Sunday, August 31, 2008

Social Web-building

I've been visiting two new web applications.

Sympoze is a social bookmarking site designed by philosopher Andrew Cullison where we can pool our collective judgments about online writing and resources. The site has multiple uses: you can visit just to see what other people are talking about, or you can contribute by adding your recent reads or evaluating what others have posted.
I'm excited to see this application and curious to see how it works over the long run. A recent study published in Science showed the counterintuitive result that electronic research databases have led to fewer rather than more published works being cited, in spite of easier and wider access. I hope that Sympoze will have a different effect--widening rather than narrowing the range of recognized philosophical writing and democratizing our field rather than concentrating the recognition of elites.

Academia is a social networking site for academics, also developed (in part) by a philosopher. The model, of course, is facebook, but with just what academics need and none of the chucking and quizzing that we don't. Also, it's public and transparent, as knowledge rightly should be. I'm not yet sure if the site will develop into a strong presence, since it seems to me that it's precisely the exclusivity of facebook that contributes to its appeal--that is, the parade of "friends."
One note, which is that Academia has a preset--and rather strange--list of "interests." On the science side, there is no distinguishing among life science, though what I do with ecological history shares very little overlap with someone working in genetics. On the humanities side, though, one can pick between English or World Literatures. I think this site would become more useful for networking if it were possible to enter (and search) for very narrow specialties like "social epistemology," "historical ecology," and "public participation GIS." (Those are three that I would sign up for!)


Richard Price said...

Thanks for your comments. You can add new research interests to the tree. Just go to and click on the arrows on the boxes.

Richard (

Evelyn Brister said...

Got it! Thanks! I also added Environmental Philosophy.