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Words with friends: Writing collaboratively online

Published Web Location Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Tom Boellstorff, Bonnie Nardi, both from University of California, Celia Pearce, Georgia Institute of Technology and T. L. Taylor from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method. The Handbook had been written as an entirely collaborative document, with a single authorial voice. They achieved their goal with a mix of synchronous and asynchronous collaboration methods. Aside from a small number of face-to-face meetings, they spent many hours in email and Skype discussing how best to present the principles of ethnographic research, how to clear up misconceptions regarding its scope and value, and how to reach a wide audience. Their breakthrough occurred when they realized that rather than propose an edit in a comment box, they could make the proposed edit in the text and paste the old version in a comment box. While they used asynchronous collaboration primarily during the early phases of composing the manuscript, they did return to asynchronous collaborating after the synchronous phase, in the final stages of writing.

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