The growth of the web has been rather invisible for philosophy so far, and while quite some philosophizing has been done about what the web could mean for the human condition, not much has yet been said about what it could mean for philosophy itself. An exception is some early enthusiasm for newsgroups and forums in the nineties, but that quickly died out when it became apparent that those were not suitable for in-depth philosophizing at all. The web as a medium however is more than these two examples of early web-systems, and in the meantime it has further matured with what some call Web 2.0, or social software (sites such as MySpace, Delicious and Wikipedia). Time for a second look...
LogiLogi Manta, the new version of LogiLogi, is a hypertext platform featuring a rating-system that tries to combine the virtues of good conversations and the written word. It hopes - albeit informally and experimentally - to allow philosophers and people who are interested in philosophy to use the possibilities that the internet has in stock for them too.
It was started with a very small grant from the department of Philosophy of the University of Groningen. It is Free / Open Source Software, consists of 15.000 lines of code, has been under development for almost 3 years by between 2 and 10 people at the same time, represents 8 person-years of work (which would be $500.000 in value), and is currently live as a public beta. It is written in Ruby, and uses the Ruby on Rails framework.
It is intended for all those ideas that you're unable to turn into a full sized journal paper, but that you deem too interesting to leave to the winds. Its central values are openness and quality of content, and to combine these it models peer review and other valuable social processes surrounding academic writing. Contrary to early web-systems it does not make use of forum-threads (avoiding their many problems), but of tags and links. Most notably it also allows people other than the original author of a document to add outgoing links behind words, while it does not allow them to change the underlying text, so the author's intellectual responsibility is guarded.
In this paper we will describe LogiLogi, and examine whether it may actually make a difference for philosophy. In order to do this we will begin by answering the question why philosophers might want to move beyond journal papers and print publications in the first place. We will examine the web as a new medium, see how it combines the two classical media of philosophy, how it facilitates collaboration, provides increased intertextuality, and allows one to do much more with texts than just copying them. At the end of this part we will take a more analytical approach and make our case for going beyond journals.
Then we will look into the causes and reasons behind the failure of previous, and other systems. First we will look at some systems that appeared before the World Wide Web. Next we will discuss web-systems that are currently popular, such as forums and wikis, and show why they made the web fail for philosophy. And lastly we will be looking at two systems other than LogiLogi that are currently under development: Discovery and LiquidPub. In the last section of this part we will give an overview of the perils that stranded and/or are threatening the other projects.
In the third part we take a look at LogiLogi itself. First we will describe it in some detail, starting with its approach to hypertexts, and its innovative use of links. Continuing we will describe how its meritocratic rating- and ranking system works, and the ideas behind it. After which we will explain its system of self-organizing peer groups, which allow for a diversity of views. Then we will first briefly show that the design of LogiLogi is coherent, followed by an analysis of how LogiLogi attempts to circumvent the perils that took other systems by surprise.
In the last part we will give our thoughts on what philosophy on the web could look like. Here we will introduce Entity Oriented Philosophy, for which we will consecutively look at: using short texts and expressing one idea at a time; not relying on formal logic, using natural language, and broadly integrating texts through links; and arriving at a purely conceptual, and collective 'truth' by aggregating over the views of many individuals. Then we analyse the strong and weak points of philosophizing on the web. And the paper will be concluded with some cautionary remarks, and a few reasons for thinking even beyond LogiLogi.