Thursday, April 16, 2009

Collabaret, cont.

With the recent collaborative go-round, I started thinking again about a distributed authoring experiment CGB mentioned in passing a time or two before. Imagine dialing up collaboration in such a way that a group of 6-8 scholars would team-write articles on a series of issues (extraordinarily wide open, this). A scholarship-producing cousin of the think tank. This author-organism would set out with well-defined goals, structural principles, and so on. It would meet occasionally as a collective to discuss the experiment, to consider rules and roles, but it would also be receptive to redirection, accidents, and abandonment. That is, a fair amount of the work might go to waste, chopping room floor, etc. And in practice it would involve a lot of chipping away at various aspects of the projects, inevitable redundancies and microdebates, also a platform or apparatus for carrying out the work. Obviously it'd need to be the right group of people; they would have to be smart, agreeable, mature, invested, and flexible, among other things. But if it succeeded, it might productively jostle the default scales of authorship. And if it failed, perhaps it would be equally rewarding to pick through the rubble.

I haven't given a whole lot of thought to who might participate or what such a group might produce initially. And by now you are no doubt thinking that this model is an old, long-ridden horse in the sciences, in information studies and tech comm, too. If there has been much of it in rhet-comp, I'd be hard pressed to identify it beyond the well-known tandems (e.g., Flower-Hayes, Lunsford-Ede, Selfe-Hawisher) and the surprisingly high proportion of Braddock winners with multiple authors (something like 14+ since 1985 have been co-written?). Yet these are not quite fitting with the larger-group experiment.

Bookmark and Share Posted by at April 16, 2009 4:00 PM to Methods

Well, I tend to not play well with others when it comes to writing, but I'm willing to try next year... ;-)

Posted by: Steven D. Krause at April 16, 2009 8:41 PM

Re: playing well with others, I'm inclined to say the same thing. I mean, there are certain aspects of ideas, of writing that I find very hard to negotiate. And yet this latest experience has left me thinking very differently about collaborative processes, their promise, pitfalls, and so on.

Next year, indeed! I'm looking forward to it.

Posted by: Derek at April 17, 2009 8:29 AM