IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Letters and Scientific Communities




We enter the debate about the possibility of collaboration and of rich exchanges among physically distant individuals by offering a literacy perspective on communication to show how the dimensions of writing enable the development of scientific communities. We illustrate this perspective with an analysis of the correspondences of one philosopher and one scientist – Descartes and Emilie du Chatelet, as well as with a description of one of the most prominent communities of scientists and philosophers in Europe, the Republic of Letters. Our findings show that writing is essential for the expression and exchange of ideas, abstractions, complex thoughts, demonstrations, arguments – in sum, for the entire scientific enterprise. We discuss the implications of the literacy perspective and of our findings for the current understanding of online intellectual communities.

Suggested Citation

  • Metiu, Anca & Fayard, Anne-Laure, 2008. "Letters and Scientific Communities," ESSEC Working Papers DR 08016, ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebg:essewp:dr-08016

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bruce Kogut & Anca Metiu, 2001. "Open-Source Software Development and Distributed Innovation," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 248-264, Summer.
    2. Richard L. Daft & Robert H. Lengel, 1986. "Organizational Information Requirements, Media Richness and Structural Design," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(5), pages 554-571, May.
    3. Bénédicte Vidaillet & V. D'Estaintot & P. Abécassis, 2005. "Introduction," Post-Print hal-00287137, HAL.
    4. Metiu, Anca & Obodaru, Otilia, 2008. "Women's Professional Identity Formation in the Free/Open Source Software Community," ESSEC Working Papers DR 08009, ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Orality and Literacy; Scientific Communities; Online Communities; Letters; Organizational Communication;

    JEL classification:

    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ebg:essewp:dr-08016. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sophie Magnanou). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.