I meant to post about this earlier in the week, but better late than never: welcome to town, the new CCC Online! I certainly think it’s the right idea and direction for the CCCCs. My copy of the paper version of the journal arrived yesterday (quite a bit fatter than usual too, in part because of the inclusion of Forum, which is a newsletters for non-tenure-track teachers and faculty in composition), and I guess it makes me wonder when College Composition and Communication (the paper journal) and the CCC Online will become one entity.
This might be kind of naive or it might be kind of obvious, but it just seems inevitable to me that academic journals like the CCCs will eventually not be published on paper anymore. I don’t mean this as some pronouncement of the “end of print,” nor do I think that the codex is going to vanish anytime soon. Books are just too convenient of a technology, especially for things like trade books and novels and such. I do think academic book publishers– especially the smaller ones –would be wise to investigate various “print on demand” technologies that make it cost effective to publish a single book, which would thus allow these presses to take on projects that are intellectually important but “impractical” from a sales and marketing point of view. Though this is a slightly different rant.
But I think academic journals are different. I don’t know if I am a typical reader of academic journals or not, but I subscribe to only one (the CCCs) and I do not read that journal all the way through (though, as part of my “new school year resolutions,” I intend to take the time to actually read some of the current scholarship in my field). I am more likely to browse online journals like Kairos, but the way that I usually engage with academic journals is through my research with various electronic search tools– the MLA Bibliography, WilsonSelect, etc. With this research, I do not go and look to read a journal per se; I look to read the article in that journal. Furthermore, if I can find that article electronically (and if it’s a PDF, even better!), then I probably wouldn’t even touch the actual periodical.
So, assuming my way of using periodicals is not too far off from the norm, why not just publish these things electronically? The advantages to web-based academic journals just seem so obvious to me that I don’t understand why paper periodicals haven’t gone to the web. I mean, electronic journals would save a lot of money (because you eliminate the costs of printing, mailing, and storing the paper), they are a lot more flexible (want to include color images with your essay? sound? video? etc.? go ahead!), potentially more interactive (which is what the CCC Online is after, I think), and a lot more accessible.
Without the restraints of print, journals could also eliminate things like maximum page lengths, they wouldn’t need to think in terms of volumes and issue numbers, and they could be a lot more nimble when it comes to bringing things out to readers (though in my experience with electronic journals, both as a writer and as a reviewer of articles, just because they can publish stuff more quickly doesn’t mean they will).
So it just seems to me that merging of College Composition and Communication (the paper publication) and of the CCC Online (the web site) is kind of inevitable. What will be interesting to see how and when we get to that place.