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Chris

John, thank you for these excellent suggestions. I agree with all of your comments because they are not dogmatic rather are seeking a balanced approach to matters.

At this very moment I am sitting in the Paterno-Pattee (or is it Pattee-Paterno, I can never remember) library at Penn State and the notion of cataloguing publications is, indeed a daunting one. Physical librarians, or I should say, librarians of physical books, have the added benefit that the books will not change their content, suddenly be deleted (aside from theft), nor will they being to change their focus as they grow over time. It also helps that the publishers generally provide some guidance in the form of a catalogue record.

What you propose would take us some way in that direction.

JohnFH

A physical library is an appropriate analogy. Whenever I peruse the appropriately named BS section of a well-stocked research library, I am amazed at how much space is taken up by books that are now of purely antiquarian interest.

Furthermore, fringe publications take up a small but not insignificant amount of shelf space.

No reason, really, to expect an online library to be any different.

Steve Caruso

First let me say thanks for your kind words and I enjoyed our phone conversation the other day. :-) I'm glad to see that my work is being used and thought about, as that's what makes worth it.

Here are my thoughts on your list of criticisms and I think we're pretty much on the same page:

"(1) The active list is too inclusive in that it lists blogs that have been inactive for six months or more."

Aye, I plan to have culling inactive blogs completely automated in the future, as implementing such functionality is rather simple. In its absence, as I was entering the current list into the system I glanced at them manually and labeled a blog as "inactive" if it's last post was before January 2011. Perhaps, once the automated system is in place, reducing the window of inactivity to 3 months might be more appropriate with a mechanism to re-instate a blog's former category if its author picks it back up again.

"(2) The same list includes (very interesting) blogs with little or no content that interacts with the field of biblical studies; it shouldn’t."

I'm completely in agreement and I wholeheartedly realize that there are some blogs on the list that are there more for "tradition's" sake with an occasional Biblical Studies related gem sandwiched between swaths of unrelated material. I have given a bit more of the benefit of the doubt when it came to inclusion provided that the author's academic stance was in line with mainstream practices. I also wholly admit that a few categorizations might have also been the product of the well-known late-at-night-on-a-third-cup-of-coffee screening method and need to be reconsidered. :-)

"(3) It also leaves out blogs with long series of posts which interact directly with biblical scholarship, broadly or narrowly defined: what good is an index of biblical blogging if it does not include Ben Myers’ posts on Paul? The history of reception is a live topic: how can blogging on, for example, Calvin’s reception of Malachi 1:2-6, or the iconicity of the Bible (Jim Watts) not be indexed?

(4) The inactive list is seriously incomplete: available inactive blogs like those of Angela Roskop Erisman and Matt Morgan deserve to be archived and indexed."

Completely in agreement for both of these points. The current version of the Archivist software is capable of automatically crawling back into the archives of any Wordpress or Blogger blog until it runs out of back posts to include. Any blog hosted on either of those systems is merely a button-press away from a full archiving, so at this point it's simply a matter of identifying which blogs need to be included.

I'm still working the kinks out of the deep archival features for Typepad (which you use), Drupal, and MovableType as their feed APIs are different so it may be a bit longer before before those work as expected.

"(5) Some past biblical blogging is found on the Wayback Machine of www.archive.org (retrievable by URL); this material, too, deserves to be indexed on the inactive list."

Archive.org content, due to its lack of syndication and meta-data structures, is a bit trickier to incorporate into the archive. However, it is at least "safe for now." This might require some serious thought and the worst-case scenario might require some volunteers to identify content and package it in a format that the Archivist software can import. At the very least, a page of links to the content that is already hosted on the Wayback Machine is in order.

"(6) The draft inclusion criteria are cumbersome and unenforceable."

I honestly should have seen the problems with the civility criteria coming a mile away. Alas, I was being idealistic. Mea culpa. :-)

Now I love the idea of a questionnaire to add in author and blog metadata, but we'd need to carefully think through how to manage some of the difficulties inherent to that method as well.

Metadata is, without a doubt, the next largest (and most important) thing to incorporate and the easiest way -- er.. or should I say *ideally* the easiest way to do so would be to have each individual author and blog owner maintain their own profile metadata.

I think are the most relevant categories to consider for the initial set would be (in no particular order):

1) Academic history,
2) Affiliations,
3) Location,
4) Areas of expertise,
5) Areas of interest,
6) Blogging foci, (which can include your "do you blog about the Bible as..." question)
7) Publications,
8) Projects

A signup questionnaire is the way to handle most of the important portions of such information, but signup questionnaires can't tend information that changes over time, and when they're inevitably rewritten and amended as new metadata fields are taken into account, previous participants will then have gaps in their contributions.

There also need to be storage considerations for any metadata collected, as some techniques for storing them in a database and optimizing them for retrieval work better than others depending upon the nature of the metadata, itself. With how the Library is currently hosted, every bit of speed counts.

Perhaps some means to integrate this with social media like Facebook or Academia.edu to send out reminders, or even something as simple as an email listserv to send out update notices might be a route to consider.

Now it's funny that you mentioned grants in your last post as in the past few months I have been thinking much more seriously about putting together a grant proposal and finding a qualifying institution that would be interested. Not just so that I could have the necessary compensation to devote a serious amount of time to this project, but to also purchase better hosting services and/or equipment as over the next year or two, the current hosting situation isn't going to be sufficient.

So far the database is about 500MB and the actual archived pages which are stored as html files add up to about 3.6GB (so about 4.1GB total... and only 20% of the blogs have been deep-archived!). On shared hosting (where it currently resides), databases of this size can start to slow down, especially when other accounts on the shared server decide to hog resources; however, something as cheap as a Mac Mini and a dedicated data connection (pretty much what the CAL currently runs on) might be all that is needed to keep the project going indefinitely.

In either case, more thoughts on this soon. :-)

Peace,
-Steve

JohnFH

Hi Steve,

There are many issues you touch "con cognizione di causa" as we say in Italian that deserve to be addressed with care. Slowly but surely.

I look forward to further back-and-forth once you have put more thoughts to screen.

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