Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Podcasts :) and marking ;( ::

Well, not only is the marathon read finished, but the podcasts have begun the system is working happily uploading a chapter a day (today chapter 3 of Mark), at least till the end of Mark's gospel, by which stage hopefully we'll have Genesis ready.

We had a planning meeting this morning and are hoping to start a hear the whole Bible in a year podcast on Jan 1st 2006. Just in time for your New Year's Resolutions...

But for now I am in full marking crisis mode, except when I take time out to polish the article for Melbourne or try to "finish" Amos...

PS: there are photos of the broadcasters off the project blog at, I told you it was ordinary people reading ;)

Monday, October 24, 2005
Bible broadcast finished (early!) ::

The weekend went well, only a few small technical hitches, we even finished ahead of schedule... More news later when I'm rested. Must fix up the podcasts for the next few days...

As some of you have commented most of the readers did well, and hearing such a range of readers is great, it really will be "everybody's Bible"!

Give thanks to God, and also to all the 300+ volunteers who made the broadcast, and to the organisations that made it possible...

Friday, October 21, 2005
10 hours into the Bible ::

We've been reading for 10 hours, we're into Deuteronomy. We've already had over 30 different readers, children and pensioners, radio presenters and journalists as well as pastors and lawyers, and lots of varied accents... We could still do with more Pacific, Maori, Indian and Asian voices though... We want this to sound like "everybody's Bible". To listen go to and click the link that will open it in your media player.

Open Office 2.0 released ::

For a while we've known it would be soon, but now it's here, Open Office 2.0. I haven't had the opportunity to download and try it (yet :) but the list of "what's new" looks good:
New Interface

...The introduction of multi-pane views, floating toolbars and native desktop integration in all modules, provides a familiar interface and a great deal of flexibility in how the user can interact with the application. Of course, provides for extensive customisation of the menus, toolbars and shortcuts to suit the particular needs of any user.

Database Module ( Base)

This release sees the debut of Base, a database module capable of creating self-contained, portable and cross-platform database applications....

Any database application developed in using this database platform is immediately portable to users on any operating system supported by the office suite.

OpenDocument Format 2.0 is the first open source office suite to offer full support for the OpenDocument format, an XML file format specification suitable for office applications including text, spreadsheets, charts, and graphical documents...

Enhanced PDF Export

...The PDF export now gives greater control over the quality and size of PDFs generated as well as providing support for links, indexes, forms, thumbnails and presentation transition effects.


XForms are now much easier to create, edit and use, thanks to their complete integration inside XForms support is important as this represents one more steps in the direction of more interactivity and connectivity inside documents. definitely leads in this direction and does this in by supporting standards, freedom and openness. XForms is the standard for web forms defined by the W3C consortium (, the body defining the web standards.

Improvements to Calc (Spreadsheet)


Significant improvements have been made in the functionality of proprietary office suite filters, allowing for improved compatibility between office applications, including Microsoft Office...

Word Count
...has now been extended to include advanced information including a count of selected words and characters. This feature has now been moved to a more accessible location.
I'm getting a new laptop soon, I think I may well ditch MS Office completely this time. Hurray! If only there was an Open Source web editor that was a patch on Dreamweaver...

Bible broadcast and podcasts start today ::

In just under three hours we'll start the Bible broadcast, and all being well some 70 hours later we'll finish... Last night we set up and checked the equipment and all working well. We've taken over my office as admin, George's office (he's working at home today) as recording booth and the "reception area"/corridor outside as control room. We'll grab a couch for the welcomer by the door... so in 2hrs and 45 minutes do log on to and tell me what you think... The live feed will be at mms://

Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Neil Gaiman, Copyright and making a living ::

Stephen Garner, source of so many stimulating ideas, pointed me to this gem of a discussion from Neil Gaiman's Journal. The section is untitled, so I'll call it the "Neil Gaiman and iPod ethics" entry:
Last week I got an ipod nano. After putting some music on the ipod, I checked out Anansi Boys from my library and copied the audio book CDs onto my ipod. I have been listening to the book as I go about my day. However, I feel guilty, as if I have ripped you off somehow. Is it okay to copy library versions of your books onto my ipod? Have I broken the law?

Thanks in advance for either slapping my wrist or easing my guilty conscience.


What a wonderful ethical question. I feel almost rabbinical pondering it. No, I don't believe you've broken any law. If you'd checked out the MP3 CD from your library you'd be expected to put it onto your iPod, after all. There's a weird sort of ethical fogginess, in that I suspect that part of the idea of libraries is that when you're done with something you return it, and of course once you have your MP3 on your computer and iPod you can keep it forever. But I think this is just one of those places where changes in technology move faster than the rules.

If you're listening to it, and you've got an iPod or suchlike MP3 player, you're almost definitely going to listen to it on your iPod. That's how things are, and it's a good thing (it's why I got Harper Collins to release American Gods and Anansi Boys on MP3 CD, after all).

Probably wisest not to pull it off your iPod and give it to other people, though. Let them at least take it out of the library themselves.
It's lovely, and generous, I think it deals with the ethical issues pretty well, but it doesn't solve the systemic problem of how producers of such cultural artifacts get paid in the new world...

I'd like to believe that decency, of the sort both Neil and Jeanne display in this conversation holds the answer, but I believe in Sin... People have a deeprooted tendency to act wrongly, just as we have deep in us a desire to act decently. Economics does not seem often to bring out the decent! I can only see two answers, micropayments or advertising. And I hate living in a world of the ubiquitous sales pitch, but that's what the Internet is becoming :(

Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Who is a Biblioblogger? ::

Phil Harland has a post "Mark Goodacre on the "God-blogging" phenomenon and academic blogs" responding to Mark's (now famous) "What would Jesus blog?"

Phil makes a neat clear distinction between Biblioblogs and Godblogs, and says
Perhaps the term biblioblogs is most appropriate only to the latter in cases where the focus is on historical study of biblical writings or cognate areas.
Such neat clear distinctions are dangerous, I like them not!

I teach Hebrew Bible, in both a state university and a church seminary, I blog. Sometimes I blog about the Hebrew Bible (am I a biblioblogger?)

Often I blog about teaching or studying the Hebrew Bible (so am I a real biblioblogger?)

I am also a Christian, I sometimes blog about this aspect of my life (help, I'm not a biblioblogger, I must be a Godblogger... and I missed the con...).

No, such distinctions are daft. Biblioblogger is simply a convenient name for a bunch of bloggers who read each other's stuff and comment on it! It's a club, so please don't make membership TOO restrictive...
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Distance Learning for all ::

Several conversations recently have me thinking about the way in my Carey teaching we blend distance and onsite classes. Instead of teaching the two groups of students as if they were two classes I seek to integrate them as much as possible. E.g. getting onsite students (as well as distant ones) to participate in online discussion).

Stephen pointed me to a post on the interestingly titled Abelard's Ghost blog: "All Learning is Distance Learning".

The author says things with which I pretty much agree, (though why would one wish to be identified with an adulterer even if he was a brilliant one... I think I'd rather be Anselm's ghost... now there's a new meme we could try which dead theologian would you like to be, and why...) I'd add a couple of things off the top of my head:
  1. the chance to think (even if seldom used much, and even if most posts do not read as if they are the result of reflection) before shooting off diminishes the knee jerk response and increases real learning
  2. the opportunity to have more diversity of context (in my class a missionary in Asia) facilitates learning, it is not only the teacher saying things (teachers want to change you) but a fellow student too (and their experiences are real, the teacher's were years ago, since then they have lived in a smooth ivory tower;)
Can lead to real deep change and learning.

Monday, October 17, 2005
CARG Biblioblogging session @ SBL ::

Way back (last month) Ralph, as sacred rivers do, reminded us of passing time, and the pressing need to consider the question: "What should we talk about?", at the time (if my forgettory does not lie) Rico(the blog) provided a reading list (not the "Random books from my library - The Strip-Built Sea Kayak: Three Rugged, Beautiful Boats You Can Build by Nick Schade." one) with the title "More Thoughts on CARG Biblioblogging Session".

Now Mark G chimes in with a question about God-blogging: "What would Jesus blog?" suggesting that at least one of the things we might do is discuss the content of the genre biblioblog. I agree with these (and any other worthy gentlemen overlooked - shame on the above mentioned forgettory, and I do remember an exchange on why there are so few female bibliobloggers...) suggestions, but suspect that a prior question is: What's the use of blogging to a biblical scholar? or Why bother? Because if we can't answer that one we might as well all stay home, and carry on blogging...

(Would we then be "blogging a dead horse"?)
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SBL and Print on Demand (and the long tail) ::

Bob Buller, tactful and polite as always reminds me that SBL is dedicated to keeping that long tail of work available through print on demand. (I apologise for forgetting/not having really noticed, and then shooting my mouth off again! And "reprint" below his email so that any reader who might be wishing they could use an out of print work with a class is aware of the possibilities. I've been an SBL member - with a short break while I changed continents - since the early 80s, and I am often proud of how the society opperates, this is such an occasion.)

Here is Bob's mail:

Hi Tim,

The press of work has kept me from continuing our discussion re copyright, but my brain hasn't stopped reflecting on it. I hope to collect further thoughts (or at least questions) at some point in the not-too-distant future.

I'm writing this morning re your post on the cost of books and the strategy of using POD to keep reasonably priced backlist books in print. I agree with nearly everything you write. In fact, the SBL is committed to using POD as extensively as possible in order to operate efficiently and thus keep our prices as low as they can be. Currently we have approximately 125 backlist titles that have been moved to POD. Some of these titles were out of print but have become available again via POD; others would have gone out of print in former days but will remain in print (in perpetuity) through the use of POD. We are also expanding our efforts in this area: over time, the majority of SBL or Scholars Press books that have long been out of print will be available once again via POD. For example, attendees at the SBL Annual Meeting will be able to purchase (at reasonable prices!) five new reprints from SBLMS:

1. David M. Hay, Glory at the Right Hand: Psalm 110 in Early Christianity, SBLMS 18, $19.95
2. Patrick D. Miller Jr., Sin and Judgment in the Prophets: A Stylistic and Theological Analysis, SBLMS 27, $15.95
3. Jack T. Sanders, Ben Sira and Demotic Wisdom, SBLMS 28, $15.95
4. David L. Petersen, Late Israelite Prophecy: Studies in Deutero-Prophetic Literature and in Chronicles, SBLMS 23, $14.95
5. Charles H. Talbert, Literary Patterns, Theological Themes and the Genre of Luke-Acts, SBLMS 20, $17.95

This is but the tip of the iceberg. We have many more OP titles in process and plan to work systematically through each series so that, as much as possible, our entire backlist of classic and important works is once again available.

Further, we recently signed an agreement with Brill giving us the right to publish paperback editions of ten Brill titles each year. If all goes as hoped, we will have the following available at the Annual Meeting (or at least shortly thereafter):

1. Albert I. Baumgarten, The Flourishing of Jewish Sects in the Maccabean Era: An Interpretation, JSJSup, $29.95
2. Peder Borgen, Philo of Alexandria, An Exegete for His Time, NovTSup, $35.95
3. Louis H. Feldman, Studies in Josephus' Rewritten Bible, JSJSup, $49.95
4. John T. Fitzgerald, Thomas H. Olbricht, and L. Michael White, eds., Early Christianity and Classical Culture: Comparative Studies in Honor of Abraham J. Malherbe, NovTSup, $49.95
5. Alison Lo, Job 28 as Rhetoric: An Analysis of Job 28 in the Context of Job 22-31, VTSup, $29.95
6. Johannes C. de Moor, ed., The Elusive Prophet, OtSt, $27.95
7. Gregory E. Sterling, Historiography and Self-Definition: Josephos, Luke-Acts and Apologetic Historiography, NovTSup, $49.95

Finally, we are also expanding our efforts to include titles not published by SBL (or Brill). That is, we are interested in reprinting classic, important, or useful works originally published by someone other than the SBL and now out of print. We have just begun to solicit reprint requests and invite anyone to make recommendations to us ( Is there an out-of-print title you would like to use as a classroom text? Tell us. Perhaps readers know of impportant monographs or resources that need to be available once again. If so, let us know. Of course, reprinting titles not originally published by the SBL involves rights issues, but in most cases these can be resolved without too much difficulty.

In sum, the SBL agrees with your perspective on using POD to keep titles available at a reasonable price. A good deal of work lies before us, but we are committed to doing all that we can to make use of this important new technology in the service of the guild.

PS, if like me you've forgotten this the SBL catalogue is available (as PDF) from this page

Sunday, October 16, 2005
Oriental Institute and Open Scholarship ::

In the light of the post below on Brill and monographs I was excited to catch up, thanks to Peter Suber's comprehensive Open Access News that the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago is committed to open access publishing. They say:
Starting in 2005, the Oriental Institute is committed to digitizing all of its publications and making them available online, without charge. The minimum for each volume, old and new, current and forthcoming, will be a Portable Document Format (PDF) version following current resolution standards. New publications will appear online at or near the same time they appear in print. Older publications will be processed as time and funding permits.
Great! This is wonderful news, now I wonder how they are funding the initiative...
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Publishing and the death-throes of the monograph ::

The redoubtable Jim West takes notice of Brill's magnificent sale. He comments on Ben H.L. van Gessel's Onomasticon of the Hittite Pantheon Parts One & Two which have a generous discount of over 40% (actually it's part three that is the real bargain if you need it to complete the set, it has a 55% discount - though it will still knock you back 50 euros or US$65)! Jim ungenerously complains at this largesse, or rather takes the opportunity to slam Brill's excessive pricing, asking (rhetorically one hopes in view of Jim's attitude to the trade in cultural artifacts ;):
Does it come with actual artifacts taped to the back cover or something?
It's publishing, Jim, as the early 21st century knows it! Since almost no reputable academic publisher has adopted print on demand, they have to print a "run", for a book like the Hittite Onomasticon they will only sell a few copies, so each must cost a lot.

Up to now libraries have gone along, but increasingly they can't... There is a whole literature out there indicating that the traditional monograph is a dinosaur in the age of mammals...

So, what we need is an academic publisher who breaks the system, using print on demand and a long backlist, to make publication of obscure monographs economic again... (The long backlist would allow, through PoD, a continued income from the dribble of orders that traditional print-once-sell-or-stockpile model does not allow.) This backlist would subsidise the current titles, which would serve as a loss-leader!

Now, having solved the problems of academic publishing, who has a long backlist of obscure but solid scholarship? Hey, Brill does! Come to think of it, nearer "home" so does SBL/Scholar's press, how about it guys?

Friday, October 14, 2005
Radio Interview about Bible Podcasts ::

Radio Rhema, the NZ Christian station will be interviewing me about the PodBible Project, sometime after 3pm today. We made the front page of Challenge Weekly, at least it's front page of the online version, with a full story inside. The rest of the 20,000 bookmarks are going round churches this Sunday so we are getting closer with promoting the Labour Weekend BibleCast... Then we'll have to try to get the ongoing podcasts noticed...

Steve Taylor : Out of Bounds Church - Making a living on the Internet and a txtPod?

I met Steve Taylor for coffee yesterday, it's always fun talking with Steve. Conversation usually ranges wide and far. Yesterday we began with his new book (just launched belatedly here in NZ on Wednesday, how come the launch in Melbourne was before here;) at $25 (US16.99) it's well priced, I haven't had time to read it yet, but it looks good, with sidebars and pictures. I expect I'll take it on the planes to SBL...

One topic Steve and I often return to is "how does anyone make a decent income from publishing on the web". Though we basically agree, we come at the question from opposite ends. I love the way the Internet allows me to "talk" to loads of people, by nature and nurture I am a teacher and love communicating ideas (incidentally the Amos Commentary has broken the 1,000 visitors ["distinct hosts"] a day mark, that's over 10,000 successful requests each day, making it surely the most consulted commentary on Amos ever ;) Steve is a Church-planter (turned pastor and teacher) and he sees more clearly the need to pay for the time taken preparing resources. We bemoaned the lack of a decent "business model" for web publishing. Steve might try adverts, for the commentary series we may try sales of citable editions...

However, maybe David Carr's dream (in the NY Times no less) of the future of newspapers could provide the answer... Carr argues that as the iPod is reviving the music industry with a new 99c/tune business model, and the dreaded digital (so copyable) DVD has allowed Hollywood to profit from the back catalogue (the long tail effect...) so a txtPod (not his term, I hereby lay claim to the name ;) could revive the sagging business of newspaper publishing!

Carr writes:
Print's anachronisms, whether it is the last-mile delivery, the slaying of forests, or the sale of thick packages that most consumers use only small slices of, make change inevitable once a better answer is available.

Consider if the line between the Web and print matter were erased by a device for data consumption, not data entry - all screen, no baggage - that was uplinked and updated constantly: a digital player for the eyes, with an iTunes-like array of content available at a ubiquitous volume and a low, digestible price.
If the "low digestible price" for data to a txtPod could help the print publisher it could also help Steve and me, at least as long as the txtPod can also present pictures and sounds... And Ben Vershbow at if:book thinks it will have to:
The thing is, online reading is quite different from print reading. There's a lot of hopping around, a lot of digression. Any new hardware that would seek to tempt people to convert from paper would have to be able to surf the web. With wireless networks and mobile web, this feature would not go un-used (the new Sony PSP portable gaming device has a web browser).
So, maybe, just maybe, Jakob Nielsen's fabled "Year of the Micropayment" is just around the corner, a glimmer in Steve Jobs' eye...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Silly season ::

The end of year silly season started early this year! In the southern hemisphere, where end of year, end of academic year, Christmas, and summer holidays all come together in a tidal wave of busyness each year the craziness of such timing hits home. This year it all seems to have started earlier, that's why I haven't blogged for nearly a fortnight. As well as the usual run up to the end of the year, there's been family stuff, trying to finish Amos, and putting the finishing touches to the Colloquium issue on "Virtual Theology". And then of course, for this glutton for punishment who never learns from past mistakes we added the Bible Podcasts!

Amid all the rush one highlight, a gem of a student essay, a stage three student wrote a clear A+ essay presenting and critiquing Yvonne Sherwood's article "Darke Texts Needs Notes: On Prophetic Prophecy, John Donne and the Baroque." (JSOT 27.1, 2002, 47-74). However, not just an A+ job, but she took Sherwood's ideas and applied or tested them on other texts. Beautiful! I hope she will write it up a bit more over the summer and submit it somewhere, she (the student) does not think she wants to do it for a Master's thesis later...

One of those moments teachers live for!

Saturday, October 01, 2005
BibleCast & PodBible bookmarks ::

While I was busy at meetings all day yesterday, my Melissa and Peter finalised the bookmarks and got the design sent off to the printers. They look great, see!

SBL Biblioblogger session ::

Help, it's the busiest time of year, the end of the academic year here (as well as end of the second semester with loads of marking) add on that 31st Dec this year is the cut off for publications that count for the Performance Based Research Funding round (a six yearly review!) and I am trying to get Amos "finished" in time... and now all the others have begun discussing what we might talk about for the SBL Biblioblogger session!

I like the question about why there are so few female bibliobloggers, but since the panel is male personally I'd rule that out unless we can coopt the women in the session!

The role of blogs in open projects is dear to my heart...

The use of blogs to preview ideas is also an interesting one to talk about...

But for the next few weeks I'll be mainly reactive and not blogging often (except in that ten minutes, I MUST show you the cool bookmarks we have just sent to the printers for the BibleCast and for PodBible ;)...

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