More on Indigenizing Wikipedia. . .and Open Peer Review

I feel very lucky to have my short essay on “Indigenizing Wikipedia” included in a new book-in-progress:  Web Writing: Why and How for Liberal Arts Teaching and Learning. This is a collection of essays about using online writing in liberal arts education, and it was fun to write about what happened when my students wrote Wikipedia entries for contemporary Native New England authors.

The book is under contract with the University of Michigan Press, and will eventually be a “physical” book (print-on-demand, for a fee; or free, if you get it digitally). But meanwhile, the editors (a great team, led by Jack Dougherty, at Trinity College in Connecticut) are putting the whole collection up online for public review.  The publisher has commissioned four expert reviewers, in accordance with regular academic peer review, but in theory, anybody can comment.

If you’ve never seen this platform, PressForward, it is (IMHO) pretty exciting. It bills itself as “an experiment in sourcing, evaluating, publishing, and crediting scholarly communication from the open web.” The idea is that, when you take advantage of the online environment to make your work in progress more readily available, you get good developmental feedback from readers before revising for your final version, and you make the whole peer review process more transparent.  Kathleen Fitzpatrick used the process in her brilliant book, Planned Obsolence–which is apt, because that book is all about the academy’s unsustainable reliance on traditional print publishing and anonymous scholarly review.

So if you have a minute, please consider commenting!  Or, consider having your students read and comment, as an innovative writing assignment.  The essays will be available between September 15 and October 30.   See the current roster of essays and learn more about the here.

4 thoughts on “More on Indigenizing Wikipedia. . .and Open Peer Review

  1. Hi, Siobhan. Thanks for the shout-out! One thing, though; the platform I used for Planned Obsolescence is CommentPress, which I think is what’s in use for Web Writing as well. PressForward is the platform that Digital Humanities Now is running on; it’s more focused on how material is gathered rather than in its discussion.

    In any case, I’m looking forward to digging into the Web Writing project — it looks fascinating!

    • Kathleen, thank you so much! (Another reason to love Web Writing–for the speedy corrections and clarifications!) I am seriously considering posting using CommentPress for my own book in progress, which has to do with regional Native American literature. Would love to make it easy to solicit feedback from Native authors themselves, as well as community members, and take advantage of online ways of redefining “peer” eval.

  2. Siobhan, thanks for spreading the word about Web Writing and for sharing your thoughts about possible next steps with your project. In addition to reading more about the CommentPress platform on our site above (, I’m leading a workshop on “Open Peer Review and Publishing with CommentPress and PressBooks” at THATCamp New England at UConn on Oct 18th, which I’m willing to record & broadcast if requested by people who cannot attend in person (

    In my view, CommentPress works best for people who want to discuss/debate text in detail (such as scholarly manuscripts, committee draft reports, etc.), but it was not a good match for my public history book project. Not sure what you have in mind, but if you’re looking for community-contributed history, consider Omeka with the Contribution plugin (, and also see what Will Thomas and others at U of Nebraska are doing with their History Harvest project ( Hope that helps.

  3. Pingback: Quick thoughts on first day of Web Writing open peer review | Web Writing: Why and How for Liberal Arts Teaching and Learning

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