Monday, November 22, 2010

Reporting from SBL - Blogger and Online Publication Section

Rough notes from the SBL Blogger and Online Publication Section - 2010.11.22
 
Robert R. Cargill from UCLA presiding
 
James Davila, University of St. Andrews (Scotland): PaleoJudaica
What Just Happened: The rise of "biblioblogging" in the first decade of the 21st century"
His presentation is available online with links at his blog, PaleoJudaica. This is a really helpful summary and overview of "the rise and development of 'biblioblogging' or blogging devoted to the area of academic biblical studies." His conclusion:
Blogging has found a solid niche in academic biblical studies in the first decade of the twenty-first century. It has enriched the field in numerous ways and its expansion over the decade has been exponential, at least until recently... And all indicators are that biblioblogging will be with biblical studies for a long time to come.
Christian Brady at Penn State, well-known online as the blog author of Targuman and also the online editor for the Newsletter for Targumic and Cognate Studies
Online Biblical Studies: Past, Present, Promise, and Peril
Brady has also posted his presentation online at his blog. His main proposal: "I would like to propose the formation of an SBL sanctioned review committee." Why?
(1) It is a viable business model...
(2) Such an assessment would provide the necessary recognition required of P and T committees and department heads...
(3) Knowing that such a review and subsequent recognition is possibility we would all step up our game...

My institution has been supportive of my explorations in the online world, but I would support this kind of review committee. Some questions were raised:
  • regarding the financial viability
  • would the prospect of knowing online work would be reviewed take the fun out of blogging? I suspect that we would still maintain different types of online writing. A site like Online Critical Pseudepigrapha is in a whole other class whose contribution needs to be properly recognized.
Michael Barber, John Paul the Great Catholic University: The Sacred Page
Weblogs and the Academy: The Benefits and Challenges of Biblioblogging
(He promises to post his presentation later on his blog.) Is it even appropriate (given some of the blog site names) to be considering biblioblogging at SBL? Yes... It does not serve as a replacement of traditional formats, but it is helpful and worthwhile. Reported on a survey of academic librarians and their suspicion of blog writing, especially because of lack of peer review. People who blog are more likely to regard blog writing as having academic value as compared to those who don't blog. (duh!) There appears to be a generational gap, with younger scholars viewing blogs as scholarly publications as compared to older ones (even ones who blog). "Bloggership" as a useful neologism... 3 types of publishing: traditional, blogging w/ scholarly aspirations, other types of blogs. Facilitation of learning through 'edublogs' does seem to be appreciated....
Turning specifically to biblioblogging: note that traditional publishers are now regularly pointing to an author's blog on their book promotions.
Barber related his own positive experience of blogging in the research and development of his recently completed PhD dissertation at Fuller. ("Scot McKnight has claimed that historical Jesus research is dead, but apparently no one has alerted the publishers yet!") Unable to keep up with all publications, the blogosphere did provide keys to important directions and developments. (Especially Bird and Willitts at Euangellion
Even non-academic posts are useful in humanizing us as scholars... Really, must a serious scholar always remain serious and objective? Isn't it truer to display the subjective reality of who we are as scholars? This will not undermine our scholarship but increase honesty and sharing between scholars.
Discussion: What about 'vitriolic blogging'? ~ We would want to treat each other with charity and respect, but online exchanges may able to be more open and honest in a 'rough and tumble' way.
 
James McGrath, Butler University: Exploring Our Matrix
The Blogging Revolution: New Technologies and their Impact on How We Do Scholarship
Started with question: What is a blog? -- (NOT: Lost + LOLcats + YouTube mashups) but a format for making content available
Blogging = reading + writing + linking + commenting | better: commenting with posts organized by date
Graphic of the circle of "knowledge creation":
Analysis Interpretation ~ Authoring/Presenting/ ~Sharing/Networking ~ Publishing/Dissemination ~ Archiving/Preservation ~ Research/Data Collection 
What does this mean for the future of actually meeting together?
"If everyone is blogging... then no one is blogging." True?Is blogging the future? Need to define future of what? It is here to stay. It won't supplant traditional publishing, but does provide new venue.One of the best things about blogging is that it is encouraging new ways of thinking about and presenting content.
 
McGrath provided a lively (and often humorous) analysis and defense of the value of scholarly blogging. 
 
Robert R. Cargill, UCLA: XKV8R
Instruction, Research, and the Future of Online Educational Technologies
Referred to a NYT article on "Digital Keys for Unlocking the Humanities' Riches."
How do the new technologies fundamentally change our instruction? (Ie, not just adapting a traditional class to an online setting.) 
Noted his work with the UCLA Qumran Visualization Project which really could be accomplished only through the use of new technologies. Further, there was no real way to share findings through traditional channels. (Cf. Cargill's Qumran through (Real) Time)
Part of problem is convincing academy to adopt new forms of publication
Motivation for publishing is not based on financial hopes but on considerations for promotion and tenure. 
Academic Prestige still resides in the printed format of books and traditional journals. 
dot coms thrived and established businesses panicked and responded by buying and rebranding dot coms. Traditional newspapers and magazines have lost ground to the online sites.
 
This year, for first time, Amazon has sold more ebooks than traditional books. The academy is being left behind. Result: "The academy must embrace online publication." Online publication should not just be recognized as acceptable but as preferable.
In the past, institutions valued for their hoarding of 'sacred knowledge.' With the new paradigm shift, value resides in the sharing of knowledge. How can an academic institution increase their value and 'preserve their brand' by being known for their sharing of knowledge rather than the hoarding of it?
Solutions: 
The future of online course management systems is the textbook. (Digital textbooks, that is!) 
We need to embrace the digital humanities and overcome the challenges of simply commercial and less reputable alternatives.
For institutions, technological support needs to be understood as an utility like electricity rather than a luxury.

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