Miguel Angel is the founder and editor of Filosofia En La Red, a Spanish-language philosophy magazine and website. In this interview, we talk about his experience creating and maintaining a popular philosophy site.
Miguel Angel, thank you so much for being with us today! You are a slightly different guest than who we generally have in interviews, because it’s not a particular philosophical topic that you are an expert on. Rather, it is what you do, and in this, we are colleagues. You are the founder and editor of Filosofia en la Red, a Mexico-based, Spanish-language philosophy site and magazine. Tell us a few words about Filosofia en la Red: how long has the site existed, and what kind of content do you mainly publish?
Andreas, first of all, thank you very much for the invitation, it’s a great honor to have this space to share with you a little, or a lot, about Filosofía en la Red. First of all, I don’t know if I should say that Filosofía en la Red is a site “from Mexico”, since, although it’s true that I spend most of my time here, being conceived as a space on the net, I see it more as “headquarter-less”, a space without a space, a meeting point that finds its magic in virtuality.
Answering your question directly, I can divide Filosofía en la Red into two stages: 2014 and 2020. In the first block, the site was born with the idea of a “collective philosophy blog where a group of authors shared their reflections”, whether they were original or even re-sharing texts previously published in other spaces. During that period, the site was not particularly cherished, and everyone published as they wanted and when they wanted, without control and above all, without my commitment to the project.
Addressing the final part of the question, Filosofía en la Red focuses on three things: divulge, share and generate philosophy.
In 2020 things changed. There was a noise in my mind that made me feel “guilt and responsibility”; I was “responsible for …” without really assuming total responsibility, for different situations. There was then a great moment of introspection and reflection, and that led me to rethink things, train myself in remote work management and leadership, and after much reflection, conclude that I wanted to keep the project alive but “my way”, with my stamp and renouncing my personal brand and my blog, individual projects, to bet on Filosofía en la Red. And look, three years later, although perhaps it was something radical (to say “goodbye” to my individuality) I do not regret it, without that commitment and dedication, Filosofía en la Red would not be where it is now.
Addressing the final part of the question, Filosofía en la Red focuses on three things: divulge, share and generate philosophy. To this end, we publish texts of different kinds every day on the platform: from reflections that borrow from pop culture to give them a philosophical tone, to more “academic” and formal texts. Likewise, we have a Magazine, with which we do more “traditional” philosophy and it aims to be a more informative-academic space.
An online philosophy magazine is not the most common (or promising) of business ideas. What made you come up with the project of creating a philosophy site like that?
Perhaps because I never saw it, neither at the beginning nor now, as a business or as a medium that would give me economic retribution. Filosofía en la Red, in its new stage, is more aligned with my constant impetus to want to share and disseminate knowledge. This is something that I have carried with me since 2008, when I started my personal blog. That space was born because I realized, while studying religious sciences (a mix of theology and philosophy), that access to books and “elevated” information was expensive, so I opted to share everything I was learning on my blog, trying to give back what I was receiving.
Filosofía en la Red is an evolution of my blog’s “desire”. In fact, I put money into making the site and all the tools I use work. But I do all this because I want to and seek to create a space where people can access philosophy without a paywall, without cost, in a “legal” way.
Filosofía en la Red fills my pockets in a way that money can’t: with the satisfaction of reaching many people, and them discovering in philosophy the trigger point to “think and be free”.
Is Filosofia en la Red based on any models, any other sites that you felt were doing something similar in a good way? Or was it entirely your own idea, based on your own design and content preferences?
I think I can say that it’s my idea, although I don’t know how “original” it can be. And in fact, since 2020 it has been evolving – and continues to do so – day by day, drawing from many sources. At first I just intended it to be “a blog” that published every day, but now we are a platform with a Magazine, with a Reference Library, with a Training Academy, with an Annual Congress… I don’t know! Maybe it’s the result of everything and nothing, of that amalgam that is produced in my mind by the impetus and hunger to innovate in giving more content.
You have a lot of content on the site. Just looking at the publication dates, it seems that you post an article almost every day. How much work do you have to put into editing and managing the site? I imagine it must almost be a full-time job.
Maybe that’s the “best kept secret” of my work as CEO-Editor, or the one that no one really notices. It’s true that on rare occasions some people usually support me with text review or some other things, but most of the time, the work falls on me, and although it might sound heavy – and it is – at the same time it’s something you enjoy. As for the total time I dedicate to it per day or per week, I couldn’t tell you for sure, because Filosofía en la Red is so adhered to me that I can almost say that I’m 24/7, as if I have “a little free time” I’m correcting texts, programming, editing, doing things… all my “non-profit” time goes to the platform.
I feel like Superman who from 8am to 4pm has a civilian suit, and when I leave, I open my shirt and underneath it is the other uniform: that of Filosofía en la Red.
Although I go to my job and so on, I feel like Superman who from 8am to 4pm (my work schedule on weekdays) has a civilian suit, and when I leave, I open my shirt and underneath it is the other uniform: that of Filosofía en la Red. Or maybe like a doctor who must be “all the time” alert of his patient. That is undoubtedly part of the success and the impulse that the project gets. As I mentioned at the beginning, when it resurfaced, I did it assuming everything, knowing that for it to work I had to merge and get involved with the project in its entirety, and that’s what I’ve been doing, each day blending in more. I often say a phrase: I am Filosofía en la Red, but Filosofía en la Red is not Miguel Ángel. Maybe that summarizes it a bit.
You also seem to have a great number of contributors and guest authors. Who are your contributors? Where do you find authors to contribute to the magazine? Are these mostly graduate students? Professors? Or does the wider public also contribute articles?
I believe that philosophy should not be elitist and that we can all “do” philosophy, after all, Plato did not need a “degree title” to leave us his dialogues. But beyond that, the authors of Filosofía en la Red cover a broad spectrum. They are divided into two main groups: active and guest authors. The former are men and women, from doctors in philosophy to students, who share a text on the platform every month; on the other hand, guest authors are people who freely and sporadically share their texts and reflections through our contact form. At Filosofía en la Red, closeness is valued, and that’s why 90% of our texts are from active authors, people that I have personally invited, who arrive by consultation or who become part of the team through calls that we make regularly.
Would you say that there is any specific ideological approach that is more heavily represented in your articles? Is Filosofia en la Red, for instance, a more conservative or more progressive site? Do you endorse particular attitudes towards religion, for example, or towards particular religions? Are you discussing modern life and society, and would you say that there is a particular way in which you take sides regarding these topics? Or do you try to represent all directions and political stances equally?
The only ideology I follow is: no hate speeches or incitement to violence; from there, any topic has a place in Filosofía en la Red, no matter how thorny it may be, and even, no matter how much I disagree with it ideologically. I already told you that virtuality is one of our pillars, another one is plurality, and I embrace this with what I answered before: I love the diversity of topics, I don’t believe in filters or specific stances. I do not seek to be conservative or progressive, but simply a plural space for dialogue based, of course, on respect and tolerance towards all people. I love to criticize, and I promote that it is done, but always to ideas, not to people.
The whole project seems very ambitious, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, are there any challenges or difficulties you have encountered along the way, and is there anything that you thought would be easier when you started that has turned out to be more difficult than expected?
Of course, there have been several challenges. On a personal level, the most difficult challenge has been learning to balance it with other aspects of my life. Filosofía en la Red requires a lot of time and effort, and there have been times when I have had to put other things aside to keep going. Also, having the support of the people I love is fundamental because they understand that I often leave them aside to attend to the project, and without that support, it would not be possible.
On a personal level, the most difficult challenge has been learning to balance it with other aspects of my life.
On a technical level, the most immense challenge has probably been keeping up with the rapid pace of technological change. The Internet is constantly evolving, and it is important to keep up with the latest trends and developments. This includes everything from keeping the web design modern and attractive to understanding how best to use social media to reach our audience.
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Finally, the challenge of creating engaging, high-quality content is always present. We want our articles to be informative and thought-provoking, but also accessible to a wide range of readers.
You are also offering an English-language site, as far as I can see, but it does not yet seem to have taken off in a big way. Is it, in your experience, easier to have such a site in Spanish than in English? Is there more of an interested audience for that in Mexico or Latin America than there is among the English-speaking international audiences?
I’m not entirely sure whether the success or lack thereof of the English version is due to the difficulty or not of reaching an English-speaking audience. In my case, although I’m fully committed, translating and managing “two versions” of the site is absorbing for one person. As I tell you, most parts (except for the texts, clearly) depend on me, so I have to try to balance all things, and unfortunately time does not allow me to dedicate myself as I would like to the English version, although it is a project that I do not want to let go because my desire is, sharing with you another of our pillars, that of removing barriers, and language always tends to be an obstacle, on both sides.
I want with the English version to bring the “philosophy made in Spanish” to people who speak English, thus bringing philosophy closer to all people, no matter what language they speak. That is also why we translate texts for the APA and for DP, because I want those who do not speak English to be able to read texts from these wonderful platforms. I believe that the content can be enjoyed equally by both audiences, it is only a matter of making it more accessible to everyone.
You are also publishing a print version of your magazine. Now publishing anything in print nowadays seems quite a difficult undertaking, with all sorts of big print magazines going online only and abandoning print. Do you think that there still is any need for a print publication today? And, more specifically, does the print version of Filosofia en la Red sell well, and to what audiences?
The print version of “Revista Filosofía en la Red” was not created with the intention of knowing how many issues we will sell but rather appeals to a more “romantic” situation of being able, those who want to, authors and readers, to access a physical edition of what they can read for free on the computer. Having a physical edition, therefore, is more about looking for a collectable “poster” than for a business.
Now tell us a bit about yourself. In your CV, I was surprised to discover that, beyond being a philosophy graduate, a decade ago you also studied to be a “Technical Nurse.” What exactly is a technical nurse, and what made you change from that to become a philosopher?
Technical nursing is a step before a degree in nursing, I did it alongside high school. When I took the course, I did it because I was profiling myself for medicine, but there was something that made my life take a Copernican turn. I fell seriously ill when I was already working as a nurse, I was in fact an instrumentalist nurse, and I loved it; during that time of illness, with a not very encouraging diagnosis, I got to know the life and work of Joseph Ratzinger, and I was impressed. I read him, learned more about his work and found out all that can be studied in the humanities, and my life clicked, first to theology (with religious sciences) and then, veering to philosophy.
As employment, you list a government position and Filosofia en la Red. Is the site now profitable enough to count as “employment” for you?
Perhaps it sounds harsh to say it, but “Filosofía en la Red” is a hobby that consumes my life day by day. As I said, it’s not profitable if we want to measure it economically, I put a lot of money into servers, management services, etc., every month, although it’s profitable in what it gives me: it fills the impulse I have to share with others. I can’t categorise it as my second job because it doesn’t make me money, but for me it’s like a startup that’s constantly growing and needs attention; a CEO doesn’t have a job, but rather dedicates his life to it, and that’s what “Filosofía en la Red” is for me now.
Are you also looking towards a more classic, academic career in philosophy, or are you happy being the editor of Filosofia en la Red for the long term? Do you have plans to make the site into a full-time gig?
Of course I would love something a bit classic and academic, I dream of being a university professor, giving lectures and writing some books (although I would have to live on a planet with 30 hours a day), I am studying a master’s degree in philosophy and I already have a PhD outlined, but I’m not entirely sure if at some point I could dedicate myself one hundred percent to a more “academic” plane because unfortunately the humanities are not as lucrative, at least on this side of the globe, as we would all like. And fortunately, for that I have my job that finances “Filosofía en la Red” and my training. I don’t see myself not being the CEO of “Filosofía en la Red”, on the contrary, I see myself in the long term with “Filosofía en la Red” becoming a much larger platform than it is now.
Now let us talk a bit about Mexico, or perhaps Latin America as a whole, if this is possible. We already mentioned Mexican audiences, but your site, being in Spanish, reaches Spanish-language readers all over the world. Do you have the impression that, in terms of content, Spanish-language audiences (or Latin American audiences) respond to different topics than English-speaking or US audiences?
Although there is a large part of the “old school” that still bets on more traditional things, I think that as a whole, at least on “Filosofía en la Red”, more lax things are read: from starting from elements of pop culture to philosophise, to criticising and revealing the diverse social problems that occur not only in Latin America, but also in Spain, as a large part of the authors are Spanish. I think that, to join the trend, there is an increasing attempt to deconstruct philosophy to make it, not more accessible in its essence, but certainly more open to all fields.
What are your next plans with Filosofia en la Red? Where do you plan to take the site from here, and how do you see your personal career in relation to the growth of the site?
The next plan, and the one we are already working on, is to index the Magazine to different repositories. We have an ISSN and have already made the leap to form a scientific committee, now what remains is to maintain a consistency of several editions with the committee to be able to reach that milestone, which will undoubtedly position “Filosofía en la Red” on par with specialised magazines.
Perhaps it sounds harsh to say it, but “Filosofía en la Red” is a hobby that consumes my life day by day.
Not long ago we launched an Academy: an online course platform. We could say that it is now in “beta” (since the content is pure text) but I intend to make more courses, and these will be both in text and video, always seeking, always for free, to bring philosophy closer to everyone.
We have also created an Encyclopaedia, which adds concepts, definitions, biographies, etc., every day; with it, I aim to further expand philosophical dissemination, offering not only reflective articles or essays, but along with the Academy, a training-consultation on any philosophical aspect.
Miguel Angel, thank you for this interview! Since our two sites are cooperating now and we plan to exchange more articles, I am sure that we will see more of you in Daily Philosophy in the future. It was a pleasure to have you here, and I wish you a lot of success with Filosofia en la Red!
Thank you very much for the opportunity and the space, and I hope that together, Daily Philosophy and “Filosofía en la Red”, we will leave an indelible mark on the dissemination of philosophy on the web.
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Miguel Angel has a degree in Philosophy and is the founder and editor of Filosofia En La Red, a Spanish-language philosophy magazine and website.