Sunday, November 20, 2005

SBL Sunday morning

Alas, I only managed three and a half hours' sleep; I have a terrible habit of filling my schedule so full that in the end it's the sleep has has to be sacrificed, and I regretted it today. As I got up for my breakfast meeting, I felt pretty rough and felt that way all day, but managed to perk up tonight. Managed to summon up enough energy to chair a session this morning and to present a paper this afternoon, but I found neither easy. I am making a resolution that next year I will have at least one morning when I don't have to get up at 6. OK, personal whinge over; time to give my reflections on the day.

After my breakfast meeting (in a pretty posh restaurant called Soles, normally a seafood place), I went to the Computer Assisted Research Section for our much blogged-about session on The Pains, the Pleasures and the Prospects for Biblioblogging. I was asked to put the panel together for this last spring, and the personnel will be familiar to many of my readers. I gave a short introduction, and then Jim Davila presented his paper. I am delighted to say that although Jim did not jump, or wave, or produce Victor Borge style sounds when he read hyperlinks, he did do a little jump when he told us that he would not be doing any of those things. You can still read his paper on-line. As usual on these occasions, it was presented beautifully. Rick Brannan then presented his paper with a very clear Powerpoint, which made it easy to follow -- and interesting. We then took a couple of minutes while we tried to find enough chairs for all the panel. In addition to Jim and Rick, this was Stephen Carlson, Torrey Seland, Ed Cook, Tim Bulkeley, AKMA, Jim West. Each took five minutes to introduce themselves and teir blog and add some reflections. We then had a discussion amongst ourselves, and I opened up the last 40 minutes to the floor to add their own comments and questions. Rarely have I been to an SBL session with so lively but at the same time so genial a discussion. As it turned out, many of the audience were themselves bloggers, and there were useful contributions from Jo Weaks, Brandon Wason, Paul Nikkel, Chris Heard and many others.

I don't think we broke any new ground and I don't think we discovered anything about blogging that we didn't already know, but it was one of those sessions that transcended that because of the positive vibe. Am I being too upbeat about it all? Perhaps, because Paul Nikkel's question was the one that did give me pause for thought, and several of us discussed it further afterwards, including Yasmin Finch. The gist of the question was the act of defining ourselves as bibliobloggers, discussing what one is, discussing who is in and who is out; all such things are raising some walls around us, creating a community with its own way of behaving. There is some institutionalization of the charismatic routes of our blogging here. The question tapped into some of my concerns about our having an SBL session on this, though in the end the session really served its purpose well, to raise the profile of blogging in the academic context, and to provide a positive and productive forum in which lots of like-minded people were able to come together for the first time in the same place and celebrate the strengths of an activity that we enjoy, and apparently many others benefit from.

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