Friday, January 09, 2009
  What made blogs significant?
Jenna, who commented on the post below, linked to a post of hers that that opens presenting Rheingold's distinction between "audience" and "public" - basically an "audience" is composed of passive receivers, while a "public" engages with and/or acts on the material. The distinction is useful, though I've never liked Rheingold's language for it. Many audiences used to be very engaged etc. though perhaps they have become culturally less so with the advent of TV.

I am thinking of a 1960s political meeting, with hecklers - with whom the speaker, Harold Wilson, "speaking" from an upper floor window of a terraced house in a less wealthy part of Leicester, engaged vigorously ;) There were also a whole cast of audience "types" as well as hecklers there were protestors and the bouncers who removed them, the true believers who rose for a standing ovation at the close of the speech, and many participants who then went out to canvas in an election. If I compare that scene with a TV audience, participation has been numbed into merely shouting at the referee, or offering unheard advice to the character in a soap; or dumbed and commercialised into TXT us and we'll either charge you $1 to vote in our poll, or (in the most generous case) put you into a draw to get one of our sponsors products free.

The distinction is also always a spectrum, particular audiences (and indeed individual members) are more or less involved and active, "public", but still it is a helpful distinction to consider.

Jenna turns from introducing Rheingold's classification to discussing blogs whose "authors leverage 2.0 practices" and briefly touches on the history of blogs. This is where I think it gets interesting. As Jenna reminds us, blogs began as "Weblogs" - online diaries. As weblogs, the genre was of minority interest and only a few were read by more than the writer and their second cousin who found it via a Google (or perhaps, in those far off times, some other search engine) search for the person's name. Then weblogs evolved, they added features permitting "comments" and other arcane interactions like trackbacks and blogrolls... in short, as well as shortening their name, blogs added "community". The blog bubble was born.

[I have a post in my head, that I WILL write "one day soon", on the recent discussion of "the death of blogging" - basically I'll claim that reports of this "death" are somewhat exaggerated but seek to outline some of the live areas amid the dead wood...]

[I also have a post that bemoans the way in which Christian organisations online simply do not "get" the culture but persist in seeking to address what Rheingold would call "audiences", that also will get written "some day after or before"...]

For now, notice the salient fact, blogging took off when it added interactivity and community. The resources that threaten the "death of blogging" are all offer more affordances for community. It is no accident that in 2008 Facebook killed the blog, or that (perhaps) in 2009 Twitter will kill Facebook. Community rules, OK?

[One question remains... can I bear to become a Twit?]

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Thursday, September 25, 2008
  Sermons you shouldn't have preached! What's with nuns? and a fine new biblical studies blog :)
Jim pointed to it, and it's shaping up to be a fun read... "Stupid Bible Tricks" a new column in Ethics Daily. The first does the dirty on the delightful, amazing, but false claim that the presence of the letters את untranslated in Genesis 1:1 puts Christ into the first verse of the Bible. Actually the easy way to get the series is to subscribe to Susan Piggott's blog since Ethics Daily does not make their RSS feed very visible :( that way though you'll get any other good posts Susan offers as a bonus :)

As an example of what to expect from such posts, here's an extract from one on practical ecumenism (called "My Sister the Sister") answering the questions that arise when people hear that Susan's sister is a real life cloistered nun:
Many people are quite curious when they find out my sister’s a nun. “What on earth does she do all day?” they wonder. “Doesn’t she want to get married?” others ask, mystified. “You mean she stays in that monastery all the time and doesn’t come out?” still others demand. And, there’s always the Evangelical who wants to know, “But, is she saved?”

In response: (1) she prays for the world all day and in the middle of the night, too. (2) She considers herself married to Jesus, and I’ve heard he’s quite the bridegroom. (3) Yes, except for doctor’s appointments and medical emergencies. (4) She loves Jesus with her soul and has devoted her life entirely to God. What do you think?
...But do read the whole post, as I missed out some of the best bits!

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Sunday, August 03, 2008
  Biblical Studies Carnival
The latest Biblical Studies Carnival is online, on time, and spot on. Though in three (3) parts, suggesting that the talk of splitting to carnival into two posts a month may not be a dumb idea. John, the Trekkie, Hobbins does the comprehensive, balanced and serious job you'd expect in:
Now, for the (im)patient Biblical Studies Carnival XXXIII (is that a round number?) is scheduled to appear at Michael Halcomb’s.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008
  Adding a daily audio Bible chapter to your blog (WordPress only)
If any of you want to add a link to a daily Bible chapter (as an MP3 file read from the CEV) to the sidebar of your Wordpress blog, just go to Widgets, and find "RSS" and "add" it then click "edit" and use this URL for the feed to add the Bible in a year use this URL to get just one segment a day choose to display one item. Give the widget a title like "Today's Bible reading" and away you go!

Sadly this does not work for blogger :( so I can't demonstrate it here, but you can see it at work here so, if you have a WordPress blog, how about it?

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Friday, April 25, 2008
  Blogger slogger
I know you "all" say that I should move to Wordpress, and I know Wordpress is good, but I have used Blogger for a long time, it like a pair of well-worn trainers to WP's pair of new shiny but uncomfortable dress shoes ;) (Even though I have used WP for the last few months, and will keep the blog about the refugee camp and teaching in Asia there.

But, does anyone else have, or know how to fix the problem of Blogger timing out regularly on publishing. It seems to re-"publish" every file, every time, and for a blog now over five years old that is a LOT of files, and often a lot of timeouts. With messages like:
215 files completed
8M uploaded
Your publish is taking longer than expected. To continue waiting for it to finish, click here.
So, does anyone out there have a fix, except "move to Wordpress"?


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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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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Saturday, December 01, 2007
  Biblical Studies Carnival: Call for submissions
Just had an email from Tyler Williams, the Biblical Studies Carnival needs your help (more than usual) Tyler has only just been told that the person who was due to compile this month's carnival has had to pull out, and since it is already December (or probably very nearly December for you retarded people in the Americas ;-) Tyler needs nominations fast. Please give: title, url, blog name, author name, and a one or two sentence summary. Posts nominated should have been uploaded in the month of November and must be able to be called "academic biblical studies" broadly understood.

You can also make submissions via the submission form at or you may email them to biblical_studies_carnival AT hotmail DOT com. I'm off to make mine now...

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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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Thursday, July 26, 2007
  CommentPress targeted commenting for longer online documents

Ever since I saw the The Holy of Holies: On the Constituents of Emptiness experimental e-text I have wanted to get the chance to play with the commenting system that if:book used for that. I can see loads of possibilities for a longer more reflective type of blog post that allows readers to comment on particular steps in the argument. Which in turn could allow the author to adapt the text in a second iteration...

Today (well the 25th, but they are based in the USA which is nearly a day "behind" the real world ;-) if:book released CommentPress as a Wordpress plugin.

So... Maybe we could even use this to allow more public interaction and commenting on (at least some of) the papers for the "Media and Religious Authority" colloquium... all I need is someone to help me set up a Wordpress site with CommentPress installed and a nice theme...

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  Media and Religious Authority
On Tuesday we held an exploratory semi-virtual mini-colloquium on "Media and Religious Authority".
  • Exploratory because the ideas we discussed are not yet written papers
  • Semi-virtual because we were in two places and talked via Skype and phone
  • and only mini because the meeting took under 2 hours (though the Auckland people enjoyed a lunch together as well ;-)
Heidi Campbell has already posted about people's ideas (in her "Media and Religious Authority Colloquium") so I'll only put names+ here. It came out of the 2005 colloquium Virtual Theology which produced the issue of Volume 37:2 November 2005 of the journal Colloquium (see the articles from that here).

On Tuesday the participants were:

  • Paul Teusner (Uniting Church) how Emerging Church bloggers respond to technorati or google blog ranking systems
  • Peter Horsfield (RMIT) new media and religious authority in Australia
  • Ann Hardy
    (University of Waikato) the Exclusive Brethren's attempts to impact the NZ general Election

  • Stephen Garner (ex-University of Auckland now employable) religious authority comic books & graphic novels
  • Tim Bulkeley (Carey Baptist College and University of Auckland) is interested in the role of textual authority in different religious environments
  • Heidi Campbell (Texas A & M) part of her major study of religious blogging
Where to from here?

The group plans to work on these ideas and to hold one or more other "meetings" (this time with a system for sharing things like PPT or pictures as we talk) to engage further with each other's ideas as we finalise the papers for publication. We need to fix a date (or dates if we do some short seminars instead of a day) for the next meeting(s), and we need to find out if others are interested as with half a dozen we are looking at an issue of some journal while if we had another four or so we would think of a book...

So, if you are inerested... drop me a line, who knows our next meeting might include your place as well as Auckland, RMIT and Texas A & M...

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Friday, July 20, 2007
  Blogging blurs the information lines?
The NZ "think tank" Maxim Institute has a short item on blogs in their latest newsletter Real Issues they ask if: "Blogging blurs the information lines"? The post (after all their newsletter is just a blog that does not allow comments - only "letters to the editor") begins with some hyperbole about the venerable tenth birthday of blogging. (From what momentous event do they, or their source the Wall Street Journal date the blog I wonder?) They make a claim that few bloggers would dare sustain that:

Arguably it ranks third only to the invention of the printing press and the internet in the impact it has had on the communications' world.
Using the example of (the topical) "spin doctors" they argue that information is the "most valuable commodity today". This is simply untrue and an indication of how old media savvy people simply do NOT GET the new world. If you think information has significant worth think about the cost of one page of the Encylcopedia Britannica and how this price has changed over time. In my paper "Back to the Future: Virtual Theologising as Recapitulation" I calculated:
The cost of information can be approximately measured by calculating the cost per page of an encyclopaedia (or its equivalent before the modern genre “encyclopaedia” developed). Since the value of money, and indeed exchange rates, change with time and geography, the time worked at an average wage to earn one page of information provides a comparable measure across time. So, in the manuscript age a scribe produced some 150-200 lines per day,[1] and information cost in the order of 8 hours per page.[2] In 1771, when the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica was produced it contained 2689 pages of information, and cost ₤600 or 11⅓d per page.[3] The average wage for an English farm labourer at that time is estimated to be about 11½ d per day, so such a servant would have had to work about one day to earn a page of the new publication.[4] Given that farm labourers were paid significantly less than professionals like medieval scribes, and that estimates put the wage of a skilled artisan at this time at about double this,[5] we can suggest that the cost of information had at least halved by this time. By the close of the twentieth century, however, a print copy of the encyclopaedia cost NZ$2,050 but contained nearly 32,000 pages, or about 6.5 cents per page.[6] The average hourly wage was NZ$17.44 giving about 13 seconds per page.[7]

All of these figures concern the cost of information supplied as words on a real page of paper. Electronic information is cheaper still. At the turn of this century the CD-ROM edition cost NZ$100 giving a cost per page equivalent of just over one half second. The graph of this cost is clearly asymptotic, tending towards zero - for half a second’s labour is a very low cost indeed. The information will take hundreds of times longer to read, let alone process and understand. The cost will never reach zero because there is always some cost involved in accessing information, if only things like the electricity required to run the equipment.
So,the major premise of the piece is flawed. Therefore its discussion and conclusions are also inevitably flawed. The conclusion reads:
If it is to genuinely provide us with more information, then blogging relies on our ability to filter information and discern truth. But in an age so skeptical of experts and authority, can we really put blogging to good use?
Wrong and wrong! Because the New World of communications relies on our ability and responsibility to filter information we MUST be skeptical of "experts" and "authority" and so must put blogging to good use!

By the way, if you are a Maxim fan and want to check my "expertise" or "authority" please start from my CV, I'll be delighted if you check my opinion any way you like - you see as a blogger my reputation and therefore readership depends on being reliable as well as entertaining!

[1] or this estimate see Michael Gullick, "How fast did scribes write? Evidence from Romanesque manuscripts," in Making the Medieval Book: techniques of production: proceedings of the Fourth Conference of the Seminar in the History of the Book to 1500, Oxford, July 1992 (ed. Linda L. Brownrigg, Los Altos Hills, Calif.: Anderson-Lovelace / London: Red Gull Press: 1995) 39-58.

[2] The pages of print encyclopedias contain many more words than a manuscript page and my estimate of 8 hours seeks to represent this fact – if one simply measures by the page the figure would be nearer three hours.

[3] The figures are drawn from various editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica article “Encyclopaedia”.

[4] Gregory Clark, "Farm Wages and Living Standards in the Industrial Revolution: England, 1670-1869", The Economic History Review 54,3 (2001) 477-505, esp. 503.

[5] Peter Mathias, The First Industrial Nation: The Economic History of Britain (London: Methuen, 1983) 197.

[6] E-mail response from 16th May 2005.

[7] The New Zealand Official Yearbook 102nd edition (Wellington: Govt. Printer, 2000) 332.

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Friday, July 13, 2007
  Calling Auckland Bloggers! or Media and Religion scholars?
Heidi Campbell (Texas A & M) author of When Religion Meets New Media (Routledge) and the blog "When Religion Meets New Media" if there are bloggers in the Auckland vicinity who would be interested in a face to face get together to meet Heidi and each other on the evening of the 24th please contact me by email or phone 526 0344 with your contact details. We will be having a sort of semi-colloquium on Media and Religious Authority that day (hopefully with virtual participants as well as physical ones - if you are an academic and interested in this topic please also contact me!) and a quiet chat with a wider group could be a good way to finish the day.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007
  Why blog?
Long, long, ago though not so far away, in a universe both very like and yet quite unlike this one ("The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there." L. P. Hartley) I started a blog. My goal was to discover why people blog. I could not do this from the outside looking in, all i could see was interesting (and not so interesting) stuff, but little to explain the motivations and rewards. I expected this experiment to run for a short while... years passed... (well, three or four have ;-) I quickly got absorbed in blogging and forgot to ask: Why?

The rewards are primarily:
  • social - in reading and writing blogs one "meets" so many interesting people (some of us who met physically for the first time at the notorious SBL Biblioblogging session in 2005 discussed this)
  • intellectual - one also meets, and I hope shares, such interesting ideas
  • surprising - when by email, phone or face to face on meets someone who actually reads what one writes (now that's seldom happened to me as a result of print publication!)
But, still, why do I continue to spend/waste time blogging. The question has been raised for me by a conversation with Heidi Campbell, who is running some research on religious bloggers, the announcement by Lingamish that serious bloggers must divide their attentions between several blogs, and now on a more serious note Gary Rendsberg chips in with his half-birthday reflections!

Gary and David both make a big point of statistics, somehow the number of people who "visit" makes the effort worthwhile. This does not encourage me, sadly this blog has seen better days, 2005 was the highlight, and I have now far less visitors than I used to back then :( In fact Sansbloque's best day ever was Tuesday, August 30, 2005. So in the hopes that nothing succeeds like success and in the interests of nostalgia here is a replay of that day's posts - TAH, DAH:

The view from my office ::

Stephen's post (full of the joys of [Southern Hemisphere] Spring) titled "The sun is shining..." suggested to me a new round of the old this-is-my-desk blog craze...

[Sadly the inspiring photo of a distant and high skylight with grey sky has gone the way of all digitalia, and is no longer available, but trust me it was and is uninspiring!]

The new and even more exciting this-is-the-view-from (or in my case "of")
my-window craze. Despite Stephen's extolling of the windows at Carey,
the view from mine is impossible without a ladder, and I've never
climbed up to look...

Peer review another look: or, on the salvific effects of peer review ::

Jim West has, in Biblical Theology, a fine polemic piece titled "Washed in the Blood of the Peer Review" taking me (and others) to task for our dependence on "peer review". He sums it up, himself, in fine style:
sum I object to the scholarly mentality that sees itself as "washed in
the blood of the peer review". Peer review does not guarantee truth. No
one can believe it does. Hence, it exists simply for the preservation
of power. It is nothing less than the old cliche of the smoke filled
back room where the good ole' white boys gather around the card table
to buttress the careers of their friends while they ignore those who
are not worthy of their attention because "their ideas didn't appear in
the Journal of High-Falootin' Research" published by Brill and costing
95 Dollars for each issue published on a quarterly basis.
largely I agree with him. I have no desire to defend the "system" it is
(almost) indefensible (well it's not, and probably some biblioblogger
with more desire will defend it) but I certainly don't
want to defend it. And I did say, as well as some incautious stuff,
that I now (thanks to Jim's good sense) deeply regret, and won't repeat
;) I did say "or some process that ensures similar rigorous standards".
And will note that, in the sordid world where paid academics live,
"publish or perish" is the rule, and the publish part needs to be
recognised by other bodies as the equivalent of peer review else it
only counts for mini-brownie-points and will not save your career, job
and family income!

So, in summary: I heartily withdraw the phrase "peer review" and reword the last bullet point below:
  • scholarly,
    unless Open Biblical Studies submits itself to quality assurance to
    attest to outsiders (particularly beginners) that it is indeed
    scholarly, and (through some process that ensures rigorous standards as
    a peer review process intends) satisfies the professional academics'
    need for recognition.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007
  On (not) being a two blog mind
Keeping a second blog is apparently all the rage. Not only is Stephen Carlson Feeble Mindings, but now David Ker is no longer content to speak just Lingamish, but he's gone completely Lingalinga with a second blog. It is probably just an excuse to get lots of links like these, to raise his already inflated standings but I have doubts about this blogflation.

When we were in Congo people used the euphemism "Deuxième Bureau" (or second office) to speak of the mistress a rich man might keep as well as his wife. Certainly anyone who can maintain two blogs must be (time) rich, but are they also unfaithful or is this a useful trend?

When I started this blog, back in 2004, I said:
I am not sure that I can blog ...
So this probably is not [yet?] a blog, therefore it's a NonBlog, yet I'm not joking (in French sans blague ;)
That assessment remains true! So, no second office for me, though I do hope to keep my audio annex going with posts to 5 minute Bible... but not until my paper for the God and Gender colloquium is finished!


Thursday, June 14, 2007
  Quick comments
Many of the comments we leave on blogs amount to little more than "I agree" a new service seeks to make these quick comments easier and quicker. I'm trialling it, you will see the buttons below. I suspect that the categories may be too uniformly positive to be helpful... but we'll see. ClickComments is an interesting idea, and anything that gives blogging back some of the interactivity between author and reader that used to be such a feature of the medium is to be encouraged!


Monday, May 28, 2007
  Bible References in Blog Posts
There's an interesting, and potentially extremely useful (if for most Biblical Scholars a tad technical) discussion in the last few days which could make citing the Bible in blogs very much easier and better. Basically the problem is that currently if you (or I) cite a Bible reference in our blogs either:
  1. nothing happens, and the user has to manually look up the reference for themselves
  2. you (since I do not yet) subscribe to a clever plugin that converts you reference into a link to an online Bible that the plugin writer fancies (often the ESV) which the reader is stuck with even if they hate the XYV and would prefer the original Aramaic (it was that part of Daniel you cited wasn't it?)
Sean (Blogos) Annotating Scripture References in Blog Posts: a Modest Proposal is a neat simple "microformat" approach. Now at this point some of you are pricking your ears up at the trendiness of microformats (though most of you read Sean and already) but the rest are looking glazey eyed and yawning ;-) Actually microformats are really seriously good for you! They are: ""simple conventions for embedding semantics in HTML to enable decentralized development." Do not yawn, there in the back, what that means is:
  • they are "simple" so even dumboes like you and I can use them, they are not just for technogods
  • they are "conventions" so we can choose whether to use them or not, but if we do good things happen, like when we follow the conventions of the form of literature we are writing
  • they "embed semantics" - that means that they "know" what you mean, and other services can understand that your reference to Amos 5:13 is just that, a reference to a Bible verse or passage
  • this enables "decentralised development" - which means that today, tomorrow or in two years time, Jo or Joe can write a cool tool which sings the Bible in properly cantored Hebrew, or presents a PDF of the beautifully illuminated page from the Book of Kells, or whatever... and you can use it, or your user can use it - even if you have never heard of the tool.
Now, is that cool or what!?

Here are the three posts so far that discuss the proposal. Do take a look. Forget yawning at the techno-speak, but think about how this will work from a user's point of view. And encourage this development, so it does go on to become a convention. Because that is what is needed for it to work.

Sean's "modest proposal":
and suggests some neater simplifications:
Sean responds and agrees:
WARNING: the post above was written by a technical ignoramus, but it will be corrected and updated as soon as anyone with greater knowledge explains the need!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007
  Audio comments
Hmm. Thanks to those of you who via Text comments, and emails, warned me that the audio comments feature was not working. It wasn't. But now it is... I have not changed anything, just slept on it overnight (I had a long meeting in the evening so could not fix it then.)

So, I assume the problem was the Evoca end... I will try to watch the system and see if it is reliable enough to use. I will also try MyChingo to compare. In the meanwhile do keep trying, and letting me know if it is broken!

PS: Comment by Mike

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Friday, February 16, 2007
  What is a family?
One of the many jobs that I have not managed to squeeze in (till now) in the rush to get caught up after the summer holiday and before that a trip to SBL and to visit family in the UK was to visit the blogs of my Tyndale Carey Graduate School colleague, Mark Keown. On his (almost?) eponymous blog Dr Mark K has a fine post on a topic that concerns me" What is family" (for my posts see: " What is a family?" "Does the Bible present a preferred pattern of family?" and "Reading the Bible: seeking teaching on family").

Mark and I seem (I only write "seem" because although we are now colleagues we work in different institutions and meek but rarely and have not talked about these issues face to face!) to be in profound agreement, but Mark's post presents a positive view that corresponds to and perhaps fills out what I wrote from a more cautious perspective.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007
  Blogging: text, hypertext and writer-text
Before I return to the past, a recent post by Stephen Carlson really caught my interest. In "Blogging as Hypertext" Stephen continues a discussion of blogging pre-publication of ideas.
[Previous posts include:
Among other things Patrick comments that for writing a coherent paper (he is a grad-student) it was
easier to make it into a more coherent paper first and then convert some of it into blog posts after the fact.
He speculates
It is a little bit different, as I'm not planning on publishing it.
Actually, I don't think that this difference is significant, though maybe the question of the sort of coherence required IS.

In that connection Stephen quotes my SBL Forum article, "Hypertext and Publication in Biblical Studies" (May 2004), concerning text and hypertext and how each relates to different scholarly genres. He then poses the question:
Where does blogging fit into this? It is more like text or hypertext?
He notes the supercficial linearity of a blog post - a text-like feature, but goes on to note also the tendency for blog posts to be short and reverse chronological (newest at the top) as hypertext-like features.

He concludes with the provocative comment:
Early discussions of hypertext often focused on the reader’s experience. Perhaps blogging ought to be viewed as the new hypertext, but from the writer’s perspective.
Such a focus on the "writerly" nature of blogging is a major reason why blogs are seen as a feature of Web 2.0 (whatever that convenient but infuriating slogan cliche actually means!), and after all many of any blogs readers are themselves bloggers... (How many of Kevin's ["Google Analytics"] "women ... named Suzanna", and the rest of us, ourselves have blogs?!)

And, this writing for and in a community of writers (or several overlapping communities as most of us do) gives a blog post another and perhaps more significantly hypertextual feature, posts link. Unlike many self-conscious hyper-texts this linking is not often internal. [Except where the author is trying to subvert the nature of the medium, "by imposing a linear structure on top of the blog, for example, by naming conventions for each post or limiting hypertext links to the next post in the desired “logical” sequence."]

Most blog posts though have one or several external links, connecting this coherent fragment of text to other fragments by other authors, surely an epitome of hyper-textuality.

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