The Commens Digital Companion (http://www.commens.org) was born in 2012-13, when the Helsinki-based Commens site, designed by Mats Bergman and Sami Paavola, merged with the Brazilian Digital Encyclopedia of Charles S. Peirce, founded by João Queiroz. The new international Companion brought together two established on-line resources of Peirce research – the Commens Dictionary and the Digital Encyclopedia – and added new tools, such as the news service and the bibliography.
Commens was originally developed as a Finnish Peirce studies website by Mats Bergman and Sami Paavola. It functioned as the virtual home for the Helsinki Metaphysical Club, and offered resources for students and researchers in both Finnish and English. The original Commens was opened in February, 2001. In 2003, Bergman and Paavola introduced the Commens Dictionary of Peirce’s Terms, a dictionary of Peircean terminology built from original Peirce quotes. The Dictionary proved to be the most successful part of Commens; together with the Digital Encyclopedia, the Dictionary forms the backbone of the new Digital Companion. More than 700 quotes were transferred from the old Dictionary to the new platform.
Peirce introduced the concept of the “commens” or ”commind” in his correspondence with Victoria Lady Welby in 1906. Although a rare and partly obscure neologism, the term has proven to be both suggestive and useful. When Bergman and Paavola created the original Commens, their goal was a web site that would serve as an enabler of scholarly communication as well as a free resource for researchers and students - and hence “Commens”, a term that suggests community and sharing of knowledge. The new version of Commens has also been developed in this spirit; it moves us several steps closer to the original aim by providing new possibilities for user input and collaboration.
In addition to evoking the original Digital Encyclopedia created by João Queiroz, the term “Digital Companion” refers to the emphasis on the new forms of publication that Commens provides. Unlike traditional, printed companion volumes, Commens grows and evolves through user input.
Commens collects news pertaining to Peirce studies and closely related fields. The news are divided into categories, such as “academic meetings”, “calls for papers”, and “publications”. An archive of all news items is provided on the news page. In addition, news with a set date, such as meetings and deadlines, are listed in the “Upcoming Events and Deadlines” sidebar block on the news page and the front page as well as the Commens calendar. All registered members may add news to Commens, as long as the entries relate to Peirce studies in some manner. All news items are supervised by the site editors, who have the right to remove any inappropriate entries.
The Commens Dictionary consists of original quotations, in which Peirce defines or characterises his technical terms. This collection of quotes does not lay claim to completeness; the dictionary aims to offer representative samples of Peirce’s terminological definitions. It is intended to serve as an aid for researchers and students. All quotes are associated with sources (such as manuscripts or journal articles) added to the bibliography. Only editors and contributors may add and edit the contents; but all registered users may add comments (such as suggestions for new quotes and corrections). The comments are monitored by the site editors, who have the right to remove any inappropriate comments.
The Commens Encyclopedia contains original research articles related to different aspects of the philosophy and life of Peirce. The articles are peer reviewd according to academic standards.
The Commens Bibliography is an open-ended biographical database that contains both primary and secondary Peirce research sources. The bibliography provides the source references for the Commens Dictionary. All registered users can add records to the bibliography as long as the entries relate to Peirce studies in some manner. The bibliography is supervised by the site editors, who have the right to remove any inappropriate entries.