March 10, 2008
EP Meta: Chapter Seven
I face a dilemma. As of today, the blog-based peer review of Expressive Processing has completed chapter seven (“Authoring Systems”) and is embarking on chapter eight (“The SimCity Effect”). But I’m not sure what follows after chapter eight.
In the version MIT Press sent out for blind peer review, the next chapter (“Playable Language”) is incomplete. This isn’t unusual for blind peer review — but it seems odd, in this more public form, to post an argument left dangling. At the same time, I would like to keep the two reviews close to one another, because I think it strengthens the comparison of their results.
My instinct is to finish the posting for this blog-based review early next week, with the end of chapter eight. This would still leave some time for ongoing comments and response on what will have, by then, been posted: eight chapters that feel, to me, relatively complete.
But, in the spirit of blogging, I’d like to hear what others think before making a decision. And I’d also be interested to hear opinions on Ian Bogost’s recent response to this and another project: “Reading Online Sucks.” (Which starts out as you’d guess from the title, but then takes a thoughtful turn.) Finally, if there are any overarching ideas about the shape of chapter seven’s argument, or other not-yet-raised issues, this is a good place to offer them. (Personally, I’m surprised that no one, so far, has commented on me likening Brutus to a literary hoax…)
Meanwhile, I’m enjoying digging in to the backlog of thoughtful comments on chapter six, and starting to look forward to doing some revision work during UCSD’s upcoming spring break.
March 12th, 2008 at 12:14 pm
I’m really enjoying reading EP online.
It feels good to read one chunk each day. Because each chunk is quite manageable, it encourages re-reading.
Ian is right that reading on-screen just isn’t the same as reading physical paper.
I really like your book so far. It is very thoughtful, and often insightful.
March 12th, 2008 at 2:02 pm
Yeah, Ian is right. Roll on e-print. I am half considering writing a script to roll through all the EP topics and dump them into a PDF document, although I am sure MIT Press might not be too pleased.
I like to use a pen with arrows and comments, and do it in bed! It just isn’t the same doing it slyly at work ;)
March 13th, 2008 at 10:15 pm
I’m glad you’re enjoying reading EP this way, and I appreciate the kind words.
I hope you don’t mind if I suggest you to MIT Press as someone who might blurb the book :-)
March 13th, 2008 at 10:20 pm
Chris, I don’t think anyone involved in the EP project has any illusions about what happens after text goes online. We all know that online text moves around in many forms, mostly determined by what people have time and interest to do with it. Of course (that said) I’m guessing people might object if the text ended up in a form that, say, charged money or included advertising…
March 13th, 2008 at 11:02 pm
I tend to agree with Ian. I’ve tried to read this as a book, but frankly haven’t really succeeded. Instead, I’ve read it sort of as a blog post, which is mostly piecemeal and scatterbrained. Even the individual entries are a bit longer than my blog-post attention limit, so I’ve tended to skim, reading more closely in places that seem particularly interesting, even randomly starting to read partly through a post and only reading some (not particularly well selected) segment of it. Sometimes if it turns out to be really in line with my interests I’ll go back and read the whole chapter start to finish, but it feels like a conscious effort to do so, in a way that sitting for an hour with a book doesn’t.
That said, the online peer review is a great idea, and certainly better than only getting feedback from a handful of reviewers prior to publication. Perhaps an ideal distributed/public peer review would be a standing offer to mail physical copies of a draft book to anyone on the internet who asks to review it, but there are some practical reasons that isn’t likely to happen. So this seems like the next best option. There are probably some formatting improvements that could be made, but I haven’t made up my mind about what they’d be sufficiently to offer suggestions. A set of per-chapter PDFs people could print out to read/markup offline and then post about later might be one option.