Currents in Electronic Literacy
Best of Currents
Currents in Electronic Literacy is the Digital Writing and Research Lab’s first and longest running journal. When it launched in the fall of 1999, there were few electronic journals in the field of rhetoric, writing, and composition. Web browsers with graphical user interfaces were barely five years old. Scholars in the humanities had only just begun to think about what it meant to read and write online. Before the proliferation of content management systems like WordPress and Drupal, production had to be done by hand coding. Journal work, then, always required multiple layers of translation, inscription, and markup. The ideas had to be generated and written down in one language that was wrapped in another language, compressed, transferred, and decompressed in another language. This required, as Jerome Bump articulated in an early issue of Currents, multiple intelligences. Of course all this translation (and more) still happens when writing in online journals, but it has become naturalized. It largely goes on under the hood. Everybody writes online now, often in multimedia, from their phones, often without a thought about the different kinds of logic required for publication. How far we’ve come in a decade and a half!
During that time, rock stars (in some cases, actual rock stars), often graced the pages of Currents. John Slatin—one of the accessibility pioneers for Tim Berners-Lee’s organization, W3C—served as editor of Currents from its inception through 2005. Mark Longaker, Margaret Syverson, and Diane Davis all edited the journal, bringing together graduate students, internationally established names, and major figures in the field. Graduate students published alongside top notch scholars and academic celebrities, such as Lawrence Lessig, Alan Liu, Cynthia Haynes, Jan Rune Holmevik, Avital Ronell, Johndan Johnson-Eilola, Stuart A. Selber, Robert Scholes, Byron Hawk, Geoffrey Sirc, Bradford Vivian, Barbara Biesecker, Alex Reid, Joshua Gunn, Rita Raley, and Paul D. Miller, a.k.a. DJ Spooky. (For a full list of Currents contributors, please see the author index).
After a great deal of soul searching and discussion, we have decided to retire Currents this year. It was a difficult decision—and an emotional one for us, since John Slatin, the Lab’s first director, was its inventor and first editor. But as Peg Syverson reminded us, John envisioned the Lab as a site for perpetual innovation. To stay innovative, you have to be willing to let go of projects that have run their course so you’ll be free to pursue what’s next. Currents, one of the first electronic journals, was a real innovation in its day. But given the proliferation of electronic journals over the years, Currents has struggled to find a way to stay current. We’ll be putting it to bed this year with a celebration that will involve a social media campaign spotlighting its greatest hits. We will reach out to past editors, contributors, and DWRL alumni to share their reflections about Currents on Twitter and Facebook. Our project groups will highlight past work from Currents that is relevant to their contemporary projects. So while the actual journal will go static, it will live on in other online spaces.
Will Burdette, Program Coordinator
Diane Davis, Director