Steve Tomasula, who co-edited the two "image + narrative" issues of ebr in 1997, came in at the tailend of the discussions, when we stopped talking and began the three-year-long process of buiding the database/interface.
I've been following the discussion on ebr's redesign and didn't have a lot to add--the comments others made seemed to be rich enough on their own; I would like to weigh in on Lisa's Joyce's remarks, though, as I think they are a very valid concern. Specifically:
"How will these responses differ from a listserv (other than that they will be more permanent and will interlace with one another through the warp and woof of the linkages)? Will all writing on the Web become the expression of a moment rather than the production of contemplation inspired by the desire to speak about something? Is writing about to become writing for its own sake, everyone's effort a work of art (and here I betray my eternal longing to talk about art rather than to be an artist--do I have to become one to speak?)?"
I mean, one of the characteristics that has made ebr interesting to me, and I think to a wider audience, is an original goal of ebr to provide a space for writing that is somewhere between MLA fare and experimental writing; scholarship with attitude - work that requires readers to bring to it more critical vocabulary and theoretic understanding than is required by magazines for a more general audience, and yet is way cooler than the kind of academic writing that appears in most journals. A hip academic journal, is one early oxymoron model, as I recall. Right now, so much of ebr fits this (even if that isn't the primary goal of the piece). I would hate to see this fall by the way side and become an elaborate listserve, or what may amount to the same thing, have it dissipated by piles of email rants, off-the-cuff "essays" etc. etc.
The other thing that seems like it should be a concern is that while theme issues are too close to the print model, they do provide a reason for readers to revisit, or be drawn to the site, seeing how they serve as anthologies, after their life as "current" issue has expired. It seems like in the new configuration there should also be a way to retain this characteristic as well - some core for the threads - rather than an infinite weave.