Sunday, November 14, 2010

Just how much do we forget?

In writing my paper for the SBL Ideological Criticism section, reflecting on James Crossley's Jesus in an Age of Terror, I have been shocked to find out just how much I have forgotten.  In order to get a feel for the blogs discussed by Crossley, I went back and re-read lots of blog entries and I was shocked to see just how much I had forgotten.  I am not just talking about blogs that I have paid scant attention to at the time, but also the old favourites, like Jim Davila's Paleojudaica or N. T. Wrong.  The biblioblogs are full of wonderful and fascinating posts and heaps of erudition, and yet the vast majority of the posts vanish from our consciousness extraordinarily quickly.  I am not quite sure whether I find this encouraging or discouraging.  I think it is fantastic that there are so many brilliant posts still out there for us tap into whenever we have the chance, like scholarly diaries of major events in the academic life.  But on another level it troubles me that here we are, busily writing away, for our thoughts to vanish in the wind, making scarcely the most fleeting impact, when all this time we could have been spending more time on books and articles that might actually have some kind of legacy.

8 comments:

allthingsephesians said...

Posts remain searchable through the likes of Google, and so the legacy is in the database for others to stumble upon while researching, which should be a helpful resource.

This reason constitutes why a rarely post, and when I do, the posts are often lengthy and thorough. My readers come from Google searches, and it is neat seeing my posts being referenced long after I have written them.

Ben Byerly said...

I feel the same way sometimes when I do an old-fashioned, comprehensive literature review. Lots of new books seemingly unaware of gems on the same topic from the past.

David Mackinder said...

Ah, Mark, none of us can remember everything, but 'peripheral brains' like Evernote and Zotero can do some of the remembering for us . . .

Philip said...

Hey Mark,

This is what inspired me (in part) to give more attention to podcasting rather than blogging. But forgetfulness applies to that too. The difference is there is not a massive ocean of podcast episodes on early Christianity (or whatever) but there is a vast sea of blog entries on the topic which would be hard to sort through.

May see you at SBL.
Phil

Philip said...

Oh, and I get far more total listeners to each episode (in the end) than I would ever get for a particular blog post. Presumably people actually listen right through once they start an episode, but I don't think many read right through even a short blog entry.

Phil

Bill said...

So blogs may be more like lectures, then. We may forget most of them, but even some of those do still make an impact on our trajectories, don't they?

Chris Weimer said...

@Philip: I am the exact opposite. I wouldn't be able to pay attention long enough to a podcast (and thus I rarely listen to them, nor do I listen to audio books), but I find that I remember things quite well from readings. That's actually my strong suit: I can remember quite a bit of things from a) conversations (the interaction I imagine is the key) and b) written works. Lectures, audio books, podcasts, anything where I'm listening and not interacting (yes, you have to interact with the written material), I forget.

Mark Goodacre said...

Agree with you, Phil, and one of the reasons I really enjoy podcasting. But I also forget what I've said in those, and will probably do so more and more as I go on with the NT Pod.

Chris: the genius of the NT Pod is bite-sized 10-12 minute episodes :)