Everything Is Miscellaneous author David Weinberger posts some reflections on peer review on his Joho the Blog. For one thing, it doesn’t scale, he writes:
I recognize the value of peer review. It not only directs our attention to worthwhile research, it is part of an editorial process that improves articles before they’re published. But peer review doesn’t scale. There’s so much research being done. A lot of it is good work but isn’t important enough to merit the investment in a traditional peer review process (including the failed hypotheses that we were taught in school were not failures at all).
There are several other reasons in the post why peer review does not suffice to put new research into the open. You may well think I am too simplistic about it, but I am convinced that network laws themselves are the most effective sieve allowing the cream of new ideas to emerge into the commons. In fact I would go farther: new research kept private to await peer review is degraded by being outside of the open networking from which superior knowledge emerges.