Monday, March 08, 2010

Obsolescence and Its Discontents

VP colleague Kathleen Fitzpatrick has been busy with her book-in-progress Planned Obsolescence.

There’s a delicious ambiguity in that sentence: is it too late for a book — the literal, physical object — to change the world, or is it too late for any textual form? This text isn’t yet a book, though it’s headed in that direction. And possible or not, it’s determined to change the world, or at least the small segment of it where our colleges and universities reside.

And it’s attempting to begin creating that change here, with this site. One of the points that this text argues hardest about is the need to reform peer review for the digital age, insisting that peer review will be a more productive, more helpful, more transparent, and more effective process if conducted in the open. And so here’s the text, practicing what it preaches, available online for open review.

I’ll be relying on these reviews in revising the manuscript before its final submission. If all goes according to plan, the book will be forthcoming from NYU Press, which is sending the manuscript out for blind review as well. I’m grateful to those anonymous readers, and will certainly take their comments very seriously. But the conversation that takes place here will be key to my revision process.

Please read and comment here, either all at once or at your leisure. Respond to the text, but also respond to the other readers. I’ll be joining in the discussion as well, of course, and I’ll also be posting more general thoughts about the project’s development to the site’s community blog.

Portions of chapter 3 were originally published in the Journal of Electronic Publishing and on MediaCommons. Portions of chapter 1 were presented as part of an online conference held at Interdisciplines. Thanks are due to the editors and coordinators of those projects, and to the many scholars whose responses to the talks I’ve given about this book have helped to shape its development.

Finally, enormous thanks are due to Eric Zinner, Monica McCormick, Bob Stein, Christian Wach, Brian Hoffman, and everyone else who made this publication possible.

Make sure to weigh in with your own commentary soon!

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