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The Future of Biblical Studies Carnivals

2nd December 2009

Doug Chaplin has uploaded Biblical Studies Carnival XLVIII over at Clayboy. He did a great job with the Carnival once again. In a follow-up post today he raises some good question about the future of the Biblical Studies Carnivals. His concerns are nothing new; I have raised them a number of times before. The basic problem is that monthly Carnivals are just too onerous for the typical blogger to do.

Doug presents a three directions the Carnival could go:

  1. No change (I see this as problematic)
  2. Rely on Biblical Studies Carnival submissions (either via the BSC submission page or email), rather than the hosts being responsible to troll the blogosphere for the contents of the Carnival.
  3. Have the host do a theme post with people commenting.

In addition, Mike Kok commented about the possibility of dividing the carnival (a New Testament and a Hebrew Bible one, for instance).

In my mind, the second option is the only real live option. The first option is not viable. The Carnivals are too much work and too big (if you look back through my regular call for hosts, you will see I have regularly noted this). A Carnival is supposed to be a collection of links with commentary on a common topic (in this case biblical studies). When you start getting more than a hundred links, it is just too big. One month is also quite a long period in the blogosphere, so perhaps more frequent Carnivals?

The third option is, well, problematic because such a post is not a Carnival. I’m not saying that it is not a good idea; it is just not what a carnival is.  Mike’s idea of splitting the Carnival is a possibility, although I am not interested in too much specialization. I personally am far more interested in integration and having the various sub-disciplines within biblical studies talk to each other.

My proposal is thus:

  • Have Biblical Studies Carnivals twice a month. This will cut down on the workload and make the Carnivals more relevant and useful.
  • Keep the focus on academic biblical studies. The host is the editor and one of his/her jobs is to keep the Carnival on track; if something is submitted that is not deemed on target, then it gets ignored.
  • Focus primarily on nominated submissions. It is not possible for a typical blogger to be apprised of everything that is going on in connection with biblical studies on the blogosphere. Few if any of us keep on top of all of the people that blog in the area of biblical studies. This will also mean that there is no reason for someone to feel put out because his or her post was not mentioned. We all will have to do a better job submitting links to the Carnival; but I am sure once we get used to the idea it will work well (because there is an unwritten expectation that the host will gather links, most people do not submit posts regularly — I know because I take care of the email account!).

What do you think? Eventually we could move to weekly Carnivals, but twice a month seems like a better plan for now.

If this seems like a good idea, then let’s go for it. Since I am the host of the next Carnival, I will rely solely on nominated links. Since I am the coordinator of the Biblical Studies Carnivals I will only pick hosts that agree to this new procedure (having someone host who doesn’t rely only on submissions would be subversive since it wouldn’t help train people to submit their own posts or those they like).

Let me know what you think!


13 Responses to “The Future of Biblical Studies Carnivals”

  1. Bob MacDonald Says:

    Nice – that’s the way we build systems – just do it and let the chips fall where they may. It will evolve in the testing of the idea.

  2. Tyler F. Williams Says:

    Hey Bob… I don’t mean to sound like I have decided and that’s that. I have thought about changing the carnivals for a while and this just prompted me to propose to poop and get off the pot, so to speak.

    If everyone opposes the proposal, or proposes something better, then great!

  3. Bob MacDonald Says:

    OK – I see the If at the beginning of the last paragraph – but then I read two ‘since’ clauses which for me overrode the ‘If’ :)

    I have used the carnival posting feature. It’s really easy to use and helpful. Round about mid month you remind us and that’s when I try and be a bit useful – sometimes my suggestions get in – sometimes they don’t. There’s nothing to stop the carnival host from using the same mechanism – I wonder what it feels like to receive the suggestions and how hard it is to collate them. If there was only one form of input, then the job would be simpler – largely receiving, culling, and sorting.

    FWIW, weekly is too often IMO. The thoughts of the community need time to simmer.

  4. Pat McCullough Says:

    Did you see my suggestion, Tyler? What do you think?

  5. Tyler F. Williams Says:

    Hey Pat,
    Your suggestion sounds interesting, but it really wouldn’t be a Carnival then. It would be more like a seminar or such. In my mind a Carnival is to bring together posts on a common topic from all around the blogosphere so that readers can get a good summary of things and perhaps note posts that they should go back and read.

  6. Doug Chaplin Says:

    Thanks, Tyler. I don’t think I was expecting such prompt and decisive action. I think your idea may be worth trying, but I also think

    a) it would be worth seeing what the response here is before firmly deciding
    b) setting a time period – say 3 or 6 months – for an evaluation of gains and losses.

  7. clayboy » BSC future – tell Tyler what you think Says:

    [...] Tyler F. Williams on The futures of the Biblical Studies Carnival: what say you?Codex: Biblical Studies Blogspot » Blog Archive » The Future of Biblical Studies Carniva… on Biblical Studies Carnival XLVIIIPat McCullough on The futures of the Biblical Studies Carnival: [...]

  8. Rick Brannan Says:

    Hi Tyler.

    Just chiming in with my $0.02; take it or leave it as you please.

    With a more frequent carnival, and with more reliance on submissions and less expectation to hunt & gather, I can say I’d be more likely to host a carnival again. It’s just too much work otherwise.

    Thanks again for your work keeping the wheels rolling on the carnival caravan.

  9. Duane Smith Says:

    Tyler,

    I agree with your suggestion. At least I think it worth a try. If there is generally agreement or you decide to use the authority invested in you as coordinator, please feel free to move my time to a place that best fits the two-week cycle.

  10. Higgaion » Biblical Studies Carnival XLVIII Says:

    [...] vein, or transmogrify itself into something altogether different. I’ve seen responses from Tyler Williams and Loren Rosson; other bloggers have probably opined, but I haven’t read those posts yet. [...]

  11. Bill Says:

    Hey, Tyler. I’ve got one basic idea, which I’ll unpack a bit…

    What if all Bibliobloggers made submissions publicly by posting on their own blog a page of ‘link love’. The only distinction I would add is that the blogposts could explicitly note whether a page of link love was also a BSC submission. If the bloggers would also embed a trackback to this site, the monthly host, or link here with some standardized term (ie: *BSC Submission*) it could be a great time saver for the monthly Carnival host.)

    The chief advantage I’m seeing is that we bloggers love to blog, but apparently don’t like to nominate things by e-mails. Publicizing submissions in regular blogposts might facilitate loads more submitting, because at the very least it allows a blogger to kill two birds with one stone. Bloggers always need new posts, right?

    Potentially, this procedure might also create a fun ‘playoff’ atmosphere. (Which Bloggers’ public submissions will make it into the compilation this month?) Potentially, the eventual/possible weekly BSCs might (for one option) simply link to all the submission posts for that week. Potentially, a lazy host could just assimilate all the link love pages and then begin editing. That still might not be so bad, eh?

    One last option: if it became official that the BSC submission process had to be public (which I’m not necessarily suggesting) then bloggers would have to self-submit publicly. Oooooh. Interesting, eh? ;-)

  12. Bill Says:

    I revise: the term should be: *BSC Nomination*

    Also, of course, self-submissions could still be excluded (in line with suggestion #3 in the post). I was mainly teasing on that last point. Seriously, though, public nominations would also reveal whether Sven & Olaf had struck a pact to nominate one another. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. ;-)

  13. Bill Says:

    Something like this.