What software should I use for my philosophy project?
November 19, 2005 12:40 PM   Subscribe

I was recently hired as a work study at school to work on a project and I'm having some trouble deciding how to organize the information...

I'm working for the Philosophy department at my school. The project I came up with was compiling philosophy-related media into a central database... for instance, I'd watch a film one of the professors wanted to use, summarize and annotate it for relevance to philosophy, remark on the philosophical questions raised, etc, and post it on the site for the other instructors to use.

The site at this current stage is just going to be an internal thing for the faculty to be able to look at, and basically a tool to augment lesson plans--I would want an instructor who wanted to do a unit on empiricism, for example, to be able to go to the "empiricism" category and see a list of books, films, articles, websites, etc. that deal with the topic in some way or another.

What's a good piece of software that I can use for this project? Ideally it would be simple; the only thing I REALLY want is the ability to arrange things by category (possibly with tagging capabilities.) Allowing for multiple users would be really nice but isn't strictly necessary. Free or low-cost stuff only, please; I don't have a budget, as it's a small department.

I was thinking wiki format would work well (would allow faculty to add information on their own, pretty easy to edit stuff), but I'm not too familiar with the various wikis outside of MediaWiki (which seems too large and complicated for a small project such as this, though I could be wrong) but if anyone knows of anything better, I'm open to any suggestions.

(Also, cheating a little here with two questions, but if anyone has any philosophy-related resources that they really like--blogs, films, books, articles, television shows, radio shows/podcasts, music, whatever--and think are worth including in a project such as this, I'm open to those too, but I'm more interested in the answer to the software q.)

Please let me know if I need to clarify anything here. Thanks!
posted by Kosh to Education (8 answers total)
How about throwing the data into rows of an Excel spreadsheet and then put it on your intranet as a downloadable file?

Users who don't have Excel could download the free Excel reader,
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:11 PM on November 19, 2005

Someone posted this php script on another question (sorry I can't remember whom) and it looks like it might work.


You could break the files up into folders depending on category and the put descriptions on each.
posted by meta87 at 1:28 PM on November 19, 2005

If you're on the Mac platform, sounds like DevonThink could do everything you need it to. Not free, but definitely cheap ($75) considering the features. I use it for all my research.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 1:40 PM on November 19, 2005

I'm in the process of writing a web application that does this kind of thing. I've kind of got this deadline to have it out and open-sourced before 2006, but I've got to clean the code up significantly first.
posted by singingfish at 1:44 PM on November 19, 2005

The Scout Portal Toolkit might be useful. It's web-based (PHP/MySQL), but the last time I installed it it was fairly easy to set up for a web application.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 1:57 PM on November 19, 2005

WordPress? (Making this thread #287 in which I recommend WP.)

You could create a new "post" for every item you catalog and include links to internal docs or external websites, descriptions and questions; then file it under a technically umlimited number of categories. It also allows for different user accounts and commenting by default, and there are a million plugins and readymade layouts out there, some of which add tag support.

It's a breeze to install and I found it very easy to get the hang of. Screenshots here.
posted by mumble at 3:24 PM on November 19, 2005

Part of the answer depends on how and where the shared data files are going to be located - on a LAN, on the internets, etc.

For the latter, consider pbWiki as at least a starting point.

One of the most important considerations is time. A quick start is often a significant advantage.
posted by megatherium at 5:51 AM on November 20, 2005

If the spreadsheet approach appeals to you for some reason, you might check out this open source web spreadsheet from the creator of VisiCalc: http://danbricklin.com/log/2005_11_09.htm#wikicalc

Oh, as for mediawiki. It's really pretty simple to get started with.
posted by Good Brain at 11:36 AM on November 20, 2005

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