Acknowledging the Summer Lull, and a Fond (but partial) Farewell

Regular gnovis readers have no doubt noticed a dropoff in our blogging output over the last three weeks. This is becoming a bit of an annual summer tradition for us, as it certainly is for many other student-powered publications, but is accentuated this year by the graduation of five of our seven staff members, including all three members of our new media team. While we all have the best intentions when it comes to summer blogging, and expect a boost from our always reliable NYU correspondent, Jason Turcotte, this lull in posting will likely persist, perhaps in fits and starts, until mid-August. Moments ago, I updated our website to reflect the latest changes to our staff.

shuffling the gnovis staff

This is my last post as an official gnovis staff member, on the Georgetown payroll. Henceforth, I am a lowly contributing blogger.

For me, this transition brings both relief and nostalgic grief. For two full years, gnovis was my baby. Graduating with me this month are the last students who remember when gnovis was more of an eyesore than an asset for the CCT department, as are most of those who witnessed both our successes and admittedly awkward growing pains during the 2007/2008 academic year. Hopefully, the incoming CCT class of 2012 will see gnovis only as a smart-looking journal with an intelligent but enjoyable blog, as an admirable project that they are excited to support.

Internally, our staff has often discussed the challenges of a journal run by two-year MA students, particularly the lack of institutional memory. High turnover and low overlap of staff make it very difficult to keep things going. We’ve responded, as best we can, by developing a mentorship model for staff transitions and by documenting our processes, but I think we all share a certain nervousness that this year, or perhaps next year, will be gnovis’ peak, before the enthusiasm we’ve generated starts to slide. What we’ve tended to forget, in those discussions, is that our readership and contributors also lack institutional memory, so our ever-changing team is regularly liberated from both the baggage and the expectations of the past, including both the external expectations of readers and the internal expecations of leadership.

While we made tremendous progress under my watch, I also have to acknowledge that gnovis, like any project, was constrained by my own agenda and interests. We made only modest inroads into a physical presence on Georgetown’s campus, in part because of my emphasis on our online presence. Our outreach to other universities emphasized push-style marketing, more than inclusive collaboration, in part because I can get preoccupied with measurable web analytics at the expense of more subjective measures of progress. Already, as Lauren and Akoto took on increasing responsibilities this year, these biases began to shift, and despite my paranoid doubts I believe that great things are in store for next year. (Of course, like any good egomaniac, my stubborness insists that the improvements we made in our online presence and web analytics are what enable this shift of emphasis.)

Earlier today, all of the graduating CCT students were alerted that they had been removed from the CCT student mailing lists, and subscribed to the alumni lists. If this stream of tweets is any indication, this was a jarring moment for many of us. Nonetheless, I must now accept these simple realities: I am now a CCT alumni, not a CCT student; I cannot continue to revise my thesis; and I no longer determine the direction of gnovis.

I am very proud of what I accomplished as the managing editor of gnovis, and I know that – at least until they too graduate – my baby is in very capable hands. Good luck, Lauren & Akoto, and a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has submitted or reviewed a paper, volunteered their videos, or written even a single blog post over the past two years. A special thank you to Ashley Bowen and Jessica Vitak, for engineering a polished publishing process that greatly simplified all of our work.

Have a wonderful summer! Congratulations to the class of 2009!

Brad Weikel

Brad Weikel received his MA in Communication, Culture & Technology (CCT) from Georgetown University in 2009. His thesis, "From Coding to Community: Iteration, Abstraction, and Open Source Software Development" argued that programming practices, particularly iterative workflows and abstraction models, can help explain both the success and struggles of open source software. His work was a technocentric complement to prior explanations from economists, lawyers, and political and cultural theorists. While writing his thesis, Brad blogged about his topic at OpenCulture.cc, where he has since continued blogging, more broudly, about collaborative production and the commons at large. Brad was Managing Editor of gnovis during the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 school years, and Creative Director in 2006/2007. He is currently the Web & Communications Coordinator for EarthRights International.