CCC Online: February 2006 Archives

Turning Ten

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It's hard to say whether it was that I had fallen behind, or Derek had gotten ahead, but either way, I spent most of this afternoon catching up to him. The result? I tagged and linked up a year and a half's worth of CCC articles, six issues. As always, you can visit CCC Online, and see for yourself.

One of the peculiarities of working on the site is that our archive necessarily moves in both directions--as new issues are released, we add them to the site, of course, but we're also moving steadily backwards, at roughly an issue a week, or a volume per month. The process is slightly different for either direction, and there are certain parts of the process that simply get more intensive with each new issue that we add.

But the big news is that, as of a few minutes ago, I compiled the data for Volume 47, Issue 1, which was originally published in February of 1996. Technically, it's 10.75 volumes (since there was a 2-issue volume that shifted publication from the calendar year to the academic year), but it's definitely 10 years. So in a strange way, today is the archive's 10th birthday. In less than a year, we've managed to archive 10 years worth of the journal, interlinked the journals forwards and backwards, and generated a keyword index for those 10 years, using

Not bad. Not bad at all. The further along we've gotten, the more conscious I am of some of the limitations of the approach we're taking, but for a cottage project, it's pretty darn good.

In honor of the archive's 10th birthday, then, here are the top ten tags from the past ten years of the journals (203 essays indexed). As I've discussed before, we generate the tags by parsing each article for nouns and noun phrases, and then take the most frequent to use as tags. We try to keep variations minimal, but there are some obvious synonyms that we haven't combined as well--there's probably an article in all of the tiny decisions I've had to make in compiling this data...

Top Ten Tags for CCC, 1996-2006

Students (159)
Writing (129)
Composition (78)
Language (37)
Literacy (36)
Discourse (33)
Rhetoric (33)
Pedagogy (32)
Community (28)
Work (28)

(I should mention that Derek and I will be talking about the site more generally next month at CCCC, as part of the Computer Connection. You'll find us there on Thursday at 1:45, appropriately enough during the C Session.)

That's all.

(CCC Online fed through Bloglines)

Here's one of the top items on my wishlist for our field, and here's what we've done to get there. Although there aren't a lot of subscribers yet, one of the things that using MT allows us to do with CCC Online is to publish RSS/Atom feeds of new issues of the journal.

Imagine with me for a minute. Rather than having to subscribe to all the journals, to guess when they're coming out, to borrow them from colleagues, or to hear about a relevant article months after its release when someone else cites it in a paper, imagine being able to just have a folder in Bloglines, or a feed page in Safari, or a bookmark in Firefox, that simply allows you to browse the most recent articles from the various journals in our field. Imagine that, rather than asking our graduate students to figure it out on their own what the journals are, we could just give them an OPML file that contained the feeds of all those journals. Imagine having all of those abstracts at your fingertips, and being able to bookmark them for later, email it to a friend you know would be interested, etc.

This is already possible with CCC Online. And in fact, it's theoretically possible for those journals that are oligopublished, like Computers and Composition or Rhetoric Review--I know that the big kids are slowly moving in a 2.0 direction. To generate a feed of new articles for CCC takes us (and this is including all of the other site features that we build in) maybe an hour or so an issue. Leave off the tagging, and the internal linking/trackbacking, and we'd be talking maybe 15 minutes, 4 times a year.

That's 1 hour. 1 hour per year.

For an hour's worth of work a year, a journal could make that metadata available in a much broader fashion and much more conveniently to the entire field. It really is that simple. Really. Just copy and paste, and a little bit of elementary design on the front end.

Maybe part of it is that I've been living with this idea for the last year or so, because it seems bone-crushingly obvious to me. It requires so little effort, and what effort is required is distributed so broadly that it's negligible. And the benefit is so clear and present--to have the last year's worth of articles in the field at our fingertips? Genius. There's no reason why publishers couldn't hop on to this as well: feeds for various subject areas, including books and chapters from edited collections.

Every once in a while, there are complaints about the flood of information we're faced with, even in a field as relatively small as ours is. We need to poke ourselves in the head, though, with the sharp fact that this is true for every discipline, much less every field of endeavor, and there are solutions out there, solutions that are pretty easy to implement and that could really transform the way we handle that flood.

That is all.



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This page is a archive of entries in the CCC Online category from February 2006.

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