Trahan: How has editing the Computers and Composition print journal, so far, been different from editing the online incarnation?
Blair: There’s some real tangible differences. On one level, it’s easier, because we [the print journal] have an automated system through Elsevier’s editorial system, EES. It’s great. It’s so easy to use. Is it the best system? No. And when I was at the Elsevier editors’ conference last September, people complained about it all the time—and I’m like “but I think it’s easy…” There’s a lot of things you can’t do with it. But the fact that it’s automated—so that literally the editorial process and the production process work, for the most part, very well. In that you know where to go for what. You’re not sitting there having to do all this personal correspondence with reviewers; it’s all sort of standardized; and you customize that process for the level of collegiality and professionalism. That makes it just so much easier. C & C Online could potentially be automated, but, you know, we’re just not there. Even Kairos is not automated in that way—although I think that eventually they will be. But, there’s something wonderful about the mentoring that goes on at C & C Online with digital pieces that I don’t think you see as much with the print journal. Because, again, for the online journal, both new and established faculty are learning to compose in digital modes. And as a result of that, it’s not as “blind” and austere and mysterious a process as it is for producing text even for a print journal like Computers and Composition, which I think does try to be generous to graduate students; it’s still a double-blind peer review process there. And it’s not that we don’t engage in peer review for C & C Online, but you end up through the URLs often knowing what’s going on: what institution it is, maybe what person it is; and we don’t necessarily mask that anonymity on the submission side, although often authors don’t know who the reviewers are. So we ourselves [at the online journal] have a blind process—it’s just not double blind.
Trahan: What so far has been the most rewarding aspect of taking over editorship of the print journal?
Blair: I think it’s about continuing that scholarly collective that Cindy established at first Michigan Tech and then at Ohio State and that Gail has established at Illinois. We have a similar team at Bowling Green. Yes, there is an editor of Computers and Composition. But there are all these other wonderful people who make the journal a reality—and that includes you on the production side, Alison Witte on the editorial side, all the copy editors, Joe [Erickson], and the Elsevier team. It really does take a collective to make it work. I mean, there are plenty of journals that are run out there that don’t have that type of big enterprise. And the fact that we do, and that we are not trying to be gatekeepers in the way that we’ve read about in certain contexts—that sometimes that editorial process is sort of an elitist gatekeeping process. Do we have standards? Yes. But I think we are shaping the dialogue in the discipline. And we’re doing that collectively—by reading, by reviewing, by editing. I mean, we’re shaping the discipline. That’s cool. That’s just really cool. And it’s happening! You’re making that happen. Bowling Green’s making that happen. You know? Who’d have thunk it? <laughs>
Trahan: <laughs> Ok…warm fuzzies...
Blair: I know! It’s very warm and fuzzy. But it’s true! It’s true.
Trahan: It’s weird, though. On a day-to-day basis, though, when I'm doing things and relating to the journal, sometimes I forget how big it is, what we’re doing—
Trahan: I mean, it sounds silly, but when I’m copy editing a piece, I’m not always thinking “Oh, this is going to be read by this many people.” I’m just copy editing a piece. Just doing my job.
Blair: Well, but it is going to be read. I think the cool thing for me is: I actually love to write the editor’s introductions. I don’t get to write them for the special issues, but what I love about them is you really end up seeing these connections. Yeah, you do have these five pieces and they don’t really seem to relate to each other on the surface—but then you start to read them and, yeah, you sort of start to see the relationship, the dialogue, and how different people—even people from international institutions—are contributing to that dialogue, and creating a conversation about what it means to teach language, literacy, writing, communication—whatever we want to call it—with technology in all shapes and genres and modes. And I just think that’s really exciting.