April 2, 2008

Expressive Processing Review: A Question of Goals

by Noah Wardrip-Fruin · , 10:30 am

I’m surprised to see the opening paragraph of Jeff Young’s piece in the Chronicle today, in which he’s offering one of the first post-experiment evaluations of the Expressive Processing blog-based peer review project. The lead and headline seem to focus on the idea that blog-based review will “not replace traditional blind peer review anytime soon.”

I’m not surprised because I disagree about blog-based review replacing press-solicited reviews, but rather because finding a replacement for press-solicited review was never a goal of the project. Rather, the project participants (the Institute for the Future of the Book, the MIT Press, UCSD’s Software Studies initiative, GTxA, and yours truly) had goals such as seeing what would take place in a blog-based form of review (this was, after all, the first known experiment), learning from comparing the results of the two forms of review, and (most importantly) garnering responses from the GTxA community that will help improve the book.

Unfortunately, the angle of the Chronicle opening seems to be shaping how the story is reported elsewhere, with Andrea Gawrylewski at The Scientist writing that the Chronicle reported “using blog-based peer reviewing is only partially helpful.

In fact, I consider the project a great success. And some of the reasons for that do come through, I’m happy to say, in later parts of the Chronicle piece.

I’m writing this from an airport, on my way to UIUC for a talk tomorrow, so don’t have time to say more now. But I’m hoping that my hotel will have Internet access and I’ll be able to post more of my thoughts on the project soon.