Blogging May Change the Future of Publishing
Grand Text Auto, a group blog about computer narrative, games, poetry and art, has recently launched an interesting blogging experiment that may take blogging and publishing to the next level. Noah Wardrip-Fruin is putting the manuscript of his upcoming book Expressive Processing, about digital fictions and computer games, online so that the Grand Text Auto community may participate in an open, blog-based peer review. The community is invited to give feedback on the work in the form of comments and/or trackbacks which in its turn may be picked up by the author.
It is the beginning of a more social and networked book.
Author Wardrip-Fruin enjoys the format of blogs as they can create communities and allow for interaction. While working on his manuscript he often turned to blogs and often cited blog posts. Blogs have changed how Wardrip-Fruin works as both a scholar and a creator of digital media thus creating a blog-based peer review seems like the logical next step. The project has been established in cooperation with Institute for the Future of the Book which developed the CommentPress theme:
CommentPress is an open source theme for the WordPress blogging engine that allows readers to comment paragraph by paragraph in the margins of a text. Annotate, gloss, workshop, debate: with CommentPress you can do all of these things on a finer-grained level, turning a document into a conversation. It can be applied to a fixed document (paper/essay/book etc.) or to a running blog.
It aims to bring the characteristic features of the blog, such as comments, trackbacks and site feeds to the otherwise ‘fixed’ book. The Institute for the Future of the Book has developed the theme to enable the book to become a part of the network, the blogosphere. While this obviously does not work for every type of publication it will be interesting to see if this initiative will be followed in the (academic) blogosphere. CommentPress is a new type of structured blogging which is especially suitable for books, journal publications, papers and theses.
Edublogs, the free blog hosting service for students and educators, also offers the CommentPress theme to its users. It will be interesting to see how this initiative may change the future of publishing and what the impact will be on (academic and educational) blogging.
Anne is a New Media Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. She participates as a blog researcher in the newly found Digital Methods Initiative of the University of Amsterdam. Anne also writes about blogging and academics on her personal blog and the collaborative Masters of Media blog.
If it is true, as I believe it is, that all knowledge that is accepted as fact invites us to draw a conclusion, then the blog as a medium is providing the basis for an entirely new set of conclusions. As a result, if collaborative knowledge is where we are now (ie. Wikipedia), collaborative opinion is where we will almost certainly return. This may not be entirely a good thing, but I think the next stage in the evolution of communications, powered by open source tools such as CommentPress, will see many things that are now considered as opinion to be considered as fact.
My thoughts on the matter are at:
In my “Blook Look” for Future Perfect Publishing entitled “Beta Publishing” I took a look at some folks who’ve done a collaborative book through their blog. The book is called We Have Always Done It That Way: 101 Things About Associations We Must Change by Five Independent Thinkers. The “thinkers” are Amy B. Smith, C. David Gammel, Jamie Notter, Jeff De Cagna and Mickie S. Rops. I’ll be taking a closer look at how they did on blog, Blooking Central, sometime in the near future.
Oryx Orange: Your comment reminds me of Andrew Keen on user-generated content, including blogs. He talks about the blurring line between truth and trust and how millions and millions of blogs are obfuscating truth. It’s an interesting viewpoint on blogs, not that it is a necessarily a good thing that we now have thousands of different viewpoints on matters. Collaborative knowledge does not necessarily lead to truth, it might also move truth to the background. But if we see truth as something that is constructed collaboratively than the blogosphere may be shaping facts differently.
@Cheryl: Thanks for sharing more links on the topic of “blooks” – blog books. It is interesting to see how blogs influence the publishing process and vice versa.