The beginnings of PeerLibrary

PeerLibrary is a nascent project that has been through radical redesigns recently, so there isn't a established community of remote contributors yet. Since we still meet mostly in person, I'll briefly tell stories of how people got involved.

The project's idea came up when I first met Tony. We were conceiving of an open access advocacy group on campus and discussing the flaws in the current academic publishing model. Naturally, we started imagining how an ideal model would be. PeerLibrary was born and we immediately started hacking up a Node.js implementation.

In the same week, we further developed the idea at the Internet Archive in a chat with Mek, Alexis, Brewster Kahle and some friends from Noisebridge. At the time, we were focused on the publishing mechanism and alternative metrics for peer review. At the time, the codebase was mostly written by three friends (Tony, Nihil and me).

Later on, I emailed a crazy Slovenian dude called Mitar because of some unrelated research on collaborative decision making (it was similar to something I was doing). We met in person and talked about that research for several hours. However, when we mentioned our side projects, we accidentally found out that Mitar had been working precisely on the technical challenge that Tony and I were trying to solve (making annotations with Mozilla's pdf.js). Mitar immediately got involved, and is the project's most crucial contributor now.

Some of the greatest contributions were not in pull requests, but in spoken feedback. After chatting with the PLOS folks when we met at Wikimedia, we decided to focus on the annotation feature (we concluded that we needed more data before experimenting with metrics).

Recently, the codebase has started to take a relatively stable shape, so we're making it easier for new contributors to join. We set up a development mailing list and an IRC room at Freenode. Finally, we're improving our documentation so that people can get started on the repo more quickly (Anna's doing some awesome work on that).

added Comments Thomas 11/6/2013 (see commit description)