Sunday, July 31, 2005
SBL Presentations ::

Since others are advertising their papers for SBL let me join the crowd. I'm involved in two sessions.

The Biblioblogger one as a panelist - and if you are going to SBL you already marked that CARG session, right?

The other session is S20-123 National Association of Professors of Hebrew
on the same day 20th November 4:00PM to 6:45PM

Before you all switch off, every paper (except the last) seems to deal with online or electronic stuff, though for some like mine that is not visible from the title. I'll be talking about our collaborative, online, mix-your-own Biblical Hebrew Vocabularies project...

Theme: Adult Learning Styles and Hebrew Teaching

Pamela Scalise, Fuller Theological Seminary, Presiding

Victoria Hoffer, Yale University Biblical Hebew Teaching (30 min)

Tim Bulkeley, University of Auckland Biblical Hebrew Vocabularies (30 min)

Joel Harlow, Reformed Theological Seminary, Virtual Campus
Principles of Adult Learning as Guides for the Successful Design and Delivery of First Year Hebrew Online
(30 min)

Paul Overland, Ashland Theological Seminary Communicative Language Teaching: Second Language Methods for Ancient Language Acquisition (30 min)

Discussion (45 min)

Saturday, July 30, 2005
Registration : Gated Internet : Yahoo Subscriptions ::

Ever since web usability guru Jakob Nielsen's classic Case For Micropayments in January 1998 (still touted in his year-end review for 2002) small content providers have been hoping for the fabled "Year of the Micropayment".

Meanwhile, the big battalions have been turning to subscription services (paid or paid-by-advertising) to pay the bills. International Data Group (IDG) claims to be "the world's leading technology media, research, and event company", so CEO Pat Kenealy is well placed to comment, he's quoted in Wired News last week saying that the Internet is like TV in the 1950s:
In 1955, TV was free," Kenealy said, "and two generations later most people pay for it. There was a built-in reluctance to pay for TV until it got so much better than broadcast. That's what I think will happen with the internet.
Except, as Adam L. Penenberg remarked last year in his Wired News piece What, Me Register? requiring subscriptions (even free ones) goes against the spirit of Internet users. His informal survey showed that
"More than half of respondents admitted they invent some or all of the information they provide to online news sites."
His own alter egos include names like Jed Clampett, Mustang Sally or Freddy Fudbuster.

Quite aside from attempts to avoid carefully "targeted" advertising there's simple inertia working against subscription models, for all but the biggest conglomerate providers. As Corey Welton said in his famous The Balkanisation of Online Media post:
if I find a story, perhaps via Google News or via other methods, and I am continually being required to register…
1) I probably won’t read the article at that site and/or I will find another place to read it,
2) I will begin reading my news from alternate sources on a more permanent basis, or
3) I will just find something else that catches my interest.
If micropayments are unlikely to take off this year (again), and if registration only works well for the largest information providers, Yahoo may have the answer…

Yahoo Subscriptions is a beta service that will search both the open and the "deep web" (paid subscription-only sites). Although currently a wash-out - as this Shore Communications post shows – however, if enough quality content were aggregated through such a service, and if we made one payment to the aggregator for our viewing rather than registering for each source separately, perhaps the free and the paid webs can co-exist, interpenetrate, and even small content providers make a living!

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Sunday, July 24, 2005
Amazon goes user UNfriendly ::

I've been using Amazon as my main book supplier for more years now than I care to remember, about a decade. They've always been convenient, fairly cheap and quick. However, a few days ago I placed an order. Since the last one my Credit Card details have changed. So I typed in the new details. This morning an email to say there is a problem. I enter the details again. Still another email to say there is an unspecified problem. The email comes from a no-reply address. I go onto the Amazon site to look for a helpdesk email address. There's a nice page called "Contact Us" that says:
Explore the topical links on this page for more information on our services and features. If you are unable to find your answer using our Web site's help pages, click the "contact us" link at the bottom of any of the topical pages in this section to e-mail our customer service department. We'll be happy to assist you.
I "explored" but could find nothing to suggest why they are refusing a credit card other US merchants have accepted. So I click the "Contact Us" link. It takes me back to the same page - a timewasting circle!

So, if anyone knows how to get books out of Amazon, or contact them to find out what the problem is, do let me know, otherwise I'll change supplier - I hear Barnes and Noble are not bad...

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Thursday, July 21, 2005
Google maps, open APIs and Bible teaching ::

Both Wayne "Better Maps for Bible versions" and Joe "Google Maps and Bible sites" have posted about the ESV Bible blog's exciting post "The Bible and Google Maps". Basically the ESV Bible Blog people have taken the open API of the new Googlemaps service and used this freedom to create something useful and exciting, the chance of mixing Google Maps with your own data to create interactive maps for biblical teaching online.

Wow! GoogleMaps are such a cool tool, and now there's more (no waiting)!

PS One link shows my home, bach and work, shame it's a wintry day! The other is properly the hill country of Judah, vaguely round Bethlehem and Tekoa...

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Sunday, July 17, 2005
Leviticus Scroll Fragment ::

For those interested in the new text fragment finding, (and who reading a biblioblog isn't, or does not hope more will come to light?) Tyler Williams has a fine and thorough analysis at Codex. (Doubly ironic name for his blog since it deals with a scroll fragment in an electronic text!)

I wonder if he would make this post even more valuable for students by posting again with a description of the processes he used, as an illustration of how paleography works in real life?

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Saturday, July 16, 2005
Multi-layered hypertext ::

Sean Boisen has an interesting post at Blogos Varying Educational Depth in On-line Materials in which, he discusses some of distance education ideas (based on Otto Peters). Of particular interest to me were his comments on how one might differentiate between different levels of treatment of the same topic. He asks:
How can we structure on-line materials to enable learners to explore at varying depths, either a quick glance, a brief look, or a more detailed examination, according to their own interests and needs?
So that a reader being offered a link can choose which depth of coverage they need or want (at this time). Just as in a classroom different students (at different times) will hope for different lengths and depths of response to questions, so readers of an instructional hypertext will hope for different lengths and depths in an explanatory link.

Sean's proposal is to use XML to distinguish
perhaps into a tri-partite division of brief, light, and detailed treatments.
This is very similar to, but slightly more complex than, what we are proposing for the online Bible Dictionary. For that we are envisaging articles that would have both, a short (one or two paragraph) entry, and a fuller one - roughly like a glossary entry and an encyclopedia article. Sean adds to this:
  • another level (perhaps glossary, dictionary and encyclopedia in my print-oriented language)
  • the interesting idea of classifying these levels according to the time required to review the material (5 mins, 20 mins and an hour)
  • the ability for the user to choose which entry to pull up at the time of selecting the link
This strikes me as a really interesting suggestion, inevitably I'd quibble about the details, make the times shorter (2 mins, 10 mins and "longer" – I think the full articles could do with more variability according to the complexity of the material, like the difference between a 10 page and a 30 page Anchor Bible Dictionary article) but other than the detail it describes neatly ideas that I have been working towards.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005
NZ National Repository ::

The National Library of New Zealand has published a DRAFT report Institutional Repositories for the Research Sector which sumarises:
The feasibility study has found that institutional research repositories are viable and practical for the New Zealand research sector and recommends a number of actions to:
* establish a national framework
* support institutional initiatives

In 54 careful but inspiring pages this is worked out in surprising and hopeful detail, even down to the necessary link to PBRF (Performance Based Research Funding the way institutional funding is linked to research performance including publication.)


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Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Best Buy Classical Music ::

Just to show Jim some affection and to cheer him up, I'll also comment on his post "Best Buy and Its Classical Music" both
  • to agree that the "classical" sections of most record stores is weak, and
  • to point him (and you) belatedly to this Best Buy from the BBC - the complete Beethoven Symphonies free! Sadly it was/is a time-limited offer, and we've missed 1-5, but I am busy downloading 6-9. Hurry while stocks last...

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    Comments and community ::

    While I've been away enjoying the SBL International in Singapore, it seems several bibliobloggers have been reduced to turning comments off, because of aggressive commenting (by one individual?). This is really sad, and I think Jim West misses the point in his response to some (somewhat aggressive ;) comments from Ken Ristau.

    Yes, you could "discuss" something I've said by emailing me, yes an email discussion server would allow us to do this with a group of others, but a blog without comments is a bit like a webpage. That is something of it's blogginess has been removed. (And no, Jim, I don't find opening my email client, cutting, pasting and then editing "jwest "at" highland "dot" net" into and email address, and then commenting to you, is quite as easy and natural a way to participate in a community of conversation.

    But, I also quite understand why you have had to turn comments off. When someone is sufficiently antisocial they can disrupt a community. Sad, but true...

    And blogging, if it has any more value than keeping an online diary, has that value in the "community" it creates.

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