Monday, September 24, 2012

Style and Stance #5: Another Data Pairing

Having spent some of this past weekend prepping my discussion for Labov and the Decision Trees, I have started to think about whether I can apply the ideas of careful and casual speech to traditional and digital academic writing.  Now, again, I am applying a spoken framework to a study of writing, but I think it illuminates some interesting points.

Decision Trees

First is that academic writing might not even fall in the category of "spontaneous" as Labov defines it (Loc 1221). Instea,, academic writing seems linked to the formal speech of an interview, and as a linguist, Labov felt that interview speech was the speech that did not reveal anything about the speaker, and thus was only a stepping stone to the spontaneous speech that was worth studying.  This is exactly how I feel about traditional academic writing -- it seems to want to squeeze any person who might be behind the writing right out of the picture. 

This then makes me think about whether digital writing is more of a form of spontaneous writing ... which of course it is at times and isn't at other times.  So, I cannot apply the decision tree as Labov does because he is so careful to first identify the spontaneous speech before applying the tree.  However, I think there are aspects of spontaneous speech that I can look for in digital writing as a framework for my methodology.  For example, does digital writing involved narrative? Digital academic writing certainly involves soapbox, and the key trait of "repetitive rhetoric" (Loc 1257) could be something interesting to look for.

Data Set #2
Moving from theory into application, I want to study a different pairing of data tonight.  Rather than look at two different journals, I want to look at the submission guidelines for the same journal in its print and digital versions.  I feel like this pair will allow me to ensure that both are equally accepted in traditional academia, while some purely digital journals are still not fully accepted (although this has improved greatly in the last five years).  So, I am returning to Computers and Composition.

Computers and Composition:  
The Traditional Academic Journal Put Online
I analyzed this in my prior post. The main things I found were:
  • strong presence of style guides to shape submissions
  • only traditional academic articles requested
  • traditional capitalization and basic design choices (such as fonts) 

Computers and Composition Online:  
The Online Academic Journal
Content (part of Stance)
  • Listings of many types of submissions beyond traditional articles
  • Open encouragement to submit
  • Required electronic submission
  • Clear statement of peer review process
  • Style guidance is specifically "web aware" and not links to existing manuals
  • No images
  • Right from the start, hyperlinks direct you to additional information
  • Two-column layout that is text heavy
  • Formal fonts except script font for journal title
  • First person point-of-view
  • Call submissions ordered by type versus topic (shows that format is important too)
Initial thoughts: I am seeing some of the same stance and style choices with the online C&C journal as I did with the fully digital journal Technoculture.  I am finding evidence for my hypothesis, and this is very exciting.  My next thought project is going to be whether I focus on the Calls for Submissions or look at accepted pieces as well.  I need to decide how focused I should be for my first foray into sociolinguistic writing.  I do not want to bite off so much that I mumble when I talk ... 

Works Referenced
  • Labov, William. "The anatomy of style-shifting." Penelope Eckert and John R. Rickford, ed. Style and Sociolinguistic Variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Kindle edition. 
  • "Submission Guidelines." Computers and Compostion Online. Computers and Composition, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2012.
  • "Tree Silhouette" 
  • Witte, Alison. "Guidelines for Editors and Authors." Computers and Composition: An International Journal. Computers and Composition, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2012.

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