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walter isaacsonWalter Isaacson is looking for your help.

The author has previewed the first two chapters of his new book The Birth of Online on Medium.com. In Isaacson’s own words, the book is about “innovations of the digital era.” He has put the chapters online to get feedback from a variety of places.

Isaacson, who authored biographies on Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein, wrote, “Online collaboration is why the Internet was originally built, and I’m interested in any comments or corrections readers might want to make before I publish in a year”

Crowdsourcing is not a new concept, but in this case it seems Isaacson is interested in not only getting it right but also finding new ideas and concepts he may not have considered. It’s an interesting avenue to take, and one that some authors may not feel comfortable with. On top of that, Isaacson already has a good group of people he trusts to solicit feedback.

It’s refreshing to see an author of his caliber put a call out for help with a project.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Isaacson says that the experiment has already been successful.

I have made dozens of factual changes, plus I have sketched out a few more substantive additions I plan to make in the final version,” he said.

You can read the comments to certain sections on Medium.com where contributors have added their feedback or corrected facts.

Can this type of collaboration work for every book?

No.

More controversial topics will lead to trolls showing up and likely dismantling any good will that had been created.

But there have been questions floating around in my mind since I read the story:

- Once you use someone’s advice or feedback, do you owe them anything?
- Isaacson’s book is still a year away, what if someone tries to steal his idea and ride on the popularity of the topic?

What do you think of this form of crowdsourcing?

 
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