Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Philosophy Web


I've started hacking on a new content area inside Melbourne Philosophy . It's called "The Philosophy Web", although it might be best to call it a dynamic index. Finding stuff on the web I have found to be very difficult. The Internet has no bullshit filter, and as such you never know what you're getting until you've got it. If reading everything on the internet (or even everything Google, or for the more erudite, Clusty brings back) sounds like a poor way to find what you're really after, this is for you.

MelbournePhilosophy can be your bullshit filter for philosophical information. It might not be complete, it might not be familiar, it might be slow, unresponsive or poorly edited. But it will give you a way to find information quickly, just by pushing buttons. And you will know what you are getting yourself in for.

Let me give an example. Vernor Vinge on the Singularity is a kind of wacky area-51 kind of take on future directions in evolution and artificial intelligence. It's funky, for the large spart speculative, and fun to read. But it's not much good for someone trying to understand artificial intelligence, because it's just too out there. Google can't tell you that kind of thing, all it knows is how many other people liked reading that article.

These are exactly the kind of arguments that were used by the guy who came up with the first HTML page. The index should give you this kind of information. Like pages should point to other like pages. By using hyperlinks, you should be able to thread a chain of relevant articles together in a way that search just can't give you. Of course, once the marketing department got their hands on it, all hell broke loose, and it took Google to save us. I mean Clusty. Well, we don't have a marketing department at MP, or if we do, it's just me, and the use of we is entirely royal.

If you've found something neat, log on to MP and stick it someplace. I would suggest under the "Philosophy Content Web" area, but anywhere will do. I trust that for the most part, people will put information in visible places because it's relevant, and that's right where it should be. Just as an index provides a list of documents organised according to some structural attribute, a web provides a list of documents according to the abstract concept of relevancy. If it's not really philosophy, find a good-looking spot, and plonk in a new content area called "not really philosophy". I won't get mad. I might move the link off the front page, but hey someone else might move it back. Cream rises to the surface.

That's why they built the web, and when it comes to particular applications, it's still more efficient than search. How else can you get from Nietzche to Restall in just three clicks? Organising documents isn't easy, you know...



Anonymous Anonymous said...

...i'm still waiting for the 'matrix section'.

There's only one person that can save our city...



10/23/2004 02:52:00 AM  

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