Digital Scholarship

to the future editors of CCC online

As you might know CCCC is looking for two new online editors, one who will serve as the online editor for CCC and the other who will have the more nebulous role (if that is possible) of "MemberWeb" Editor (despite the title I don't believe this is a porn site). Joking aside, I really do wish the best of luck to whomever takes up this challenge. I'm starting a new job next year at the University of Buffalo and will be taking on the job of directing the composition program shortly after, so I know I won't be applying.

Readers of this blog are likely aware of Collin Brooke's experiences as CCC online editor and have probably read Steve Krause's excellent analysis of the jobs as they have been described by NCTE/CCCC. As Steve notes:

First, I would suggest that the reason why NCTE was not able before to
get someone to take on on the web editing job and why they are unlikely
to have success with these latest calls is that anyone who is qualified
to do this work knows that these would be problematic positions.

Second, I’m increasingly worried that NCTE doesn’t seem to “get it”
when it comes to an online presence. These ads would be understandable
and excusable if they were posted 10 or 12 years ago; that CCC and the NCTE are running them now is scary.

So under the category of unsolicited advice, I provide the following suggestions. First, in terms of CCC's online presence:

  • What's your plan to move from print to fully online? And please don't tell me you don't have one. Do we really need to keep discussing this? You don't have to become Kairos. You don't have to publish video or Flash or whatever. You can even keep with PDF, though I wish you wouldn't, at least not exclusively.
  • When you do go online make the texts findable and not just on the local website. Participate in bringing rhet/comp online journals into compliance with emerging standards for findability. Go type "college composition and communication" into Google Scholar and see what you get. I get hits out of for the journal, but they aren't even the first hits. If CCC is our flagship journal, shouldn't it show up first when you type in the title of the journal!?! Type in "rhetoric and composition" and you have to dig through several pages before a single CCC article shows up.
  • I should be able to have an RSS feed on my Netvibes page with an updated list of CCC article titles, authors, and abstracts, with links to the articles.
  • I don't know what economics make the archives available only by subscription, but I wish it would change. For an organization that is always pining about having more influence, it would seem that making the journal openly available would be a no-brainer. Exactly what would you losing by making articles a year or two old freely available? 
  • Getting more to "wish list" type items… It would be great if registered users/members could tag and/or comment on articles. If you publish an article and I write about it here, wouldn't it be useful to trackback from the CCCC site?

Second, regarding the "MemberWeb" (n.b. first task: change name). Essentially, I consider myself fairly savvy about social media, and I am somewhat flummoxed by the immodest task described here. So let me just through out this question:

If you're an NCTE/CCCC member, as I am, your motivation is maybe so that you can get a copy of the journal, but you can probably get access to the journal through your library. So your primary motive is probably that you go the CCCC conference, right? So why would you go to this website? What kind of community would you be looking for here?

Look at Kairosnews or the Writing Program Administrators websites. Here you can see two online communities that at least have some elements of what CCCC seems to imagine. Both have Facebook groups, as does CCCC and NCTE and a dozen other rhetoric-related groups. Plus, of course, all the email listservs soldier on.

What are we going to do at the CCCC MemberWeb? Superpoke members? Exchange cat pictures? Leave behind email discussions and move to web-based discussion (not that I'd object to that)? Aggregate CCCC member blogs? As I see it, for these purposes there are two kinds of CCCC members. There are a small group who have incorporated social media into their academic work, and for those people I'm not sure what the MemberWeb would add. Then there's a larger group of r/c scholars who don't really do social media. Maybe they recently added facebook profiles to search out their HS buddies. But that's it. That's your audience, I think. But how do you convince those people to take up the social media habit? Do these folks desire a MemberWeb?

I really don't want to be negative about this, b/c I do appreciate NCTE/CCCC trying to catch up, trying to figure out what to do with emerging technologies. In terms of the MemberWeb, I think you need to begin by recognizing that there is already an extensive r/c online community. You're standing on one small node of it right now. Begin by aggregating the existing r/c content: blogs, journals with rss feeds, podcasts, anything that you can find. Then offer users ways to add their own content. See what happens, I guess.

Oh, and promote like hell, but please change the name first.