scholarly writing via wiki?

I am involved in another first in my professional career: writing a scholarly chapter via wiki. The volume is dedicated to computer-assisted language learning in the age of Web 2.0 and I have been selected (well, not a sure thing yet, until the chapter is completed and peer-refereed) to contribute a piece on the Web 2.0 apps I use to teach Italian.

Now, I am a very self-conscious person in general, and when it comes to my writing, the process for me is very long because I write, edit, rewrite, reedit, then rewrite again…well, I think you get the message.

My dilemma, of course, is just part of who I am: this is an unfinished opus that will be read by a number of people, including those not involved in the project because wikis by nature are open platforms and accessible to all who come across the site. This too bothers me because I am concerned with intellectual property. What happens if someone who is interested in technology and is in a similar/related field runs off with my work in progress and makes it theirs, and can do so using the creative commons licenses as justification? I was so miffed already to see that an article will be appearing on the topic of my chapter and the groundwork already laid out for educational networking by many scholars who use this Web 2.0 app.

To add a bit of salt to my overly sensitive wound of publicly exposing my work in progress, there are certain expectations made of the contributors to actively read and comment/leave suggestions on a minimum of two contributions to the volume. So in addition to writing, we are also peer-reviewing, to a certain degree.

Why did I agree to contribute my chapter given these comments? Academia is currently in a state of flux with respect to Web 2.0 in scholarship (see almost any issue of Wired Campus). To be on the forefront of what may be the next wave of scholarly writing may give me some insight and put me at the forefront of this new generation (at least in my area of specialization). Also, being able to see what my fellow contributors are doing and being in a position to discuss with them, if we deem it necessary, our respective work may in fact enlighten our research and writing in the end. The opportunity to network academically on this common project may just be beneficial in the long run.

At this point of the project, I have a love-hate relationship with wikis. I’ll update you by summer’s end to let you know my final verdict.

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