mentoring authors when they have paid for that service, which only happens at places like the Digital Media and Composition (DMAC) Institute, or at Computers and Writing workshops that Kairos hosts, or in the classes I teach. These happen to be face-to-face venues, I note with irony and a bit of unease. There are a multitude of authors who submit to Kairos whom I cannot mentor because I simply do not have the time to provide everyone online with the same level of feedback I might give someone face-to-face. It’s also not my role to help *everyone*. I’ll save discussion of that challenge for another publication. Review These (/filename/) are citations for the sections/pages on which quotes from this book appear. The entire URL for the opening page of the book is listed above (under the screenshot of the opening page). Thankfully, the URLs are human-readable, a smart choice by Fitzpatrick and her co-producers at MediaCommonsPress, who chose this WordPress option over the numeric and/or automated option that wouldn’t be human-readable. Fitzpatrick references Willinsky and Borgman early on, showing how her book works with and is also unique in comparison to theirs: “For while there have been numerous publications in the last few years that have argued for the need for new systems and practices in scholarly publishing, including, just to name two, John Willinsky’s The Access Principle and Christine Borgman’s Scholarship in the Digital Age, these arguments too often fail to account for the fundamentally conservative nature of academic institutions and – the rhetoric of a David Horowitz notwithstanding – the similar conservatism of the academics that comprise them.” (/mla-task-force/) Fitzpatrick confronts and works within the conservatism of the university structure in her book, but I also value Willinsky’s and, later, O’Gorman’s approach at punching academic conservatism in the eye. There’s a need for both kinds of books: those that change from within and those that change from without. Fitzpatrick’s is of the former. Fitzpatrick certainly knows the fight that Willinsky and O’Gorman tackle head on in the interest of expanding the definition of scholarship. In the closing to her Introduction, Fitzpatrick says: “We can build supports for an undead system, and we can watch the profession itself become undead. Or we can work to change the ways we communicate and the systems through which we attribute value to such communication, opening ourselves to the possibility that new modes of publishing might enable not just more texts but better texts, not just an evasion of obsolescence but a new life for scholarship,” which sounds a lot like O'Gorman’s and Willinsky's and also Borgman's arguments. The angle here is specifically through publishing networks, peer-review, and book publishing, whereas Borgman takes on building new cyberinfrastructure, Willinsky takes on making it all accessible, and O'Gorman promotes doing so in media-rich ways and then teaching students to continue that change after we're all undead. ;) At the beginning of Chapter One, she clearly states “what I am absolutely not arguing in what follows is that we need to ensure that peer-reviewed journals online are of equivalent value to peer-reviewed journals in print; in fact, I believe that such an equation is instead part the problem I’m addressing. Imposing traditional methods of peer review on digital publishing might help a transition to digital publishing in the short term, enabling more traditionally-minded scholars to see electronic and print scholarship as equivalent in value, but it will hobble us in the long term, as we employ outdated methods in a public space that operates under radically different systems of authorization. Instead, we must find ways to work with, to improve, and to adapt those new systems for scholarly use – but we must also find ways to convince ourselves, our colleagues, and our institutions of the value that is produced by the use of such systems" (/one/). At first glance, readers of Kairos might sense why the above paragraph makes me pause: Kairos is an online-only journal that is peer-reviewed, and one of the ways it has gained credibility in the field is because it is peer-reviewed (and, as a result, has a very low acceptance rate, which is a distressing marker of value in our academic worlds—a point of discussion I’ll save for another time). Regarding peer review, I think what separates Kairos from falling into the category of a digital journal that, as Fitzpatrick notes, uses "outdated methods" of that *other* kind of peer review [e.g., the one of the print world] is its collaborative process. That, and she's really talking about NEW online journals, I think, not the rare journal like Kairos that has been living and flourishing in the virtual world for over 15 years. Kairos is truly an anomaly in so many ways that its outlier status makes it hard to account for. However, I take Fitzpatrick's points about applying broken or outdated systems to new media to heart. As I will discuss later, that's one of the reasons we're working to add different kinds of peer review to our processes. My question with this system arises because it’s unclear to me what kind of work we’re supposed to be filtering for each other. In quoting Clay Shirky, she says, “’The expansion of social media means that the only working system is publish-then-filter’ (Here Comes Everybody 98)” (one/the-reputation-economy/), but I have to wonder what Fitzpatrick thinks a journal like Kairos should do, which is peer-reviewed—although not at all in the blind-review, traditional method. It’s a genre issue, and also perhaps a form/media issue: The peer-reviewed webtexts that Kairos publishes are of a particular and small multi-genre subset of academic writing that can be consistently found in only two other places (C&C Online and Vectors). There is no abundance of peer-reviewed webtexts on the Web. There’s a ton of smart, useful YouTube videos and the like that I think our readers enjoy, but they aren’t scholarly treatments in the same way that our readers have come to expect (and, I think—given the journal’s longevity and continued success at receiving unsolicited submissions—enjoy). It’s possible that Kairos may stop publishing in the future for want of submissions and readers who want less “article-like” venues (by that, I mean the intellectual work that webtexts take on, which is akin to that of a print article). But in the meantime, I’m not sure that our particular system is the kind that Fitzpatrick suggests needs fixing. (She may even cringe that I’ve suggested it could be.) I know she cannot account for the oddities and anomalies in publishing that this journal is, which is outside the scope of what her intended audience would endure. Suggesting that peer review needs a radical overhaul in the digital age is a spot-on but difficult argument she makes to scholars who are deeply invested in “the book,” so adding the push for scholarly multimedia would send her readers over the edge. It’s not, after all, her main point. It’s only frustrating because we have been doing it so well for so long. I feel the need to write my own stinkin’ book. The process vs. product debate, which extends back nearly five decades (!) into composition theory isn’t new, and the lore on scholarly collaboration-gone-bad is rich, but I won’t treat that ground here. Consider instead that only recently we’ve begun to more formally acknowledge the process of scholarly multimedia production in forums like Kairos’ Inventio section. Although the pieces that we’ve published in that section are, of course, products in and of themselves, they are usually composed in relation to and about the process on which *another* webtext was built. For instance, Susan Delagrange’s piece, “Revision as Redesign” is a scholarly display of her composing and revising process for her previously published (and award-winning) webtext, “Wunderkammer, Cornell, and the Visual Canon of Arrangement,” which was over three years in the making. As Fitzpatrick is calling for authors to become comfortable with showing our in-progress work in public (which is certainly one step beyond what Inventio does), I might also add that it’s possible, and gift-economy profitable, to also consider more formal displays of one’s process work. Or just open up the process earlier, as Fitzpatrick suggests. Would Delagrange have taken three years (and one revise-and-resubmit) to complete her original webtext if she’d made drafts of it public early on? We can’t know, but we can also suggest the opposite: Would it have taken her even longer if she’d opened the process up? Doing so would require, as Fitzpatrick discusses in the section on credentialing, that authors learn how to embrace or tune-out certain suggestions, just like we ask students to do in peer-review workshops. (Once again, a practice that composition studies knows well while literary studies may not.) I think of the articles and webtexts I’ve written and began to recognize pretty early on in my tenure-track career that the *one* that gets cited is single-authored and print-based. Sure, it’s had longer to circulate than the others, but I only have two single-authored pieces, both in closed-access journals, and I have to start wondering why the collaborative work doesn’t get cited. And then the doubt begins.... I also see very few collaborative pieces submitted to Kairos, and that’s more distressing because I know how much more work (yes, I said it) building a webtext is than writing an article. So, yes, it’s important for scholars who already claim to value nontraditional methods of scholarly production to review the literature on those issues, and then to consider how we might make changes to our current practices. I don’t and can’t expect Fitzpatrick to cover digital media scholarship, even though I wish someone would (that may have to be me, or some of you, either of which would actually make more sense than Fitzpatrick or Borgman or Willinsky doing so). If Fitzpatrick spent any more time on multimodality or code, it would totally freak out her primary audience; and the peer-to-peer review suggestion will freak them out enough. Assuming she has taken this stance toward her audience, I purposefully let it be. I could have added a comment to this section of the text that explained my qualms about the shallow treatment of multimedia and offered suggestions. And I can see that other readers have added their own examples and questions into the comment area alongside each paragraph (although not on that particular point). But being able to see what other readers have commented on (and seeing some sort of consensus about the audience building in the process) made me less interested in adding my two cents, given the peculiarity of my own interests. But, the fact that I can SEE who other readers of the book are deserves special attention here, as it enacts one of Fitzpatrick’s primary arguments for peer-to-peer review: the building of a community of reviewers. Another way Fitzpatrick’s book enacts her argument (particular from this chapter on authors and authorship) is the way she’s presenting a work in progress. The version I am reviewing is, in fact, only a DRAFT that she has put online in CommentPress, a plug-in for Wordpress, to solicit feedback from readers. She will then take all the questions and comments that readers have left and revise the manuscript into a final book that NYU Press plans to publish sometime this year. So, it is with some trepidation that I mention anything different I would have liked the book to do because (1) I had the opportunity to say so much earlier and have that revision taken into consideration, but I elected not to make any in-depth comments (for a number of good, mediocre, and bad reasons but that had, finally, nothing to offer Fitzpatrick’s solid argument for that other audience), and (2) the “actual” (?) book, with revisions, will come out soon, and it’s possible that Fitzpatrick has attended to the comments that other reviewers left for her. Thus, this review of a book-in-progress is an unusual thing itself—perhaps an example of a different kind of peer-to-peer and post- (yet pre-) publication review, albeit one that makes building a community difficult since this particular review isn’t interactive. (I recommend tweeting about it to the DH crowd; that will probably suffice part of Fitzpatrick’s encouragement to mentor and community-build.) Enacting Her Argument I wasn’t sold on how “the book” is a useful term in rethinking publishing in a digital age, and I wasn’t sold on why multimodality can’t be part of this discussion…until I got to this quote. I was a little taken aback by the insistence on “the book” when the peer-review chapter seems to indicate the need to include a breadth of digital scholarly texts, but I think this statement serves to reassure her primary audience: no, the book’s not going away. (That’s something we can all agree on, I think, and I suppose she does need to reiterate it because we all know that colleague who really does think our digital work is going to wipe their usefulness from the Earth. Sigh.) Fitzpatrick aptly calls on the carpet (early) hypertext authoring: “Insofar as hypertext attempts in its form to more accurately replicate the structures and processes of human thought, it is the processes of the author’s thought that are represented, often leaving the reader with the task of determining what the author was thinking – thus effectively reinscribing the author-reader hierarchy at an even higher level.” (/hypertext/) “Many scholars feel themselves over-isolated, longing for new modes of collaboration and discussion, and such blogs have enabled a kind of conference-without-walls, in which new ideas and new texts can be discussed in something closer to real time.” (/reading-and-the-communications-circuit/) Yes, but digital writing scholars haven’t had this problem since, at least, the initial use of MOOs, Usenet and listservs, and other ICTs in our field, which dates back to at least 1984 (see Palmquist’s chapter in the 2010 *Digital Tools in Composition Studies* collection). So our need for community-building scholarly technologies is less relevant than to other fields whose interest in digital technology is much more recent. CommentPress is a great program and Dan Anderson has modeled it in his literature classes to interesting and useful effects. It’s great, too, to see readers interacting in a network environment to comment on Fitzpatrick’s book—all comments are public, lending to a sense of community building. And that is one of the limits to CommentPress, in my opinion. I wanted to take copious notes on Fitzpatrick’s book as I was reading it, and CommentPress would have been great for that, but since the application makes comments public, I didn’t feel I could take personal notes (especially not ones that were my own in-progress thoughts on her in-progress book; the audience was all wrong and my rhetoric would have been misconceived given its purpose as marginalia.) iow, I wanted to use CommentPress for a post-publication note-taking feature, not a pre-publication peer-to-peer review system. I wanted a hack. Of course, my intentions are problematic given that the book is still a DRAFT, but having private comments is still a feature I want. Perhaps my inclination to craft my review of Fitzpatrick’s work in private is not in the spirit of collaboration that she wants. But I also wonder what will happen to academic genres like review essays under her suggested system. There may be less need for reviews if texts are so widely and collaboratively pre-reviewed (although I doubt some of the level of participation that might be expected from these new systems, at least in the long run). The opening to the Preservation chapter draws heavily on work that the Electronic Literature Organization has done to provide guidelines for preservation and access to “born-digital” creative works, much of which is multimodal. So it’s an interesting aside to me that she’s building an argument for preservation on creative (literary) multimedia but not on scholarly multimedia. That’s not to say that I haven’t done the same thing (e.g., my “rhetoric” dissertation was written almost exclusively about Flash-based poetry). This fallback position, of pointing to creative digital works, speaks to the strong presence the ELO has within digital circles; they organized into a “collective” in 1999, so it’s no wonder they’re a force when it comes to standards in digital work. Even more so than with O'Gorman's book, I wanted to "talk back" to Fitzpatrick's, and she graciously and generously provided me (and any other reader) with every opportunity to do so. (I explain later in this review why I didn't take her up on that offer.) Readers were offered a side-by-side comment feature on this book draft (also explained more below), and so in the spirit of Fitzpatrick's digital book layout, I situate my commentary/review of her book next to its actual contents. This is incredibly hard to do when we're constantly experimenting with new technology, but there ARE ways to do it, such as the hacked PDF transcripts I've provided for this totally inaccessible Prezi.) I credit current graduate students Melanie Yergeau (in her rousing C&W Town Hall presentation) and Jentery Sayers, Jamie Bono, Matt Wilson, and Curtis Hisayasu (in a forthcoming chapter on metadata) with offering insight and changing my mind about such things. Projects I owe very special thanks to Virginia Kuhn, who invited me to join the Humanistic Algorithms project in 2008 and without whom these ideas and connections may not ever have occurred to me. She is a considerate, generous colleague who has expanded my scholarly repertoire in exciting ways. I am also forever indebted to Douglas Eyman, whose ability to create big-picture plans where only my randomly dashed off emails existed proves why he is Senior Editor of Kairos. Bless him for putting up with me! It was Doug and Virginia's idea to create a consortium of editors to pursue collaborations towards best practices, cyberinfrastructure across publication venues, and joint funding opportunities. I am here only to serve their smartness, promote the forward momentum of Kairos and its like-venues, and make to-do lists. I'm really good at to-do lists.
The last of these projects is less than three weeks old, and while it may seem premature to announce, it's also not something we should sit on. We're still working out the details on inviting stakeholders, coming up with projects, and moving forward with funding opportunities, but it's an exciting time for digital media scholarship and for Kairos in particular, this being our 15th year of publication and all. Join us as we move and shake some more, create some necessary infrastructure, work on some best practices documents, and make the journal and the field even better in the coming 15 years! Please contact me for more information on the journal, these projects, or with feedback to this review essay at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are specifically thinking outside the notion of scholarly journals by using the word "repositories," mainly so that this project can possibly dovetail with our continued work with Virginia on the Humanistic Algorithms project, which included a portfolio-like option for housing students' multimedia-intensive projects, such as those created by Honors students at the Institute for Multimedia Literacy, the program which she directs at the University of Southern California. Repositories are also a key term for librarians and IT administrators interested in collecting and disseminating faculty and student scholarship that falls under the broader category that Borgman defined as "data." Justin Hodgson and Amanda Booher of The JUMP, Kris Blair of C&C Online, Cynthia Selfe and Gail Hawisher of C&C Digital Press, Doug (via chat) and myself representing Kairos, and Bump Halbritter of CCC Online. I've laid out in Venn-diagram style, my conceptual map between Kairos and other digital media journals, funding agencies, and other groups interested in digital (media) scholarship. This is a fairly speculative diagram, as some of the connections don't yet exist (but are hoped for) and some are just in the beginning stages as of this writing in mid-2010. The projects include brief sketches of outcomes we hope will beneficially impact the Kairos community in the coming years:
Brings together: ICHASS, NCSA, IML, Kairos, Vectors, CompPile
For this project, led by Virginia Kuhn, a group of digital writing scholars met at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in Urbana-Champaign (in March 2008) to discuss ways that computer scientists could collaborate with humanities scholars. The goal was to create plans to harness supercomputing applications for the benefit of scholarly multimedia venues. The outcome was a project statement and future collaborations that would help us build algorithms to mine metadata and create visualizations from all the different media assets in the 100s of scholarly webtexts on the Web. Within a year of the first meeting, the Humanistic Algorithms project was part of a larger collection of digital humanities projects put together by Kevin Franklin, Executive Director for the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Science (ICHASS) at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The larger collection of projects received NEH funding under the Institute for Advanced Topics in Digital Humanities program. Our mission was to travel to three supercomputing sites in the U.S. (with a hope to aim internationally in another round of funding), learn what strengths each site had that might work for our projects (e.g., parallel processing, large-scale storage, and GPU/graphics processing), and collaborate on future grant applications to complete the projects. (What I thought would be a fun visit to UIUC to see some big computers turned into my post-tenure research agenda. Cool.) Humanistic Algorithms Kairos redesign: This project, which (since 2004) has gone through several iterations and project leaders due to its scope, is still underway. As Karl Stolley -- past Interface Editor and lead designer on the reader interface introduced in August 2008 -- said about the design, it's only one phase in the larger redesign plans for the journal. Those plans include creating an editorial system, like Open Journal Systems, that would allow every section of the journal to keep track of submissions, reviews, responses, and publications. Kathie Gossett, project manager for the redesign team, interviewed nearly every Kairos staff member in 2007 to figure out a system that would best accommodate our unusual editorial practices (most of which have to do with the multimedia nature of the submissions and our collaborative review process). We thought, at the time, that OJS wouldn't work for our needs because it's built to only handle print-based scholarship that traverses through a fairly linear workflow, one that (as one example) doesn't account for our unique practice of design-editing a webtext for usability and accessibility. However, after this portion of the redesign stalled for a year due to a lack of volunteer staff that had programming knowledge, we discovered that OJS might -- with some serious hacks, in the form of PHP plug-ins -- work for us after all, so we wouldn't have to build the system from scratch. "Building a Better Back-End: Editor, Author, and Reader Tools for Scholarly Multimedia" is the title of a Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant that Doug Eyman, Kathie Gossett, and I (along with PHP programmer, Steven Potts) submitted this past March (2010) to the National Endowment for the Humanities. This grant would pay for dedicated project management time, programming, usability testing, and implementation of plug-ins for Open Journal Systems so that the system can be modified for use in scholarly multimedia publications. One set of plug-ins we propose building are for synchronous (and possibly open, peer-to-peer) reviewing of submissions in a way that will allow multiple reviewers to comment on the webtext, "like" comments of others, and add sticky notes to the interface design while also adding game-like functionality to the review system, which would (in some ways) accommodate Fitzpatrick's argument for reviewing the reviewers. The benefits of this project (as outlined in our grant narrative) include the strength and sustainability of building into the already existing, widely-used, and open-source infrastructure of OJS, which has a growing plug-in gallery that we can add to, thereby making our products available to any online journal that wants to implement scholarly multimedia into their publications or repositories. NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant Brings together: Kairos, NEH, and OJS Following the lines of wider humanities outreach aimed for in the Humanistic Algorithms and "Building a Better Back-End" projects, Virginia, Doug, and I met recently in Washington, DC, to follow up with Kevin Franklin's teams from the supercomputing site visits. There were two major outcomes from that wrap-up meeting: (1) The humanities, as Borgman argued (though not specifically about the humanities), *needs* cyberinfrastructure to complete the kinds of digital projects that are here and on the horizon. Large-scale cyberinfrastructure isn't just an issue for the sciences anymore. The problem is that no one with money in the humanities has funding for that scale of work. (Brett Bobley, Director of the Office of Digital Humanities, was there to assure us, reticently, of that fact.) We'd have to start thinking *even larger*, which I didn't think was possible, and apply for funding through agencies like the NIH and NSF. (Deep breathes. Okay.) (2) We'd never succeed in getting that scale of funding from anyone without a larger group of scholars who could all share in the creation and outcome of such an infrastructure. So, in our attempt to begin thinking *even larger,* our team decided that the first step would be to create a consortium of digital media stakeholders, built primarily on a group of journal and press editors that had convened just four days before, via Skype. The previous Saturday afternoon, eight editors of similar publications talked passionately about the problems, joys, and collective issues we face in publishing scholarly multimedia. It was an exciting, fortuitous, long-overdue conversation, punctuated by a powerfully loud thunderstorm that called the meeting short, even though we all knew there was much more to talk about. A week later, after the trip to DC where Virginia and Doug suggested taking the editors' meeting even bigger, we had a GoogleGroup and a growing consortium of independent digital-media-publication editors and stakeholders. (And, yes, this text block really should be in the very center of the Venn diagram, but I thought it was more important for the consortium name to stand out in the "big picture"view.) . . . a much broader set of issues is bubbling upward as new genres emerge that are not easily categorized. Rich scholarly Web sites in the humanities, for instance, contain data in many media, consolidating the results of years of research. They have few analogs in print publication.... Simulations, data repositories, and other complex content with interactive links may be considered publications, especially in data-intensive fields, despite few print analogs (Shortliffe et al, 2004; Suleman et al. 2001; Unsworth et al, 2006). (p. 99) She also does well by acknowledging "discussion lists, blogs, chats, RSS feeds, and others soon to be invented" (p. 99), but the key, for me, is that she's *only* acknowledging. Not commenting. Not critiquing. Not suggesting ways to think differently about digital scholarship. She's listing. Or, to use a term more appropriate to what I gather is the intended audience for this book, she's cataloguing as a way to confirm that all of the data, conference presentations, peer-reviews, online forms of scholarship, and, yes, even the humanities exist. For those who have worked within digital scholarship for our entire scholarly careers (in my case, since 1997), none of this is news. I recently attended a Microsoft Research Faculty Summit, where over 400 computer scientists were in attendance. The phrase E-Research was used extensively. So apparently it’s common in the technical Sciences. [Note: The items in asterisks in this quote are italicized in the original. Prezi does not offer italics as a style.] particularly in regards to this: e.g., we have collectively complained in hallway conversations that funding agencies aren't interested in our work. We have to figure out ways to facilitate their understanding of it, even when it doesn't look anything like what they're used to seeing. We should be able to do this; we're rhetoricians, after all. But, first, we have to do it together, not just as Kairos or as a small group of collaborators. And we have to show how such a collective, working together on a project that's bigger than the collective, will be useful across several disciplines and kinds of digital (media) scholarship. Joddy reminded me during editing: "Actually, you did approach me about it--it was all your idea from the beginning." Lol. But, really, I don't think it's worth your time. See also the brand new WordPress plug-in, Anthologize!, created by the NEH-funded “One Tool | One Week” group:
http://anthologize.org/ The End