Cybernetica Mesopotamica

A Balzan Foundation Research Project

II. The website


Giorgio Buccellati – June 2023, August 2023

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Bibliographical status

One reason why websites are not currently understood as proper epistemic systems, as is the case with a printed book, is because of their inherent instability. They typically change at a moment’s notice, and so references to them are always questionable. Even when a note is made as to the date when a given page has been accessed, that particular page or portion of it may no longer be retrievable.

One solution is to keep a record of each change, as in done, e.g., in Wikipedia. This works well with the kind of contents that are constantly in transition, as with a chronicle. But it is cumbersome and confusing for contents that have in themselves a presumption of continuity and durability. In that case, a reference ought to remain immediately accessible at all times, without having to search through a list of updates for the one that is found in a given source.

The other solution is to provide archival versions, a concept that has been explained and applied in our website A Critique of Archaeological Reason, where reference is also made to the analogous concept of ephemeris in astronomy. This approach does warrant a proper bibliographical status, and it is the one we follow.

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Publication stages

As work is in progress on a website, it will typically go through four stages. In each case, the home page of the pertinent website will carry the specific indication indicating at which stage the

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1. Alpha release

In the Alpha stage, the website is in an early stage of development. It may be protected by password if there are some points which, for whatever reason, seem particularly sensitive. But even if publicly accessible, it must not be quoted or linked to.

The home page carries the specific indication that the website is in an alpha stage.

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2. Beta release

In the Beta stage, the website is in a substantial phase of development and internally coherent, but it is still open for additions and corrections, and it has not been reviewed and vetted. It is the equivalent of a pro manuscripto version of an analog publication.

It must be used with the proviso that contents and links may change without notice. Accordingly, it must not be cited.

The home page carries the specific indication that the website is in a beta stage.

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3. Archived version

Once a website is completely finished, it is closed and archived. This means that there will be no substantial changes to it, and that this particular version will always be available as originally published. The version is identified by a sequential number.

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4. Intermediate version

Occasionally, there is a need for an intermediate stage, similar to a reprint for a printed book, where only typos are corrected or very minor changes and additions are introduced. This carries the number of the last archived version, followed a letter of the alphabet. This, too, will remain available at all times.

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Implementation of the archive

A link without the version number, e.g.,, will lead to the latest version, with earlier versions remaining accessible as such. See the following examples (italics refer to versions that are not archived nor are to be archived):

link date leads to current version 2, Alpha release, not to be archived 2021 version 1a, archived 2017 version 1, archived 2015-17 version 1, Beta release, not archived

It may be noted that the use of a lower case letter is similar to the use of a dot followed by a number when indicating new intermediate releases of programs, as with Microsoft Word 1.15, or hardware items, such as with HDMI 2.1a.

The specifics of each new version are described in an archival note relating to that particular version, see for example A161.

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This website

Only “Part One” of this website will be archived as new versions appear.

“Part Two”, on the other hand, will remain open without being archived.

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