In my previous post I discussed some of the ideas that had been put forth for increasing the amount of money that the blog takes in – which is my ultimate goal, as I’ve repeatedly said. I realize that for most of you (all of you?), that’s *not* the ultimate goal. Most of you are interested in what the blog can provide by way of substance and content. So, on that topic….
I have tried to vary my posts since this endeavor started over two years ago now, and looking at the categories in which the posts appear, I think that has worked pretty well. And so far I have not run out of things to say and, to my knowledge, I have not yet repeated a post. Maybe I have and didn’t notice, and you were too kind to point it out! (Sometimes I have had ideas and searched only to see, yup, did that one already….)
I have received a number of good suggestions about possible ways to change the blog to make it more attractive both to current members and to potential users. Here are three that have especially struck my fancy, the first of which I’ve mentioned before as I’ve been mulling it over for … forever.
1. A Discussion Forum.
I have thought about this, planned to do this, almost did it, decided to wait on it, thought about it some more, and on and on. A discussion forum would allow those of you making comments to go back and forth directly with one another without having to go through me. No mediator, per se –you could talk directly to each other on either the topics of my posts or on anything related that you felt like. It would have to involve the CIA (Christianity in Antiquity). And there would be a moderator who would approve all the posts to make sure things didn’t get out of hand and nasty, and that no one was dominating or trying to dominate the conversation. If things got a bit crazy we might have to limit the number or length of comments. But it does seem like a good idea to me. To you too? If so, let me know. I don’t really see a downside, but if you do, let me know.
The deal is, though, that I simply don’t have time to moderate. A couple of you, back in the winter, volunteered, but your personal circumstances may have changed and possibly you can’t do it now. So let me ask: is there someone on the list who might be willing to do it? QUALIFICATIONS: you would need to be reasonable conversant with early Christianity to be able to make sure everyone stays on track and you would need to devote something like 15 minutes a day (? 20? I’m guessing) on, say, five days a week.
If people want this kind of forum, and we decide to go ahead, I would choose a moderator and we would give it a test run for, say, a month, and then re-evaluate. What do you think?
2. What Am I Reading?
A couple of people have suggested that I devote some posts to the research that I’m doing as I’m doing it, i.e., that I talk about some of the things that I’m reading. I think this is an excellent idea.
I take notes on just about every book and article that I read. I have to say, this (writing down notes) is a major pain in the backside. It’s a part of the job I really don’t like. My standard way of doing my research is to spend part of a day reading – whacking my way through a book, reading a few articles, whatever. I try to vary what I do, since I have a dreadfully low threshold of boredom, and need to keep things lively – which means diverse. And I’ve gotten extremely good at being able to know what in a book or an article I really need to master, what I need to read carefully, what I need only to skim, and what I can completely skip over. This was a talent I started to develop already in high school, when I was working on my debate topic for the year, and had mounds of material to get through. These days I attack a book by “sucking its marrow out” (that’s how I describe it to myself): getting the really important stuff out of it and then moving on.
Anyway, I highlight everything I read. And then, the next day (I can never bring myself to do it the same day), I summarize the book (or articles) on a computer file and pull out all the really important quotations, if there are any, that I want to use. Some books I can summarize in a paragraph. Some take many pages. It just depends on how relevant it is for my work (and how good it is!). But then I almost never have to reread a book; I have my notes on it permanently. (Unless I decide I need more detailed notes for some reason).
Anyway, it would be quite easy (I think….) to devote an occasional post to one of the things that I’d been reading, highlighting, and taking notes on recently. I’m thinking, at this point, of maybe having a post a week like this – the most interesting thing that I’ve read that previous week. What do you think? My hunch is that I’ll try it for a month or two, and see if people enjoy it or not.
3. Guest Posts?
One suggestion that I receive a lot is: wouldn’t it be good to have *other* scholars contribute guest posts to the blog, to get some other perspectives and points of view? I think the answer is: ABSOLUTELY YES!! The problem is that it is easier to want than to achieve. I have asked a *number* of fellow scholars, of different persuasions/interests/expertise to contribute one or more posts to the blog. So far, if you’ve been paying attention, I haven’t had a lot of success. Most flat-out say no thank you. Some put me off and never do it. The reason? Well, they’re busy and they have too many other things to do. But I will keep at it. Feel free to suggest names and topics to me (some of the names that regularly get mentioned – I won’t name them here – simply won’t do it, I’m sorry to say).
Well, many of you made many other good suggestions — and they’re all in the hopper. I appreciate the thought that went into them. Many thanks again for responding to my request.