It’s been a while. My spare time has been consumed with preparing for the 2014 Rhetoric Society of America Conference (that link will take you to the online program for the conference, which did no small amount of the consuming), which happened last week. As a consequence, I haven’t had a great deal of time to spend here.

Anyhow, one of the things that I talked about with friends at the conference was the idea of recovering orphan works–unpublished essays and/or conference papers that never saw the light of publication for one reason or another. One of my own orphan works is an essay called “A Book of Stars: Slicing, Scaling, and Data Mining Our Discipline,” which I wrote (as far as I can recall) sometime not long after I taught my first course in Network Rhetorics in 2005. Interestingly enough, you can see some of the same concerns (meta/data, scale, synecdoche) that are currently swirling in my brain as I work on my second book.

I submitted the essay originally to College Composition and Communication, where it received a “revise and resubmit,” which I declined to follow up on. In part, this was because the suggestions took the essay to a place that I was ambivalent about. Part of it too, I think, was that I was experimenting with what I think of Malcolm Gladwell’s style–the progressive layering in of sources over the course of a chapter/book–an approach that I would have had to rethink quite a bit in order to publish the piece.

So in honor of our discussion at RSA, and as a variation on Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d post it to Scribd and share it here. It’s kind of fun to go back and read something that I wrote several years ago–there were some surprising resonances.

[I should also note that with this year’s proposals, CCCC is finally doing something like what I suggest on pages 9-10, focusing on keywords/tags rather than categories, and good on them for that.]

A Book of Stars: Slicing, Scaling, and Data Mining Our Discipline by Collin Brooke