Saturday, September 11, 2004

What's in a blog @ Bible Software Review Weblog

There's an enjoyable post on Bible Software Review Weblog, enjoyable not least because I found myself in agreement with most of what Rubén Gómez says:

What's in a blog

He is picking up from an article from October 2003 in NetGuideWeb giving hints on what makes a good blog. Some comments on comments:
"Don't worry about who's reading, and just write about what's interesting to you. Don't try to please some external person, just focus on writing about stuff you think is interesting." — Easy to say, and easily done... at the beginning. Later on I've noticed that you tend to take into account the profile of your audience and the feedback you receive. So you end up writing about what you consider interesting and think your readers will appreciate.
Agreed; looking back on a year of blogging, I am pleased by how often feedback has helped me to craft this blog. Sometimes I've even asked a question like "Is it worth my while adding this kind of announcement?" and have had positive feedback saying "yes, please continue" and so on. But otherwise, I avoid being neurotic about content. As long as it touches on the topic of the blog, i.e. the academic study of the New Testament, and I think it worth posting, it goes in.

But these are the comments (on comments) that particularly struck a chord with me:
"The blog should do what you say it's going to do. You want people to come back, to become regular readers, so you need to live up to whatever you promise. If you've set up a tech blog, your readers might be surprised if you start writing long accounts of why your marriage/team/country is going down the drain. Of course, in the process you might pick up some new readers and decide to relaunch the blog." — Now, this I find very relevant! One of the things that turn me off is the fact that otherwise good and useful Biblical Studies weblogs begin to talk about things that have nothing to do, whatsoever, with the stated purpose of the blog. Don't get me wrong. I think it is a perfectly legitimate thing to hold certain political views, sports interests, and what have you. However, I do believe they belong elsewhere, and since it is so easy to set up a personal weblog and vent our opinions there, I think it would be in everybody's interest if we could somehow keep focused. This is not to say, of course, that I don't like personal touches here and there. I, for one, love to know some details about any Tom, Dick and Harry "Blogger", see pictures of them, and so on. We're dealing with people here. And you'll agree with me that Stephen is more important than Hypotyposeis, Mark than NT Gateway, or Jim than Paleojudaica, to name just three of them (forgive me the rest of you!). But the fact remains that I feel I cannot add certain blogs to my blogroll simply because they mix "apples with oranges," and that is kind of frustrating.
I entirely agree with these comments. There is a balance here. For the "professional blog", to use Rubén's term, has a specific, stated academic focus. In the case of this blog, it is the academic study of the New testament. I work on the assumption that the reason that people read this blog is that they are in some way interested in the academic study of the New Testament. I do not assume that readers will be interested in my marriage, my family, my hobbies, my leisure time, my political affiliations and so on. And if they are interested in these things, tough -- they're not going to learn about them, not from here at least! And yet at the same time, it is the case that a blog, even one with a stated professional focus, is a personal product, and, to speak for myself, I don't want this blog to be pompous or dry or over-intense, or any of the other things that academics can lend themselves to. There needs to be a sense of fun, some personal investment, something distinctive and interesting; but my aim, at least, is to avoid letting that descend into self-indulgence. (If you read this blog regularly, you might sometimes spot a post or an element in a post that gets deleted later the same day after I have thought better of it). Anyway, thanks, Rubén, for some interesting thoughts.

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