Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 175.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2001 08:02:59 +0100
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Francois Lachance)
Subject: Salon des Refuses
Your little foray into annotation software got me to thinking about
secretariat software. The tools already exist. I'm surprised they are not
used more. They can humanize collegial interactions.
More and more venues, events and publications are requesting electronic
submission and using Web-based forms and Java applets to do the trick.
There is no technological impediment to seeing responses to calls for
papers automatically tailored. It is often the mark of a well-organized
team if the letter of rejection address the receipient by name and even
indicates the title of the proposal and the date it was received. Common
bureaucratic procedure. Mail merge. A personalized form letter does much
to temper the empty rhetoric of "we received more than X number of
submissions". More than is also always less than. It invites invidious
comparaison with people with less resources able to deal with higher
volumes. Better to simply state non selection. Let the jury be a black
But secretariat software can enable organizers to post for a meaningful
period of time (with the permission of the submitters) a list of contact
names, summaries and links to papers or proposals that were not included
in the finals. This is especially nice when submissions must take the form
of final versions.
I'm not suggesting that this mode of information sharing apply to "peer
review" journals. I am suggesting that in many venues, events, broadcasts
and publication projects of the academic world the inputs may be as
interesting as the outputs.
Do any of the subscribers to Humanist know if such a practice has ever
been implemented even experimentally in the past? Of course, one can
imagine invitations to those turned down by a given conference appearing
on discussion lists (at the pleasure of moderators) ... and the problem of
autheticating the truly refused from the faux wanting to capture a bit of
the allure of the club. A whole new genre!
All kidding aside, care in communication is vital for any program or
institution. Practice makes careful and caring communication easy. No
amount of secretariat software will help unless it has one of those
annoying agents to suggest rephrasing.
Thank you for your indulgence.
-- Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~lachance/ivt.htm per Interactivity ad Virtuality via Textuality
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