Saturday, November 26, 2005

Death of the biblioblog?

(Cartoon courtesy Tyler Williams). Is it time to announce the death of the biblioblog? Tim Bulkeley on Sansblogue (and it was great to hear in the SBL biblioblogging session that it is in fact pronounced "Sonn-blog", French style, and not "Sanz-blog") is resigning from the biblioblogging establishment, with the following thoughts:
. . . By naming we create a group, by discussing who is in (and therefore by implication who is out!) we create exclusivity. This is no longer the spirit of Blogaria, and I regret my phrase at the session about a virtual common-room, because one of the things I've greatly valued about the virtual one (an advantage that all the "real" ones, even those that seek to be more open, fail to realise) is its openness, that you can chat to anyone there.
Meanwhile, Jim Davila has a great general post on Paleojudaica, and he includes the following comments:
For the record (and I really don't think this should need to be said), first, I -- and I'm sure all other "bibliobloggers" -- would welcome more females on the biblioblog-roll and I hope any considering opening a blog will take the plunge. Second, if you (whatever your gender) do start a blog having to do with academic biblical studies, I encourage you to write whatever the heck you want to on it and to make up and follow your own rules, and if one of us tells you to do or not do one thing or another, just take this as well-intended advice that you can follow, modify, or ignore, entirely as it pleases you. That's what I do.
Furthermore, Jim West suggests on Biblical Theology:
I've thought and thought about what Paul said and if I have him correctly, he was simply suggesting that the practice of "naming" can be at the same time an opportunity of "excluding". That is, to be sure, absolutely correct. For us to call ourselves "bibliobloggers", however, is meant not as an excluder (primarily) so much as a simple denominator. We certainly do "exclude" when we name . . . . .
. . . . In the same sense, then, "bibliobloggers" denominate themselves in order to be distinguished in practice from those who are blogging about politics or dogs or smoking or Nintendo or any of the other subjects found in the blog world.
Meanwhile, David Meadows, the originator of the term, has a helpful post on RogueClassicism from which this is an excerpt:
I think you're looking through the wrong end of the telescope guys (and a few gals) ... it's a label we 'outsiders' apply to you ... you needn't apply it to yourselves; kind of like Romans calling Hellenes 'Graeci'. FWIW, I tried to come up with something similar for my Classics colleagues and 'Classicoblogs' simply didn't have the same 'catchiness' as 'Biblioblog' and I suspect it's because I'm an 'insider' in that group (or like to think of myself as same, despite the title of my blog).
On Hypotyposeis, Stephen Carlson writes:
No matter what you call it, there still exists a community of bloggers who like to link to each other and discuss topics that could be discussed at an SBL meeting.
Of course, the key phrase here is "no matter what you call it". I don't think anyone is planning on stopping blogging, so it all comes down to what we call it, indeed whether there is an "it" at all. The fact that there have been discussions about what a biblioblog is, and whether or not individuals even think of themselves as bibliobloggers, shows what a loose confederation we are dealing with here.

I suspect that there is a misapprehension around, and that absent of it, the problem vanishes. In her interesting post, Yasmin Finch writes:
I must just note, all this debate is particularly interesting in light of the relatively relaxed style of blogging; the policing of the biblioblog seems to have a disproportionately high priority.
This is contrary to my own experience and observations. I don't think that there is any "policing" around that I am aware of, certainly none that is direct. Indeed, I would say that "the relatively relaxed style of blogging" also characterizes those writing blogs that focus on academic Biblical Studies.

This is not to say that I did not share some of the concerns voiced by Paul Nikkel in the SBL CARG Biblioblogging section, perhaps not least having seen all nine of us men on the panel that I put together (it's all my fault, you see!), and I think that what surprised me was the extent to which something so ad hoc and evolutionary was potentially coming out wrong. Perhaps it was useful to see the impression that the all white, all male panel created, even if it is true that no one was able to suggest to me others who should have been included on the panel. (Bear in mind that I was asked to put it together in February).

Where I would locate my own concern over the all-white-male pannel of last week's SBL CARG session would not be over the question of "naming", but rather over our problematizing the relative lack of female bibliobloggers. The very act of specifically drawing attention to this can isolate it as a problem that has the unwelcome effect of drawing attention to the gender of every new blogger on the block, who might thereby feel more isolated and self-conscious than they otherwise might have been. All I'd say in my defence as one of those who did problematize this would be that the alternative would have been worse: I dislike the thought of our gathering as an all-male panel and not even showing some concern about the lack of female bloggers in our area.

As an antidote to the entire discussion, Tyler Williams has the great cartoon above on Codex: Blogspot.

As my closing thought, I would say: Write your blog on what you are interested in, and if people want to read it, they will read it, no matter what categories and sub-categories it may be thought to fall under. Blog on what you want to blog on, read blogs on what you want to read, and let the blogosphere continue to evolve and develop in its own unpredictable and unique way.


Loren Rosson III said...

I like your closing thought here, Mark. Well said, and good sense.

crystal said...

Off subject, but Loren, you're the only other person I've met that's read the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant ... leprosy's not a popular subject, I guess :-)

Loren Rosson III said...

Covenant and Avery are great anti-heroes, aren't they?

Alan Bandy said...

Thanks for that great summary of the discussion. I believe that as blogging evolves the lack of female and non-white bloggers will correct itself, just as it has done in the more traditional avenues of biblical studies.