Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why blog?

Jim West has a forthright post on Blogging: To What End?, partly in response to my post Academic Blogging: Publication, Service or Teaching, itself in response to Stephen Carlson on Hypotyposeis. I have a few quick comments on Jim's post. First, I blog because I enjoy it and I know that some of my readers enjoy it. If I stopped enjoying it, or if my readers stopped enjoying it, I would stop doing it. The question about where to file it in an academic application is, I think, a reasonable one, but one's answer to that question is clearly not the same as one's answer to the question "Why blog?" Indeed, as I said in the recent post, I sometimes reflect that I could have got a lot more done (publications wise) without blogging or doing other web work. But I do that work because I enjoy it.

Second, I think that Jim is unfair to Jim Davila in this post and I would encourage him to rethink those comments.

Third, let me respond directly to the comments about me:
Mark Goodacre has subdivided his blogging life into a strictly ‘professional’ offering and a thoroughly ‘personal’. But again, why? Do the two worlds never intersect? Can any of us really subdivide our lives and compartmentalize them so thoroughly that we have a ‘professional’ and a ‘private’ life? And what does that say about our forthrightness?
The reason that I do this is that I have friends and family and other casual readers who are not interested in academic New Testament scholarship, but who enjoy reading my occasional posts over on The Resident Alien. Likewise, I do not presume that people who come to the NT Blog for material about Biblical scholarship will be interested in life as a British expat, Doctor Who, Abba or whatever else.  Of course the two worlds often intersect, which is why I sometimes cross-refer from one blog to the other. Other bloggers have made other decisions about posting on non-academic issues, and I have no problem with that. Each to his or her own.

The latter part of Jim's post suggests that James Crossley, Roland de Boer and a few others are "examples of honest academics" while a "legion" of others are engaging in dishonesty, hypocrisy and more. I think my own feeling is that the bloggers in our field are an honest bunch and I am sorry to see that Jim apparently thinks otherwise.


AKMA said...

I'm puzzled by Dr West's column. I've been an active biblical scholar for nigh onto twenty years, an active blogger for more than seven years now, and I blog about both biblical and quotidian topics -- yet he not only doesn't mention me in this context, but does not count we on his "complete" list of bibliobloggers.

Up to now I had assumed that he's not interested in my mixture of observations on technology, church life, popular culture, as well as biblical and theological topics -- but if he's chastising people for segregating professional from personal posting, he would presumably acquit me. Hmmmm.

Mark Goodacre said...

I share your puzzlement about the recent post, AKMA.

Jim said...

mark, you were of course included in the 'and others' which i count as honest academics and i apologize if it came across otherwise. my use of your bifurcated blogging habits was merely an illustration of the phenomenon.

akma- i enjoy your blog but by your own admission, which i remember from back in philadelphia, you were puzzled by being included in the panel discussion of biblioblogging since you did not deem yourself such. hence, from thence, i took you at your word and simply never viewed you as such.

Anonymous said...

I think it is valuable when scholars like yourself blog for a couple reasons. One, many of us may read academic books or articles but blogging seems to put a more personable face on academic life. And second, it allows many people from all kinds of perspectives and academic backgrounds to interact with your ideas and see how you respond to different questions. There are so many other scholars or ideas or articles out there that I would not have heard of if it were not for the blogging community.
- Mike Koke

Stephen C. Carlson said...

I think it ought to be up to the individual blogger to establish a concept (or conceit) for the blog.

Jim said...

certainly stephen. but to say it is to suggest that it isn't happening. i think it is. bloggers choose every day whether or not to blog this or that or the other and they also decide whether to keep one eye on the money.

that's their choice. i think it a choice worth questioning. but that doesn't mean i would ever agree to some sort of police action to enforce ethics.

steph said...

Apart from liking Jim alot, one of the things I admire about him is that he always says exactly what he thinks (he is blunt - a typical characteristic of Kiwis and I am always appreciative of others being so too), he is always scrupulously honest and completely fair. Reading his post I can't see anything 'unfair' regarding his view of Jim Davila's blog. He just says it's academic and gives no personal insight or humour. What is wrong with that? Even Jim says he hasn't got a problem with it. It's just an honest observation. I wonder why you suggest he 'reconsiders' his comments?

Mark Goodacre said...

Hi Steph. I made that comment because I thought Jim (West) was a bit rude about Jim (Davila). But if the latter has no problem with what Jim (West) said, then that's OK and I am pleased to hear it. Cheers, Mark

steph said...

Yes, I got both your comments. I didn't think so at all. In fact it could be taken as a compliment as being pure academic reporting. I just felt you might have been being a bit condescending.

Cheers, steph

vhtnguyen.com said...


I just read these blog posts that possibly intersect your two lives (I mean, blogs):

Dr. Who:

And maybe also, Life of Brian: