November 14, 2007

BibleTech:2008 Conference

I'm off to SBL at the end of the week. It's unlike any other event I attend during the year. At the church-related conferences and assemblies I attend each year, there's always too few lunches and dinners and afterhours chats for the number of folks for whom we're trying to get together. At SBL, I feel at times like I walk around like a ghost. (I recall last year someone asking me if I was free for dinner and I just chuckled.) It's an odd, and not dissatisfying difference.

SBL's approach has reminded me of an invitation I received this summer to a conference in January being put together by Logos software. They're calling it BibleTech : 2008 , and the conference

is designed for publishers, programmers, webmasters, educators, bloggers and anyone interested in using technology to improve Bible study.
I like the idea of a tech conference for folks working with the bible and related texts. Certainly, the CARG at SBL does not suffice, nor fill this niche. I'd like to attend, if for no other reason than the opportunity to meet James Tauber in person. However, my schedule is tapped out, and I'm afraid it'll be too PC-centric to be of much interest to me given the context. And who the heck can get to Seattle for an over-nighter anyway? If the conference makes, and gets repeated, it'd be nice to have it in another part of the country, but we shouldn't be naive. A conference like this is at some real level a showcase for Logos and would be likely to stay there. This detail is on the web site:
When at the conference you might hear about Logos Bible Software from time to time, but no more so than any other projects that combine Bible study and technology.
Really? No more than any other commercial software?

I like the idea of a software company making efforts to be a catalyst for bible and tech work to be done, it seems to me they have repeatedly made such efforts in the last couple years (though I don't follow Logos' activities/news since they don't make Mac software). I do wish some of these efforts were less proprietary. I found the fact last year that SBL endorsed/cosponsored/lended credit to an academic award that required the scholarly work be done using a specific company's software to be abhorrent. (Will we also be allowing Fortress to offer an award for a scholar who only read books from their press?)

I hope the conference is a success. I think this sort of getting of folks together has grand potential. I will look for a report on it in the blogosphere.

Update: Bob Pritchett of Logos writes to describe how open and non-platform/product specific they've attempted to make the conference. I'm glad to hear of the efforts. One would simply expect the product of the company underwriting an event like this to enjoy a prominent position. While that is expected (otherwise, why would Logos spend all the money for the event?), it in no way mandates that other projects/products are not at all welcome.


jtauber said...

Well, I would have liked to have met you too. Hopefully there will be another opportunity.

I will be presenting using Keynote on my MacBook Pro so it won't entirely be a PC event :-)

Bob said...

I'm sorry you won't be coming to BibleTech.

We have done everything we can think of to make it as open as possible. The invitation to speakers was wide open. We haven't denied a speaking slot to any alternate platform, company, or technology. We even registered a separate domain name instead of putting the conference details at!

If you take a look at the list of speakers I think you'll find that it's neither Logos nor platform specific. And the few talks that Logos staff will be giving will be sharing some of our own work and research -- not showcasing our product.

Our biggest contribution is guaranteeing (and subsidizing!) the hotel food and room costs.

I hope you'll reconsider, if your schedule allows.