Saturday, November 12, 2005

SBL CARG Biblioblog Session

Now that sounds incomprensible to the outsider, doesn't it? It stands for Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting Computer Assisted Research Section [Group], which has a session on Sunday 21st November on biblioblog, which might loosely be defined as a blog that focuses on the academic study of the Bible and related topics.

Here are the programme details:
Computer Assisted Research
9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Room: Room 411 & 412 - Marriott

Theme: The Pleasures, Pains and Prospects for Biblioblogging

The phenomenon of "blogging", the maintenance of a regular online 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.

Mark Goodacre, University of Birmingham, Presiding

James Davila, University of St. Andrews, Scotland
Enter the BiblioBloggers (20 min)

R.W. Brannan, Logos Bible Software Biblioblog? Annotated bibliography? Or Something in Between?(20 min)

Panel Discussion (80 min):

A.K.M. Adam, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, Panelist
Tim Bulkeley, University of Aukland, Panelist
Stephen Carlson, Fairfax, VA, Panelist
Edward Cook, Cincinnati, OH, Panelist
Torrey Seland, Volda University College, Panelist
James West, Quartz Hill School of Theology, Panelist

The panel discussion is the thing I'd like to spend a little time brainstorming. First off, we will of course discuss issues arising directly from Rick's and Jim's papers. Rick's is already available to read here:

Biblioblog Problems and Solutions: as a Sandbox

and Jim's is forthcoming. But what else? Some brainstorming suggestions:

1. What is a biblioblog and are we bibliobloggers?
The term "biblioblog" originated in a comment made by David Meadows on RogueClassicism and it was gradually, and not without reluctance in some parts, adopted by those Meadows was describing. But what is a biblioblog? Is it a useful term? I am interested here in the variety represented on the panel, not least to get some of AKMA's Random Thoughts, since he has been blogging far longer than anyone else on the panel, but relatively rarely on Biblical Studies related topics. I am also interested to get some of Jim Davila's thoughts, since I regard him as the pioneer in this area. Paleojudaica was unquestionably the direct catalyst for my beginning blogging.

2. Who does it?
I am interested in the mix among the authors of the biblioblogs, from academics (what Americans call "professors"), to graduate students, to pastors, to gifted and enthusiastic independent scholars. Each group is very well represented, and it may account for the success of the biblioblogs, in particular the way that they interact with each other so well.

3. Why do we do it?
Self indulgence? Big-headedness? Altruism? Desire to communicate our scholarship to a wider public? Writing practice? Trying out ideas?

4. What do we think we are doing?
What justifications do we give for blogging?

5. What is our readership, actual and ideal?
I am sure that we all get some kind of feel for our readership through the comments we receive on blog entries, through emails and so on.

6. "Does your wife read your blog?"
As I once asked on a blog entry. In other words, we need to deal with the gender issue: why so few female bloggers. And this might also be the heading to deal with the question of what we blog about. How much personal detail is desirable / acceptable? This is one I often grapple with. In general, I have resisted personal posts, yet found that when I opened my travel diary on coming to North Carolina, I had more comments and enthusiastic responses than ever.

7. Networking and Interaction
How far do we see ourselves as a network, with our own distinctive emphases and interests, but with overlap and complimentarity?

8. How many more biblioblogs?
Just how far can we expand? At what point do we fragment and specialize to the extent that it becomes quite impossible to read everyone's biblioblog? Are we already at that point now? What if everyone blogged?!

9. What about team blogging?
Team blogs are on the rise. Is this the future for biblioblogging? What advantages do the team blogs have over the solitary blog?

Well, they are some of my thoughts about what we could talk about. In my next post, I'd like to pool some useful resources for discussion.

Update (17.08): Jim West comments on Biblical Theology, suggesting a tenth:

10. Can, and should, blogging become a teaching tool alongside classwork, coursework, and supplemental website work?

I must admit to having toyed with the idea of team-blogging as an element in student assignment for a given course, but have never experimented with it. I know others have. I wonder with what results?

(Jim's little extra refers to one of my non-highlights of the week, failing my North Carolina road test. When I told a colleague here, he told me that it didn't make me a bad person. And I would like to point out that I performed brilliantly on the written test. Mind you, it's not that difficult.)

Update (20.21): Joe Weaks comments on the Macintosh Biblioblog.

Update (Sunday, 16.38): Jim West has more on Biblical Theology:
11- Can We As Bibliobloggers contribute to the education of the wider public concerning archaeological discoveries and biblical studies by counteracting the misinformation often found in the Press.

What I mean by this of course is the fact that the news reports concerning "The Birth of Jesus" for instance (a la the dreadful DaVinci nonsense) and the finding of "proof of Goliath" for another offer bibliobloggers the opportunity to debunk the misstatements of the press. It seems to be a pressing need and one that many are simply overlooking.
Update (Sunday, 16.42): Michael Pahl comments in The Stuff of Earth. It's all worth reading, in particular:
How many more biblioblogs? I think there's always room for more blogs, and there are always more readers entering the world of the internet and the blogosphere. I do think, however, that an increase in blogging among academics, especially well-established scholars, would inevitably result in increased specialization and a blogging hierarchy, which would then result in a more well-defined readership among the various blogs. Even now, when I want to access the latest high-quality info and opinion on biblical studies matters, there are only a few blogs I'll go to. I read other blogs because they provide stimulating ideas, or clever commentary, or interesting "personality," or whatever.
Update (Sunday, 19.41): Tim Bulkeley comments on Sansblogue.


Jim said...

responded over on mine.

Joe Weaks said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joe Weaks said...

I've added a few reflections on my blog.

Jim said...

I've thought of an 11th (which means, I think, I need to come up with a 12th now). Blogged it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Prof.
"5. What is our readership, actual and ideal?" Take into consideration those of us who read your blogs but do not post comments. I use "Newzcrawler" as my newsreader. Most of the blogs you have listed in your blog roll are in my reader, and I check them several times a day, they are a treasure trove of information! I also know several fellow undergraduate students that read you blog but have never commented. The best reason I can give you for why not is, like me, they do not feel qualified to do so. In the long run I think you and those bloggers in your blog roll have many more readers than you realize.

"10. Can, and should, blogging become a teaching tool alongside classwork, coursework, and supplemental website work?" You have my vote!

In a similar vein, I would ask "Should blogs become a source of information in research?" I have used two blog entries in a paper I wrote and was called on it because "they are opinion and not reliable source information." I argued that so is every volume of the Word Biblical Commentary opinion of their respective authors. IDK if this questions fits into your panel, but I think it will need to be adressed someday be academia.