Sunday, March 30, 2008
  Amos review in Maarav
Jim W kindly emailed me a copy of the review of the Amos: Hypertext Bible Commentary from Maarav 14.1 which appeared recently. Since I am currently in a refugee camp I had no other way to see it. Walter Kim (Harvard) has done an excellent job of first understanding the nature and aims of the project, and then reviewing it on its own terms. He understands the medium and his criticisms are well worth consideration. Some will probably be incorporated into a second edition of Amos one day - and may well get incorporated into the changeable version earlier than that (n.b. there are two editions the stable, citable, peer reviewed edition on CD, and currently also at and the "wild" edition that I may change any time and therefore is neither stable, nor formally peer reviewed). I plan to post discussion of some of the ideas from these print reviews in the near future, but not till we are home from the camp and I have again the luxury of peace and quiet for thinking ;-)

For now I will just quote the closing paragraph, and bask!
The digital revolution has altered the way people shop and interact. In this unique commentary, Bulkeley suggests that the revolution extends to the way people learn and that the organization of information ought to reflect that transformation. The field of biblical studies is in many ways a conservative endeavor. Scholars work with ancient and venerable things. This commentary, however, suggests that one need not work with them in ancient and venerable ways. With the rise of the internet, the landscape of learning is changing, and Bulkeley helps the reader explore the possibilities of this new terrain. With a vast array of sound files, photos, encyclopedic articles, and traditional commentary on verses, readers of various levels of training and expertise can browse the commentary and construct a rather different experience, based upon the links pursude or ignored. Because the internet permits learning to occur as controlled chaos, the person who searches on the webexercises a vaste amount of autonomy in the selection and utilisation of resources. Bulkeley's commentary puts the reader in a similar position.

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Friday, March 21, 2008
  Interesting project on aging and interactive writing
Ben, on the if:book blog linked to a really interesting project. Ashton Applewhite a staff writer at the American Museum of Natural History, who has previously written a book the conventional (solo author in a study) way, is writing her next book online. She has a blog "So when are you going to retire? Octogenarians in the workforce" on the site she has information about her research, snippets of audio and stories she is collecting. I find that the audio clips add a richness to the written posts, like this one Cornelius Reid — “That’s what kept him going.” It's a lovely, thought-provoking, post, but the short clip of Cornelius makes it come alive. Definitely a blog I'll subscribe to, who knows, one day I may comment, and one of my comments may help Ashton tweak some aspect of her ideas and so her book.

Now that's a fine project: a worthwhile, valuable, interesting blog; where the comments and email correspondences that a blog attracts will assist the writer with her project, not only that but as the author explained to Ben in an email, it could even make commercial sense:
I also think i'll end up with a valuable platform for leveraging and disseminating my work over the long run — one that could radically revise conventional notions of shelf life. Cutting Loose, my book about women and divorce (HarperCollins, 1997) is still in print; imagine what sales would look like if it were at the hub of an ongoing social network, and what a rich site that would be?
The early adopter in me, however, wonders - just a little - what the point of the print edition will be... especially in the light of all the rave reviews of Amazon's proprietary (lock you in to us as your supplier), pay as you go (even for "converting" your own PDFs), expensive (and not even available) Kindle over at Lifehacker ;)

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  How "open" are theological ideas?
Nichthus has a post (which originated in the "Composing free and open online educational resources" course he is following, and from which I will take one paragraph out of context - for the context read his full post, and probably the others in the series) in which he discusses "openness":
I certainly perceive that the future will be a more open place, thanks to what is already happening online. I prefer to think, though, that we might achieve this alongside our 'professional thinkers' with academic tenure and, dare I suggest it, the ivory tower perspective. I question the extent to which ideas are currently 'closed', as I am free to examine others' ideas now - I just need to be careful not to pass them off as my own, or to misrepresent them.
While I have much sympathy with what he says, I think also that it reflects a priviledged Western point of view. Ideas (in disciplines like education and theology - Nichthus' areas of professional interest currently) are open, because as he says "I am free to examine others' ideas now". What he does not say, but presumably assumes, is that this implies that I can either buy the book or journal in which these particular ideas are circulated, or have access to a library or online database (like EBSCO) from which I can access the material. In a Western academic context this is (more or less*1) true. Where I have been working recently access to these commercial databases is not available, even Colombo Theological Seminary, which has superb facilities and a good library compared to what is possible at KKBBSC. In such places the cost of a subscription even to a minimal Journal database is simply not affordable.

A scholar or student here is limited to those ideas which are available locally, or freely online - since both sites have Internet access. Any other idea, even when published in a Journal like JBL*2 which is very widely available is not "open" here! Ideas which must be bought are not "open" but restricted, access is determined by priviledge or wealth!

As long as most publication is in books and closed-access journals, Western education and scholarship is fundamentally something which is bought and sold, and not something which is "open". Theological (and educational) ideas are only "open" to the rich or priveledged, or if their author has chosen to publish them in an open journal!

1. It is more true in well-endowed institutions, like large public universities, or "rich" private colleges, it is less true in other places. Access to journal articles outside the "normal" theological disciplines is for example much less easy and quick for me now that I have access only to the Carey library resources, than it was last year when the University of Auckland library offered a much broader collection for my use. Even in the West many theological training institutions can not afford to offer the level of access that Carey does. [
2. As an example of this a Google search for "Journal of Biblical Literature" leads directly to the
JSTOR page - I no longer have access to JSTOR, so I can see the journal details, but not the article for which I was searching - it is NOT "open" to me. By contrast anyone with an Internet connection can read Philippe Guillaume, "The Unlikely Malachi-Jonah Sequence (4QXIIa), Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 7: Article 15 (2007) [RETURN]


Monday, March 17, 2008
  SBL International Bloggers
In a comment on the post below Why I (usually) blog - and why I am not blogging (here) much this year Stephen asks:
Tim, do you know if there will be any SBL Biblioblogger gathering at the SBL international meeting in July?
Oh, yes Stephen, there will, the hereby announced, but as yet undated (since it was your comment that reminded me of the need to get something organised ;) Great, First Ever?, SBL International Bloggerfest. International (and indeed national, of any and all nationalities) bloggers with an interest in academic study of the Bible and/or Theology in any other of its (subsidiary? ;) forms are invited to share a meal and chat. All you will have to do is get yourself to Auckland at the time of the International SBL meeting this July. If anyone has a suitable microphone system we'll also tag on a meeting of the International Society for Theological Podcasting (and related disciplines) and do a podcast... Minor details like exact date, and location (our house, or some suitable eating house in walking distance of the conference...) to follow. But please (and seriously, folks) book the concept, and once it is announced book the date too!

PS: If you plan to be in Auckland in July and are potentially interested, please indicate this in a comment below, and say if there are particularly bad or good times for you. This may help plan the event!

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Monday, March 10, 2008
  Why I (usually) blog - and why I am not blogging (here) much this year
Iyov and (at least) Duane have posted about why they blog, Iyov invited others to join in.

I blog because I am a n introvert who enjoys communicating with people. Put me in a room with more than one stranger, and unless I have a function to perform I'll be silent and sitting (or standing) in a corner trying to look inconspicuous. However, put me online with just a keyboard and screen in front of me and offer me the words, thoughts and ideas of loads of other interesting people and I'll first read avidly (c First Semester 2004) then timidly start to comment (c Second Semester 2004) when these comments are appreciated, and I begin to get a glimpse of the community (fragile and thin though it admittedly is) of bloggers and I'm hooked, I'll play with Blogger (for anyone starting today I recommend Wordpress - it is easier and more flexible, and who can resist 3GB of free space?), and start a blog (Jan 31st 2005). It's as simple as that.

I continue blogging because I enjoy meeting new people, as long as they can be kept for a while at least (I have enjoyed the SBL Biblioblogger get togethers when I have been able to get to "foreign parts" to be there) at a "safe" distance. I also continue because people read and seem to appreciate my words :) bliss for a writer.

I am not blogging here much at the start of 2008, not because I have lost my "call" to blog but because I am too busy travelling, and meeting new people in new places (see here and here for more info.).

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