We know a lot more about the epistemology of the net at the time the present summary is being written (January 1997) than we did two years ago when the topic of this collaboration was decided upon. In part, this increase in knowledge is a consequence of the tremendous development of the net itself; in part, however, it is a consequence of our own series of exchanges. I would like, therefore, to say that the project had a positive outcome; but to say this would be misleading.
It would be misleading, first, because in conceptual terms our results are mainly negative. We have reached important results as to how not to address the problem of knowledge on the net; and as to what that problem is not. But we were not successful in finding new, positive, concepts. And I think I know now that here we were condemned from the start to failure.
Secondly, the outcome was negative in the sense that an electronic discussion did not actually emerge. This is the reason for my using the circumlocution ``a series of exchanges.'' Of course we employed e-mail and mailing lists; of course texts were there in a digitized form, and available instantaneously. But the topic for discussion I had originally proposed - a conventional philosophical topic - was just not fit to be discussed in a networked environment. Certainly there is room - or should we say time? - for philosophy on the net. Indeed the net needs its philosophers. But they, and their problems, belong to a world entirely different from the world of philosophy as we knew it. This, I suggest, is the main lesson we have learned from this project.
And here is how it began, with a text I mailed to the ``mii-ckcn'' list in January 1996: