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Friday, January 11, 2008
  Bottling clouds: or Why I am (still) not a biblioblogger
bottle by etwood
Jim West is seeking your help to imitate the (possibly mythical) legend of king Canute. He wants to hold back the tide of technology. The technology of blogging works by allowing several things - all of them available separately elsewhere, but which in conjunction make the form what it is:
  • the writable web - like a content management system blog software makes it easy to write webpages, and insert them into a working site
  • RSS feeds - allowing a loose "community" of others to read what you write, as you add something new, thus making the system more time dependent than the conventional web but also adding focus and greater sense of "community"
  • links to other blogs - while not an obligatory part of the "system" almost all blogs have a "blogroll" of (some of) the blogs the author(s) read and think "like" their own
  • "conversation" - while comments are not obligatory as a software feature, the genre of "blog" works through a high proportion of material showing interaction between different people about the topic, where the comment feature is not provided (and sometimes when it is) this takes place through linked posts.
clouds over ruapehu by k-girl
So, one of the key features defining blogging is the expanding cloud of witnesses who comment on and link to any particular blog. That cloud (and the metaphor is chosen because it does not suggest a hard-edged neat dividing line), or those clouds (since any blog is likely to be part of more than one community of bloggers), locate the blog. Some blogs are neatly and only part of one cloud. E.g. Mark Goodacre's NT Gateway Weblog (the very name is redolent of this blog's antiquity and therefore authority!) is pretty much surrounded by other blogs that focus on the Bible. Jim's own eponymous blog, however, with its interests in Zwinglism, depravity and other non- or only quasi-biblical topics is probably surrounded by more than one cloud. AKMA's eclectic blog (sorry, Random Thoughts) certainly is.

Jim seeks to define an in-crowd, he does this honestly and exclusively by defining who is "out", while Duane rises to the bait and seeks to enlarge the borders through a Modest Suggestion. Now, if the biblical studies cloud round Abnormal Interests was the same as, or included the biblical studies cloud round Dr Jim West etc. etc... then we could neatly define the biblioblogsphere. But they are not, each writer includes some, but not others of the putative bibliobloggers. The attempt at definition, whether inclusive (Duane) or exclusive (Jim), fails. Or at best only offers an approximate answer, this blog is a bibiloblog with a 65% degree of probability! The technology itself resists the attempt.

The sub-title of this post may be explained by this old post.

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