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‘Press Publish’: Interview with Tim Bulkeley

‘Press Publish’: Interview with Tim Bulkeley

The following is part of a series of short interviews with academic bloggers. (The ‘hub’ for the discussion is the initial post on Starting an Academic Blog where the discussion and links to interviews are kept up-to-date).

Today I am pleased to share an interview with Dr. Tim Bulkeley (Ph.D. Glasgow), among those very early bibliobloggers, who continues to blog at Sansblogue. Dr. Bulkeley has written and edited a number of books, essays, and articles, maintaining a special interest in the Prophets.

1. When and why did you start blogging?

I finally started in Febuary 2004, a colleague had been extolling the interesting virtues (mainly the sense of community and collaboration) of the new medium for some time and I was on sabbatical so I had time to experiment. Before that I’d begun to explore some of the “emergent church” and biblical studies blogs that existed, and had been finding that my colleague’s claims about collaboration and community were not exaggerated. I began blogging to contribute to this “common room” without borders.

2. What are a few of the benefits you see in blogging?

That is the main benefit I see: contact with other people with similar interests, in my case Old Testament, church and the interface of those two with digital media. This benefit has diminished over the years. Somehow as more people blog a higher proportion are “there” primarily for the advertising (not Google adwords payments, but getting themselves “known”). This is a secondary and significant benefit. No other form of publication (except YouTube?) gets your ideas and person so widely known as blogging does.

Blogging is informal, it should never replace journals or monographs (and I’m including the various new forms: these are taking electronic, FOS etc.)  but it can, does complement them rather as conferences do, but with more immediacy. A conference happens once in a blue moon, and not everyone can attend, blogging happens all the time and anyone who cares to can attend. One of the joys of SBL is the opportunity to go to lectures outside (as well as in) one’s specialist area, meeting scholars who’s work you admire, blogging allows this every day at very low cost 🙂

3. Should more academics be blogging?

If you don’t need to become better known, and don’t want the ‘general public’ to hear about your ideas, then by all means don’t blog. But if either of those things appeals to you, why on earth wouldn’t you blog?

OK, some academics can’t write an interesting sentence to save their life 🙁 They should probably start blogging anonymously, or better pseudonymously, until they can be interesting. But blogging like public speaking is great practice, and do you really WANT to bore the pants off your students and colleagues in your daily work?

4. What advice would you give an academic who is thinking about starting?

The first post is the hardest, the second the second hardest… (though after a while this series ceases to flow, so just start tomorrow). If need be start pseudonymously till you are sure you have something worth reading, then give your real name. (Jim West will hate me for this comment, but he’s an extrovert, I’m an extreme introvert, ’nuff said.)

Comment on other people’s blogs, lots. And keep doing it even if you do become rich and famous.

Don’t publish anything you don’t want your students, colleagues, friends and family to see. If you break this advice, say sorry, in the same medium (as well as if appropriate in person).

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