Philosophy in an Evolving Web: Necessary Conditions, Web Technologies, and the Discovery Project

Bartscherer, Thomas and D'Iorio, Paolo (2008) Philosophy in an Evolving Web: Necessary Conditions, Web Technologies, and the Discovery Project. In: Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Information. Proceedings of the 30th International Ludwig Wittgenstein-Symposium in Kirchberg, 2007. Ontos Verlag, Frankfurt, pp. 261-273.

[img] PDF
Bartscherer.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (235kB)


The Internet has been a mixed blessing for humanities’ scholars, and especially for philosophers. On the positive side, instant access to an inexhaustible fount of information caters to our inveterate and equally inexhaustible curiosity. And recent developments in both habits of use and technological capacity captured, albeit loosely, in the notion of Web 2.0 have made the Web, in particular, ever more hospitable to philosophy. And yet for the purposes of academic research, the Internet has heretofore suffered from decisive shortcomings. The very freedoms that make cyberspace a lively forum for intellectual exchange make it treacherous for scholarship. The litany of questions is familiar enough: how reliable, for example, are the articles in Wikipedia? Or those in any given electronic journal? Or the translations that can be found on, say, the Pirate Nietzsche Page? Is that website even in existence any longer? And if not, what happens if I cited it as a source in an essay I wrote? Perhaps one may think I had it coming, citing a website with a name like that. But how about the more staid-sounding Conference: A Journal of Philosophy and Theory, hosted by Columbia University? Or Earth Ethics? Or Acta Philosophica: An International Journal of Philosophy hosted by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross? All were once available on the Web but are presently defunct, and while that last one may yet be resurrected, there is no shortage of examples of online resources that have disappeared forever. And there is the more general and more pervasive problem of broken links.1 In a nutshell, the questions pertain to standards of quality and stability of sources. In this paper, we shall be considering how digital technology and in particular recent innovations in networking and Semantic Web can be exploited to assist scholars in conducting academic research while at the same time avoiding the pitfalls that render the Internet a false friend of scholarship. We begin with an attempt to articulate certain principles that are independent of any given technology but are of fundamental significance for the humanities in general as it becomes ever more intertwined with emerging information technology. In light of these principles, we then turn to a detailed look at one particular example?the Discovery Project, recently launched under the aegis of the European Union’s eContentplus programme?that is presently developing a web-based network for academic research in philosophy. And we conclude by noting three major challenges that confront this project and all similar initiatives aimed at integrating humanities research and digital technology.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: Philosophie > Philosophische Disziplinen > Medienphilosophie, Theorie der Virtualität, Cyberphilosophie
Depositing User: Sissi Kemp
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2011 12:44
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2011 18:53

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year