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Thursday, March 31, 2005
 
Brash culture marginalises the shy, or I want to be left alone!::

Well, here's an article "Secrets of the Shy" that got me angry. It starts off fine, as the write up of some interesting research:
It's hard to get much lower-tech than the laboratory of psychologist Sam Putnam at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. The equipment here is strictly five-and-dime--soap bubbles, Halloween masks, noisemakers--but the work Putnam is doing is something else entirely. On any given day, the lab bustles with toddlers who come to play with his toys and be observed while they do so. Some of the children rush at the bubbles, delight at the noise toys, squeal with pleasure when a staff member dons a mask. Others stand back, content to observe. Others cry.

Those differences are precisely what Putnam is looking for. What he's studying during his unlikely playdates is that elusive temperamental divide between those of us who thrill to the new and those of us who prefer what we know--those who seek out the unfamiliar and those who retreat into the cozy and safe. It's in that divide, many scientists believe, that the mysteries of shyness may lie.
The next paragraph begins with a description that rings true:
Few things say "forget I'm here" quite so eloquently as the pose of the shy--the averted gaze, the hunched shoulders, the body pivoted away from the crowd.
That's me, and I know that it is some of you, though I know also that some of you are raving extroverts too... Such a spread is part of the wonder and joy of being human. Made in God's own image, but with such surprising variety!

It's the passing phrase: What can be done to treat the problem? that got my goat. The deep-rooted prejudice against the shy shows up in other places too, in phrases like: "Faces aren't the only things working against the shy; their genes may be too. Hey, what's all this against stuff? I like being shy, it's your demands that I act like you that I do not like!

Enough, already! I am fed up with brash, rude, demanding, petulant and oppressive extroverts who want to make me just like them. It's time the shy fought back, we should refuse to be bullied, and demand our rights (though quietly, and if possible anonymously ;) Stop trying to "treat" our "problem", being somewhat reserved is not a problem, preferring deep conversation with a few friends is better than enjoying party noise, not a treatable issue!

I'll go with the conclusion of the article, though, (buried on page three):
As Battaglia puts it: "Shyness is simply a human difference, a variation that can be a form of richness." Scientists studying shyness never tire of pointing out that Abraham Lincoln, Mohandas Gandhi and Nelson Mandela were unusually reserved people and may have achieved far less if they'd been otherwise.
Amen, God made me shy, and I'll thank you brash extroverts to leave me my peace! As the actresses Bette Davis and Marlene Dietrich are reported to have said: "I want to be alone. Though actually maybe Greta Garbo got it right when she corrected the record on her own identification with the phrase:
Garbo once commented, "I never said, 'I want to be alone.' I only said, 'I want to be left alone.' There is all the difference in the world."
PS to all the lovable extroverts I know well, including my wife, this rant does not mean you, it means the system, the culture, that keeps consistently showing bias against us shy folk.


Wednesday, March 30, 2005
 
Automatic translation sadly still SF ::

While I was away over Easter they made me an offer I couldn't refuse:
I'm writing to introduce my new website, www.localtranslation.com. Localtranslation offers a plain white-label translation utility for webmasters to include on their sites for free.
Wow, that'll make life easier for all my non-anglophone readers. Or at least those who speak "French, German, Spanish, Italian and Japanese".

Of course, machine translation is still a developing technology, somewhere about the level of voice recognition 10 years ago is my estimate. As a test of the new service I supplied a paragraph chosen pretty much at random from the Amos commentary, the first from a page about city gates:

In the Ancient Near East city gates were neither merely entrances, nor only used for military protection. As a potentially weak point in the defenses, the gates of Israelite walled cities typically had three chambers giving four sets of "doors" and defended spaces between. The gates of Hazor (left - plan above) and Gezer from the time of Solomon show this triple construction.


This gave the almost comprehensible French:

Dans la ville antique du proche Orient les portes n'étaient ni simplement des entrées, ni seulement utilisé pour la protection militaire. Comme point potentiellement faible dans les défenses, les portes d'Israelite ont muré des villes ont typiquement eu trois chambres donner quatre ensembles d'"portes" et d'espaces défendus entre. Les portes de Hazor (laissé - projetez ci-dessus) et de Gezer dès l'exposition de Solomon cette construction triple.

Which in turn gave as the German the somewhat less than pelucid:

In der für den Militärschutz antiken des Nahen Ostens die Türen waren weder einfach von den Eingängen noch nur benutzt Stadt. Als potentiell schwacher Punkt in den Verteidigungen haben die Türen von Israelite Städte eingemauert gehabt typisch drei Kammern, vier Gesamtheit von "Türen" und von Räumen zu geben, die verteidigt wurden, zwischen. Die Türen von Hazor (gelassen - oben planen Sie) und von Gezer von der Ausstellung von Solomon an diese dreifache Konstruktion.

With a back translation of the totally incomprehensible:

In for the military protection antiken of the Near East the doors were neither simple from the entrances nor only use city. When potentially weak point in the defenses the doors have typically three chambers immured of Israelite of cities had to give four whole of "doors" and from areas to which were defended, between. The doors of Hazor (calmly - above you plan) and of Gezer of the exhibition of Solomon to this three-way construction.

I'm sure that with a bit of selection I could have achieved funnier results, but this is enough to show why I still have problems making any real life use of such services!


Friday, March 25, 2005
 
Bibliotheca Sacra and Lesson in Stature ::

Mark G on NTGateway has added another nuance to discussion of Bibliotheca Sacra and AKMA's "Lesson in Stature" and Stephen C's response "On the Importance of On-line and Open Access to Articles".

Pointing out the puzzling fact that in recent (in student time) years BibSac has hardly been an online journal, while Biblica has!

I wonder if the issue is not so much being online as being accessible? BibSac has been available cheap with a collection of other material in Logos (Libronix) format. How many of AKMA's students had access to that collection? The other issue of accessibility is suggested by Mark:
I'm interested in this discussion because it's not a pattern I am seeing with my own undergraduate students, who do prefer electronic resources over print ones, but tend to be accessing articles listed on the NT Gateway, or which are linked on my reading lists and course materials. This includes things like scholars' homepage reproductions (e.g. Fredriksen, Kloppenborg), but also repositories of on-line articles on given topics like The Paul Page -- I see increasing numbers of students finding sites like the latter their hunting grounds of choice. In other words, their thinking is less journal-based than it is author- and site- based.
This fits the accessibility theme, such selected collections of links are both accessible and convenient. But the link collections that AKMA's students are accessing may not only be his own, other people's course materials and bibliographies (including webliographies) can easily be thrown up by a Google search.

In other words "being online" is not in itself enough, you also have to be found, and online bibliographies - like NTGateway may be one key to that!


Thursday, March 24, 2005
 
Tyndall Tech Presumption ::

Jim devil has entered a voice against change in the discussion (behind his back?) of David I-B's Tyndall Tech. Mark responded concluding:
just that I can't help thinking that someone with divides expertise and enthusiasm could make such a useful contribution to the blogosphere, and my guess is that he would enjoy the interaction that's possible here. But I may be wrong, and I've been presumptuous enough already.
I think both my esteemed colleagues are right! David should keep up the themed email and its regular publication to the web, they offer a really useful resource. But if possible he should get a blog, for more immediate "Hey, this is interesting!" stuff, which might later get incorporated into a TT mailing, perhaps after others have added information to the original idea...

The best of both worlds, and another biblioblogger!


Wednesday, March 23, 2005
 
Guilty as charged (till now anyway;) ::

Someone I was talking to about the idea of an open access Biblical Studies article repository asked the obvious question: "Have you pre- or post-printed your articles, Tim?" The answer, typically for a raging P on the Myers Briggs was "Uh, some...". So I have spent some time putting a few more up (those previously online are already linked from my CV):
Tim Bulkeley, "Hypertext Bible Commentary and Encyclopaedia: a New Zealand-based international electronic publishing project", Stimulus, 2004, 12:3, 43–48

Tim Bulkeley, "Hypertext and Publication in Biblical Studies" SBL Forum http://sbl-site.org/Article.aspx?ArticleId=261], 2004

Tim Bulkeley, "Form, Medium and Function: The Rhetorics and Poetics of Text and Hypertext in Humanities
Publishing
", International Journal of the Book 1, 2003,
317-327

Tim Bulkeley, 'Commentary beyond the Codex: Hypertext and the Art of Biblical Commentary' in Johann
Cook (ed.) Bible and Computer Leiden: Brill, 2002, 641-651


 
When copyright fails ::

Peter Suber at Open Access News has an interesting post on the contracts used by two major Science journals. Although in both cases the author retain copyright of their work, both journals restrict the author's right to submit that work to a repository.

It raises the question of what rights Biblical Scholars retain over their work that is published in journals. If anyone still has a copy of their contract from a recent article, if you let me know the terms I'll prepare a list...

You can either reply by email or via the comments to this post.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005
 
Digital Natives ::

Jason Ohler (a visiting Alaskan digicrat) seems [according to the report in IDG's Computerworld] to have had the usual things to say to the Telecommunication Users Association’'s education conference, more computers, not the 1950s blah, blah, blah...

However, he apparently used the striking phrases "digital natives" and "digital immigrants" to describe the generations (children at school today are native to a digital world, most of their teachers have migrated here!

Actually he "borrowed" the phrases, from Marc Prensky who used them in a fascinating article of the same name in 2001. I love the metaphor, it describes where we live round here, and I resonated to Ohler's comment:
They need a media literacy course. They need to know how to handle this flood of information and to pick out the real information.
Kids may be digital natives, but like many indigenous peoples they are not critical, and here those "older and wiser" have a critical role to play...

Google (fount of all information) points to a critique of Marc Prensky by Martin Owen. Owen claims that "the slogan does not stand up to inspection". However he cites as evidence facts:
* The vast majority of children in advanced economies spend less than 30 minutes a day on computer games. The main demographic for computer games players is in fact 20-35 year-olds.
* The notion of a teenager tied to the phone calling their friends as an illustrative concept pre-dates the mobile phone (see 1960s US sitcoms). Most adults can afford to use voice rather than the cheaper SMS. Also 76% of adults in the UK have mobiles phones - this does not seem to indicate a major generation divide.
* Professional adults actually make more significant use of the different capabilities of ICT than anyone else - think of architects or accountants… or zoologists. Examine sales figures and marketing strategies of any major systems vendor.
* From the US: the highest usage of the internet at home is among 35-44 year-olds (29.2%).
That do not seem to me cogent.

Gamers may be older, in our family that's because the Digital Natives are too busy TXTing and MSNing to bother "playing boring shoot-em-ups". Which to my mind takes care of # two as well.

Professionals who use computers daily for work are not typical of their generation, the kid on MSN is.

I confess to not having a quick easy answer to Owen's last point, though I suspect it's to do with access and the need to "get a life"!


Monday, March 21, 2005
 
The Deinde Kitten and a Biblical Studies Article Repository ::

Stephen C in an update to his post describes Paul Nikkel's dramatic contribution to our conversation about the possibility of a Biblical Studies Open Access Article Repository as letting "a little kitten out of the bag" which is not a bad metaphor, since little kittens can grow up into quite big cats!

In one sense since all we have (for now) is the kitten, there's little point in saying "Go read Paul's announcement!" because one can summarise it fast: he and Danny are working on a system and are negotiating for funding to set up the sort of repository we have been dreaming about. This is really exciting, but understandably they cannot say more till various things are settled...

So, do we wait holding our breath, or do we start in with our wish lists?

I will at least say now that I really hope that they set it up in such a way that it is stable, reliable and protected. Both technically and socially. It is this need for stability etc. that was one of my reasons for proposing that the repository might be an SBL project, but perhaps Paul and Danny have found another way to insure those things. The other main reason for suggesting SBL was to ensure that the repository gained a "critical mass" of articles fast. I'll be interested to hear - in due course - how Deinde plans to address these two concerns...


 
Great News - Greek Lexicon ::

It sounds like great news from Zack, "Improving the Lexicon" sounds like an accurate summary. Carl W. Conrad should be just the person to drive an improved open Lexicon. Separating the gloss (for mouseover convenience) and the lexicon proper would let the lexicon develop into a really useful resource. This is great news, it means that over the coming months and years a great tool should become the centre of even better things.

...And it makes me greener with envy that we can have no such tool for the Hebrew Bible, though the LXX is covered. Since a combination of systems of academic credit (meaning that active professional scholars cannot afford to spend time on producing a morphologically tagged text, now that it has been done once) and economics (meaning that the available text is not available for free use) stand between the world and a ZHubert for the Hebrew Bible, what we need is either a recently retired Hebraist, and ardent amateur, or a generous donor....


 
OA in Biblical studies (on Open Access News) ::

Peter Suber of Open Access News has mentioned our discussion, and points to the large bibliography of data (from Steve Hitchcock at OpCit) that suggest that open access (which post-print allows) increases citation and therefore a scholar's ranking.

Personally I'd hope that Biblical Scholars might see other advantages to Open Access, but if such an appeal to economics and prestige will help...


Sunday, March 20, 2005
 
Biblical Studies Post-print Repository (Hardware Requirements) ::

After the back and forward between Stephen C and I and then AKMA's enthusiastic offer I got a dose of cold water when I chatted with a technical friend. It sounds as if the project would need to plan for a small server cluster if it is to adequately meet the demands of a number of people searching for articles at the same time. I confess to not quite understanding why, I assume it's to do with the need to first search a database and not merely to serve up the articles. So, this may be another reason to look to SBL, who would be in a good position to put up a grant proposal, and who have technical expertise readily available (in the form of Patrick Durusu).

On the positive side there are several good discussions of the available software, e.g. at The Joint [UK] Information Systems Committee (JISC).


 
Digital Divide - $100 laptops and mobile phones ::

The E-slates make sure information is up to date
After the piece from the BBC the other month about a Kenyan School using handhelds to access a central server with digitised textbooks, images, etc. comes a story about MIT's involvement in a project to produce a rugged Internet connected laptop for just $100. Could the digital divide become "merely" a question of education (rather than economics) before too long?


Saturday, March 19, 2005
 
The Funniest Book Ever ::

Well, perhaps not... after all Pratchet and Adams were very funny the first few times too... But over the last few days a Kiwi - Sue Emms - has joined the select company of authors who make me laugh, not chuckle or smile but uproarious laugh out loud, much to Barbara's annoyance!

Sue Emms "dreams big dreams of winning the Man Booker prize - but that's writers for you. They have vivid imaginations." Though she has (and quite rightly too) won prizes. Parrot Parfait is the story of Paula, sister of Mark, owner of a successful café and delightfully insecure human being. The bits of the hilarious story I've recorded for you - it's easier and quicker than typing - are the opening of the book, which tells us quite a bit about Pete (the eponymous Parrot) and Paula (the narrator) and sets the tone for the book, and a scene where Paula he world in tatters has been picked up by the strange hitchhiker "Wolf" and they have been sideswiped by a truck, Paula is trapped in the wreckage and "Wolf" is helping her wait for rescue...

Enjoy, and if you can't enjoy, please have the grace to die quietly somewhere private!


 
Tyndale Tech - time to blog? ::

Mark (NT Gateway) has a good post on the latest Tyndale Tech email, with some useful additions. I'll second his suggestion that David should think seriously about a blog, though I'd see a place still for the regular emailed newsletter as well.

And I'll provide my own correction (to Mark's post not David's email) the link to Tyndale Tech online should be to http://www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/Tyndale/TTech.htm
Not to (http://www.theology.bham.ac.uk/postgrad/external.htm) Birmningham's PhD by distance!


Friday, March 18, 2005
 
Thomas' graduation ::

In case there are any family and friends out there who are interested, for the second time in a year Barbara and I were proud parents at a son's graduation. It's quite different from sitting on the stage as "faculty"...


 
Biblical Studies Online Repository (again) ::

In a comment on a post by Stephen C. that was encouraging about the timeliness of an online Biblical Studies peer-reviewed post-print repository AKMA suggests the Disseminary as the site for the repository. This would be good in many ways, for a start it would begin to provide some critical mass to a project that deserves to grow, but has been languishing. It would also help to ensure that the repository did not risk the sort of creeping commercialism that (the other) Stephen feared in a comment on my post.

However, I still suspect that creating a repository with a high enough proportion of the available material would be easier if an Academic Society with the standing of SBL was the sponsor of the project...


Thursday, March 17, 2005
 
Biblical Studies Online Repository ::

AKMA seems to have started it, with his comment:

Lesson in Stature

Judging from my students’ papers, one of the most prominent journals in the field of biblical studies would be Bibliotheca Sacra, a publication of Dallas Theological Seminary — a source whose theology almost all of Seabury’s students would reject out of hand....

Stephen Carlson took up the issue, pointing to an older post where he reiterated Steve Lawrence (now a 404) research showing that articles that were freely available online got cited more often. Stephen argues:

If you want the benefits of getting your work cited more frequently, it is best to not rely on the fickle business models of journal publishers but put up your own open access, on-line copy of your articles on your own home page (preferably with your own domain-name unless you can predict that where you are now is where you will end your career). Many copyright agreements with journal publishers already permit this.
I can't help wondering if this would be a really good service for "someone" (perhaps SBL) to provide, a stable reliable URL for an online post-print repository of Biblical Studies articles. I know that Mark at NT Gateway does a fine job of keeping up with listing what is available in that field and that the OTGateway tries to do the same, but neither has the searchability and ease of use of a repository.

So, AKMA, Stephen, Mark and all, how about it, could/should we start asking SBL to look at the possibility? Inevitably whether or not to deposit a post-print would be up to each individual, but the "pull" of SBL together with the ease of use of a repository would surely soon achieve a critical mass or critical scholarship!



Thursday, March 10, 2005
 
TNIV at last a sensible evangelical discussion of the thorny debate ::

Well, OK, I am biased, but I am fed up with reading just the usual suspects saying the same old things about the revision of the NIV for today. So it was refreshing to come arcoss Mark D. Roberts sensible and balanced treatment of the translation and pastoral issues - even when I don't agree with him ;)

I confess I am sufficiently heated about the seeming willful ignorance and obscurantism of most of what I find on the objectors side of the argument that I find it difficult to take such a careful and un-rhetorical line as Mark does! Which is why I've never published my little book Not Just a Father. It preaches to the converted...


Wednesday, March 09, 2005
 

Reticulation rocks ::

Sean McGrath with his absurdly titled blog post that led to an intriguing article "Gmail, Technorati, WinFS - cogitating reticulation" pointed me to one of those simple, “obvious” truisms that change the way you think.

Arthur Koestler (The Ghost in the Machine) is widely credited with recognising the complementarity of hierarchy and networking. He called these processes "arborisation" - making tree structures - or hierarchies and "reticulation" - making interconnected networks - or web structures.

Paper and writing technology made hierarchy easy; lists are a natural way to organise thought in the medium of text. By contrast, some have claimed, networking does not seem as easy on paper, indeed Sean seems to think that reticulated thought is less immediate for most people:
If your head works the way most people's heads work, your first port of call in organizing raw information of any form is to put it into a hierarchy.

He goes on to remind his readers that such simple systems soon break down.

There comes a point however, where you find that hierarchies are not enough to capture the rich structure of information. You start to join bits of hierarchies to each other in complex ways.
Actually at this point I disagree, in my folk psychology there are two sorts of people:

  • those who think in lists: who delight in neatly hierarchical information categories – I know, and love, some people whose whole life is organised by lists in diaries and on the backs of old envelopes
  • those who think in webs: disorganised people like me, who as soon as they spot an item of information spot several ways it relates to several other items of information, we are the ones who learn about mind maps” and take to them like sparrows to a newly planted lawn

[Incidentally I’ve another theory, of interest to bibliobloggers, that list people like Greek, while web people take to Hebrew better… But that's another story...]

Either way – whether humans are list people who must reticulate, or whether some are aborializers and some reticulators – organised thought needs both. Text was better at hierarchy, hypertext (or at least the HTML that demonstrates hypertext to most of us) makes webbing more obvious and easy.

BUT organised thought needs both.

And here Sean draws Gmail and the rest into the discussion. And, at last, I understand why there is all the fuss about folksonomies and metadata. And even WinFS ;) Apparently Gmail allows people to classify mail into more than one place at a time. No longer will the good programmers who created Thunderbird force me to decide if Elaine’s message about library acquisitions with the note at the end about a conference in Sydney go under "research", "library", or "Biblical Studies Department" it can go in all three at once!

That’s almost a good enough reason to use webmail! (So if any of you who offered me Gmail accounts still have invitations to spare, at last I might be ready…) Certainly it’s a feature I hope my favourite mail reader emulates, soon, please, please…

But much more importantly, it explains why folksonomies are important, and why I must think some more about how/if we can one day build such ideas into the Hypertext Bible Commentary and Encyclopedia project…



Tuesday, March 08, 2005
 
Constantine (again) ::

I've been meaning to respond to Stephen's comments on my Constantine post (below) but the last couple of days have been hectic, anyway it was just as well because now there are two more responses to the movie to engage with:

Paul Teusner
has an interesting summary of why "Horror movies such as Constantine love to stir up the Catholic religion as a mythology." Paul summarises Catholic mythology as: material, aesthetic, moral, platonic (a nice way to describe the elements that view the other world as the really real) and parable & paradox. Of course, some of these are common to all Christian mythology and interestingly most are also true of Pentecostal thought, perhaps why Holywood is drawn to that world too...

Stephen has an even fuller treatment of the background to the film in comics aimed at an older audience which explore spirituality. His post is especially full of interesting links to follow. I'm sure he's right about the demographic of contemporary comics, I know I am way out of touch, the eighties passed while I was in Kinshasa, with hardly any TV, Radio or recent newspapers... However, I am not quite convinced that the film is aimed at 20-40 somethings, it developed no depth in the character's relationships, focused on plot to the exclusion of character, so my read would still be 17-25 as the target demographic for the film. (As I write that I'm trying to picture the audience, and I admit there were quite a few 30+ faces among the youngsters!)

Paul commented on my claim that the theme of the movie contained the gospel in a nutshell:
No matter how heroic, humans cannot save themselves or others, but that sacrifice and recognition of one’s helpless need can bring redemption.
Would "make preachers' jobs way too easy". I'll just stick by what I said, by "in a nutshell" I don't mean that it contains everything about the gospel, but I do mean that it carries the essential elements!


Friday, March 04, 2005
 
Creative Commons search (beta) ::

Good news Creative Commons (the scheme which provides copyright licenses for people who want to make their work available in various easy to use formats including a simple one for "no commercial use without permission") are developing a search tool that indexes such content. This should make the CC licenses much more useful. Three big cheers!

PS. I really do intend to reflect on Stephen's comments (on my Constantine piece below) which he has now made a full fledged post, but today was just too busy. I also intend to blog a bit about Finker's book, but both will need to wait for a quieter day (tomorrow?)...


 
Orthodox Open Access Torah Studies ::

The (newish) Orthodox publisher Yashar Books has announced and begun to present an interesting Open Access section to their work. There they aim to:
to bring people together to think about and refine ideas. This exciting new project can break down barriers and enable people–from different countries and very different backgrounds–to collaborate in a vital exchange of ideas.
They have begun with three articles.

All power to their elbows! And would that AKMA's Disseminary could show like progress!


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