Friday, January 02, 2004

Retrospective 2003

I enjoyed reading Stephen Carlson's Hypotyposeis 2003 Retrospective and there are some connections with my own experience. Stephen mentions the problem of "link rot", a term I had not heard before. The problem of link rot is the something I am very conscious of because of the size of The New Testament Gateway which I've run for a few years now. The need to keep those links regularly serviced has made this NTGateway weblog liberating for me. I no longer need to arrange notices of URL changes in my old clunky Logbook but can simply note the changes I have made here, which is much quicker and less boring. Also the blog enables me to link to materials that are too transient to be added on the NT Gateway proper and especially media and journalistic materials.

In fact the blog began as a means of coping with some problems that the NT Gateway was throwing up. I was struggling to keep it as current as I would have liked and there were no obvious locations for smaller scale, transient features to which I would like to have linked. So the blog combines together my old Logbook, the monthly Featured Links section and the Notices sections but at the same time allows me to do loads more. I'm not quite sure why I find blogging so much easier and more enjoyable than all those things, but the fact is that I do.

It has not even occurred to me that it would be an idea to bolt a weblog onto the NTGateway until I read a comment of Jim Davila's that it would be good to see more weblogs in the general area.

An additional advantage, and one I had not realised at the outset, has been the chance to add some of my own short essays or reflections or thoughts. As Stephen rightly points out, this blog is primarily of the "filter" variety, "one in which the writer presents a daily selection of links and other web material that the writer finds interesting". But occasionally I've enjoyed venturing into the "journal" variety too, either to react to something that had been written about me, or to begin to frame some thoughts on a given topic. I share some of Stephen's reticence about publishing my own research in advance on-line and feel this more in this forum than I used to in, say, the email lists. For example, I worked out a lot of my ideas on the Synoptic Problem by engaging with people on Xtalk and Synoptic-L. I don't feel quite so comfortable working out current research ideas here, but perhaps that will change.

As time has gone on I've become less inclined to repeat any informatiion already noted in one of the other weblogs, particularly Hypotyposeis and Paleojudaica, not least because I know that many of the readers of this weblog also read those two (and of course others). But from time to time I can't resist flagging something up too, or I may have a comment to add; or I may have blogged it and only subsequently notice that others have blogged it too. This is just to say that I don't aim for comprehensiveness -- you have to read the other blogs too!

In the four months that the blog has been running, I've developed a few other rules of thumb. One of the most important is to avoid the temptation to be too self-indulgent. I figure that the reason that people read this blog is that they are interested in the academic study of the New Testament; some, I know, share broader interests in related topics like Jesus in film, which happens to be one of my favourites. But I don't assume that my readers will care about others of my interests so I don't write about them. And while I enjoy the more informal style that is at home in a weblog, I try not to allow it to become too chatty or matey. Just occasionally, I add an inappropriate light-hearted comment, repent of it and edit it out at the next posting. On a related matter, I try as far as possible to make the blog accessible to the newcomer. I don't assume that all my readers have been reading it from the beginning, nor do I assume that they all read it every day. So on the whole you won't find language that will look coded to the newcomer, though of course some familiarity with academic study of the New Testament is assumed.

I suppose this exercise itself runs the risk of getting rather self-indulgent, so I'll cease and return to the normal service. Many thanks again for your encouragement, your very helpful feedback and all your contributions.

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