Fall 2005 - Editor's Welcome

Welcome to the Fall 2005 issue of Computers and Composition Online. Despite the diversity of contributions in this issue, an overarching theme among these pieces is the extent to which new media and multimodal literacy tools are impacting our conceptions of the rhetorical tradition, including collaborative public discourse, the digital divide, graduate education, language and grammar instruction, as well as assessment. Our Theory into Practice section includes Collin Brooke's "Weblogs as Deictic Systems: Centripetal, Centrifugal, and Small-World Blogging." In this important piece, Brooke defines weblogs as social networks that foster a clustering and connecting that isn't possible within the print composing model that continues to dominate most classrooms. Originally part of the 2005 Computers and Writing Online Conference, Brooke's piece is itself based in a blog interface, generating a type of interactive response that goes beyond the traditional print peer review process. As a result, we were pleased that Steve Krause graciously allowed us to publish his initial, blog-based response to Collin's work, "Comments on Collin Brooke's "Weblogs as Deictic Systems." Another important piece that emerged from the Computers and Writing Conference is Angela Haas' "Making Online Spaces More Native to American Indians: A Digital Divide Recommendation." Within this webtext, Haas reminds us that digital rhetoricians have an obligation to act as change agents, helping to collaboratively foster sovereign spaces for Amerian Indians to claim their own communication and technology needs. In many ways, this argument connects to those that call for an extension of the rhetorical traditional to include technology and literacy practices among diverse groups typically overlooked and silenced.

Our Virtual Classroom features extend the conversation on blogs, the rhetorical tradition, and then some. Our own Bowling Green contribution to this discussion, "A Role for Blogs in Graduate Education: Remediating the Rhetorical Tradition," also began as a Computers and Writing Conference presentation, as we shared our experiences as first-time bloggers in a graduate seminar on Rhetorical Theory. In developing our multimodal mix, including some podcasting, we are ever-grateful to Hugh Burns, an audience member at our June C&W presentation, for his professional generosity and support in encouraging us to turn our exploratory responses into a published work. Similar experiments in applying new media are featured in Brita Banitz's "Computer-Assisted Language Learning in the 21st Century," an overview of both theory and practice of technologically-mediated language instruction that provides valuable assessment criteria for instructors new to integrating language software into their curriculum.

Banitz's piece also connects thematically to many issues raised in the special Computers and Composition issue on ESL (September 2005); as always, the abstracts for this issue and others are available in our Print to Screen section, where we have also included a link to the download of full articles from the Elsevier website. Expanding the discussion of the role of technology in language learning is Rich Haswell's bibliography and commentary on Text-Checkers, a special feature in our Professional Development section and one that will soon appear in Rich's and Glen Blalock's invaluable research database for the rhetoric and composition community, COMPPILE.

A complement to these more extended discussions within our major sections are two Reviews. The first Michael Charlton's review of Gunther Kress' Literacy in the New Media Age; Charlton's review is a useful synthesis of points that occur in the special Computers and Composition print issue devoted to Kress' work in March 2005. Finally, our very own Eric Stalions provides an exhaustive overview of Diane Penrod's text Composition in Convergence: The Impact of New Media on Writing Assessment.

As always, we appreciate the continued support of the Computers and Writing community, something we experienced first-hand at the 2005 Computers and Writing Conference at Stanford, when two pieces from Computers and Composition Online received the Kairos Best WebText Awards. The 3rd place award went to Brian Houle's, Alex Kimball's and Heidi McKee's "'Boy? Girl? You Decide': Multimodal Web Composition and a Mythography of Identity" and the 1st place award to Michael J. Kripps for his piece "#FFFFFF, #000000, & #808080: Hypertext Theory and WebDev in the Composition Classroom." While this was quite a honor for all of us here in the Rhetoric and Writing Doctoral Program at BGSU, we know that such growth for Computers and Composition Online wouldn't be possible if it weren't for readers of the print Computers and Composition and the success of leading online journals in our discipline such as Kairos. That we are included among these forums is indeed something for which we are truly indebted.

Kris Blair