More philosophy online, please! The web would be better with more philosophy on it and philosophy would be better with more of it on the web.
Sure, the journals are already online, even if most are ludicrously paywalled.
But to get an idea out to readers in these professionally vetted forms, one needs to package it in just the right way to satisfy—in the eyes of reviewers and editors—a variety of constraints: concision, clarity, rigor, scholarliness, originality, ‘relevance’, and word limits. Even when this works out, it can take years. So if you want people to read your stuff while it’s still fresh, or if you want to read what’s at the cutting edge of some field, you need to go somewhere else.
The delay isn’t the only problem. Many ideas that people should be able to read and discuss online simply are not publishable in these places: the half-baked, the politically opinionated, the minor nit-pick, the non-critical notice, the unargued synoptic vision, the reading list, the cool paragraph you just came across in some obscure place, etc.
Finally, sometimes one just doesn’t feel like reading stuff that has passed through this wringer, you know? Scholarliness, rigor, and the rest are important for certain purposes, but people also want to read philosophy that’s punchier, sillier, grander, or more personal than what typically gets into the academic journals.
I think this is part of what’s attractive about reading the great (and even the not so great) philosophers of the past: they had their own constraints, but not the same ones we have. Lack of the constraints is also part of what’s great about talking philosophy with friends in a pub, department lounge, or wherever. But opportunities for that are limited, especially these days.
Luckily, there are many other possibilities for doing philosophy online. Blogs and microblogs; vlogs, video essays, and streams; podcasts and microcasts; newsletters, wikis, interactive tutorials, forums, webcomics, webzines, and online books. You can put online your reading notes, lecture notes, teaching ideas, article ideas, ideas too small for articles, ideas too big for articles, book reviews, lit reviews, interviews, and link dumps. Scholarly or slap-dash, many times revised or first pass outlines, any style under the sun. Public philosophy, deep-in-the-arcane-weeds philosophy, and everything in between.
There’s a lot of philosophy online in most of these forms, but I wish there was more of it, from a wider range of philosophers.
“Why not contribute some yourself?”
Okay, sure, why not?
This is my new philosophy blog.
I’d be happy if you, too, would start a philosophy blog (or whatever other kind of online philosophy thing). Tell me about it so I can check it out and maybe talk about it here. One thing I hope to do here is regularly talk about what’s going on philosophy-wise elsewhere online.
" Why not just post on Twitter or Facebook or Medium or ...?”
As this is a blogifesto, it is fitting to have some high-minded numbered principles to which I solemnly commit myself.
- No distracting ads or nagware.
- No invasive surveillance.
- No volunteering control of my content to some corporation for use in algorithms that manipulate people into addictive scrolling and clicking and posting in order to generate more revenue from distracting ads targeted with invasive surveillance.
There’s a lot of fun and interesting philosophy talk on Twitter (and, I assume, on Facebook), but it seems to me that on balance these platforms make the internet and the world worse. Given their profit models, I don’t expect them to improve. So we should work towards better alternatives. Blogging from my own website is my small contribution.