Saturday, April 13, 2013

On Biblioblogging, Part Two: Advantages

Note: Over the next few days, I will be posting a series of thoughts on biblioblogging and New Media. I have become more active as a blogger over the last year, and thought that some of my regular readers would like to know why I consider myself a biblioblogger, and what it means to operate a biblioblog. For my working definition of a biblioblog that I will be using over the next few posts, see Part One: A Definition.

Not only is academic interest in blogging as a viable method of scholarly communication on the rise, but also an increasing number of scholars are turning their attention to the study of the phenomenon of biblioblogging itself. In recent months, students like Brian LePort, Joel Watts, and others have compiled and presented papers at academic conferences examining the merits and disadvantages of the use of biblioblogging as a form of New Media communication among students and professors alike. In a recent post on his blog Near Emmaus, Brian LePort lists five advantages offered by biblioblogging to the academic community, particularly students:

  • Broadened Learning Circles. Bibliobloggers are not confined by their geographic location or lack of access to a decent theological library. Productive scholarly communication can take place between a scholar and a student who have never met and who conduct their studies on different sides of the country or even on different continents.
  • Networking. Since becoming a frequent blogger myself, I have had the opportunity to stretch not only my mind, but also my academic social network. Due in part to my own experiences with biblioblogging, I have recently made connections with several other scholars, and found a few different ways in which I could contribute to their ongoing work. Within the last year of my increased posting, I have been invited to regularly contribute to Brian LePort’s widely-read biblioblog, as well as collaborate with Historical Jesus scholar Anthony Le Donne on a working bibliography of the application of Social Memory Theory to Historical Jesus studies.
  • Feedback. Biblioblogging has cleared the way for quickly and efficiently providing feedback to the ideas of scholars and students alike. It serves as a form of basic and immediate peer review. As iron sharpens iron, bibliobloggers have ready access to “proof-readers or conversation partners…to inform, support, or challenge ideas that may have gone into one’s [academic work] unrefined.”[1]
  • The Discipline of Writing. For the would-be scholar, writing frequently and writing well are important attributes to possess, and prepare students for the rigors of academia. Operating a biblioblog encourages students to form good regular writing habits.
  • Educating Religious Communities. Because of their accessibility, biblioblogs offer a prime learning opportunity for pastors and laity with a non-academic focus. One doesn’t have to hold a doctorate to understand or contribute to the biblioblogging community. The rise of blogging as a preferred genre of the New Media has opened the learning field up and initiated a form of guerrilla education in which anyone is free to participate.
In addition to LePort’s pluses, we might also consider the following advantages for those who wish to engage the field of biblical studies by blogging:

  • The option of anonymity. If the author of a blog or post wishes to present his or her thoughts anonymously, that is his or her prerogative. In fact, many writers embrace the freedom of opinion offered by anonymous blogging. One notably successful example of this phenomenon is the brutally frank, highly educated and sardonically satirical blogger N.T. Wrong, whose identity persists even today in eluding some of the most astute biblioblogging researchers, even though his (or her) blog site has been defunct for over four years.[2]
  • Biblioblogging demystifies the process of academic dialogue. In the simple process of creating (encoding) a blog post and engaging the comments of those who have questions or criticisms of the author’s ideas, biblioblogging breaks scholarly communication down to its most basic components and allows students to see that the “man behind the curtain” is really just a bunch of fancy smoke and mirror work. There is nothing to be afraid of in academia—it is simply a free exchange and dialogue of ideas. Its informality is a boon to those beginning students who may be intimidated by the verbose arguments of more experienced scholars engaging in formal discourse.
Up Next: Disadvantages of Biblioblogging

            [1]  Brian LePort, “The Pros of Blogging as a Student.” Near Emmaus. February 18, 2013.
[2] However, the entire contents of N.T. Wrong’s blog from April 2008 through January 2009 can be found archived at

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