Here is how it all began.
In 2003, I was signed by Pearson/Longman to write a textbook on research writing.
After three rounds of positive peer reviews and an editorial change, numerous delays followed. I was asked to revise and abridge the
manuscript to a form which I had never intended and which differed substantially from the original proposal.
Finally, in December of 2005 Longman decided to pull the plug on the project, explaining that the book would not sell enough copies to justify the publication expense. They deemed the book to be too "all-emcompassing," containing "too many" approaches to research writing and thus, in their view, unsuitable for many composition courses. While that decision was very surprising and even shocking for me, I now understand that pulling the plug on contracted projects in that manner is, apparently, almost standard practice among big textbook publsishers.
Now that the book has been sitting around on my computer for over
two years, I have decided to make it public and available to anyone who
wants to use its content for learning and teaching.
A couple of disclaimers are in order:
I am posting a version of the manuscript which was written for "paper delivery." I have added some multimedia elements here and there, such as Youtube clips that I consider good examples of rhetorical concepts and such. Obviously, if you want your students to see those clips, have them read the online version. PDF files are also available for download. As the project evolves, I plan to include more unique elements that are made possible by online delivery.
All the chapters are drafts and should be seen as such. The manuscript has not been copy-edited.
This version of the text is probably best suited for "traditional," linear reading. However, I hope that with time, I will be able to update and revise the text to include the kinds of things that are possible only on the web: links, embedded images and multimedia, and so on. This ability to revise and update is another good reason to put the project on the web and make it widely available. Everyone with knowledge of and interest in rhetoric and composition is welcome to comment, use, or suggest improvements to this text. My goal for this project is two-fold. On the one hand, I'd like to make these materials available to anyone who might find them useful. On the other hand, I'd like to receive suggestions for further improvements and updates. Since the project is about four years old, I am sure it could stand some updating and new topics should be covered (or, old topics can be covered in new ways).
Finally, I realize that I am not the first one who has made my work openly available to teachers and students online. In the field of rhetoric and composition, perhaps the most notable open content textbook is Rhetoric and Composition, authored by a team headed by Matt Barton. There are also some excellent open content texts in other disciplines, some which are listed on the Creative Commons website