The occasion of the 100th feature of SyndicateMizzou is marked with both celebration and sorrow. Celebration because this publication now proudly has shared the work of over 100 members of the MU community; sorrow because the creator of SyndicateMizzou, John Miles Foley, is not here today to celebrate. Dr. Foley, who founded both the The Center for eResearch and the Center for Studies in Oral Tradition, passed away in May of 2012. We continue our work in the spirit of Dr. Foley’s vision. Professor John Zemke has stepped into the role of Director of the Center for eResearch, and with his guidance we continue our mission of featuring the research and creative activities on the campus of MU.
Ever since the third grade, when an assistant principal generously offered to teach him and two classmates French, John Miles Foley has been curious about how languages work. Starting with the early epiphany that language is always embedded in culture, Foley followed this line of thinking until it led to oral tradition, which the MU Professor of Classical Studies and English has now been researching for over three decades. It will surely be a lifelong journey, for the field far outstrips written literature in size, diversity, and social function. In fact, all the written literature we have, Foley is fond of saying, “is dwarfed by oral traditions.”
The idea for SyndicateMizzou, if I recall the story correctly, arose during a lunch conversation involving two Center for eResearch personnel, founding director John Miles Foley and Information Technology Manager Jamie Stephens, shortly after the center was born in April 2005. “Wouldn’t it be great,” remarked the latter, “if there were a website that could syndicate diverse content, be fully searchable, and bring MU’s innovation, accomplishment, and expertise to the rest of the world?” It was initially over soup and sandwiches that this conversation grew into a conception of SyndicateMizzou—a website created to document and promote research and creative activity at the University of Missouri-Columbia. In fact, the trajectory from idea to reality provides a worthy case study for imagining and executing an online project.
Foley describes several other ongoing projects. One involves relocating the journal Oral Tradition from a conventional paper format to a new incarnation on the web in 2006. The decision to put the journal online stemmed from his commitment to forge a truly international conversation about this multidisciplinary field. In addition to the online journal, the Center for Studies in Oral Tradition has published three book series, comprising over 27 volumes. Foley is also involved in various collaborative research projects with scholars in Sardinia, Finland, China, Mexico, Indonesia, and the Basque Country.
The Center for the Studies in Oral Tradition, founded in 1986 by John Miles Foley, became the model for the Center for eResearch. The mission of the CeR is to bring together people from diverse fields doing innovative research on Internet or digital projects so that they might profit from the exchange of ideas.