I have added another chapter to my readings from Winnie-the-Pooh. “In which Christopher Robin leads an Expotition to the North Pole” naturally if you live in Canada, NZ and various other countries with enlightened copyright laws it is quite legal to listen and enjoy. If you live in the Disney Union or the United States of Monsato you would be committing a serious crime if you dared to listen!
Over the last year I have been forced (by equipment failure and an unwillingness to spend “too much”of the family budget on Internet publishing) to experiment with various options for recording audio.
I’ve done some of the 5 minute Bible podcasts using our camera (then combining a presentation with the video in the visual version of the podcast) this approach gets OK audio, except when the camera is too far from the speaker.
But most of the time I have used the internal mics on my Tascam DR-40 (digital audio recorder) at first I thought the quality was quite good. However, I have begun to wonder if it is better to attach a mic (I’m using the one I used to use with the external sound card).
I wonder if any of you would be willing to listen to a bit of the 7th chapter of Winnie-the-Pooh, and compare it with one of the earlier chapters and let me know what you think of the differences in recording quality?
It would be a big help – one of the problems with doing such stuff without colleagues or technical support is that I don’t have an unbiased pair of ears to criticise!
Rudyard Kipling by E.O. Hoppé (1912) from Wikimedia
I have just finished corrections to the last chapters of the three books of Letters of Travel by Rudyard Kipling. Here’s How I’m suggesting the books be described:
“Three books of travel writing (between them covering the USA, Canada, Japan and Egypt) by the Nobel Prize winning author of the Just So Stories and the Jungle Book. Rudyard Kipling (an Englishman born and raised in India) offers an interesting outsider’s view of the places he visits, candid and sharp witted, yet with a deep humanity.
Letters of Travel comprises three books: From Tideway to Tideway 1892-95 contains pieces first published in the Times covering voyages across north America (USA and Canada) and in Japan; his Letters to the Family first appeared in the Morning Post, while Nash’s Magazine was the first publisher of the articles (on Egypt and Sudan) in Egypt of the Magicians.
Kipling’s observations are cast in a wry style that permits, as his work often does, different readings. The unsympathetic reader can hear a banal repetition of the patriarchal, racist and imperialist ideas of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century trotted out. (Or even in his characterisation of the Jewish power behind the pedlar in “The Face of the Desert” a suggestion of something worse.) A more nuanced reading will perceive an amused or wry smile in Kipling’s remembering and the human sympathy that infuses all his writing. (US listeners should be warned that in Kipling’s day “the N word” was in common use, and he therefore uses it naturally to describe people of Sub-Saharan African ancestry.)
A paragraph in the “letter” written on Kipling’s arrival in Japan might serve as example. It closes: “The father-fisher has it by the pink hind leg, and this time it is tucked away, all but the top-knot, out of sight among umber nets and sepia cordage. Being an Oriental it makes no protest, and the boat scuds out to join the little fleet in the offing.” With its flippant tone (“all but the top-knot”), impersonal reference (“it” rather than he or she) and use of racial terms (“Oriental”) and stereotypes (“makes no protest”) this can be presented as an example of the worst of Victorian Imperialist prejudice.
And yet… as the fisher family are introduced, not only was “the perfect order and propriety of the housekeeping” noted but mention was made of “a largish Japanese doll, price two shillings and threepence in Bayswater”, which turns out to be a baby. At first glance this is merely another example of Western bigotry. Note however the words Kipling uses to show us that this is not in fact a doll: “The doll wakes, turns into a Japanese baby something more valuable than money could buy”. The “Japanese doll” is a priceless human child and not a commodity to be bought in Bayswater.
Perhaps the prejudice is not so much on the surface of Kipling’s writing as under the surface of the reader’s presuppositions? Time and again wry observation turns the familiar world into something fresh, and reminds the reader of shared humanity with the strange and foreign people being observed. Kipling as a tourist is no mere gawker whether in strange yet familiar Yokohama or in foreign Vermont.”
For my next project I’ll be reading a work still in copyright in the USA, though out of copyright almost everywhere else (the author died almost a century ago in the First World War) so for the European Legamus.
As well as all the work on the 5 minute Bible podcasts, planting winter vegetables and building a pig pen, I’ve been reading children’s stories. Some of the latest highlight Beatrix Potter’s delightful illustrations as YouTube videos.
Among the reading for my MIT MediaLab MOOC, Learning Creative Learning, is the huge report: Mimi Ito et al. (2009): Learning and Living with New Media. MacArthur Foundation. The executive summary includes this sentence, which reminded me why the term “new media” is so much better than the older “digital” to describe the current cultural shift:
We use the term new media to describe a media ecology where more traditional media such as books, television, and radio are intersecting with digital media, specifically interactive media, online networks, and media for social communication.
Old media like TV and radio (but increasingly also books) are (or at least are at some stages of their production and transmission) digital. But even the most digital TV is not “new media” because it is not networked.1
New media is both:
- infinitely copiable
- almost free to transmit or copy
- malleable (digital media can be changed/edited as well as copied)
- open to talk back
- open to reuse
- open to conversation
- open to extension
To the extent that something embodies most of these characteristics it is new media, if it mainly or exclusively embodies the first group it is merely digital. The Amos: Hypertext Bible Commentary was digital, my 5 minute Bible podcasts are digital moving towards new media. The hard bit, for a media dinosaur2 Is getting the last step. Not Only a Father as a discussable book attempts to be new media, but so far has not generated a community of discussion… I wonder what I can do to encourage that last step…
- NB I am not here using the term “network” in the sense that the name CNN uses it. But rather of a media environment where communication can and does move in multiple directions. Not just from me to you – a monologue like most traditional TV and radio; or from me to you and you to me – a dialogue – like talkback radio; but between you, me, him and her… severally and sometimes together. [↩]
- I grew up with radio, but TV came to our place only when I was almost a teenager. [↩]
There is an interesting (if somewhat restricted) discussion on the SBL’s Facebook page about the possibility of podcasting (some) sessions from the annual meeting.
The suggestion is simple. Record sessions (unless the speaker asks not to be recorded). Make the recordings available on the web.
The advantages are clear. Much wider access to this forum of scholarly conversation. Currently many of us are either geographically rich (i.e. we are so far from Chicago that tickets and time to get there are difficult) or economically poor (we simply cannot afford to attend) that we miss out on this means of keeping up with current and emerging thinking in our areas.
SBL has a fine history of making efforts to widen the circle, scholarships for attending the meetings for emerging and distant scholars are a good (if expensive) example. SBL is also developing a reputation for using technology to make access wider (think of e-publications and RBL online), even sponsoring open access scholarship. Podcasting (even some of) the Annual and International Meetings would be a huge step in this direction that would cost little. (A few MP3 players and a few days of work.)
The argument so far advanced as a possible objection, that some scholars might not wish their presentation to receive this wider audience is easily covered by making participation optional. The other objection, that people who might otherwise attend would decide to stay at home misses the point, that social interaction (not to mention book exhibits ;) is a big part of the reason people attend. I’d be surprised if numbers attending dropped significantly as a result of podcasting, and this year numbers are so high they have had to arrange extra hotels :)
I am “responsible”1 for the next BS Carnival. Unless you want your favourite blogs, or indeed (horror of horrors) your own blog “represented” by only those posts I found most entertaining (which let’s face it given my sense of humour might be none) you would need to get worthy (or of course as usual, unworthy) nominations to me well before the end of the month.
Please pass on this serious warning!
NB the Carnival will be going live at just after midnight as the months change here at GST/GMT +12.
- This term may not be entirely appropriate ;) but you will be able to judge for yourselves in a couple of weeks! [↩]
Here’s where producers of Bible software and apps come into play. To keep this response from getting too long, I will simply make a number of observations,
[TB: WordPress is throwing a fit every time I try to post these, so I’ll post them one by one :( ]
- My sense is that there will always be a place for audio Bibles, but they will not likely become a predominant form.
You, Tim, have been involved with the podbible and the 5minutebible projects, and there is also The Bible Podcast site. These are great resources for people who have various challenges reading, and my commuting students loved having them available. On the other hand, hearing is just much slower than reading, audio is becoming largely associated with music, and music is being challenged by video.
It’s probably safe to say that the number of Bible readers is directly related to the number of Christians. In the West (and the best numbers I could find relate in general to Europe and the USA), there has been a steady decrease in the number of self-identified Christians and church attendance. It’s no surprise, then, that Bible reading has decreased, and the only way to reverse this contribution to the decline has to be a revitalization of Christianity in the West. The follow-up question then is, “Can new technologies contribute to the revitalization of Christianity, including the reading of the Bible?”
I think there is also a conceptual factor at work. People still simply conceive of the Bible as a printed, physical book. There is an older gentleman in my home congregation who uses a computer regularly for email and internet, but when he reads his Bible, he pulls out his mother’s RSV Bible from the 1950’s. It’s rewarding for him to have that tangible connection with his family’s history. Even when he was part of an online Bible study group, and I linked directly to biblical texts using bib.ly or Reftagger, he still pulled out his Bible to read the text. It’s not just an issue with older readers, however. Biblical scholars and seminary students have certainly discovered the benefits of working with Bible software, but I don’t know how many of them actually just read the Bible on their computer. How does this concept of the Bible as a physical book affect the number of people reading the Bible? Sales of physical books have been steadily declining in recent years, and just last year, Amazon reported that they were selling more e-books than physical ones. So, if fewer people are reading physical books, and the Bible is primarily conceived as a physical book, we should not be surprised to see a decrease in Bible reading. I believe that the majority of Bible readers simply have not made the shift to think of the Bible as a digital resource.
Now the question becomes, “Can people be enticed to read the Bible if it is delivered in digital forms?”
[More in part three all being well, WordPress problems continue.]
Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg are holding a Blog Tour on Religion and Media, in this post Mark Vitalis Hoffman (of Biblical Studies and Technological Tools) is replying to this question from me:
Mark, advances in electronic communications technologies and equipment (especially Internet and mobile phones) makes Scripture and the tools to understand it more easily and widely available than ever. Yet at the same time rates of engaged regular Scripture reading among Christians in the West since the reformation has hardly been lower.
Are there technologies or tools you think have the potential over the next few years to revitalize Scripture reading among Western Christians?
Thanks for this question, Tim. I know it’s a concern that is near to your heart!
Two or three decades ago, at least in the United States, it was not unusual to see Christians who would regularly carry their Bibles around with them and presumably read them. There was quite a market for Bible carrying cases. A quick check on Amazon shows that there still is a market for them (over 900 items under “bible carrying case”), but there in the fourth spot is a “Leather Christian iPad 2 Case.” My point? As you note, technology is providing more biblical resources than ever, and they are easier than ever to access. So why the decrease in Bible reading?
I am convinced that Christians, both consumers (readers) and producers of content, will eventually get in sync with the possibilities technology offers, but it also is probably going to require some revitalization of Christianity in general. I’m trying to say a few things with that sentence, so let me expand.
[I have been having real problems with WordPress today :( I hope I can post the expansion in another post.]