On Corinthian Matters

I want to send a special congratulations to David Pettegrew on the one year anniversary of his blog Corinthian Matters.  David’s blog regular features interesting and timely pieces, good documentary photography, and, often, original translations of works important (or overlooked) in the study of the Early Christian and Late Antique Corinthia.

In his most recent post, he looks ahead to the next phase of life for his blog. He has not only invited scholars interested in the Corinthia to contribute to his blogging efforts, but also articulated a set of objectives for his effort.  These objectives seek to promote the study of Corinth and the dissemination of Corinth related scholarship.  This is a perfect example of the utility that an academic blog can provide for the scholarly and “lay” community.

On of the most inspiring thing about David’s blogging effort is its explicitly external focus. In other words, his blog is not a reflection of his own scholarly interests (per se), but meant to be a contribution to the scholarly, educational, and even religious or spiritual interests of others. This puts this blog is rather stark contrast to many web based initiatives which tend to focus on the idiosyncratic interests of the authors and are grounded in the assumption that these interests will coincide with a group of readers among the almost infinite audiences available on the web.  David’s blog seems far more intent on tapping into and contributing to an existing conversation that extends far beyond the hyper-fragmented audiences of the internet.  The range of popular and scholarly audiences interested in the Corinthia makes it an ideal match for a thoughtful blog.

The decision to focus his blog on a specific external audience, of course, has made it possible for David to open the doors to external contributors.  I’ve been invited to add content from time to time – in fact, as I write this I’m cross-posting my blog post from yesterday to Corinthian Matters and I’ll probably make it a point to cross-post any Corinthian related content to David’s blog.  If other bloggers take advantage of David’s interest in collaborating, Corinthian Matters has a chance to succeed where other group focusing on various aspects of the ancient world blog have fallen short. In fact, David’s blog hints at the increasingly blurry line between a self-published blog and a collectively published magazine or journal. The potential is there.

My blog, in contrast, remains a far more selfish endeavor. In fact, part of my blog’s purpose is to attempt to find the links between my various, disparate research interests.  If my blog ever does succeed in finding these links, the interest to anyone other than the author will likely be voyeuristic rather than scholarly. In this way, my blog follows on a long tradition of early blogs (think: Justin Hall’s Links from the Underground or Jorn Barger’s Robot Wisdom) which were idiosyncratic collections of links or live, public journals.

Perhaps David’s blog is the future of the internet publications as the forms and practices of the traditional media have come to colonize more and more fully the world of instant self-publishing. The resulting form is a hybrid situated at the explicit intersection of authorial interests and public demand.

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