Saturday, August 18, 2007
  How to avoid reading books
Good students avoid reading books. To explain this I need to start by describing how average students read, so you will understand what I mean.

Many of us try to read wrong

The average student faced with a book reads it. They begin at the beginning (or more likely at chapter one - which as we shall see is never the right place to start), and slowly - but only sometimes surely - plough through until with a sigh they finish the chapter. Little information and few ideas are retained, the words have mysteriously passed from eye to brain, only to drain out through the pores of the skin to be join the other lost words in linguistic limbo. Such reading is the next best thing to useless. That is time spent in "uselessness" would have been invested more wisely, for wasted time often pays a surprising dividend, time spent reading this way seldom does!

Having described how one ought not to read books, and hinted at why, let's think about how to avoid reading books. The aim of the smart student is to read as little as possible but gain the maximum intellectual benefit from what one reads.

I've always been a slow reader, I try to cope by "reading smarter".

One way I do this is to "waste time" overviewing something before reading it:

Contents list

Even if it is only chapter titles, this page or two should give you a fair idea of what the book is about and how it is organised - a few moments (1mo is shorter than 1min but much longer than 10secs) spent well on the contents list means you can already make intelligent guesses about where to find what, and even join a conversation about the book without sounding totally stupid.

At this stage, if you glance at the foreword (that's the bit before the first chapter - it often tells you what the author though their book was about, and so is often vital reading!) - and the conclusion (yes like detective stories serious textbooks demand you read the ending early on!) you should be able to write a summary of the book in a few sentences - this is a skill worth practising for when you become a teacher, because then with all that marking you will no longer have the luxury of actually reading books ;-)

Go on, write the summary down! At the very worst you can look back at it later and shake your head over how naive you were before you understood the full complexity of the topic ;-)


Look first at beginnings, endings and headings to try to get an idea of what the each chapter is about and how the different parts fit in.

Then skip through the material, not actually "reading" but reading a bit here and there to firm up your idea of what it is about and where it is going. By now you should be able to join a conversation about the chapter and sound like you read it!

Essential "reading"
: they say a picture is worth 1000 words (1Kw in metric measures), well it is true a well chosen picture is worth 1Kw, though badly chosen pictures are worth-less (however, they are fun to look at, so worth wasting time on ;-) charts, tables and diagrams are usually (even when badly done) worth at least 1Kw - so spend time on them!

The right way to read is much like the way we "read" the newspaper or a magazine!

At this stage you should be able to write a brief summary of the chapter - yes, just like you did for the book earlier.

Important "bits"

Then read carefully the bits that you think matter most. Seldom (using this approach) will you actually "read" all of a chapter, but you will get a good idea of what is in it - often better than if you had scanned each of the words!

I find if I try to read page by page that it goes in my eyes and out my ears. If I try to read that way page after page it is all forgotten five minutes after I scanned the page. Such reading is a waste of time - don't do it!

Sometimes with this scheme you will end up reading nearly everything twice - but it will be a chapter or book that really matters. Sometimes you will end up not reading some pages at all - but you will know where they are if you need them "one day"!

In summary

Do a survey of the book, or chapter (much as suggested above - playing about till you know what it contains, and where things are) then actually read carefully the "bits" that matter to you.

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  Return to Okra
Okra Espresso Lounge was the first of my cafe reviews, back in March (was it only five months ago!?) then we felt it deserved its proudly displayed Metro 2006 award. Much has not changed. It is still:
a narrow fronted corner shop on Sandringham Road. The menu is as narrow as the shop-front...
Someone should tell the kitchen firmly that basil pesto does not enhance delicate flavours like smoked salmon!
My Eggs Royale (poached on toasted bread, with spinach and smoked salmon) came with a "hash brown" actually a mashed potato croquette - but the mash was fresh and lightly spiced (corriander and cumin I think) the frying crisped the outside nicely. Yum.
Today the Eggs Royale (chosen without peeking at the first review - I am SO consistent, about some things!) still come with a potato croquette (alias hash brown) but sadly it was soggy not crisp and the spicy fragrance was heavy handed, worse the eggs and smoked salmon were accompanied by a hefty dose of strong basil and pine nut pesto. I managed to leave most of mine, but the first taste had done its worst to tie my tastebuds into a hammer lock, unready to appreciate the delicacy of eggs and salmon. Though that may have been as well, since the salmon though once cold smoked was cooked through waiting for the eggs to solidify.

So this time: Food: average - poor (Last time "Good")

Coffee: very good but not quite up to the excellent of the last visit (a slight hint of bitterness to the black).

Service: excellent we were asked what we wanted, and assisted as needed (like spotting we needed a third water glass and bringing it).

I suspect this means that in small local cafes the quality of the food and coffee depends a lot on who is on duty when you go. Though the quality of Okra was hinted at today in the service and smoothly running busy little cafe, the food did not deliver.

Okra Espresso Lounge
161 Sandringham Rd
Region: Auckland

Phone: 09 846 6662

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Friday, August 17, 2007
  Online meetings, PDA evangelism and more...
I spent an interesting evening yesterday with Chris (who is helping this year with PodBible - he'll be running a PodBible free lunch on Sunday, so if you are interested in seeing how the brainstorming of Think|Pray|Do ideas works email me and I'll send you details) and a friend of his who does web programming.

He is the guy behind the highly featured rich learning environment Collaboroom, which he briefly demonstrated... I can see so many ways to use such a tool, with shared whiteboard, the ability to present PPT live with audio or video of the presenter, file sharing, chat etc.

He also did the programming for an evangelism tool for PDAs
ProclaimIT "ProclaimIT is a multimedia presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." His problem with both products is similar (and familiar) no one wants to pay for things online, yet he has spent time (for ProclaimIT I guess months, for Collaboroom years) work and needs the income...

We need a different economy unless the cult of the free one day dies online, but after all these years I see no sign of that... but how does one connect the dots?

Dot One: producing software and content takes time - people need to eat, etc...
Dot Two: the culture of the free - we have to somehow operate a gift economy...
Judging by the increasingly hard sales pitches from long term shareware sellers like WinZip shareware does not work. Advertising may, but do we want to live in a 100% commercialised world, were even the gospel comes with advertising!? Maybe the answer is a return to patronage, but wouldn't it be nice if this could somehow be patronage of the masses rather than of the already rich and powerful!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007
  Reviews of Amos: Hypertext Bible Commentary
At last there are a number of reviews available of my Amos: Hypertext Bible Commentary, so I have begun collecting extracts and (where permission is given) the whole of short reviews on a reviews page on the project site. Naturally the extracts are chosen to represent the favourable bits ;-) though since usually this is either the introduction or conclusion this does not seem unfair!

I intend when I have time to reflect (some months away probably - maybe at the start of my sabbatical :) to respond to some of the negative comments and the suggestions reviewers have made. Some of these should lead to significant improvements in the conception of future volumes. That was one reason for sending out review copies of a work that was already available online, to get the academic "system" involved in improving the concept.

So, if you are a reviewer and I have not yet emailed you, expect some contact after the end of this year.

By the way the reviews I am currently aware of are:
  • R.E. Clements in John Day (ed.), Society for Old Testament Study Book List 2007, London: Sage, 2007, 70.
  • Joan Ferrer, Butlletí de l’Associació Bíblica de Catalunya 93: Sept 2006, 56.
  • Knut Holter, BOTSA Electronic Forum [] (2006).
  • James R. Linville, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 69, 2007, 316-318.
  • Ehud Ben Zvi, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2007).
  • International Review of Biblical Studies 52, 2005-2006, 162.
If you know of reviews that I have not listed please let me know!

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Monday, August 13, 2007
  Highlights from "University Publishing in a Digital Age"
The Ithaca University report University Publishing in a Digital Age is a potentially important landmark. Conducted by Laura Brown (former president of OUP USA), and Ithaka’s Strategic Services group, and sponsored financially by Ithaka and JSTOR, it has the potential to be heard by those who control purse strings.

I have only begun to digest it, so intend here simply to quote some of the phrases and ideas that seem to me to be most interesting and important (initially drawn from the "Executive Summary" as representing a distillation of the full content), and sometimes to comment on them. My goal is that those of my readers with an interest Which mainly means academics and students, or others with an interest in the future of academic publishing - which probably ought to mean most of my readers! either are stimulated to read the report for themselves and comment directly, or make comments here. The essential is that this report gets discussed!

Let's start at the beginning:
[u]niversities do not treat the publishing function as an important, mission-centric endeavor. Publishing generally receives little attention from senior leadership at universities and the result has been a scholarly publishing industry that many in the university community find to be increasingly out of step with the important values of the academy.
My take on the first point is that Universities (on the whole with a few, largely historic exceptions) have found presses to be good money-losing opportunities, and have failed to notice that "scaling back" their activity risks stultifying the whole academic scene through the commercialisation of academic publishing. I think my second point comments closely on their final careful phrase!

They note that academics "publish" in two ways, formally and through what they term "grey literature" (an odd phrase since the examples they give are far less grey than the average peer-reviewed monograph! But let's notice with the report what this means:
In the past decade, the range and importance of the latter has been dramatically expanded by information technology, as scholars increasingly turn to preprint servers, blogs, listservs, and institutional repositories, to share their work, ideas, data, opinions, and critiques. These forms of informal publication have become pervasive in the university and college environment. As scholars increasingly rely on these channels to share and find information, the boundaries between formal and informal publication will blur. These changes in the behavior of scholars will require changes in the approaches universities take to all kinds of publishing.
In other words "take your heads out of the sand people, academic publishing is going through a revolution - whether you like it or not", and that for me is the key point, the revolution WILL happen, the only question is who will be left standing afterwards!

What will this revolution look like:
Publishing in the future will look very different than it has looked in the past. Consumption patterns have already changed dramatically, as many scholars have increasingly begun to rely on electronic resources to get information that is useful to their research and teaching. Transformation on the creation and production sides is taking longer, but ultimately may have an even more profound impact on the way scholars work. Publishers have made progress putting their legacy content online, especially with journals. We believe the next stage will be the creation of new formats made possible by digital technologies, ultimately allowing scholars to work in deeply integrated electronic research and publishing environments that will enable real-time dissemination, collaboration, dynamically-updated content, and usage of new media.
Photo by uptick
Yes!PHX 6731

That was the good news. Now for the sting in the tail:
Administrators, librarians and presses each have a role to play (as do scholars, though this report is not directed at them).
Yes, people, this brave new world may be digital and electronic and cool, but lets make sure that scholars do not get their inky hands on the levers of power or horror of horrors learn to take control of their own work. We administrators, along with senior librarians who have learned across the years to "speak our language" are better able to decide the future of academic publishing, so we must make sure scholars do not worry their pointy heads about it. They might rock the boat.... At least I think that's what this sentence means:
Their efforts should be closely and intelligently connected to their campuses’ academic programs and priorities in order to ensure their relevancy and institutional commitment.

Noticed how relevancy and institutional commitment amount to much the same thing?

Oh! Important: yes. Revolutionary: certainly. But really deep down possibly counter-revolutionary... I intend to read more closely over the next few days (marking permitting) so watch this space!

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Sunday, August 12, 2007
  Wicked problems? Can theological teaching change?
Nichthus wrote a long post eulogising Sydney, and the conference he is/was at (I could not really work out what the conference was about ADBC or something, that and "PowerPoint slides break the rules of working memory.") But he began with a mention of ‘wicked problems’ and that wording kept me reading. Which is just as well, since for me the meat of the post was in the tail.

There he presents some ideas for the future of theological education. I think what he presents IS a wicked problem. The things Mark says are common sense and largely accepted in Pedagogy (some of them for decades but most theological educators are not trained teachers, and the structures we work in and our own educational experiences make us subject oriented, and so sadly not (despite our desires) student centred. So I'll repeat Mark's bullets and comment on them, from where I sit. He looks forward to:
Clearly defined student outcomes that focus on the development of the learner rather than content coverage (already a standard feature of instructional design).
The trick is that we need:
  • First: to get acedemics to really accept this, with their heads - many still think (deep deep down) that it IS all about content. Unless this conversion happens we will get no where. Even if this was what teachers were teaching teachers in the 70s. Most theological teachers are NOT teachers!
  • Second: someone to help us to put it into practice - we were taught, and most of us (since thanks to the baby boom after the war, most are frankly old) we have taught for many years, in a content-focused way, so - even when convinced - we need nudging and reminding not to slip back into bad habits.
Assessment tasks that encourage process rather than outcome, and that are flexible enough to permit reference to a variety of real world contexts. Linking students in with their real worlds as the context for theological and exegetical engagement (yes, already an established theme in general educational literature).
Here, many of us already agree in principle, so this task is easier. But again, since we were not taught this way, we need help. It is so much easier to set an essay from the list that old Dr Brown used.
Shifting the classroom and meeting experience from didactic teaching first, conversation and dialogue supplemental to conversation and dialogue first, didactic teaching supplemental (this could be achieved with a national resource-based approach).
From where I sit the key here is the little term "resource-based". The conversation thing is common, dialogue is present (not as often as we'd like, because hierarchical structures oppose it, but it occurs), but no way is current practice resource-based! This depends (I think) on the conversion mentioned above - if theological teachers really accepted that they teach students not subjects, people not content, really really believed that, then resourced-based teaching would be easy to encourage.
Viewing church history and established dogma as a resource, not as the subject. The subject is now, the student context, the today world. We do not need to reinvent; rather, we need to discover how we can make relevant. We must enter the future looking forwards, but still with a sense of continuing the Christian story and writing its current chapters in the context of what has been written before. To ignore theological tradition makes us ignorant and impoverished. To focus solely on it without reference to the current context makes us irrelevant and impotent.
And maybe this is the way into the whole conversion...
We must design with an appreciation of the gradual development of the learner. Yes, level 5 study ought to be more structured and foundational. Yes, levels 6 and 7 should be far more open-ended and conversational. Wisdom must guide our pedagogies. Faith in the Spirit’s work in developing the learner must be apparent.
Though, of course, this is the real key...

....but faith without works is dead ;-)


Related content:

Way back in June AKMA had a post I have been meaning to think more about What Is Theological Education Like? in which he contrasts two sorts of outcome of learning: objective/cognitive and affective/intuitive. Different sorts of endeavour require different mixes of these, so horrifyingly in advance of events he wrote:
In some fields, we expect practitioners to have mastered a field of vitally-important facts. I do not care how my civil engineer feels about cement, steel, and road
surfaces; I care urgently that the overpass stays up while I drive over (or under) it.
He notes the lack of consistency and clarity among people about the goals of theological education, and then writes:
For my part, I take the consequences of “untrue” theological practice as much more grievous than of, let's say, a very unpalatable, vacuous performance routine.
AKMA's position on this is strikingly similar to what Nichthus' writes from a different part odf the theo-ecclessial spectrum:
It’s great to embrace post-modernism and to engage in ‘free-field’ thinking. But we must remember that those participating in such discussion must first have a reliable framework and point of reference. Particularly in theological education, we need to take careful steps to create boundaries for participants. There are some things in evangelical Christianity that we simply must take for granted in a modernistic sense. The resurrection and Lordship of Jesus. The authority of Scripture. Salvation by faith, expressed through works. There is a core cluster of landmarks that we must have in place before embarking on theological dialogue. Novices can drown in an open sea of conversation.
I tend both to agree, and to dissagree! God knows (to quote Oscar Wilde out of context) I am with them in some things. And Mark's list looks about right. And yet... I wonder if even here the passion for truth needs to be preceded by a passion for people... Does conversation and dialogue even here precede understanding of why these truths (whatever list you or I hold as basic) are the ones and not others like them but different. The "why" is perhaps at least as important as the "what"!

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Saturday, August 11, 2007
  Deve: Auckland Cafe review
Deve looks good. The kitchen and bar jut into the cafe at an angle which has the air of being efficient, breaks the seating onto two somewhat separate and so more intimate spaces. The light shades are printed with photos that are also displayed on the wall, an interesting feature and nice touch. The design of the bar shows many "nice touches".

It is not really a breakfast place, so from 9-9:30am we had it almost to ourselves. We both had Spinach Potato Cakes – served with poached eggs and topped with a mustard lime hollandaise and your choice of the following:
Honey cured Bacon: $14.50
Cold Smoked salmon: $15.50
I had salmon and Barbara bacon.

The presentation was superb, a fine looking stack, with a delicate ring of concentrated fruit syrup round the plate and Italian Parsley to decorate the stack. I so much prefer edible garnishes! However, the Spinach Potato Cakes were too ambitious, the moisture from the spinach caused the potato to become a soft mash, little of the nice crisp outside. It would have been better to do hash browns with a layer of spinach. And (at least for the smoked salmon) the fruit syrup did not quite "go" with the delicacy of the salmon, which anyway was half cooked from the hot potato and spinach under it.

So: Food, taste only OK but presentation excellent.

The coffee was fine, Barbara enjoyed the Moccachino, except the chocolate powder had settled Memo to barristas, do NOT assume all customers will add sugar and so stir the mix themselves! to the bottom. My long black was good and strong, made with a dark roast so full of flavour. But looses "points" for making it "long" by simply leaving the cup under the head till it was nearly full. This results in a slightly bitter brew, even if you can't bear to serve the extra water in a little jug - and I imagine a tray of them takes up space behind the bar and in the dishwasher - at least add it after you have brewed the coffee!

Coffee: could do better.

Overall: The food and coffee did not live up to the ambiance and thoughtful touches. Though maybe their most experienced staff are not on to serve the early customers, so maybe someone who has tried them during the rush hour and let me know...

Deve Bar & Brasserie
460 New North Rd
Region: Auckland

Phone: 09-846 9997

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Thursday, August 09, 2007
  Blogging blurs the information lines? A reply
Ruth Porter of Maxim has replied to my piece criticising their post I had argued in my reply "Blogging blurs the information lines?" that
  • blogging is less significant than they proposed - the blog revolution is not on its own a revolution comparable to print!
  • far from "information" being "most valuable commodity today" information alone is nearly worthless today
  • in a digital environment the ability "to test everything and hold fast to what is good" (as 1 Thes 5:21 puts it) is vital
Ruth's reply in an email that I cannot quote (it specifies: "This e-mail and any attachment(s) contains information that is intended to be read only by the named recipient(s). It may contain information that is confidential, proprietary or the subject of legal privilege.") argues that imformation is valuable since profitable industries like the stock exchange and oil companies rely on information to remain profitable.

In reply I wrote:
Ruth,Thanks for the reply, I'd almost (after all this time) begun to think Maxim was not interested in discussion!

Even in the industries you mention it is not so much the information that is valuable as the knowledge of how and when to act on that information. Also the sort of case you cite depends on the information being scarce and under control. If all companies have access to the same information the information is of no value and only the knowledge or wisdom of when and how to act have value. Scarcity and control of information are precisely the areas where digitisation changes the information environment in which we operate!

Since I prefer to conduct such discussions in public I will post this reply (though not your message) to my blog - after all such public review is precisely one of the differences between the blog and old media!

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007
  Bible $2.0
Well, actually for .5% less than that! Yes apparently if you live in the USA you can buy a Bible for less than $2.0. The only catch is that you have to buy 24 of them. But at $47.76 the one you keep for yourself is not over expensive and the 23 you give away might change a life. Especially as these are CEV translation Bibles, nice clear simple English to make the words of the "word" come alive!

CEV is the translation used by PodBible, so all you PodBible listeners from the USA should sign up today and start giving Bibles away to your pastors, teachers and friends asap. (Your pastors and teachers need them so they can start reading from a clear simple easy to understand version, so people stop thinking the Bible is complicated and old fashioned and can start really hearing what it says!)

HT to Lingamish who told me about this great deal!

Bible Society in NZ's sales page seems to be down, does anybody know if there is a similar deal here? Maybe it is the rush of orders that crashed their server ;-)

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  Writing for screen: Time to rethink?
Two articles I read today raise questions about whether we should rethink writing for screen.

Remember how we learned, slowly and painfully, that writing for screen was different from writing for print? On screen people scan rather than read, so terse writing, bullet points and headings are all desirable. They facilitate scanning... We also learned, first that text is fluid on the web, that everyone's browser is different, and also (paradoxically) that it is really important to make sure the essential stuff gets "above the fold". "Fold" is legacy language, from the world of print newspapers, meaning visible on screen without scrolling.

First, The Interaction Designer's Coffee Break cites Milissa Tarquini "Blasting the Myth of the Fold". She presents strong evidence (from AOL) that users do scroll. Then, she discusses the design considerations that allow us to help them - basically letting them know that they are scrolling for. Actually this post though very sensible and based on good research reorganises stuff we knew and hopefully already practice.Reviving Anorexic Web Writing

Then, in "Reviving Anorexic Web Writing" (on classic web-design blog A List Apart) Whose perceptive and hilarious childhood stories you must read! Amber Simmons argues that if we write well then the scanning rules do not apply. This argument needs more thought.

For a start it is not based on research, rather on some evidence and a lot of gut feeling. Then, while it seems clear her claims are true for some web writing. Her own delightful "stories" are a good case in point, one hardly scans them, rather they are read much as one reads a novel (only they are briefer - vignettes). Evidently also many bibliobloggers finest posts are the long ones that encourage real, deep reflection on a topic.

And yet, if a site basically offers information and/or ideas may it not be better to provide them in easy to scan format? If the writing is not the point might bullet-points and brevity still be good? Even better than finely crafted sentences...

Incidentally, and ironically, the image that accompanied Amber's article somewhat undermined her point. though I am still thinking about it - so this is a partial think I think that some writing is better for finely crafted sentences (the quill pen approach) while other writing is better if it provides a targeted dose of information (the syringe)...

Update: I have adapted this post in the light of Stephen's comment below, putting the asides into boxes. Let me know what you think of this "punctuatuion"...

Incidentally, writing this post has reminded me that I need to think about my punctuation - not all the misplaced commas and missing semi-colons, which I know about, but the bigger question of how I punctuate different sorts of parenthesis. I like parentheses, my thinking is a web of very loosely organised parenthetical material. But I need/want to help the reader distinguish parentheses that introduce a new thought (unconnected) from those that explain, or somehow fill out..,. Maybe I should use () for the interruptions and - - for the explanations...

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Saturday, August 04, 2007
  Web 1.8 Beta : Oxford Internet Survey and Web 2.0
Web 2.0 is a convenient shorthand for the way in which a combination of disparate but related elements promise to change the way we "inhabit" the web.

The term is also a horribly overworked cliche, a trite marketing ploy, and annoying enough to cause the imperturbable Nichthus to engage in a long discussion with AKMA and me (by a mix of posts and their comments Retrospect and Prospect, Bible, Babel and Web 2.0, ...and I clawed my way to the summit section "...Civilising the natives" and email) about Web 2.0 and education.

Now - despite the hype, marketing and twee graphics - the factors that are drawn together under this rubric have the potential to change "things" radically. Hence the 2.0 designation.

But what is the reality? A couple of days ago BBC News reported on the Oxford Internet Survey (a really interesting collection of information on Internet use in the UK). They focused on the evidence that the "Digital divide grows with web use", but equally striking is noticing that while
42% of students have created a profile on a social networking site such as Facebook or MySpace, but just 15% of the employed and 2% of retired people
and that
e-mail and internet messaging are still by far the most dominant means of online communication.
There has been an enormous increase in the use of search engines such as Google to find information - with 57% mainly using search engines, compared with just 19% in 2005.
But still,
Only 16% of internet users have tried to set up a website for personal use - and the proportion is unchanged since the last survey in 2005.
only one in 10 internet users have taken part in political activities online, such as signing an online petition
Which suggested to the BBC sub-editors a heading:
No Web 2.0 - yet
Maybe a better conclusion would be that what we currently have is Web 1.8 Beta ;-) Something that has the potential to be the start of a significant change, but which has still not been really tested, matured and made into a stable "product". That's why encouraging people to trial the Beta is so important, if we do not use it then we will be stuck with another product currently undergoing testing WebMax Web that serves the big corporations and media moguls where, at last, we are all reduced to consumers of what our "betters" think is trite enough to attract our feeble attentions long enough to pay...


  Mouth-feel and the Bible
How do you (I/we) read the Bible? Since many of us are biblical scholars, and others are students, theologians and the like (I'm guessing from the readers of SansBlogue whom I know about from the comments you leave - I suppose it's possible there are a hundred lurkers who are all bakers, or candlestick makers but somehow I doubt it ;-)
  • the short simple answer is "with our eyes"
  • the longer, more complex answer is "carefully".
Withering Fig has has a nice post Of Ancient Texts and Hypertexts which begins from noticing how we read hypertexts differently. (Though perhaps we should note that many of us read newspapers and magazines more like we read hypertexts - and perhaps some of us [I did NOT say this, so do NOT quote me!] read academic articles similarly, until we have to respond to them in an academic article of our own ;-)

But goes on to describe the different relationship to and feel of a biblical text if it is read aloud. He wonders:
if it might be better for me to read the words aloud. Let them wrap around me. What does the scansion tell me? Where does the stress fall naturally? Perhaps rhythm is more important than word order.
Since biblical texts were written to be read, that is read aloud to an audience - not scanned more or less carefully with the eyes in a study, and since many of them may well have existed orally before being written at all, this question seems to me a no brainer. Never mind the syntax, get the mouth-feel first. Then analyse. (Since the Bible is an ancient text, separated from us in time, culture and by language, we MUST analyse.) Then, return to reading the text, and get the mouth-feel again informed by the analytical study.

Incidentally, I think much the same applies to non-scholarly readers, hear the Bible as well as looking at it. Just looking at the Bible risks making you into a Bible idolater, hearing the Bible risks making you try to follow its advice - much more dangerous, and worthwhile... but that's another post.

PS: See also How to avoid reading books for advice on reading academic texts in non-linear manner!

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007
  Now, why is this NEWS?
Academic publishing is in crisis. In particular the monograph is problematic. The "publish or perish" system combined with an increase in the numbers of students and therefore teachers means that there are an explosion of monographs "wanting" to see the light of day. Costs have gone up. Library budgets cannot keep pace. Yada, yada, yada....

AKMA's post "Rice Univ. Press Has A Clue" points to an Inside Higher Ed article "New Model for University Presses". That succinctly outlines the problem from an academic's perspective: editors freely admit that they routinely review submissions that deserve to be books, but that can’t be, for financial reasons.
The article refers to the Ithaca report “University Publishing in a Digital Age,” which has been sitting on my desktop for a few days gathering till I can find time to read it and review it here.

Basically Rice University Press is trying a "new model" Long Tail Press which will publish (electronically with print on demand for tyhose who demand it!) works that have passed the required peer review processes but cannot be "published" for economic reasons.

Now, why is this NEWS? I suppose because no one else had the courage to try it.

And, how will a Long Tail book, once PODed, be different from a "proper" monograph? Ah, yes money, real scholarship makes a profit, only second rate scholarship is true, clever, accurate, new but fails to make a profit!

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