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Saturday, April 26, 2008

LiquidPublication call for job

'LiquidPublication' Post-doctoral researcher
Innovating the Scientific Knowledge Object Lifecycle
Institut Jean Nicod (CNRS, EHSS, ENS), Paris
-under the responsibility of Gloria Origgi and Roberto Casati
Candidates are invited to submit an application (in English) including a detailed curriculum vitae, a list of publications, a statement of interest, and two letters of recommendation. The application should be sent directly both to Gloria Origgi at and to Roberto Casati at .

We are seeking to recruit a post-doctoral researcher as part of an international project entitled LiquidPublication. Funded by the European Commission, the project will bring together a highly interdisciplinary team of researchers and experts in order to explore how ICT and the lessons learned from software engineering and the social Web can be applied to provide a radical paradigm shift in the way scientific knowledge is created, disseminated, evaluated, and maintained. The goal to exploit the novel technologies to enable a transition of the “scientific paper” from its traditional “solid” form, (i.e., a crystallization in space and time of a scientific knowledge artifact) to a Liquid Publication (or LiquidPub for short), that can take multiple shapes, evolves continuously in time, and is enriched by multiple sources. We call these new, dynamic objects, Scientific Knowledge Objects (SKO). More details on the project and its partners are available at:

Keywords: social epistemology, web epistemology, scientific evaluation, information design, social simulation, human-computer interaction

The post-doctoral researcher will be based in Paris, at the Institut Nicod (Ecole Normale Supérieure and Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, ) and will have the opportunity to (1) work in an interdisciplinary team, (2) learn to manage an international research project (3) present research plans and findings to specialist audiences at project workshops and conferences, and (4) disseminate their research in a wide range of project publications.

The core expert consortium on the project includes Project Coordinator, Professor Fabio Casati (Department of Computer Science, University of Trento), the Spanish National Research Council, the academic publishing house Springer Science, the University of Fribourg and the CNRS in Paris.

The post will start in late May 2008. Candidates are welcome to submit their applications from now on. Applications will be accepted until the position is fulfilled. The position will be initially for 12 months. The project will continue thereafter for a further 24 months and post-holders will be eligible to apply for continuing post-doctoral research positions. During the first 24 months, research will mainly be based at the Institut Jean Nicod (CNRS, EHESS, ENS) in Paris, France. The researcher will be required to develop a programme of research under the supervision of Gloria Origgi and Roberto Casati (CNRS) on "Defining Processes and Roles of Scientific Knowledge Objects (SKO)", that is, understanding the mutual interaction between different actors in the creation of a liquid document: authors, collaborators, readers, evaluators, publishers, and designing a prototype version of SKO and its related plug-ins. The candidate will be also involved in research on copyright policies and will be encouraged to explore already existing solutions on the Web 2.0 to diffuse and evaluate academic research.

The post-doctoral researcher should fill the following requirements:
    A background in epistemology, web-studies, media studies, information design, human-computer interaction. An interest and experience in web-based design and evaluation of knowledge. An interest and experience in the Web 2.0 social tools Some programming skills for Web development (PhP, SQL)
Doctoral degrees must be completed before appointment to the post.
Candidates should be effective team players and independent researchers who can work to deadline and who are able to communicate effectively across disciplines.

Fluent spoken and written English is essential.
The salary is €2000 per month (net). French social security and retirement benefits will apply.

Candidates are invited to submit an application (in English) including a detailed curriculum vitae, a list of publications, a statement of interest, and two letters of recommendation. The application should be sent directly both to Gloria Origgi at and to Roberto Casati at .
The successful candidate will be given ample leeway. Our objective is to create a leading group in web epistemology, and SKOs, and thereby to make sure that our candidate will establish her or himself as a leading figure in the domain. We will be thus flexible in redefining assignments during the life of the project.

The candidate is expected to contribute to the scientific and the management aspects of the project.

1. Participate in the research and design process:
-Writing up a state of the art on evaluation policies and software (in the early months)
-Contributing to the definition of SKO roles and the information design of the SKO prototype
- Contributing to the software development of the SKO prototype
-Producing two scientific papers per year in international peer-reviewed journals), on themes defined in coordination with the principal investigators.
-Tracking the relevant communities (such as Bp3 and Researchblogging): search for relevant communities, follow up of activities, production of periodic executive summaries.
-Participate in the creation of guidelines for SKOs (copyright design, etc.).

2. Management
-Effectively managing the project on behalf on the Institut Nicod, under the direction of the principal investigators, including: implementing project policies, keeping in touch with the coordinator, producing reports, ensuring the timely production of deliverables for WPs, liaising the CNRS and the European Commission, organizing meetings, keeping track of knowledge (e.g. by contributing to the project website and blog).
-Providing creative solutions for making the LiquidPublication community members interact in an efficient way, and for outreaching to other communities.

For enquiries, email Gloria Origgi

A pdf copy of this call can be retrived here.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dan Sperber's Templeton Research Lecture. The causes of religion

Dan's First Templeton Lecture on Religion, Nashville, April 2008. Bravo Dan.

A Vision of Students Today

What university is and what will be. This video has been made by some American students in Anthropology. And they are perfectly right. We are maintaining a higher educational system that has no more contact with reality. Ex-catedra classes are useless nowadays. Students would gain much more from a serious and personalized supervision by their teachers while working with collaborative tools through Internet. We are informationally overloaded today: students do not need teachers to get information: they need them as guides, as connoisseurs who can transmit a talent in browsing the corpus of knowledge and selecting what is worth studying.

We are maintaining disciplinary boundaries whose only interest is to reproduce a cast of academics who will feel comfortably established in each particular discipline. We are maintaining a mode of scientific production that is old, based on the XIX century model that fitted Prussian universities, in which the scientist was seen as a public officer whose productive constraints were determined by societal needs, while we all know today that the impact of a single result can change the course of science, given the speed at which it will be diffused through Internet. We all know that many research programs are hopeless today, that entire departments could just shut their doors without any serious cultural loss (apart from the feeling of loss that some people resent each time an "endangered species" disappears, but it is true: most disciplines are endangered species and they would naturally and rapidly disappear if they weren't kept alive by the old-fashioned academic structure).

There is a lot of mutual connivance in the Academy today, that creates an incredible inertia: people prefer to stick to traditional modes of production of knowledge because they are comfortable with them, even of they know very well that they are sub-optimal for students and for the advancement of research in general. The appeal to normative standards of truth and scientific quality are still used to defend a system whose only beneficiaries are those who produce it.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Qu'est-ce que la confiance?

My book on Trust is now out in French.

Mon livre sur
Qu'est-ce que la confiance? est paru chez VRIN, Paris.

Vrin, « Chemins Philosophiques ». 128 p., 11 × 18 cm. ISBN : 978-2-7116-1870-5.
Concept-clé pour comprendre notre action sociale et morale, la confiance reste cependant l’une des notions les plus difficiles à traiter de la philosophie et des sciences sociales. La confiance est un état cognitif et motivationnel complexe, un mélange de rationalité, de sentiments et d’engagement. Faire confiance implique donner aux autres un certain pouvoir sur nous-mêmes et accepter la vulnérabilité que cela comporte. Ce volume analyse cette notion sous ses différentes dimensions : sa dimension morale, affective, épistémique et politique, en posant des questions de fond : Avons-nous des devoirs de confiance? Face à un médecin, avons-nous vraiment le choix de faire confiance? Faut-il faire confiance à ceux qui nous gouvernent?