Walter Isaacson Crowdsources New Book

December 29th, 2013

In the early days of this blog, I endeavored to liveblog several law review articles. The goal, in part, was to solicit real-time feedback. The experiments were helpful, though fittingly enough, I haven’t finished any of them. A few of them I will hopefully return to in the next year. But the idea is good.

Best-selling author, Walter Isaacon has taken this experiment to a new level.

One of the most successful authors in the world, Walter Isaacson, is seeking the wisdom of the crowds for his new book about the technology industry’s major inventors.

Using, he has uploaded chapters of his new book, and has asked for feedback. The results have been interesting so far.

Though only two chapters are online, it’s already gotten attention from an impressive group. Stanford Professor of Political Theory Rob Reich thought the role of government in funding the early Internet got short shrift, and recommended Isaacson give it some attention. Isaacson responded in kind, “Yes, I will add a section on govt research at MIT, Stanford, Lincoln Lab, BBN, SRI, etc. Very important. I’m a fan of Leslie Berlin and her Noyce bio is superb.”

In a spicier example, Stewart Brand, an early pioneer of online forums, disputed Isaacson’s retelling of his own history. The two had a lively exchange, with both agreeing to moderate their understanding of the events.

I’ve considered using a similar approach to soliciting feedback for articles. In the context of a 20,000 word law review article, it is not very practicable to paste something, without footnotes into Medium. Google Docs could work better. Though, I’ve found it is hard enough to get colleagues to actually read something, and get good feedback on it. I’m not confident of the feedback the internet would give. But maybe I’m wrong. I’ll try to figure a good way of doing this.