Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Philosophers' Carnival #144

The 144th Philosophers' Carnival is up at "Sprachlogik". The Carnival hadn't adjusted well to the changes in blogging over the many years of its operation, so Tristan Haze, the new coordinator for it, is taking it a new direction. The original point of the Carnival, eight years ago, had been mostly just to contribute to the development of connections and community among online philosophy blogs, in the ancient days of yore when such activities were common among bloggers generally. Early on, people made an active effort to contribute, and, while it still required some hunt-and-seek to bring in a good variety of posts, you could always guarantee that the submissions would turn out several interesting ones, and even that you'd have some room for selectivity, and so could guarantee that there would always be something of quality. But a lot of the real go-getters had been undergraduate and graduate students, and as their situation changed, most of us ended up drifting away a bit, thus leading to the whole thing languishing more and more over time. And there were obviously lots of reasons for this. I, for instance, was one of the early founding participators -- I did Philosophers' Carnival #2 -- and used to do a post precisely for the Carnival, aiming for at least every other edition, and every edition when I could. But I was a graduate student then, in front of a computer at least half the day most days, and it was a welcome relief from dissertation monotony. But slowly other things began to push it out, and it became difficult even to remember the Carnival was there. The blogosphere also changed: community and blog-neighborliness became much less important, and there is less of a sense of experiment and adventure than there once was -- we were looking at the possibility of blogging as a new kind of intellectual interaction, and so were eager to see what could be done with this Carnival idea. Thus there was definitely a need for some revitalization. The new idea is to focus less on the old participatory element, at least in the way it used to be participatory, and focus more on providing a way of making known to people where interesting philosophical work is being done in the blogosphere -- thus letting any community build up around that. It's a good idea, and I hope it works -- a lot of the old mainstay philosophy bloggers are still around doing their own thing, even if not as regularly as before, and new philosophy bloggers are out and about who need to be pointed out to others. And philosophy blogs tend to be scattered around a bit, so it can be easy to overlook good philosophy posts. The change means that one will have more technical posts, but this doesn't, of course, mean fewer good posts pitched at a more popular level. Go over and see if you see anything interesting! They have my recent post on Whewell, but I recommend particularly Helen De Cruz's post on evolutionary debunking arguments, which will be interesting whether you do philosophy or not, and there are several posts of interest for those of us interested in modal logic. And one early sign of the reform's success: I already see a couple of bloggers in the list who I hadn't even realized were still blogging.

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