I was shocked and pleased to see that Barnes & Noble (of all places!) is offering a whopping 32% discount on my BZNW monograph (published in just a few weeks), bringing the price down from $98 to $66.15.
The last post I did on how to revitalize biblioblogdom has been met with divergent attitudes. Some have affirmed what I said, by noting a general decline in the biblioblogging world and agree that we should be a bit more focused and a bit more willing to have deeper conversations.
Others have argued that blogs are meant to be whatever the blogger wants – whatever topics, whatever pace, just whatever. Blogs are not journals, they are not “professional,” they are personal, spontaneous, and fun.
Those who have criticized my comments, though, may be misunderstanding me. I am NOT saying that bibliobloggers should do as I say. Blogs can and should do what satisfies the blogger. What I WAS saying was that, if revitalization in the community is desired, perhaps some of my suggestions might lead to such a renewal.
Think about it this way. Sometimes you read someone’s blog because you just want to get away from serious work. Sometimes you like the insider joking, ribbing, and slandering (in good fun).
However, we have developed a real community of scholarship in some ways (as evidenced in the association with SBL). For those who want to find a community of scholarship and learning, it does get a bit annoying when biblioblogs generate more posts on “randomness” than on something related to Biblical studies.
Some bloggers will say, “Good riddance to readers who have narrow expectations.” OK. Fair enough. To each his own. However, I think at least SOME bloggers need to be consistent enough and focused enough to maintain the infrastructure of the biblioblogging community. Otherwise, why call us an academic community at all. Why have an SBL affiliation?
I will be honest – my blog is generally serious. I am a fairly light-hearted person (just ask my Durham cohort), but I honestly don’t have time to just surf around and “veg” on blogs. I have kids. I have two major research projects. I have four new courses to prepare for next year. I have two conference papers to write. I have two articles to revise. I am moving to the west coast.
So, I might ask, what do we want to accomplish in the biblioblog world? Just good fun? OK. But then it may die sooner than we’d like and we can still meet up at SBL and remember the good ole days. However, I think for it to have roots, some critical mass of bibliobloggers need to be more focused, consistent, and collaborative.
A commenter, my friend Chris Spinks, mentioned that “blogs” were not originally avenues for having deep conversations. I think he is right, but I don’t like the language of “blogging” anyway (its a terrible sounding word to begin with!). Thus, I am pleased to not have the word “blog” in my address title. I like “wordpress” because the idea of “press” gives it more of a publishing flavor. Whether that was intentional on the part of WordPress, I don’t know. But just because others will call my site a “blog,” doesn’t mean I have to play by those rules.
I am sharing what I think will bring longevity to biblioblogdom. Remember, some folks out there don’t have colleagues or kindred spirits in Biblical studies, so they NEED this forum. While some use it for “fun,” for others it is their only academic club. I value that and I want to do some lasting sorts of things, though I try to read some others who take a more light approach (like the once-prolific Chris Tilling).
If others have suggestions, I am open to them. Please know that I am fine with folks being goofy and doing their thing. I am not the blog police. But maybe we can have some blogs and forums (as Rob Barrett has suggested) that foster more consistent and serious conversation.
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
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.