The biblioblogging world in decline?

For some time now (maybe 9 months) I have noticed a serious decline in postings on a number of blogs, many which I used to regularly read. In fact, some bloggers who were the most widely read and most prolific, have just about disappeared…

What is happening?

Here are, I think, problems that have led some bibliobloggers to lose steam

1. Boredom

2. Lack of time – but, since most of us are either full-time students or full-time professors, we can all complain about not having time, and yet we all still do it.

3. Writer’s block – I have experienced this before, but I think it is temporary. Inevitably we (as bloggers) are engaging in new discussions, facing new teaching and research problems, and reading new books.

4. Lack of interest on the part of readers – maybe some have felt that there are no readers out there, or just a few. But I believe, if you make it worthwhile, “they will come.” Also, small communities are fine.

Perhaps I can convince any one blogger to push forward, or I can excuse one or two for a serious period of absence for a good reason (like moving across country like I will be doing in a few weeks). But what can we do about the languishing world of the biblioblogs [I recognize that some pockets are thriving, but I must confess that it appears to be losing energy as a whole]?

I don’t mean to be overly critical – I WANT to see revitalization. Here are some of my recommendations.

1. FOCUS – We need bloggers to think about their niche more. General readers, I think, are not looking for everyone to comment generally, but to learn (at least once in a while) from the specialties of each blogger.

2. FRESH FACES [or PAGES] – We need some new blood. I think we have all appreciated the very exciting contributions of new biblioblogger, but well-recognized scholar, Prof. Larry Hurtado.

3. CONSISTENCY – Some good bloggers seem to be hit or miss on actually blogging about the New Testament. Sometimes we see humorous posts about the news or random thoughts. I think (and I know some will disagree with me) that biblioblogs need to be more consistent in content. That doesn’t mean it has to be all serious – blogs are fun precisely because we can be more casual and goofy. However, I get frustrated when I see a feed-reader for biblioblogs and none of the posts are about Biblical studies!

4. TRUE CONVERSATION – It seems that, though we read each others’ blogs and even sometime comment, we don’t always seem to be having meaningful conversations. Can we start to facilitate good interaction somehow and try to learn from one another as (ideally) happens in face-to-face conference-style interaction? Perhaps initiating more bloggers conferences might help, where a group comes together (digitally) at a certain period and commits to blogging on the same issue/problem/subject/text, all drawing from different strengths and with a willingness to respond thoughtfully to others for mutual benefit.

5. ANONYMOUS COMMENTS NEED TO STOP. Enough said.

6. DEEPER RATHER THAN BROADER – Perhaps we may see more productivity if bloggers commit to writing a series of posts on the same topic. This helps generate interest and also lends itself to the blogger reflecting more deeply on the subject.

Disclaimer – some folks are content with making random posts and not taking the blogging world too seriously. Fair enough. However, even though I come to this world for some kind of recreation, I still hope to learn and have meaningful academic discussions as this biblioblogdom continues to exist.

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8 thoughts on “The biblioblogging world in decline?

  1. Nijay,
    I am certainly guilty of this myself, mostly from, as you mentioned, lack of time. I also do not want to post just to post, so my writing can go dead for month here or there when I am engaged in research and writing for school or enrolled in a intensive course.

    On the other hand, I appreciate your consistency throughout the years!

  2. Thanks for the good post, Nijay. I was just thinking, along the same lines, that the proliferation of bloggers may have impeded actual conversation: so many of us are so busy articulating our own thoughts, and perhaps scanning those blogs we read regularly, that we don’t have time or energy to engage others in conversation. The sheer number of bloggers (even if some have slowed down) is overwhelming.

  3. Nijay, I share your concerns.

    Some ‘biblioblogs’ are often off-topic and seek controversy and entertainment instead of offering original research. Unfortunately, these are the blogs that often receive the most traffic and get the most comments. Meanwhile my own on-going blog series no the Titus-Timothy hypothesis, for example, receives very little attention. That doesn’t matter, except that there needs to be more dialogue. It is through debate and discussion that new breakthroughs come.

    The infrequency of comments does seem to be a widespread problem. There seem to be some blogs that are very popular in terms of the number of page views, but still receive very few comments.

    In spite of the frustrations, the internet if far better than the printed word in facilitating discussion.

    I suppose many researchers choose to reserve many of their thoughts for journal and book publications, rather than sharing them on a blog. I would be interested in your thoughts on the relative merits of blog publication verses journal publication, and paper verses electronic formats.

  4. On the topic of facilitating more conversation, I’ve been thinking about the value of a high-quality biblical studies discussion forum. You’ve probably seen examples of these functioning really well in other topic areas (for example, this is a great one on photography: http://photography-on-the.net/forum/index.php).

    I wouldn’t want it to replace biblioblogs, but it could be a more conversational place for posting ideas, discussing the profession, finding collaborators, etc. I’m thinking of a virtual substitute for meeting up with people at the SBL annual meeting, if that metaphor makes sense.

    Any thoughts?

  5. Nijay,

    Good thoughts. I’m on board with most of them. But, I do wonder, however, if you are not holding biblioblogging to a standard blogs were not intended to meet. As web logs, blogs were not originally intended to foster conversations about deep and serious topics. Instead, as I understand it, blogs were a place for bloggers to “log” their thoughts, reflections, attitudes, and/or opinions about things. Usually these things were centered around a particular topic or were contained within a discipline. These things often did foster conversation and many times they probed deeply, but they need not. For my two cents, in the biblioblogosphere I think Daniel Kirk (jrdkirk.com) is using a blog in the most effective and intended way. See especially his “What & Why of My Blog.” Among theologically minded bloggers, I think Richard Beck (http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/) is blogging in good ways.

  6. I’ve been reading biblioblogs for the last decade and have always appreciated the diversity of approaches, topics, and tones I’ve found. Just last week I finally took the plunge and started my own, so I’m curious to see how things go for me now that I’m on the other side of things. Reading posts like the one you’ve offered here, Nijay, I think will help me to hone my own contributions in this area.

    Here’s my new blog: http://earliestchristianity.wordpress.com/

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