where shall the bloggers congregate at sbl in sf?

Texting while eatingas we have not yet decided upon a place for bloggers to congregate to imbibe quaffable adult beverages and consume artfully prepared, yet affordable kickshaws, we must decide two things:

  • when (date and time)
  • where

as for the when, please comment what day (sat, sun, mon) and time you can meet up. i’m thinking something like between 6-8pm, so those who want to stay can stick around and those who need to get off to other meetings/dining obligations can still get away. remember, we can’t accommodate everyone, but we want to do what’s best for most folks. but we need to decide on the best day.

as for the where, i’ve done a little research. all suggestions below are within walking distance of conference hotels and union square, and i tried to keep them affordable.

please let me know if any of these sound good. or, suggest your own place.

The Irish Bank

The View (in the Marriott Marquis)

The Press Club

Johnny Foley’s

First Crush

Lefty O’Douls

Library Bar

or what say you? suggestions?

bloggers, please spread the word, and have suggestions come here. then, based upon what most people want to do, we’ll meet there.


AND DON’T FORGET, there are two SBL sections that bloggers should highlight:

S19-314 – Blogger and Online Publication
11/19/2011, 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Golden Gate C2 – Marriott Marquis

Robert R. Cargill, University of Iowa, Presiding

Robert R. Cargill, University of Iowa
Welcome and Introduction (5 min)

Alice Bach, Case Western Reserve University
Can Blogging at 3 AM Be Considered Scholarship? (25 min)

Madeleine Flannagan, University of Auckland and Matthew Flannagan, Independent Scholar
Blogging a Short-Cut to Peer Review: How to Do It Effectively (25 min)

Juhana Markus Saukkonen, University of Helsinki
Sense and Practicality: Building a Historical GIS Online (25 min)

Richard Price, Academia.edu
Academia.edu: The Past, Present, and Future of Scholarly Social Networking (25 min)
This session will conclude with a Q&A discussion period with Academia.edu CEO, Dr. Richard Price.

Discussion (25 min)


S19-320 – Engaging the “Wired-In Generation”: Knowledge and Learning in the Digital Age
11/19/2011, 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM
Room: 3000 – Convention Center

Theme: Hosted by the Student Advisory Board

Teresa Calpino, Loyola University of Chicago, Presiding

Mark Goodacre, Duke University
Pods, Blogs, and other Time-wasters: Do Electronic Media Detract from Proper Scholarship? (15 min)

Christian Brady, Pennsylvania State University
On the Internet No One Knows You’re a Grad Student, Or How Social Media Can Help You, Build You Up, and Tear You Down (15 min)

Kelley Coblentz Bautch, St. Edward’s University
Videoconferencing in the Classroom: Broadening the Horizons of Students through Interactive Scholarly Exchange (15 min)

Discussion (30 min)


cheers and see you in sf!

Bibliobloggers in Atlanta

Bibliobloggers in Atlanta

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Founder and CEO of Academia.edu to speak at SBL (via Targuman / Christian Brady)

Chris Brady writes:


I am very pleased to announce that Richard Price, DPhil (Oxon) will be speaking at the Blogging and Online Publication session at SBL this fall. I had the chance to have a cuppa with Richard last fall in SF and he is a wonderful young philosopher who also has a keen sense of what is happening in the wired world. If you are not familar with Academia.edu it is somewhat like Facebook for academics. They describe the site in this way:

Academia.edu is a platform for academics to share and follow research. Academics upload their papers to share them with other academics in over 100,000 research areas. They can also follow other academics, and see new papers and other research updates from those academics in their News Feeds.

I know many in our community are already on the site. (If you like, you can follow me on Academia.edu.) It appears to be a promising platform for collaboration and collegial interaction without being barraged with cute kittens, total depravity, or Top 50 lists. Please do come for the whole session, we have great speakers lined up, but be sure to stay for Richard as well.

S19-314


Blogger and Online Publication
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
11/19/2011
Room TBD

Robert R. Cargill, University of Iowa
Welcome and Introduction (5 min)

Alice  Bach, Case Western Reserve University
Can Blogging at 3 AM Be Considered Scholarship? (25 min)

Madeleine Flannagan, Independent and Matthew Flannagan, A _Not Found
Blogging a Short-Cut to Peer Review: How to do it Effectively (25 min)

Juhana Markus Saukkonen, University of Helsinki
Sense and Practicality: Building a Historical GIS Online (25 min)

Richard Price, Academia.edu
Academia.edu: The Past, Present, and Future of Scholarly Social Networking (25 min)

This session will conclude with a Q&A discussion period with Academia.edu CEO, Dr. Richard Price.

Discussion (25 min)

society of biblical literature awarded 300k neh grant for interactive website

Society of Biblical LiteratureCongratulations to the Society of Biblical Literature for being awarded a $300,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the development of a new interactive website that will connect biblical scholars to one another and to the public.

This is valuable because it will allow scholars “to speak directly to new audiences and to gain a stronger voice in the public square when questions arise about the Bible and its contexts.” In short, the website will connect scholars and their research to one another, and will provide an avenue for credible scholars to disseminate scholarly research and commentary directly to the public.

Congratulations to both the SBL and the NEH for their vision and hard work!

Read the announcement below:

ATLANTA — We are pleased to announce that the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) was awarded a $300,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to build an interactive website that invites general audiences to engage with
biblical scholarship.

This is a rare opportunity for the SBL to speak to the continued importance of the Bible in modern culture and to communicate the value that biblical scholars bring to the study of the Bible and to the humanities.

The NEH review process includes peer review along with deliberation by the National Council on the Humanities. The award announcement described the grant recipients as highlighting the breadth of high-caliber humanities projects and research supported by the Endowment. “These projects represent some of the most innovative work happening in the humanities today,” said Jim Leach, Chairman of the NEH.

The site will begin production immediately, with a planned launch in 2013. Once completed, the site will become a powerful public platform for SBL members to speak directly to new audiences and to gain a stronger voice in the public square when questions arise about the Bible and its contexts.

“This is a huge opportunity for SBL to showcase the work of biblical scholars, educate and engage the public, and foster biblical scholarship,” said John Kutsko, executive director of SBL. “It also goes without saying that this award comes at a time of increasing pressure on the public support of the humanities at the state and federal levels. Thus, the award commitment is all the more significant in this context, and we are all the more grateful that the NEH has made us stewards of their support of scholarship, education, and the humanities.”

A strong team of SBL staff and members, led by Kent Richards, executive director emeritus, advised the project to its current status, and S2N Media developed the prototype site. For further information contact: Moira Bucciarelli, mbucciarelli@sblsite.org.

* * *

The Society of Biblical Literature is the oldest and largest non-sectarian international scholarly membership organization in the field of biblical studies. Founded in 1880, SBL’s membership includes scholars, teachers, students, and individuals from all walks of life who share a mutual interest in the critical, academic study of the Bible. SBL’s mission is to foster biblical scholarship.

“The world will be rid of Norman Golb when he dies” (and other highlights from Raphael Golb’s appeal)

After his arrest, Raphael Golb lied about sending emails he later claimed were "parody." Now, in the appeal of his conviction on 31 felony and misdemeanor counts of forgery, criminal impersonation, identity theft, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer, Dr. Golb is making more false statements. One must ask, at what point will he begin to resemble the main character in the famed tale of a boy who couldn't stop lying?

After his arrest, Raphael Golb lied about sending emails he later claimed were "parody." Now, in the appeal of his conviction on 31 felony and misdemeanor counts of forgery, criminal impersonation, identity theft, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer, Dr. Golb is making more false statements. One must ask, at what point will he begin to resemble the main character in the famed tale of a boy who couldn't stop lying?

As I was perusing Dr. Raphael Golb’s appeal of the 31 guilty verdicts against him in the case of the People of New York v. Raphael Golb (in case you missed it, Dr. Golb was found guilty of 31 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, criminal impersonation, forgery, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer), I stumbled across this interesting claim on pages 69-70:

‘”And Cargill concluded a lecture at the Society of Biblical Literature by suggesting that “the world will be rid of Norman Golb when he
dies.”‘ (Appeal of guilty verdict in the case of the People of New York v. Raphael Golb, § Argument, IV, A)

I chuckled. I did so because I specifically remember this very issue coming up during my testimony when Dr. Golb’s defense attorney, Ron Kuby, cross-examined me. Before we examine whether or not the above statement is true, here is the transcript of the exchange from pages 763-768 of the corrected court transcripts of my cross-examination by Dr. Golb’s defense attorney, Ron Kuby:

Q (from Golb Defense Attorney Ron Kuby to Dr. Robert Cargill):  Earlier on cross-examination, Dr. Cargill, I made reference to a paper that you had prepared related to this case and your experiences. Do you recall this?
A (Dr. Robert Cargill to Golb Defense Attorney Ron Kuby):  This is the paper to which you referred in November?
Q.  Yes.
A.  Yes, I think you mentioned that paper earlier.
Q. Is it fair to say that that was entitled “Scholars Behaving Badly?” It’s got a longer title to it but that’s part of it?
A.  That’s the principle portion before the colon title, yes.
Q.  And this was an exclusive to Archaeology magazine?
A.  I’ve never published in Archaeology magazine.
Q.  I’m sorry? Dr. Cargill, just take a look at the document marked page one, scan it silently to yourself if you please, and after you’ve satisfied yourself and you know what it is.
A.  (The witness complied.)
Q. What do you recognize that to be, sir?
A.  This is a document that I wrote for consideration of publication for Archaeology magazine?
Q.  So you sent it to Archaeology magazine for publication; is that correct?
A.  I was working with an editor there.
Q.  And did they publish it?
A.  No, sir.
Q.  Could you hand it back, please?
COURT CLERK:  And that is marked as?
MR. KUBY:  H-1.
Q.  And with respect to this article, you’ve delivered variations of this article in the form of a lecture; is that correct?
A.  I have not delivered variations. I’ve delivered one redacted variation of that article, the one that we’ve already described at SBL.
Q.  And this article, you wrote this article, right?
A.  Yes.
Q.  Did you end the article by saying, “Unfortunately the words of Shrine of the Book Curator, Magen Broshi, still appear to echo true today.” Quote “When will be we free of Golb? When he dies.” Close quote. You wrote that?
A.  I’m sorry?
Q.  You wrote that?
A.  Magen Broshi wrote that.
Q.  You were quoting Magen Broshi?
A.  In the initial draft, in the first draft of this article, I had a lot of things, and things that we ended up redacting out of the article thinking the article is too long.
Q.  But in the Society for Biblical Literature lecture that you gave on November 23rd, you included that portion in the speech that you gave, did you not?
A.  I do not recall.
Q.  You do not recall?
A.  Including that portion.
Q.  Well, we’ll hold that for now. Magen Broshi – you identified him in this article as the Shrine of the Book Curator, correct?
A.  I believe so.
Q.  And what is the Shrine of the Book?
A.  The Shrine of the Book is a building that contains many of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It’s a part of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Q.  So it’s an important institution in your area of work?
A.  In my area of work, yes, it’s an important place.
Q.  And you were aware, were you not, that in an interview with the newspaper Ha’aretz, Magen Broshi said, “When will we be free of Golb? When he dies.”?
A.  I read that quote in Dr. Golb’s book. That’s when I learned of that quote.
Q.  And you saw fit to quote it in your papers, correct?
A.  No, I did not. I saw fit to include it in the original draft of the paper, which was later redacted from the paper. No one every publicly saw that.
Q.  Pardon me?
A.  No one ever publicly saw that.
Q.  I’m not asking you that question, you wrote those words, correct?
A.  I quoted Dr. Broshi in the early draft of a document that I wrote.
Q.  And when you say you included it in your paper, that is the portion that you had said, simply to quote, “Unfortunately Broshi’s words are still true,” you mean by that it’s unfortunate that you wouldn’t be rid Norman Golb sooner than his death?
A.  No, sir, that’s not what I meant.
Q.  Do you know how old Norman Golb is?
A.  I do not.
Q.  Do you have any idea?
A.  I would have to speculate.
Q.  Any notion of how long you have to wait to be free of him?
(District Attorney) MR. BANDLER: Objection.
THE COURT: Sustained.
Q.  You also wrote, did you not, that Norman Golb will, quote, “fight his litigious losing battle until the bitter end?”
A.  I’m sorry, are you quoting from a draft of a manuscript I wrote?
Q.  I am asking you if you wrote the following words?
A.  I don’t recall. I mean, we would have to see if it’s in a draft of a manuscript that was never published.
Q. Did you ever deliver those words to the Society of Biblical Literature on November 23rd?
A.  I don’t recall.
Q.  You don’t recall. Is this the kind of thing you would remember if you had done it?
A.  No.
Q. Because it’s so commonplace to attack Norman Golb, it just doesn’t ring a bell anymore?
THE COURT: That’s an extraordinarily large…  I will direct the jury to disregard it and the witness not to answer it.

In the above exchange, we find Dr. Golb’s defense attorney, Ron Kuby, doing his job: attempting to impugn my credibility to the jury. But it quickly became obvious to the judge and the jury that Mr. Kuby (or Dr. Golb, who many suspect did much of the “research” for his own defense) made a mistake. The defense mistakenly thought that I had read the draft article I had submitted to Archaeology as my 2009 SBL paper. They obviously had not attended the lecture or heard it, but simply assumed that I had read the draft article to the SBL session. At one point, they even bluffed and asked me if I wanted to hear a CD audio recording of the paper:

Q.  Now you lecture from time to time as well, is that correct?
A.  I do.
Q.  And one of the lectures that you gave was on November 23rd of last year, correct?
A.  Yes, sir.
Q.  The Society Biblical Literature is that where it took place?
A.  It was either ASOR or SBL, they meet together.
Q.  And you have sort of turned your experience with this case into a academic paper, haven’t you, if that’s an unfair characterization, please correct me.
A.  Yes, I wrote about, I think it’s safe to say I wrote about the proceedings of this matter, yes.
Q.  And you did it in what I’ll call a formal paper?
A.  I did it in a paper presented, I believe – and I’d have to check if I’m wrong – at the Society of Biblical Literature. It may have been ASOR but it might have been SBL.
Q.  And you published a review of this as well in the Archaeology Review as well?
A.  Of this paper? Not to my knowledge.
Q.  At the November 23rd lecture? And this lecture was before whom again?
A.  It was again to my recollection the Society of Biblical Literature, it was a session on online research. There are different sessions within the Society of Biblical Literature. You can give a lecture on the Books of Samuel, a lecture on the prophets, and they have one on technology and the use of research.
Q.  And in that lecture did you say the following, quote, “Despite Norman and Raphael’s many criticisms, the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibits were experiencing tremendous success and Norman Golb was still not being invited to speak at the museums lectures. Our patient vigilance had begun to payoff and the Golbs were experience increasing difficulty in getting out their message,” end quote?
A.  If it’s not word for word, that’s consistent with something that I said in the lecture.
Q.  Well, would you like to listen to a CD of that?
A.  Sure. No, but I guess you’re going to play it anyway.
Q.  No, I’m not.
(Court transcripts of the cross-examination of Robert Cargill, p. 759-760)

Golb’s defense attorney, Mr. Kuby, didn’t want to play the CD of my SBL paper because he didn’t have it. Had he actually been in possession of the conclusion of my 2009 SBL paper entitled, “Scholars Behaving Badly: ‘Charles Gadda,’ Raphael Golb, and the Campaign of Anonymity on the Internet to Promote Norman Golb and Smear His Rivals,” he’d have heard the following conclusion:

Finally, scholars should be reminded that they cannot force their legacies upon history; rather, our legacies are the product of a lifetime of research, instruction, publication, and collegiality. Today, scholars must collaborate and work together—within the parameters of peer review and professional conferences—and must not attempt to substitute these established practices with self-published articles and campaigns of online intimidation. The days of the old scholarly model of ripping your opponent’s position (and them personally) are over. Today, it is important for scholars to work cooperatively, with colleagues to bring about responsible scholarship. Because you must never forget: the island is always watching.

Thank you for your time.

Obviously, the conclusion of my SBL paper was different from the unpublished draft article that I had submitted to Archaeology. But that reality didn’t fit what Dr. Golb’s defense wanted to argue. So, he attempted to mislead the jury into thinking that I read the draft Archaeology article as my SBL paper, which was simply not the case. But, we see again that Dr. Golb’s defense team was not interested in the truth, or even the facts, but rather in continuing their attempt to smear me (and Dr. Schiffman) by simply making things up.

So, back to Dr. Golb’s appeal. There are ultimately two problems with the statement, “And Cargill concluded a lecture at the Society of Biblical Literature by suggesting that ‘the world will be rid of Norman Golb when he dies’,” in Dr. Golb’s appeal. First, Dr. Golb’s defense again intentionally misleads those unfortunate few interested enough in reading through the 111 pages of rehashed red herrings and irrelevant excuses presented in the appeal by failing to inform the reader that this statement is actually a quote from Shrine of the Book Curator, Dr. Magen Broshi, which he made to the newspaper, Ha’aretz, on October 4, 1991.

In fact, the defense counsel knew this, because they had not only asked me about it during my cross-examination, but had quoted it and properly attributed it to Dr. Broshi in their earlier Motion to Dismiss the charges against Dr. Golb, pages 4-5:

This suggestion was accompanied by widely reported defamatory statements, including the assertion by Magen Broshi, director of the Shrine of the Book museum in Jerusalem, that Norman Golb was a “revolting polemist, an opinionated trouble-maker” who had “filled the world with his filth,” and of whom “we will be free … when he dies.” (Haaretz, October 4, 1991.)

The defense counsel contradicts reality (and its own court filing!) by claiming in their appeal that *I* made the statement they themselves correctly attributed to Dr. Broshi earlier in their motion to dismiss.

Go figure.

Of course, what’s ironic about Dr. Broshi’s quote is that I would have never known about it had Dr. Golb not published it on page 230 of his own book, Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.

So Dr. Broshi said it. Dr. Golb repeated it on page 230 of his book. Dr. Golb’s defense team repeated the quote in their motion to dismiss, and specifically asked me about it during cross-examination. But according to Dr. Golb’s appeal, *I* made the quote.

I shake my head.

But, there’s another problem with the statement, “And Cargill concluded a lecture at the Society of Biblical Literature by suggesting that ‘the world will be rid of Norman Golb when he dies’,” in Dr. Golb’s appeal: I NEVER QUOTED THE QUOTE!

The defense mistakenly assumed that I had read from the draft of an article that I had written and sent to Archaeology for publication. However, we decided not to publish the article, which means no one ever read the draft of the article except me and the Archaeology editor, and apparently Mr. Kuby (who somehow managed to obtain a copy of the draft of the article). The defense was attempting to make me look bad by trying to argue that I read Dr. Broshi’s quote to a session at SBL. The only problem is, I didn’t use the line in my SBL paper! I told Dr. Golb’s defense counsel that I couldn’t recall using that line during cross-examination. Unfortunately for Dr. Golb’s defense counsel, I did not. But that didn’t stop the defense from attempting to tell the jury that I quoted the quote in my paper. And when the jury saw through Dr. Golb’s lies and found him guilty thirty-one times, it didn’t stop Dr. Golb’s defense from stating the flat out lie that I concluded my SBL paper with the words, “The world will be rid of Norman Golb when he dies.” It never happened, and yet, there it is in Dr. Golb’s appeal, presented as if it were fact. Simply amazing!

The defense is not only misleading the court (and the public by posting the appeal online anonymously), but it is also flat out lying when it claims in their appeal that I said something in a lecture that I did not.

Of course, in the end, it doesn’t really matter. Dr. Golb can make up whatever he wants in his appeal because it is “protected speech.” But the NY DA will simply point out that the appeal is full of lies and misstatements, and the appellate court will make the appropriate judgment.

But this just shows once again what we’ve come to expect from Dr. Golb and his defense team: the demonstrated, repeated willingness to mislead any who will listen, misrepresent facts, and flat out lie in a desperate attempt to blame someone – anyone! – for Dr. Golb’s own crimes.

call for papers for the ‘blogging and online publication’ section at the 2011 sbl annual meeting is now open

Biblioblogger logoThe call for papers for the ‘Blogging and Online Publication’ section at the 2011 SBL Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA is now available. The meeting will be held November 19-22, 2011.

SBL members wishing to present papers should submit proposals on the SBL website here by March 1, 2011.

The SBL Blogger and Online Publication section invites proposals for papers for its 2011 annual meeting session. The open session calls for papers focusing on any area of blogging and online publication in relation to biblical studies, theology, and archaeology of the Levant. Special consideration will be given to those papers addressing:

  • the politics and etiquette of blogging professionals
  • issues dealing with anonymity, identity, and authorship
  • the utilization of blogs by professionals for creating, responding to, and redacting content for publication elsewhere
  • podcasting and video blogging
  • issues examining solo blogging vs. community blogging

For more information, or if you have any questions, please contact:

Dr. Robert R. Cargill
Center for Digital Humanities
UCLA
1020 Public Affairs Building
Los Angeles, CA, 90095-1499

or email cargill@humnet.ucla.edu.

Introductory Remarks for the Inaugural Blogger and Online Publication Session at the 2010 Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting

Introductory Remarks for the Inaugural Blogger and Online Publication Session at the 2010 Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting
Robert R. Cargill, Presiding
November 22, 2010, 1:00-3:30 PM
Room: A702 – Marriott Marquis

Society of Biblical LiteratureI’d like to welcome each of you to this inaugural “Blogger and Online Publication” section at the 2010 SBL annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.

Each of our presenters today represents a specific look at the history, present state, and future of blogging and online publication.

We shall also be passing around a plate to take up a collection for the use of this projector, which apparently sets the SBL back about $400 a day.

Before we begin, I’d like to acknowledge two people who are largely responsible for this new session. The first is the SBL Manager of Programs, Charlie Haws, who worked diligently to make this session possible. His foresight and recognition that the academy must embrace the reality and power of blogging and online publication was not only courageous within the established academy, but an acknowledgment of the reality that this new medium brings an interactive, scholarly discussion about biblical literature, religion, theology, and archaeology directly to the public from each of our own unique points of view. So to Charlie Haws I offer my heartfelt thanks.

The other individual I’d like to acknowledge was here for ASOR last week, but had to return home. He was the driving force behind guiding this Blogging and Online Publication session from concept to reality. That man is Jim West. Jim’s persistence and hard work behind the scenes made this session possible. Whether you love him or hate him, you read him, (whether you admit it or not), and Dr. West has easily become the most widely read Bible-related blog online (as he regularly reminds us). I’d like to offer my heartfelt thanks to the ever vigilant, ever present commentator of all things Zwingli and totally depraved, and if I may proudly add, my friend, Jim West. Thank you Jim.

We’ll have time for a few questions at the end of each presentation, but there will be an additional few minutes for discussion at the end of the session where you may direct additional questions to any of the presenters.

With that, our first paper will be presented by Dr. James Davila of University of St. Andrews in Scotland entitled, “What Just Happened:  The Rise of “Biblioblogging” in the First Decade of the Twenty-first Century.”

Our second paper will be presented by Dr. Christian Brady, Dean of Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University in University Park, Pennsylvania entitled, “Online Biblical Studies: Past, Present, Promise, and Peril.”

Our third paper will be presented by Dr. Michael Barber of John Paul the Great Catholic University in San Diego, California entitled, “Weblogs and the Academy: The Benefits and Challenges of Biblioblogging.”

Our fourth paper will be presented by Dr. James McGrath of Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana entitled, “The Blogging Revolution: New Technologies and their Impact on How we do Scholarship.”

Our final paper will be presented by me, Robert R. Cargill of UCLA, entitled, “Instruction, Research, and the Future of Online Educational Technologies.”

thoughts on the sbl’s pay-per-projector policy

SBL Data Projector with Coin Slot

Is the SBL also among the tax collectors?

The Society of Biblical Literature has instituted a new policy at the 2010 annual meeting in Atlanta that charges presenters $25-$75 for the use of a data projector during a presentation. You heard me correctly, that’s $25-75 per presenter, per presentation, depending upon whether or not the presenter pre-paid by September 17.

Please allow me to express my profound displeasure with this decision in my own unique way.

Now, this fee is no surprise. The SBL actually unveiled this new revenue-producing scheme before the call for papers, and it was included in the online proposal form. You may remember this gem on the SBL website:

This year a nominal fee ($25 per item prior to June 15th) will be charged for each piece of Audio/Visual equipment requested. This will assist the SBL in covering a portion of the A/V costs for your session. Please request only the A/V equipment essential to your presentation to help us keep the meeting affordable for all members. Upon your paper’s acceptance, you will receive additional information on how to confirm equipment and pay for your A/V needs.

Most scholars either didn’t pay attention; read it, but didn’t bother to do or say anything about it (as scholars are oft wont to do); ignored it and planned on simply not paying when the bill came; or figured they’d do what faculty always do: complain about a new (albeit ridiculous) policy a week before crunch time rather than proactively write in dissent or objection to the policy in the early stages.

As the chair of the Blogger and Online Publication section (whose presenters, as one might expect, might actually employ the use of technology during their presentations), I was aghast at the notion that I needed to pay extra to give a presentation, when other presenters and attendees, who also benefit from other technologies like electricity, microphones, speakers, podiums, chairs, etc., were required to pay nothing. I chose not to pay the fee, and instead arranged to bring my own digital projector, extension cord, cables, etc., which I do every year. (Jim West has offered to do the same.)

SBL Data Projector Meter

This is what it has come to: the SBL is taxing those who create visually compelling presentations to accompany their papers.

Perhaps the new SBL email confirmation can read as follows:

“Congratulations!
Your paper has been accepted in the Johannine Literature section. Please send us $25 additional if you plan on actually creating a visually compelling presentation to accompany your paper.
If you’re just going to stand there and read a boring paper, well then, that’s free.
Again, congratulations.

P.S. Send money. We’re broke.”

The SBL is attempting to exact a tax on digital projectors. At some level a strategic decision was made to surcharge presenters, perhaps because they knew that most people attending SBL would be receiving some sort of reimbursement from their employer (whether university, bookseller, or non-profit organization), and would simply pass this expense along to their employers. (Airlines get away with charging extra for bags because most major carriers know that the bulk of their business comes from business travelers on expense accounts.) We know SBL has been collecting reimbursement data. (Remember filling out the question during registration that asked if you would be receiving 100%, some, or no reimbursement from an employer?) A decision was made to tax presenters above and beyond the already high conference registration fees, SBL annual membership, hotel costs, and additional skyrocketing hotel taxes (check your hotel bill before you hand it to your office manager for reimbursement)!

However, the SBL may be at fault on more than one level. I am hoping it is not the case that the SBL signed a deal with hotels that it either knew was bad (because it did not include data projectors), but needed to sign quickly for one reason or another. Worse yet, I hope it is not the case that negligence played a role and SBL simply overlooked the fact that data projectors were not included, signed a deal, and then got caught off guard when it realized it would be hit with the surprise charges, and scrambled to recoup some of the additional expense.

Scott Bailey has pointed out the absurdity of the SBL hotel’s claims regarding the costs of data projectors. Most data projectors can be purchased outright for less than $450 these days, (click here for a selection of digital projector options), yet the SBL hotel is charging SBL $450 per day(!!) to rent its data projectors. AND THE SBL AGREED TO THESE TERMS!!! It appears that SBL either signed a bad deal without doing its due diligence regarding the actual cost of data projectors, or simply missed the fact that projectors were not included. Given that the SBL is headquartered in Atlanta, one would think that they would know their local hotels and could negotiate a decent deal.

A $25-75 surcharge for what are usually 25-minute presentations comes to $1-3/minute! For standard technology!

The SBL should immediately rescind its policy of charging presenters $25-75 per presentation for using a data projector.

SBL and Projectors

$450/Day. (Photo by James McGrath)

SBL should not begin charging presenters for projectors. Data projectors have become a staple of all good presentations. I can’t wait to see presenters reading papers without PowerPoints simply to protest the policy. A more likely solution is that given the compact nature of today’s projectors, most scholars will bring their own projectors along with their laptops, as we are doing for the Blogger and Online Publication session. (Thank you James McGrath!)

This policy especially hurts younger scholars and graduate students, the very demographic SBL is attempting to reach and the group SBL must reach to ensure its long-term viability! SBL annual meetings are already very (almost prohibitively) expensive, especially for graduate students, who do not have secured positions at universities to whom they can submit reimbursements, and who are the most likely to use technology to present papers in an effort to procure jobs. Because the “data projector tax” hurts young scholars, the SBL is essentially taxing the poorest of the poor (because after all, we’re all in the humanities), and exacting a tax on those who are least able to afford it.

If SBL is going to fine anyone, it should charge presenters who do not use data projectors. If you wrote your SBL “talk” on the back of a napkin in the bar just before your session, you should have to pay $75 in order to present – money that can be distributed to those of us who have to listen to you drone on about hiphil middle-weak verb forms without any form of visual aid whatsoever. Don’t punish those presenters who have spent the time to write a good paper and create a helpful accompanying presentation.

The SBL should not disincentivize the production of effective, visual presentations at its own annual meeting!

Jesus Cleanses the SBL Registration Booth

An angry Jesus, upset about the fact that SBL is charging presenters to use data projectors, cleanses the SBL registration booth. (Mashup of Carl Heinrich Bloch painting by Robert R. Cargill) More on Bloch here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Heinrich_Bloch

Nickel-and-diming the attendees gives the SBL a real black eye at a time of nation-wide economic cost-cutting at universities, and when the SBL is attempting to market to a new range of scholars. Higher education really can’t afford the additional cost burden right now, especially if the revenues raised from the data projector tax are simply being passed along to hotels.

I’m seriously waiting for Jesus (Christ, not Jones in hotel facilities) to show up and “cleanse” the SBL registration booth. I’d like to see him overturn a table full of data projectors or two.

I can hear it now: as soon as a projector goes dark, someone will say,

“Will you put another quarter in the data projector meter for me?”

Church Collection Plate

Seriously, we should take up an offering for use of the data projectors. A section with 5 papers would cost $125, and that’s if you pre-reserved them back in June! We could pass a plate down the rows.

Solution

The SBL should immediately announce that it is rescinding its data projector fees for this year’s annual meeting.

Itemizing the data projector costs as an additional surcharge only highlights the fiscal trouble of the SBL.

Placing the fiscal burden directly on those scholars who are doing and presenting higher-end research that requires modern forms of technology to communicate their findings disincentivizes innovation.

Nickel-and-diming its own participants for participating makes an otherwise professional organization look cheap and does not send an inspiring message of fiscal viability to SBL members.

It would be better to spread the cost of data-projectors evenly across all participants, whether they use them in presentations, or watch presentations that use projectors. This minimal cost (say, $5) could be added to the already absurd annual meeting registration cost. It would be less burdensome to the presenters, and would not advertise SBL’s financial woes by highlighting the need to exact a surcharge for a service that is now standard in higher education and professional conferences.

Rescinding the decision to impose fees on those using data projectors would buy the SBL a year to debate the role of technology in scholarship, properly assess the real costs of technology, and give SBL a year to communicate the need, if any, for higher fees to subsidize technology costs.

SBL could also agree not to do business with hotels who insist on exacting absurd usury fees on conferences. It’s SBL’s home town for crying aloud! SBL should be able to negotiate a fair deal.

In Sum

In sum, charging presenters a fee to present their papers in a modern format is a very poor decision on the part of SBL. Then again, a digital image is worth a thousand words (and I’ll let you see it for free):

SBL Pay-for-Projector Policy

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