Today is the end of my 3 years of service as President of the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) and I would like to punctuate this moment with a reflection on the work accomplished and by thanking those who have been so supportive throughout my tenure in this role.
I want to begin by thanking my predecessor, Dene Grigar. When I took on this role, she handed me the reins of a fiscally healthy organization in the midst of a very supportive arrangement with our institutional hosts, Washington State University: Vancouver, home of the Electronic Literature Lab (ELL). This covered invaluable support of a Coordinator– Nicholas Schiller the first year and Holly Slocum the following two years– and vital technical support offered by Greg Philbrook. This support allowed us to dedicate the funding that would ordinarily go to pay for administrative overhead to cover ELO initiatives, such as the Publication Initiative, our ELO Fellows program, and The NEXT. This arrangement– which has now come to an end– not only allowed us to reinvest in the community, but fortified us financially during the difficult times that followed, courtesy of a global pandemic.
I also wish to thank all the members who support the ELO year after year with their membership dues. The ELO depends on yearly membership dues to operate and support its initiatives and we have had a substantive drop in paid membership dues for the past two years, perhaps due to having to shift to online conferences for two years and returning to face-to-face & hybrid modalities this year. If you haven’t done so yet, please support the work of the ELO with your 2022 membership dues.
I cannot go on without thanking publicly the ELO conference organizers and their teams for the past three years:
- ELO 2020: (un)continuity: Anastasia Salter and Mel Stanfill not only put together a great online conference, they had to pivot midstream from a face-to-face conference to a fully online one, and did so in a way that set a high bar for our online conferences.
- ELO 2021: Platform (Post?) Pandemic: Søren Bro Pold and Scott Rettberg assembled a global team of partners and ran a powerful online conference across many time zones in the midst of a pandemic that was far from being -post.
- ELO 2022: Elit Education: Giovanna DiRosario and Matteo Ciastellardi assembled a team of partners around the world to run a distributed conference with events throughout the year and then brought our community together with an energizing hybrid conference in Como, Italy.
Thank you, organizers, and to all the unnamed but not forgotten partners, collaborators, reviewers, assistants, and volunteers who make these conferences happen. And thanks to the community members that attend and support our conferences, which sustain our organization as our primary source of membership dues (hint, hint).
Next I want to highlight four accomplishments from the past 3 years and express gratitude for the support necessary to achieve them:
- The Emerging Spaces for E-Lit Creations initiative sought to stimulate the creation of elit publication venues to stimulate the creation of quality 3rd gen elit in social media and app spaces. And it resulted in the creation of wonderful two new publications: Filter and (RE)VERB. Thank you Sarah Whitcomb Laiola, Andrew Demirjian, and your teams for creating these important spaces that help nurture the field.
- The ELO Code of Conduct was a long overdue document that arose from a couple of separate incidents and required brave, difficult conversations within the Board and with the ELO community. Huge thanks to everyone involved for helping produce a document that guides us well to this day.
- The Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 4 is an accomplishment that belongs to its editorial collective– Kathi Inman Berens, John T. Murray, Lyle Skains, Rui Torres, Mia Zamora– and international consultants. I simply supported their efforts, by offering some guidance and saying yes to everything Rui Torres (co-editor, Board liaison, and too-humble-to-call-himself project manager) asked for. Thank you all for putting together an awesome new volume of our ELC!
- The last is quiet, behind-the-scenes work in ELO administration and Board operations that helped establish, refine, and democratize processes, tighten our financial operations and books, and bring greater transparency, accountability, and inclusiveness as an organization towards our community. Now we have open calls for nominations for the ELC editorial collectives, ELO Fellows, Board of Directors, and for hosting ELO conferences, for example.
And Holly Slocum, our ELO Coordinator, was instrumental to so many of these processes. Working with such a talented communicator, administrator, and designer was an absolute privilege. Thank you, Holly, for all the great work you do!
I also want to thank my Board colleagues for all of their sage advice and support since I first joined in 2014, but especially through the past 3 challenging years. There have been many challenges during this time (several of which you haven’t even heard of) and the reason we are still doing well is because we have an excellent and increasingly diverse Board of Directors that is willing to do the hard work of listening, patiently discussing and thinking collectively through problems, and finding solutions that are good for the health of the community and organization. Special thanks go to the members of my Executive Board (Caitlin Fisher, Anastasia Salter, Rui Torres, and Mark Marino) who helped me process, strategize, and even draft things before presenting them to the Board, leading to more fruitful discussions.
The incoming ELO Executive Board– Caitlin Fisher (President), Anastasia Salter (Vice President), Mark Sample (Secretary), Rui Torres (Treasurer), and Mark Marino (Director of Communications)– are an excellent team and will have an awesome Board to support them as they guide this organization through the next challenges and successes.
Last, but nowhere near least, I want to thank YOU : mi gente (my people). I cherish every single one of you, from my colleagues and friends whom I’ve known for years, to the folks I just met at our conference, to the bright elit enthusiasts, scholars, and artists I hope to someday meet or hear about. Every moment I’ve spent working for the ELO has been to nurture this community and field I love.
Thank you all for making it so worthwhile!
P.S. And thanks to the Board (and Anastasia Salter) for the lovely parting gift of a commemorative quilt, which I will treasure.