Impaneled

Yesterday morning’s session (on Bible scholars who blog) went well, I think; a fairly small room but quite full, and Mark chaired the proceedings with his characteristic grace and élan. The papers went smoothly, and set the stage admirably for the subsequent discussion. Rick’s paper touched on some of the mark-up and information-architecture questions that interest me most, though I’m inclined to doubt that this current approach — which involves a fair amount of entering regularized well-formed metadata — will catch on with less information-intent bloggers. It’s not insignificant that Rick initially designed his personal metadata software to generate imprecise XML; if even he didn’t make the effort to distinguish [cite] from [i] from [em], it’s hard to imagine that less committed bloggers would keep their biblical references consistent, or would fill out the bibliographic metadata for every book they mention. Certainly we have many colleagues who, if they were inclined at all to blog,would give it up in an instant if it involved entering copious tags, keywords, precise identifications of biblical passages, and so on. I think that Flickr and deli.cio.us hit the right trajectory by generating a space for user-oriented metadata, such that if I see something on Rick’s blog that interests me enough to want to retrieve it or categorize it, I can supply the metadata that facilitates such indexing. At the same time, it would be handy if that capacity were integrated to blogging software itself (as it’s integral to Flickr’s photo-sharing software), so that tagging a post were as easy as tagging a Flickr photo.

Peter (I think?) raised the very pertinent question of gender; a panel of seven or eight biblical bloggers included only men. Sadly Helenann couldn’t come, and people such as Dylan (who’s also not here) and Mary (whom I haven’t seen here) blog about the Bible, but with more of a view toward homiletics. (Casual readers: it would be hard to overstate the interdisciplinary condescension with which conventional biblical scholars use the term “homiletical”; it frequently sounds as though the word would mean something such as “written in crayon” or “words of one syllable only.”) To the extent that Dylan and Mary don’t enter and link to the arguments that interest people such as Mark or Jim (to concentrate on the A-list biblical bloggers), it’s understandable that they not show up on their radar; that’s not strictly a gender problem, but a social-definition-of-disciplines problem intertwined with a gender problem (and that entwinement isn’t merely coincidental). At the same time, as I said at the session, I suspect that the greater barrier to women’s participation in Blogarian citizenship has to do with the historic pattern of risks and vulnerabilities that academia tends to impose disproportionately on women (and people of color — the panel was all-white, too, not that that would be as surprising in either the biblical academy or online discourse) (very sadly, and again not innocuously).

All of this is not by any means to say, “Buck up, look on the bright side” or “No, no, it’s not a problem, stop being so sensitive”; it is a problem, but I want to concentrate my attention on the points d’appui where this problem (and a variety of related problems) put down their roots — rather than only generating heat for the panel organizer.

And I didn’t know about Yasmin’s blogging (indeed, there are increasing numbers of biblical bloggers whom I don’t know, which is destined to be the case, further aggravating the “old bloggers network” effect).

Now I must get dressed to prepare for this morning’s paper on theological interpretation of Scripture and (of course) signifying practices (honest, I’ll give it a rest once this series of talks is through). More anon.

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2 Responses to Impaneled

  1. Micah says:

    it would be hard to overstate the interdisciplinary condescension with which conventional biblical scholars use the term “homiletical”; it frequently sounds as though the word would mean something such as “written in crayon” or “words of one syllable only.”

    Sadly, you’re right. It would be hard to overstate that. I want very much to engage you and your colleagues on this issue, but it will have to wait. Suffice it to say that homileticians have an equally strong reaction to the word “historical-critical.” Someday perhaps we can understand the degree to which “exegesis” means something different to our two communities without suggesting that the other is somehow wrong.

  2. Yasmin says:

    Hi there. I enjoyed your comments at the SBL blogging seminar. I think your observations here are good too. I have bitten the proverbial bullet and posted some thoughts on the matter and fear that they will not be well recieved!
    Yasmin

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