Not much especially revelatory or surprising in my mentioning that I am happy to see keywords added to the CCCC 2015 proposal system. I love the idea, see it as an important and long overdue addition to the process and also a promising source of new semantic patterning studies (e.g., corroborating proposal language, theme, keywords, and more). I had the good fortune of working with Joyce Carter at last year’s Stage II review in mid-June, and, as we assembled solo proposals into panels, the prospective usefulness of a secondary classification system surfaced again and again, and we talked quite a bit about how a modest set of keywords could, without adding much to the work involved with preparing proposals, suggest otherwise quiet or subtle threads across proposals.
Here’s the recent video from Joyce describing the what and why of the new keywords field:
A week ago Saturday, the Saturday of #4c14 in Indianapolis, I was at the Cross-Generational Task Force meeting, where we spent a few minutes talking about the importance of recommending a semantic baseline for the keyword associated with cross-generational proposals. We settled on XGEN. Simple and with no hyphen. Other variations might have been “cross-gen,” “x-generational,” “cross-generational,” “X-GEN,” and so on. Could be twenty or more variations. Some of these variations might still sneak onto proposals, despite the suggestion of XGEN, and that’s okay. All variations will be useful as descriptive keywords, right? That said, the semantic variation risks restricting their usefulness to description, which is the main reason we agreed upon XGEN as a the preferred indexical token. With it, we improve the term’s prospects of functioning both descriptively and relationally.
I don’t know whether other groups will follow this model. I look forward to seeing how this will go. How might groups wishing to sponsor a keyword do so? With email blasts to listservs or to SIG and Standing Group membership rosters? Sure. These approaches will probably work just fine. But I was also considering, after seeing Joyce’s video and after the task force meeting (and the follow-up email to WPA-l), how a simple collector, such as an openly editable Google Doc, might support broader efforts to articulate common keywords that are both descriptive and relational (or indexically reliable across the set). In the spirit of give-things-a-try, I’ve created just such a document at #4c15 Proposal Keyword Collector (reference), and will add to it as I see suggestions pop up on WPA-L or elsewhere. It’s openly editable, too, so if you have an idea for a more or less sponsored keyword that would cohere presentations across these secondary classifications, please feel free to add to it.