Monday, April 14, 2008
  Brevity and the Bible
In a post below Writing differently I went on at some length to extol the virtues of writing briefly. Especially online. My attention has just recently been drawn to a Wall Street Journal (you see it is not on my usual reading list) article about a new presentation of biblical texts: "High-Design Bible Draws Attention" in the article (back in February!) Andrew Losowsky describes the project called Bible Illuminated, thus: "The Swedish-language Bible marries the standard text to glossy magazine-style design."

He provides a description, but also a photo, and as we all know a picture ≈ 1Kwords:

Now, as well as not reading the WSJ, I also do not read this sort of Magazine. The mags I do read I scan, when I meet a full page of text, like this, I scan it for nuggets and then flip on - incidentally forwards, since I read mags, like Hebrew Bibles from right-to-left ;) If this Bible's intended audience read mags the way I do, they won't get quite (what I'd assume) the intended effect of
the opening of Joshua! Andrew links this to the Samuel
Pepys blog

The Bible Illuminated is an example of a range of classic texts that are attracting new audiences through modern methods of storytelling.The diary of Samuel Pepys has been turned into a blog, with daily entries corresponding to the 17th-century original, at The creator, British actor Phil Gyford, says the site gets around 35,000 unique visitors each month. "I thought I'd like to read the diaries, but the 10 volumes were a daunting prospect,"he says. Transmitting it as a blog "seemed obvious," he says.
Now, it seems to me too, "obvious" that Pepys diary would make a good blog, the form and medium "fit". But I am not convinced that either the new Swedish Bible Magazine, or the earlier Teenage Mag versions, do fit form and medium to the content and genres of the Bible. Now, Joshua is not a good text for my argument, since narrative can perhaps be effectively transposed into very different forms and still "work", but imagine one of Paul's letters... One big glossy picture, and one page of Pauline prose... Yawn! As you know I prefer the audio route... (to check it out try some of the recent Romans from PodBible).

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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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Friday, February 01, 2008
  Remediation, aura and technologies of (biblical) authority
On IBSWM I have also worked enough on some of my media and Bible ideas to propose a paper for the SBL Annual Meeting (to the Bible in Ancient and Modern Media session) which runs like this:

Remediation, aura and technologies of (biblical) authority

The notion that the Bible has authority has been very significant in statements of faith and constitutions of many churches and Christian movements. Yet understandings of what textual authority might mean are inevitably different when the text is expressed in different media. Concepts of textual authority that have dominated understanding of such church documents have been drawn almost exclusively from print-dominated cultures. Yet, in addition to a historical progression from oral to written, from scroll to codex (at least in Christian circles), and from manuscript to print, the biblical text has always been variously mediated. Oral and written mediations of the text existed alongside each other since the precanonical phase. The biblical manuscript tradition remediated (Bolter's term) the text in many ways, adding spaces between the words, adding commentary around the text, illumination and other "decorations".

Contemporary remediation of the Bible is even more varied and extensive. In print medium a plethora of consumer Bibles each mediates the text in distinct ways, as each also imitates earlier mediations of the authoritative text. From early renderings of the Bible in audio tape and video film, more recently digital delivery and production of such non-written media has enabled an explosion of non-written biblical "texts".

This paper examines the "technologies of authority" (the term used in different fields by Akkermans and Schwartz, Katznelson and Zolberg, Salmón Muñiz, and Tatlock) that different mediations of the biblical text utilise. It will also explore how the concept of "aura" (Benjamin) throws light of discussion of biblical authority in an electronically dominated media culture. It then attempts to generate a framework for understanding how notions of the (biblical) text as authority interact with changes of medium.

Akkermans, Peter M. M. G., and Glenn M. Schwartz. The Archaeology of Syria: From Complex Hunter-Gatherers to Early Urban. Cambridge UniversityPress, 2003.

Bolter, Jay David, and Richard Grusin. Remediation: Understanding New Media. The MIT Press, 2000.

Katznelson, Ira, and Aristide R. Zolberg. Working-Class Formation: Nineteenth-Century Patterns in Western Europe And. Princeton UniversityPress, 1986.

Salmón Muñiz, Fernando. “Technologies of Authority in the Medical Classroom in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries.” Http://

Tatlock, Lynne . “Authority, Prestige, and Value: Professionalization in the Musicians' Novels of Wolfgang Caspar Printz and Johann Kuhnau .” In The Construction of Textual Authority in German Literature of the Medieval and Early Modern Periods . Edited by James F. Poag and Claire Baldwin. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2001.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007
  AKMA, Prince, Radiohead and Biblical Studies
AKMA has a post noticing Radiohead’s new album, In Rainbows and its business model, for forty pounds sterling you can get a package with EVERYTHING:
…the new album, in
rainbows, on CD and on 2 x 12 inch heavyweight vinyl records.
A second, enhanced CD contains more new songs, along with digital photographs
and artwork.
The discbox also includes artwork and lyric booklets.
All are encased in a hardback book and slipcase.
But if all you want is the music, of the basic album, why download it and pay whatever you think is right. That's right, you fix the price.

Business Week had this to say:
Radiohead is trusting its fans to do the right thing, or something approximating the right thing.And I tend to think they will.File under "needless to say:" It's very hard to imagine an actual big-deal record label attempting anything like this.
Amy Phillips on Pitchfork wrote:
Haha, the entire record industry is so fucked!
AKMA expressed similar sentiments more verbosely but decorously:
You prosper in the digital environment by giving away what the internet
makes easy and by charging for what the internet doesn’t
facilitate (personal appearances, physical artifacts like packaging,
clothing, books, and so on). It’s that simple, but some
people and some corporate entities want to force the internet to
conform to the properties and characteristics of a pre-digital
environment. In the long run, they’ll be as successful as the
dinosaurs who commanded mammals to respond the the ice age by voluntary
mass extinction.
I am convinced they are right... But how do people (say biblical scholars) who do not get paid mega-bucks for personal appearances and the like pay for the other people's work needed for a successful publication. Our own work is either a hobby or we are paid for it as part of our job, but whatever format we choose except the casual blog, we need proofreaders, designers, film editors etc... to help make the "product"... how do we pay them?

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Thursday, July 26, 2007
  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 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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