Call for Open Peer Review: Web Writing

A sign that reads Four years ago, ProfHacker’s own Kathleen Fitzpatrick posted the text of her new book, Planned Obsolescence, online. This act kicked off a radical experiment on the part of Fitzpatrick and NYU Press, which had the book under contract, to engage in an open peer review of the text. Thanks to the CommentPress theme for WordPress, readers would be able to write in the Internet’s margins and add commentary and suggestions to individual paragraphs or chapters of Kathleen’s book. When Planned Obsolescence was published in print form two years later, it had changed thanks to the suggestions that were made in this open forum.

In intervening four years, there have been other exciting experiments with open peer review. But the model is still so new that it’s worth drawing attention to—especially when on a subject relevant to the interests of ProfHacker readers. So I’m pleased to announce today’s launch of the open peer review for Web Writing: Why & How for Liberal Arts Teaching & Learning.

Web Writing is a volume that  ”explores why online writing matters for liberal arts education and illustrates how students and faculty engage in this work, with digital examples and tutorials.” Including essays from twenty-five contributors, the book features 5 broad sections: Communities, Engagement, Crossing Boundaries, Citation and Annotation, and Rethinking our Teaching. Essays cover such topics as cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional classroom blogging; code-switching and its relation to composition; and public writing and student privacy. I’m particularly interested in the essay “Tweet Me a Story,” which tackles Twitter as a platform for writing pedagogy. [Update at 15.45: URLs tweaked to more permanent versions.]

The public is invited to comment on all parts of Web Writing from 16 September until 30 October 2013. In addition to the commentary from the Internet at large, Michigan Publishing has commissioned four reviewers to provide public commentary as well. Indeed, the book is under contract with Michigan and will be published in 2014 both in paper (for sale) and online (for free). Three cheers for more university presses exploring such innovative territory!

(As a disclaimer, it’s worth mentioning that the editorial team of Web Writing includes—along with Dina Anselmi, Christopher Hager, and Tennyson O’Donnell—Jack Dougherty and Jason B. Jones. The latter is, of course, one of ProfHacker’s editors, and I worked with Jack this summer to build Serendip-o-matic. That said, it was solely my idea to write this announcement. Jack also conducted a previous open review for his co-edited Writing HIstory in the Digital Ageand which ProfHacker similarly announced.)

Since ProfHacker readers are interested in the intersections of technology and higher education, there’s a good chance that an essay or two in Web Writing will pique your interest. Please consider joining the conversation today!

Lead image: now open sign, tempe town lake (pic 1) / CC BY 2.0

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