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Arte Numérica org

Scientia - History of Science
by Henrique Leitão

We at Arte Numérica decided to create the artenumerica.org domain as a "place" for material not necessarily related to our company's activities. Sooner or later you will find here work by us or others, some random ramblings, some personal pages, perhaps a few mirrors of interesting stuff already on the WWW, and more.

We are willing to host a few nice works considered by us particularly deserving to be shown on the WWW, giving their authors total freedom to manage their content in a "non-commercial" environment and perhaps even helping them prepare their material. Of course, we are limited by our copious free time and therefore can not invite you all to submit requests for hosting; we are doing it on a "don't call us, we'll call you" basis. Our first guest is Henrique Leitão, with his work on history of science, Scientia, an example of the excellence we will be looking for. Since we have seen his work for several years, we can tell you that what is already available here is still only the tip of the Scientia "iceberg".


"A public relations stunt?" Sincerely... no. Even though Arte Numérica is proud (why not?) to have its name associated with content presented in the best tradition of the web.

Short answer

Because we can. Because we think we should. And because we enjoy doing it.

Long answer

Much more than a network of computers, the Internet is a network of people. This is probably how it was perceived by most of its developers, maintainers and users, back when the Internet was little noticed, if not despised, by corporate and political power. It was not only a way to accomplish and share our work but also a place where, in contrast with dominant media, each individual could communicate virtually anything to others, in almost equal terms with any corporation, government or other institution, although still very few, privileged individuals participated in the global conversation.

When the WWW arrived, it was welcomed as an additional extraordinary tool for better structuring information, making it more accessible and the same time allowing people with less technical knowledge not only to get information but also to publish their own. Many more human beings came to the Internet, and corporate and political powers noticed it, for good, for evil, and for greed. At first mostly with clueless clumsy reactions, then with still somewhat clueless but now much more coldly and strategically planned attempts to take control of something which was correctly seen as slipping between their fingers.

Meanwhile, from popular press to trade rags to TV, massive amounts of techno-bluff have been poured over unsuspecting "audiences" to which they present themselves as authoritative sources. Depending on the best-paying agenda of the week, the Internet is alternatively presented as the source of all evil, the solution for all problems, or a gigantic business opportunity, all on a global scale. Thus setting the stage for new policies and products to "protect" us, new products to "enhance" our "on-line experience", and sure recipes (and more products) for "getting rich fast on the information super-highway". "Oh and by the way, dear readers, don't forget to look at playboy.com".

According to the views (and ideals) with which media conglomerates flood the market, the Internet would be a sort of glorified TV, our personal computers the ultimate vending machines, and us, the "consumers", too stupid to look for information and talk directly with other "consumers". Hence the attempts to "take over" the Internet with proprietary protocols, the pushing of the "Push" concept and the attempts to keep us confined within "portals" with tons of advertisements and homogenized "content", which are nothing more than rusty gates on an open field with no walls.

For many, especially those who have witnessed the first years of the web, such junk is a nuisance and perhaps a menace for what we have considered the best of the web: from freely available reference information of the highest quality (by all kinds of people and institutions) to the most simple and intimate personal pages, all coexisting and talking to us with a genuine human voice. If you are a newcomer to the Internet today, it is most likely that you have heard about countless glossy dot-com sites, but perhaps nobody told you about things like Project Gutenberg, Galileo Galilei's Notes on Motion, The GNU project, The Internet Public Library, Index Librorum Liberorum, Carol Gerten's Fine art, Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, photo.net, ...

artenumerica.org is no more than a modest contribution to promote such material on the web: junk-free, freely accessible, authoritative, useful, captivating, or simply expressed in a truly human voice. Because we believe that those who can promote such things, should.

The net is precious to me because it gives ordinary human beings a way to communicate with other ordinary human beings. Corporations have too many ways to cram their ads down my throat. Human beings have the net.

-- C J Silverio, Why the web sucks, II

Life is too short to surf someone's advertisement.

-- Philip Greenspun, Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing