[open-humanities] First steps with OpenPhilosophy.org

Jonathan Gray jonathan.gray at okfn.org
Wed Dec 21 13:15:27 UTC 2011

Hi Lars!

Good to hear from you. Thanks for your feedback.

On Wed, Dec 21, 2011 at 7:24 AM, Lars Aronsson <lars at aronsson.se> wrote:
> Could you spend a few words explaining why this project is needed?
> To me it sounds like hiring a carpenter to develop a special kind of
> bookshelf only for philosophy books. Certainly they are no different
> from other books? What should be different is the analysis of their
> content and authors, which is something I thought that Stanford's
> encyclopedia of philosophy (and Wikipedia) already addressed?
> http://plato.stanford.edu/

Yes - I suppose this is like a special bookshelf only for philosophy.
Or perhaps like a special kind of library only for philosophy. It is
predominantly about enabling people to engage with primary materials
which have entered the public domain. There is currently no plan to
host secondary material (such as encyclopedia articles or scholarly
articles or monographs) - but we may wish to enable people to
add/curate bibliographic citation data for these in the future, and
we've been in touch with philpapers.org and others about this.

Here are a few bits and pieces about why I think OpenPhilosophy.org
(and TEXTUS which will run it [1]) could be useful:

1. Personalisation. With TEXTUS (or something like it) I'd like to
make it easy for people to create their own collections of texts and
associated metadata. This includes enabling people to create their own
groups of texts (for undergraduate reading lists, for publications)
and to comment on different texts (maybe private, maybe shared with a
particular group, maybe public). Given the fantastic amount of
material that is openly available (in projects like Europeana, the
Internet Archive, Wikisource, etc) there is an opportunity to give
people their own space to work with this material with students or
colleagues for teaching/research. The platform should be beautiful,
simple and easy to use - and will be developed with lots of feedback
from ordinary, non-technical end users.

2. Domain specific communities. This relates to the point above. I'd
like somewhere that is curated by people who are in my academic area.
I've started to invite people in my area to advise the project (list
so far is here [2]). I would like to create read-only annotated
digital editions of several key works that are related to my research.
I would like to be able to log in and view annotations on a text done
by people that are part of a private reading group on a particular
author or work.

3. Scratching itches related to teaching/research. In addition to
fine-grained permissions systems, I'd really like to look at simple
things that could be done to enable myself and others to make more
extensive use of open material in teaching/research in philosophy.
E.g. citing a specific part of a text.

3. Let a thousand flowers bloom. It would be great if something like
TEXTUS could easily be deployed by someone who wanted a site to manage
collections of texts for teaching/research/etc. E.g. if I wanted to
have a place where undergraduate students at Cambridge could find all
the public domain texts that are listed in their reading lists at
texts.phil.cam.ac.uk. And if there are lots of places on the net where
- e.g. - new transcriptions of public domain scans/manuscripts may
appear - it would be good to have a mechanism to make sure these find
their way back onto big projects like Wikisource and the Internet
Archive. As this material is in the public domain it can be
copied/mirrored widely!

[1] http://jonathangray.org/2011/12/08/textus-an-open-source-platform-for-working-with-collections-of-texts-and-metadata/
[2] http://openphilosophy.org/about/

> I'm the founder of Project Runeberg, the Scandinavian e-text archive,
> which in 1992 was the first spin-off from Project Gutenberg. My
> reasons at the time for starting my own project was to explore
> Internet publishing and to expand outside of English literature,
> which Project Gutenberg was then entirely focused on. Later I have
> been asked to expand into German, Polish and other languages,
> but refrained from doing so. (Instead I encouraged Wikisource to
> introduce facsimile images for proofreading, which has been quite
> successful.) I have also been asked to set up separate sites for
> specific topics, but always thought that books are books and we
> must benefit from not diluting volunteer efforts into separate
> projects. That's why I want to know why you are setting up a
> separate project for PD source texts in philosophy.

This is fantastic. Perhaps there is some way that the transcriptions
of public domain texts could go straight onto Wikisource? We were
thinking of using Scripto (http://scripto.org/) but does Wikisource
now support being able to have image / transcription in parallel?

In any case, we're very keen to maximise synergies with other projects
- especially regarding bits where value can be added to public
collections, like transcription of public domain works and openly
licensed translations. We're also in touch with the technical folks at
Wikimedia Deutschland who are doing bits and pieces that will be
rolled out across WM projects around the world - especially re:
structured data stuff. It would be great to keep bouncing ideas
around. Especially re: getting more stuff on Internet Archive,
Europeana, etc transcribed and added to Wikisource! Any ideas for
other people we should be in touch with on this front?

All the best,


> --
>  Lars Aronsson (lars at aronsson.se)
>  Aronsson Datateknik - http://aronsson.se
>  Project Runeberg - free Nordic literature - http://runeberg.org/
> _______________________________________________
> open-humanities mailing list
> open-humanities at lists.okfn.org
> http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/open-humanities

Jonathan Gray

Community Coordinator
The Open Knowledge Foundation


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