December 9, 2021

Open Review leads to better books

My book manuscript, Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age, is now in Open Review.  That means that while the book manuscript goes through traditional peer review, I also posted it online for a parallel Open Review.  During the Open Review everyone—not just traditional peer reviewers—can read the manuscript and help make it better.


Schematic of Open Review.


Screenshot of Open Review interface. Click for full size.


I think that the Open Review process will lead to better books, higher sales, and increased access to knowledge.  In this blog post, I’d like to describe the feedback that I’ve received during the first month of Open Review and what I’ve learned from the process.

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After the Facebook emotional contagion experiment: A proposal for a positive path forward

Now that some of the furor over the Facebook emotional contagion experiment has passed, it is time for us to decide what should happen next. The public backlash has the potential to drive a wedge between the tech industry and the social science research community. This would be a loss for everyone: tech companies, academia, and the public. In the age of big data, the interaction between social scientists and tech companies could yield a richer understanding of human behavior and new ideas about how to solve some of society’s most important problems. Given these opportunities, we must develop a framework within which this research can continue, but continue in a responsible way.
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Wikipedia Banner Challenge

As you can tell from the banners appearing all over Wikipedia, their fundraiser is in full swing. Despite Wikipedia’s importance as a global resource, only about one in a thousand Wikipedia readers donate. One way to improve that would be better banners, and that’s why my research group is launching the Wikipedia Banner Challenge, a website to collect and prioritize banner ideas for Wikipedia. You can participate by voting on banners and suggesting new ones. It is quick, easy, and even a little fun.

The Wikipedia Banner Challenge builds on previous innovative efforts by Wikipedia to involve their community in the design of the fundraiser, especially during the 2010 fundraiser. In a continuation of that community-driven spirit, Wikipedia announced on their blog that they will be watching the results from the Wikipedia Banner Challenge closely and will use some of the most promising banners during the fundraiser. In other words, your banner could appear in front of Wikipedia users around the world.

In addition to building on previous efforts by Wikipedia, this project also furthers work by my research group on developing methods that enable communities to collect and prioritize information in a way that is democratic, open, and efficient. So far, our free and open source website,, has been used by governments and non-profit organizations around the world. The Wikipedia Banner Challenge provides an interesting test case for our methods, and we are excited to see the results. Wikipedians, if you want better banners for the fundraiser, give us your ideas.

Here are links to more information about: