Evangelical Textual Criticism

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Blogs, Article reviews, Scholarship, and Accessibility

A blog is a great thing to have topical discussions. But the last contribution by Peter Head (here) prompts the question how do we guarantee a certain level of accessibility to the more scholarly postings? It is a shame that some of the heavier contributions are almost doomed to be buried into the archives of the blog. What are alternatives way of publishing contributions that are too 'light' for a print journal, and too heavy for a blog or email list? On-line journals? Wikis?

For example, an article review or response is often very helpful for a wider audience but seldom makes it into print. Our blog is of course interesting for those who are following it closely, but how many people will find PMH's critique back in two months time?

17 comments:

  1. I don't have experience using blogspot except as a commenter. But could ETC have a special sidebar menu that lists links to just the important posts you mention? Or maybe a single link to a separate page that lists the links to the best entries along with short abstracts for each one?

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  2. Au contraire. Academic postings that are searchable on the Internet are far more accessible (thanks to Google) than many scholarly journals. Since there is no peer review for blog entries (they are more in the nature of unreviewed correspondence) it would certainly be inappropriate to raise them to a higher level -- such as using them for academic personnel cases.

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  3. Good question, DJ... It might be nice if we could rate posts, and a person could view the blog by the highest rated posts. Some of the highest rated might not be academic, but it would give us a system of sorting the few out from the many.

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  4. There is something in what anon says. There are any number of phrases in PMH's excellent article review that will stand out on a search engine. "Claire Clivaz", or "P69" with "Marcion", will bring PMH's post to the front page of Google, and this will probably remain the case for some time. Nevertheless, blog material can be either ephemeral (this comment) or perennial (when Tommy Wasserman announces the discovery or undiscovery of a manuscript or Peter Head gives comments on an article that could easily, if put in a wider context, have appeared in print). Last time I counted (a month or so ago) there were about 100K words on the blog, excluding comments (and some of our external comments have been very useful). Most of the posts serve some purpose as blog entries but are simply not worth killing trees for. Some of them may form part of publications elsewhere by the contributors. However, if the blog continued for a few years, it might be that there would be enough material to put together into a volume. We would, however, need to address questions both of quality and of genre. I'm sure that if anyone wanted to extract more perennial posts from this blog and house them (perhaps slightly edited) on another site that made them more accessible that would be agreeable to the authors (authors would retain copyright of their own material).

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  5. I think that blog entries are not normally as carefully read and reread as published articles (hence some points could warrant correction - see the comments to my previous post).
    I think that very often (perhaps unusually, I don't know) the comment section in ETC is of absolutely primary importance in the discussion of issues raised in the blog. We do get reasonably good comments from a range of different perspectives, almost always adding useful information. It might be that we could think about how comments are displayed.

    I think that we could think about some sort of index to ETC that wasn't simply chronological archiving or generally google dependent. This could help people get access to resources.

    I think reviews of recent articles could be a unique selling point for our blog: if we summarise and responsibly critique we will offer something that is hard to find elsewhere.

    I think there is something in what anonymous has said. We have over 1,000 visitors each week. Now that is a lot more than the average journal. But the journal article can still be found, interacted with and cited 2, 5, 10, 20, 100 years later.

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  6. "a unique selling point for our blog" - when shall we introduce charging? I know houses in Cambridge are expensive.

    Seriously, all forms of making things accessible in other formats (indexing, sidebars and the rest) can be done. However, it takes time and know-how. At some stage I'd like to see all the perennial material from this blog transferred to a permanent URL. Any offers of help gratefully received.

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  7. I like Christian's idea too. But perhaps it is a bit complicated - how could it be done?

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  8. We're restricted by what is offered by Blogger. You can get some idea of what are the most popular posts from the site meter and from external links to them.

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  9. I also think something browsable on the website provides alot that dependence on Google searches doesn't.

    Isn't David Instone-Brewer a big techie? Since ETC already has a Tyndale House presence with Peter Head, maybe Instone-Brewer can be roped into giving some counsel on this.

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  10. May I suggest an obvious solution? Let each member start his or her personal website with a link to their "columns and essays." It's both inexpensive and easy!

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  11. another issue is seeing the comments to a blog. I think this will be comment number 11. but this post is no longer the newest blog post, so how will members know when a new comment has been made?
    for example, if I comment on something from last week, will anyone see the new comment or know that a new comment was made?
    some of the e-lists have chronological listings that allow one to see if someone responds to a thread that is older.
    It would be nice to have a recent post listing (maybe this exists and I'm too new to know)

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  12. Steven Carlson's "best of blog" links in the sidebar of hypotyposeis are an example of an effective and simple way to keep the more substantive posts from disappearing into the cybersoup along with all the ephemeral ones.

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  13. As one of the owners of the blog I have the facility of getting notified whenever someone adds a comment. Do others not have this facility?

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  14. If there is some way for me to see when new comments get added, I'm unaware of it. I just have to scroll down to older blog entries and see if the number of comments is higher than it was last time I checked. But maybe there's some feature I don't know about yet. After all, I'm not a blogger, just part of the peanut gallery.

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  15. Well, Eric, for that matter, I am a blogger and (like you) I do not receive any notification. I think PJW has just been hoarding this tool for himself so he can stay on top of things while we all look foolish.

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  16. Yes, I think only Pete has such a privileged status.

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  17. I've just been looking all the way through the various settings of the blog. It seems that whenever something is posted to the blog http://weblogs.com is notified. You can subscribe to them and they will notify you when new material appears. I'm not sure yet whether this notifies of new comments or just new posts. Perhaps someone can try it out and let us know. At the moment I am only informed by Blogger of new comments, not of new posts!

    I must say I'd been assuming that lots of readers were using some such service and now admire the dedication of those who have been following threads without such a help.

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