Report on the Inkshed/CASLL Website

This report was sent by Margaret Procter to the Inkshed listserv in June 2013, just before CASLL’s Annual General Meeting in Vancouver.
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Dear Inkshedders,

Unfortunately I can’t attend the Inkshed conference this year, but I wanted to report on the new Inkshed website at www.inkshed.ca/blog, and especially to encourage contributions to it. I am sending this message to the CASLL-L listserv to reach the whole range of Inkshedders, and am also hoping it raises some discussion at the conference.

FUNCTIONS OF THE SITE

Tania Smith’s design adapted WordPress blog software to let the new site serve both as a place to post notes and announcements (the “blogging” capacity), and also as a way to continue the tradition of newsletter publication established in 1984. In the 18 months since December 2011, the site has mounted several dozen informational posts, set out information about two Inkshed conferences, and published four newsletter “issues” with a mix of poems, reviews, and articles.

The site has received over 7,000 views, with most going to the conference pages.

The one technical problem was a surge of new memberships in May 2013 (over 200 in one week) from people wanting to post ads for running shoes, wedding dresses, baby equipment, and something indecipherable in Poland. I have now had to change the registration setting to ask that would-be contributors contact me directly at procter@chass.utoronto.ca. In spite of this technical barrier, I am happy to process registration requests and to facilitate posting of notes or articles.

LIMITATIONS OF THE SITE

As also noted recently by the moderator of the CASDW site, the Inkshed site has not generated online discussion (only six “reply” comments in total, for instance, for the 50-plus pages). Most of the posts are from the same few people, and most duplicate information also sent to the listserv. Presumably, however, the site offers the advantage of a permanent URL for each page, even for short notes. This “blogging” capacity could be used much more widely than it is now.

It is more of a concern that after four newsletter collections, offers of articles and reviews have tapered off. It is also noticeable that the newsletter pages get fewer views than the informational pages. These trends may show that an informal newsletter is no longer needed to hold together a nascent community, as it did for Inkshedders during the 1980s and 1990s. Or they may suggest that CASLL members now prefer to publish serious articles in peer-reviewed journals.

NEXT STEPS?

As moderator of the site, I would be happy to receive articles of any kind for the newsletter and to answer inquiries — including requests for peer review of article submissions if desired. On the other hand, if the newsletter is no longer important for CASLL/Inkshed, I am quite willing to let it lie dormant or revive itself only as needed. In any case, the blogging capacity of the software will allow for continued posting of informal notes and announcements by anyone registered on the site. The future of the site will be decided by its users.

With best wishes to all in BC, and regrets not to be with you this year,

Margaret Procter
Moderator, Inkshed website

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