Announcement: An experiment in blog-based peer review

Forwarded by Ben Vershbow:

MIT Press has authorized what is probably one of the first blog-based peer reviews for a forthcoming book by Noah Wardrip-Fruin, digital media writer, artist, and professor of coummincations at the University of California, San Diego. Every weekday over the next ten weeks, Wardrip-Fruin will post a section of his new manuscript, Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies, on the popular Grand Text Auto blog (where he is a regular author), with the hope of receiving quality feedback from the site’s readers. The GTxA community represents a vibrant network of media scholars, artists, designers, gamers and gaming professionals who are perfectly suited to critique this inherently cross-disciplinary work. When Doug Sery, the editor at MIT, asked Wardrip-Fruin who would be the ideal reviewers for the manuscript, his first instinct was to somehow bring the process onto the blog: “I immediately realized that the peer review I most wanted was from the community around Grand Text Auto.”

Given that ours is a field in which major expertise is located outside the academy (like many other fields, from 1950s cinema to Civil War history) the Grand Text Auto community has been invaluable for my work. In fact, while writing the manuscript for Expressive Processing I found myself regularly citing blog posts and comments, both from Grand Text Auto and elsewhere. Now I’m excited to take the blog/manuscript relationship to the next level, through an open peer review of the manuscript on the blog.”

The Institute for the Future of the Book has partnered with Wardrip-Fruin to develop a version of its popular CommentPress software (which enables paragraph-level commenting in the margins of a text) that fully integrates with the existing Grand Text Auto site, allowing the manuscript to be woven seamlessly into the daily traffic and intellectual life of the blog.

Although a traditional peer review process will carry on alongside the blog-based one, we believe this experiment affirms the importance and legitimacy of online communities in the development scholarship, and represents a significant step forward by an academic press into possible new hybrid models of publishing and review. The work of the Institute for the Future of the Book is largely dedicated to the idea that building intellectual community and creating infrastructure for scholarly exchange will be major roles that publishers, academic and non, will play in the digital age. With this experiment, we inch a little closer to an exciting fusion of old and new forms.

Important links:

Noah Wardrip-Fruin’s introduction to the experiment
– The Institute for the Future of the Book’s introduction
– Coverage in The Chronicle of Higher Education
First section of Expressive Processing