Although most of the communities present in the “intellectual communities” section belong in the “art” domain, many of them are related to general intellectual issues, ranging from philosophical debates and scientific issues to social networks of bibliophiles. Our aim is to present, with your help, sites that promote scientific and rational thought and, through public dialogue, re-interprets and expands the boundaries of human thought, understanding, logic, technology, metaphysics and their multitude of applications and practices. Furthermore, knowing that the majority of our visitors come from the world of art, the art communities included here, vigorously promote the elements of participation, communication and dialogue.
In the first years of the Internet’s popularization there was a strong argument in favor of short texts in web sites: a computer screen didn’t lend itself to many hours of reading. With the passage of years and after various technological advancements though, screens became much more comfortable for reading and web “typography” improved tremendously so reading longer texts became much more popular; another factor leading towards reading through a screen was the advent in the last years of smartphones and tablets, allowing everyone to carry a screen with them at any time. Longreads, began operating in 2009 aiming to present Internet users with a selection of various long texts available on the Network.
The site doesn’t have any content of its own; all the texts presented are links to articles from other web sites. What makes it worth mentioning though is the selection criteria used and which scope to make every article particularly interesting. Longreads is supported by a small community of seven thousand members who try to keep it updated with any interesting new material available on the web and is 1,500 words or longer.
Ubu is one of those web sites that make us feel proud to call ourselves “Internet people”, mostly because we had the opportunity to see the web in its formative years; the reason being that it is a site dedicated to serving content and nothing more than that. This content is about the avant-garde scene and comprises of texts and audio-visual documents supported on a purely volunteer basis and even though it has enjoyed great popularity since its inception in 1996 it does not contain advertisements or any kind of third party promotional material; we don’t have a particular problem with advertising, it’s just that it is impressing to come across a volunteer web site so comprehensive.
Navigating Ubu is not the easiest thing to do since its first/central page is filled with links to various sections and the cataloguing system isn’t immediately discernible. There is a menu with the most recent additions, a top 10 of monthly selections as ensues from the visitor’s views, a section with samples of conceptual writing and much more; the main body of the site’s content is classified in three sections (films and video, text and audio) all organized by artist. Even though Ubu’s design shows its age and may tax the visitor, its wealth of information will reward anyone patient enough to immerse into its pages.
PopTech in an international community of individuals working together on innovative ideas and aiming to improve society; the members of this community come from various fields (technology, design, medicine, sociology, ecology, arts, liberal arts etc.) and the organization’s philosophy is that the most ground breaking solutions occur when people from varying areas and different fields of knowledge collaborate on a common goal. The organization’s broader network includes more than four hundred such individuals.
In Pop Tech’s web site, visitors can learn more about the organization’s initiatives through the various running projects; these projects are classified in two broad categories (science and social) and each category includes audio visual material from members’ speeches. Also available is information about conferences being organized (with the option of applying for participation) as well as a blog with news and previous conference minutes.
Those wondering how a social network for artists might take a look the Brooklyn Art Project; to our opinion, this web site is one of the best implementations of the particular idea. The Brooklyn Art Project began operating in 2007 and focused on artists based on Brooklyn, New York, (hence the site’s name) although with time it came to attract members from all over the world. The site is created using the platform Ning, a tool for creating social network projects which was founded by none other than Marc Andreessen, one of web’s pioneers and creator of Netscape.
The site’s principal philosophy is that of networking: a user creates a profile and after that follows and is followed by other members. In their personal pages, members can upload texts in the form of blog posts, photographs, videos or anything else they find interesting and they can comment on other members’ content; besides their personal “micro-sites”, members can also create thematic groups aiming to attract other members and create more network connections.
Long Bets is a platform with projections for future events, based on the estimation of third parties; anyone interested can attempt a prediction for the future and this prediction can be disputed by someone else, thus leading to a sort of betting with the earnings being donated to charity. The web site started operating in 2003 and is managed by the Long Now Foundation, while it has been financially supported by Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos.
What makes this endeavor interesting is that predictions are not simply guesses but are based on arguments that can be debated by any contracting partner; because of this, the site is a platform for dialogue and exchange of ideas on various socio-political matters with the economic aspect being overlooked since nobody really wins anything (as we mentioned above, the money go to charity). At any given moment there are more than 500 predictions with prizes varying from $500 to $1,000,000 –it might sound paradoxical but even millennium span predictions are tolerated.
It’s hard to define the Art + Culture web site since it is an amalgam of a community with social networking elements and a web site offering texts about various kinds of art; the difficulty in defining it, can also be attributed to the fact that it is in beta phase, meaning that it is a rather recent project. The site aims to act as a gathering place for both artists and the public; the former can promote their work while both former and latter can create their own blog and post texts.
As is the case with all sites involving the social element, all members have their followers and the members they themselves follow and visitors can see the available artists having a profile in the site, classified by field (film, visual arts, design, dance, literature, music etc.). Visitors can also add various art works to their personal preferences, thus “advertising” them to their followers; the section we consider more interesting though, is the blog section which already hosts thousands of texts about dozens of subjects.
TPM is a quarterly philosophy magazine. Its articles are written by professionals that deal with philosophy but the writing style is not technical making them easily understandable even by people with no specialized knowledge; its pages have on occasion hosted interviews by philosophers like Simon Blackburn, Daniel Dennett, Michael Dummett, Luce Irigaray, Hilary Putnam, T.M. Scanlon, John Searle, Peter Singer and Slavoj Žižek.
Apart from the web site that offers information about the magazine itself, there is a second one that we are presenting here and that hosts articles in the form of blog posts; some of these articles are not included in the print magazine and what distinguishes them is the quality of the commentary. Unlike the Internet norm where comments in the majority of blogs range from the irrelevant to the abusive, in TPM’s blogs visitors can enjoy high quality commentary that contributes to constructive dialogue and the development of a powerful community of thinkers.
Ray Kurzweil is an American inventor, writer and futurologist whose broad writing work includes analysis of ideas like body augmentation, artificial intelligence and futurology; he is best known for his book “The Singularity is Near” in which he examines the evolution of humankind in a new species of intellect augmented by technology and particularly by sciences like nanotechnology, genetics and robotics. This web site, was created in 2001 and aims to act as a space for analyses on these subjects’ it already hosts texts from some of those fields’ top level thinkers and scientists.
In the site’s pages, visitors can find hundreds of articles and essays, news about technology and scientific innovation, a newsletter sent either daily or weekly, discussion fora and audiovisual material in the form of videos and podcasts. Also, of particular interest is the search engine: it utilizes a smart chatbot using natural language processing technology that reacts to the dialogue with face expressions.
Red Bubble is a community of creators and also a platform through which these creators can sell their works; what distinguishes it from other similar endeavors is the balance between its communal and its market aspects which complement each other. Thus, even though all works appearing are available for sale, the visitor can’t miss the community element with creators-members communicating with each other, exchanging useful information or commenting each other’s creations. The artists participating in this site come from six different areas: photography, design and illustration, painting, sketch, digital art and literature.
Each member can create thematic teams in which other members can participate and add their works; every art work presented is accompanied by a description by its creator and the style these descriptions are written reflects the sense of community apparent in the whole endeavor. All art works are available for sale in specific dimensions while visitors (and potential buyers) can also choose the quality and finish of the paper as well as the frame and its color. Besides the art works themselves, a big collection of t-shirts and stickers is also available for sale.
Artists Network is a web site about painting that belongs to a business group publishing dozens of magazines on various fields (car, construction, design, antiques etc.) The brand “Artists Network” besides this web site also refers to a second one offering educational video for various painting techniques from renowned artists and available for sale; in the same vein a specialized painting materials e-shop is also available.
Visitors of Artists Network can find an impressive amount of information emphasizing on educational texts which explain various painting techniques step by step through the extensive use of photographs; these texts form the main body of the web site since the majority of its content focuses on that. Worth of mention are the thematic contests organized on a regular basis (with monetary prizes) and its forum that operates under its own domain and is among the biggest available in the international art scene, featuring more than three hundred thousand members and ten million posts.