Logging On

Cheryl Ball, Editor

We have a remarkable 22 webtexts in this issue of Kairos, plus 2 episodes of KairosCast! This is the second-largest issue the journal has ever published—topped only by the infamously large Computers & Writing 2002 “Beyond Normal” special issue, guest edited by Susan Antlitz, Will Banks, Ron Fortune, and Jim Kalmbach, which had a remarkable 32 peer-reviewed webtexts — I'm exhausted just thinking about it! That issue was one of my first as CoverWeb co-editor, and so I assumed that *all* issues would be ridiculously robust, which may be why my standards for what Kairos should produce have always been so freaking high. I lovingly blame Jim Kalmbach, who was my primary contact on that issue; he never ceased to remind me of its girth when I would later, working down the hall from him, occasionally complain about a late night of copy-editing. Given Jim's recent retirement from Illinois State, then, I suppose this issue is a fitting tribute: Robust, but still doesn’t beat his record. ;) And, frankly, I doubt that we ever will. Nor should we try—this issue was a beast to edit simply because of the number of webtexts. Kairos has the largest staff it ever has—33 section and assistant editors—who are responsible for the development and production of the contents you read herein, along with the 53 editorial board members (including Jim!) who spend countless hours providing feedback through collaborative reviews. I thank each and every one of them from the bottom of my heart for turning this issue around so dang quickly (on top of a massive and awesome special issue from this summer). They all deserve some time off, which is why our twentieth anniversary issue, coming on January 1, 2016, will revert back to the journal's more compact nature of its last ten years, with a few key pieces we think you will enjoy.

We also have a few retirements from Kairos, if you will: In the last year, Nate Kreuter, Kairos copy-editor extraordinaire, has begun serving as his university's writing program administrator, which as we know takes an extraordinary person to do. We thank him for his years of work on the journal, and this Virgo in particular thanks him for his amazingly quick turn-around times on editing work. We also congratulation Sara Georgi on graduating with her masters in professional writing and editing from West Virginia University, where she worked with me and served as Kairos's associate editor for the last year. I could always count on Sara to pick up slack on a last-minute editing job for Kairos, among the countless other things she's done to, basically, run my professional life during this last year. She is amazing, and I would say I’m going to miss working with her, but she volunteered to continue helping out, as needed, and we all know Kairos could always use a little extra help! Thank you, Sara, for all of your work this year!

In this issue

In my 15 years working on Kairos, this is the largest issue I've ever been responsible for putting together. I look at the index page for the issue, and I am astounded at how it just goes on and on, every piece a wonderful representation of the scholarship in our fields and the care with which the staff and board puts into each webtext. This is a truly amazing journal to work for. Because of the breadth of the issue, I will keep my remarks short here, just to highlight a few of the connections you might find interesting.

I'd first like to highlight the CoverWeb section on Infrastructures of Writing. This section comes to us courtesy of Christine Alfano from Stanford University and co-host of the 2005 Computers & Writing conference. Christine guest edited these three pieces on a topic that we should be discussing more frequently and openly in writing studies, infrastructures.

Senior Editor Douglas Eyman and I have been talking a lot about infrastructures lately, specifically related to digital publishing, such as for journals like Kairos. (Some of you may have caught references to this in my talks at Computers & Writing and the Council of Writing Program Administrators this summer. I had a lot of fun at both and appreciated the opportunity to talk in detail about this important issue to our fields.) Kairos is very appreciative of Christine's work with the authors to provide these webtexts to our readers. They further the conversations about infrastructure towards portfolio use, collaborative multimedia work, and transnational writing programs.

Several of the other webtexts in this issue also relate to infrastructural use of writing, although often less explicitly than the CoverWeb texts do. For instance, the Praxis section contains “Introducing Susie: How to Create a Virtual Writing Center Tutor” by Chloé Diepenbrock, Katie Hart, and Ellen Birdwell, and the Topoi section contains John Jones's “Network* Writing” webtext, which discusses Google PageRank and other networked practices that require writing teachers to pay attention to and teach digital writing in infrastructurally attentive ways. And, of course, Karyn Hollis's “Interview with Les Perelman: ‘The Man Who Killed the SAT’,” in which Kairos readers will get a delightful insight into Perelman's important push to rid the world of predatory testing companies!

Only slightly farther afield than these infrastructurally related works are those about online writing instruction and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), as presented by these three webtexts:

When you get your fill of the technological systems with which we work, several authors remind us of the importance of bodies:

Many of the webtexts in this issue are next-button hypertextual, which has become typical for most Kairos webtexts. So when we get submissions that explore the performative nature of web-based media, such as Miles' and Fields et. al above, we get fairly excited. These next two webtexts explore both the depth and breadth of performative research around our fields. The first, “Sparklegate: Gamification, Academic Gravitas, and the Infantilization of Play,” by Jennifer deWinter and Stephanie Vie is a Topoi webtext that looks back on Sparklegate (e.g., when some writing studies folks lost their shit over the Cs the Day game in 2014) and the use of game studies as a legitimate pedagogical and scholarly area within rhetoric and composition. Then, pushing on how games and data are used as research, Anastasia Salter provides us with “Alice in Dataland,” a 12-part webtext that includes research on all the many forms Alice has taken critically and creatively in different media. Some of the sections are games (and, for the record, I would call each of her sections a “chapter”—they are intellectually weighty, even as many of them are games...and that's part of the point). In the Inventio section, “Alice in Dataland” also responds to editorial reviews of her original submission as a complicated, not-quite-literary analysis. I note for readers, too, that this piece remains in MLA reference style, which is not Kairos's accepted style, because of its overwhelmingly literary nature—a choice I probably would not repeat for many reasons, had I to re-edit this piece.

So, what else is there, you say? Still tons!! :) We have a half-dozen reviews and webtexts still to read on social media—a nice follow-up to the summer issue, Because Facebook. Read the PraxisWiki piece, “Hey, @students! #Letschat: Using Social Media to Facilitate Research and Public Engagement” by Jessie Miller, Shanna Gilkeson, and Lisa Pignotti. And the Reviews on social-media-related topics, the links for which you can get on the Table of Contents for this issue:

  • “A Review of Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, & Branding in the Social Media Age by Alice E. Marwick,” written by Amber Buck
  • “A Review of Social Media in Disaster Response: How Experience Architects Can Build for Participation by Liza Potts,” written by Jacquelyn E. Hoermann
  • “A Review of The Social Media Reader edited by Michael Mandiberg,” written by Dawn Opel


  • “A Review of The Public Work of Rhetoric: Citizen-Scholars and Civic Engagement edited by John M. Ackerman & David J. Coogan,” written by Jennifer Clifton;
  • “A Review of Writing as a Way of Being: Writing Instruction, Nonduality, and the Crisis of Sustainability by Robert Yagelski,” written by Talitha May; and
  • “A Review of Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects by Kristin L. Arola, Jennifer Sheppard, and Cheryl E. Ball,” written by Elkie Burnside. And, for the record, I haven’t even *looked* at that one, even though that goes against every fiber of my editorial being, just so we can avoid any bias.

Finally... in case you missed the earlier episodes of KairosCast, which contain features on digital storytelling, conference planning, and how-to podcasting, please check out Episodes 5 and 6, which you can now download from LibSyn through an RSS feed.

Please enjoy this issue. It's big. You might need to order a vegan pepperoni roll to sustain you.