A Business Book, Wiki-Style

Can a wiki-style editing process result in a worthwhile business book? Pearson PLC, the publishing firm, intends to find out — and it has recruited business-school officials at the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to help with the experiment.

The publisher is putting together We Are Smarter Than Me, a new book that tries to help businessmen make sense of blogs, online communities, and other interactive Web media. Professors at Penn and MIT have already written the volume’s chapter titles and introductory anecdotes. But otherwise the project is, well, an open book: Web surfers are invited to stop by the book’s home page and edit or add to it as they see fit.

Pearson expects to leave the wiki running until early next year, when ghostwriters will take over and mold the text into a publishable book. The finished product won’t be great literature — it will be “aimed at the fast-growing airport bookstore market,” according to The Wall Street Journal — but it should be an interesting test in how open-source ideals can be put to use by major publishing houses. —Brock Read

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