A Technophile’s Confession

I am known as a technophile. Colleagues and friends contact me with technical problems. I’m a relatively early adopter, too. I was early into the blogosphere, and have tried to do pioneering things with integrating the internet into pedagogy and with the potential for interactive digital textbooks.

But having admitted something to someone recently, it seemed that the time had perhaps come to simply let my dark secret out into the public eye.

I am a Biblical studies academic who is a technophile, and yet the last academic Bible study software I purchased came on floppy disks.

Having spent a few years in Romania after getting my PhD, teaching there with almost no salary, even after moving back to the U.S. and then getting a tenure-track position, I’ve still had to make choices about priorities. And so while I’ve sometimes been able to purchase tech devices, it has typically been with funds from grants or, more recently, from my endowed chair, rather than my own money.

And so the truth is that I currently typically use the Logos free app on my iPad with the free SBL Greek New Testament. I also have several other free apps.

With some start up funds that were made available to me when Butler hired me, I got the Anchor Bible Dictionary on CD-ROM. It works through the Libronix system, and I soon learned that each time the university replaced my computer at work, I would have to try to restore my licenses or call their tech support line to get it working again. I understand the need for Digital Rights Management systems, but the few Libronix modules I’ve worked with taught me that in the future I would need to think long and hard about the longevity, portability, and transferability of both the software and the modules I purchase.

And so I have looked enviously at programs currently available. BibleWorks in its current version looks fantastic, for use on a PC. And the Logos system has some modules that I would love to have on my iPad – particularly related to Aramaic and Syriac. Both have things along these lines that interest me, while each has some things that the other doesn’t. And of course there are whole others platforms that I could mention – ones like Accordance which would be find on my iPad but not my PC.

And so I always have found myself hesitating to take the plunge.

Why? Because a few years ago, I couldn’t have foreseen myself using an iPad regularly. If I had locked myself into a system that only works on a PC, I might have found myself frustrated by my inability to get that same content on my iPad. What future developments in the realm of devices will leave me frustrated with software or modules I purchase now? And how long will it be before I discover that one platform offers a module that I really need, but I have locked myself into working with another?

I suspect that I will soon need to take the step of getting some software, and I hope to have the chance at SBL, if not sooner, to take a close look at some of them.

But I thought it was time to confess that, just like my bottom of the line, pay-as-you-go cell phone, my academic Biblical studies software is not in keeping with my reputation as a technophile.

Hopefully, once the shock wears off, concerned individuals who will begin to provide input on which path I should follow as I seek to rectify this situation. Your recommendations are welcome!

I probably should have dictated this blog post using a high tech bluetooth earset and voice recognition software, to make amends. But I don’t have those either.

Excuse me while I skulk away, my head hung down in shame…Confessing this doesn’t feel as much of a relief as I thought it might. But us bloggers, having written something, tend to hit “Publish” sooner or later. And so here it goes…

 

  • William Tarbush

    I was blessed to have a person buy myself Logos4 when it came out. It was one of the lower libraries that I have since updated to Scholar’s Silver. It’s great software, but I enjoy using cheap Bible Study software besides it for things I haven’t bought yet.

  • Ken Brown

    I’ve been using Bibleworks for nearly a decade now and I can’t recommend it highly enough (first BW5 then 7; at some point I’ll upgrade again but 7 already does almost everything I need it to do). Unlike Logos, there are no licencing headaches. Each copy of Bibleworks comes with a registration code and I have never had the least bit of trouble with reinstalling on reformatted or new machines using it (I’ve gone through several since purchasing). I suspect if I ever DID have a problem they would be more than helpful to resolve it. It’s really not THAT expensive either, when you consider the cost of a couple of Brill mongraphs…

    I’ve also used Accordance–in fact I bought a used iMac for the sole purpose of running Accordance with the DSS module, and rather regretted that I could not bring it with me here to Germany. Lack of a DSS module (and some other primary text databases) is the only real downside to Bibleworks, from my perspective). I can’t speak to the Accordance’s portability, and it never became my go-to program, but I’ve got nothing bad to say about it.

    I don’t really feel qualified to speak about Logos. I’ve owned a previous version as well (Logos 3), and I agree about the reinstallation issues, but I never found it that helpful and didn’t bother reinstalling on my latest round of laptops. Perhaps the newer versions are better, but I would never have traded Bibleworks for it, and Logos is FAR more expensive. 

    I’ve dreamed of carrying all my books around in my pocket ever since watching Star Trek as a kid, and contemplating moving back and forth across the Atlantic there are certain advantages to digital rather than paper books. I love my Kindle, and use it all the time, but in an academic context digital books only make sense to me as a supplement to paper books, not a replacement for them. If I could have all my primary sources and dictionaries in digital form without it costing $1000, that would be fantastic, but I personally can’t justify laying out a bunch of money for digital secondary sources that will then either sit unread in a file somewhere, or only be seen in snippets through a search function, especially when I have no idea what the technology will be like in 10 years time, nor whether a company like Logos will still be around should anything go wrong.

  • Bbsbcv

    I’m typing this on a (borrowed) iPad, but the last text database I bought was Aristotle and Aquinas on CD-rom from InteLex, back in 1993. I’d have to revert back to Windows XP to run it if they didn’t come up with web-based access in the past 19 years. So I’m with you there on the caution about committing to a platform tham might go obsolete in a couple years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

    I have both BibleWorks and Libronix on my PC in addition to a number of free ones. One solution for your problem is to use a program like Splashtop on your iPad to stream your PC desktop onto your iPad over wifi/3G/4G. I use it over wifi and it has a very fast reaction time. I don’t know over 3G or 4G. However, if leaving your PC on when you are not there is not an option, then this method my not work as well.

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/splashtop-remote-desktop-for/id382509315?mt=8

    Here is a nice free program you might be interested in, if you do not already have it.

    http://www.scripture4all.org/

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    I’m very interested in trying out streaming from a PC program to the iPad. Obviously that can encounter problems if the PC shuts down when you need it, and is useless without access to the internet on the iPad. But I’ve found that with apps like the Logos one, free things that supposedly are on my iPad, like the SBL Greek New Testament, often fail to work when there is no wi-fi, which makes them not a better alternative – and that’s a shame.

    I have actually just been given the privilege of reviewing the latest version of BibleWorks, and so I’ll be blogging through all its features very soon!

  • James Tucker

    James,

    Why don’t you swing by the Accordance Booth at SBL. I can show you a few things that might convince you Accordance is your go-to. To mention a few: Speed and Reliability of the Application is phenomenal; Active, ongoing development happens daily (did you see our dynamic interlinear that we released in free .dot upgrade?); portability amongst devices (iPad, iPhone, Mac); and our resources are prepared by scholars for scholars! The last one is not often mentioned, but nearly all of us who work on tools hold advanced degrees in biblical studies. To flip Steve Jobs’ comment, We are biblical scholars who happen to know a great deal about Computers!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I’ll make a point of doing that!


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