Cool? yes. New? no.

What if scholarly books were peer reviewed by anonymous blog comments rather than by traditional, selected peer reviewers?, asks Jeffrey Young in The Chronicle. “That’s the question being posed by an unusual experiment that begins today. It involves a scholar studying video games, a popular academic blog with the playful name Grand Text Auto, a nonprofit group designing blog tools for scholars, and MIT Press.”

The idea took shape when Noah Wardrip-Fruin, an assistant professor of communication at the University of California at San Diego, was talking with his editor at the press about peer reviewers for the book he was finishing. Wardip-Fruin proposed opening the book’s content to online revision and comment by people on the blog, Grand Text Auto. The blog is run by Wardrip-Fruin and five colleagues and offers an academic take on interactive fiction and video games, Young writes.

“The idea was to tap the wisdom of his crowd. Visitors to the blog might not read the whole manuscript, as traditional reviewers do, but they might weigh in on a section in which they have some expertise.”

Well it may be an experiment, but it’s not a first. Remember the book Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel? It too, was refined and modified according to comments left on their blog. The final product gives credit to the many contributors.

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