Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Bibliobloggers @ CARG

On Biblical Theology, Jim West mentions the CARG (Computer Assisted Research Group) session on biblioblogging at the forthcoming Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting. I was asked to put the session together by Kirk Lowery of the CARG. Here are some details as we have them at this stage. First, the blurb:
The phenomenon of "blogging", the maintenance of a regular on-line journal or weblog, has proliferated massively in recent times. As in all areas of life, political, religious, cultural, art, entertainment and media, so too in the area of academic Biblical Studies, the blog is an informative, innovative, up-to-the-minute way of discovering more about the subject, discussing the latest developments, interacting on controversial topics and enjoying the lighter side of the discipline. These "biblioblogs" are now widely consulted by those in the guild, and are contributing something of interest and intelligence. But what is the future of the biblioblogs? What is their scope for development? This session gathers together a panel of pioneers in this area and asks about the pleasures, the pains and the prospects for biblioblogging.
I'm afraid I find that alliteration so difficult to resist! I will be presiding and giving a 5-10 minute introduction to the session; there will then be two main speakers, Jim Davila and Rick Brannan. Rick Brannan's presentation has an abstract as follows: is an attempt at sharpening the focus of a biblioblog. It is one part blog, to allow for the regular random-yet-informed musings that define the popular biblioblogs of the day. It is also one part annotated bibliography, with bibliography content added blog-style, integrated directly in the site RSS feed. This allows the regular addition and annotation of material into the normal flow of the blog. The software that is is a collection of scripts, written in JScript, running on Microsoft's Internet Information Server. The blog and other post data (e.g. bibliography information) is kept in XML. All posts and other entries have different sorts of metadata encoded to allow for future processes to create subject or reference indices of the site material. The structure of is extensible, so other "post types" may be added in the future, allowing to grow and adapt over time. For instance, an "article" post type could be created simply by adding an XML file that defines the structure of the "article" to the proper location on the server. This flexibility will hopefully allow to adjust itself as biblioblogs grow and mature over the next few years.
The remainder of the session will probably revolve around panel discussion featuring in addition to those already mentioned A. K. M. Adam, Tim Bulkeley, Stephen Carlson, Ed Cook, Torrey Seland (hopeful rather than confirmed) and Jim West. More as and when I have it.

Update (Thursday, 13.55): lots of comment on this post, some also relating it to my earlier one on Blogging addiction. Most importantly, see Jim Davila's post on Paleojudaica, which adds what I did not have, Jim's title and abstract, here now reproduced in full for completeness:

The rise of weblogs or "blogs" (basically just web pages produced with software that facilitates frequent updates and allows links to individual posts) as a media and political force has been an important cultural milestone in the last few years. Along with political pundits, hobbyists, diarists, etc., biblical scholars and those in related academic disciplines have also been establishing a niche for themselves in the "Blogosphere." By common consent, or at least in resignation, biblical scholars who blog refer to themselves as "bibliobloggers." As of this writing in the spring of 2005, for the last two years I have operated a blog called PaleoJudaica, which focuses on news and Internet content on ancient Judaism and its historical and linguistic context. Since PaleoJudaica began, there has been a gradual but ultimately geometric increase in the number of biblioblogs. At present I am aware of more than two dozen.

Given the rate at which web-based technology and its effects on our culture are developing, it is difficult to predict more than half a year in advance what aspects of blogging will be of greatest interest at the time of this CARG session. But I plan to share with you some of my experiences with PaleoJudaica and also to describe my work on Qumranica, a blog I have set up for the spring semester of 2005 for a course I am teaching on the Dead Sea Scrolls. I will also discuss some of the uses to which I and other bibliobloggers have put our blogs, such as commenting on and supplementing media stories in our areas of expertise; noting errors (which frequently are rife) in such stories; reporting on scholarly conferences we've attended; sharing our preliminary thoughts on our research; and sometimes providing advance summaries of scholarly work we are publishing.
NB also Stephen Carlson on Hypotyposeis, Ed Cook in Ralph the Sacred River, Jim West in Biblical Theology, Rubén Gómez in Bible Software Review Weblog and Rick Brannan in Ricoblog

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