Blog Comments or Formal Peer Review?

Noah Wardrip-Fruin poses a fascinating question on his blog: Is peer
review enough of a catchall against prejudice and misinformation; or
can adding blog readers to the process also help expand the
understanding of the author:

The blog-based review project started when Doug Sery, my editor at the MIT Press, brought up the question of who would peer-review the Expressive Processing
manuscript. I immediately realized that the peer review I most wanted
was from the community around Grand Text Auto. I said this to Doug, who
was already one of the blog’s readers, and he was enthusiastic. Next I
contacted Ben Vershbow at the Institute for the Future of the Book to
see if we could adapt their CommentPress tool for use in an ongoing
blog conversation. Ben not only agreed but also became a partner in
conceptualizing, planning, and producing the project. With the ball
rolling, I asked the Committee on Research of the University of
California at San Diego’s Academic Senate for some support (which it
generously provided) and approached Jeremy Douglass (of that same
university’s newly formed Software Studies initiative), who also became
a core collaborator — especially (and appropriately) for the
software-related aspects.

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Public Private Peer Review and Microsoft Word

If you aren’t aware by now how Microsoft Word saves all revision and review information as a matter of its default behavior, then you need to know any interaction you have with a Word document of your creation — or if you are reviewing someone else’s Word document — does not protect your identity unless you interactively remove your private information.

You can imagine how this Word feature/problem is haunting for those
unaware of its nefarious power. This Word document tracking issue
played a role in the ramp up for the War in Iraq:

Back in February 2003, 10 Downing Street published a
dossier on Iraq’s security and intelligence organizations. This dossier
was cited by Colin Powell in his address to the United Nations the same
month. Dr. Glen Rangwala, a lecturer in politics at Cambridge
University, quickly discovered that much of the material in the dossier
was actually plagiarized from a U.S. researcher on Iraq. Blair’s
government made one additional mistake: they published the dossier as a
Microsoft Word file on their Web site. When I first heard from Dr.
Rangwala about the dossier, I decided to try to learn who had worked on
the document. I downloaded the Word file containing the dossier from
the 10 Downing Street Web site ( and found the following revision log in the file…

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