Quite recently we learned that John Fidel’s blog (Bible Software Newsletter and Comments) is closing down. Hopefully, he will be able to contribute to BSR every now and then, as he has in the past. Today, he brings us some thoughts on the current state of the Bible Software industry. Do read it and feel free to leave your comments here.
Happy New Year!Comment
In my first post on this subject we saw that there are many different ways to approach the task of reviewing Bible software. Things that are important to some are almost overlooked by others, and this is legitimate. We come from different backgrounds and have different readers in mind. There is, however, almost unanimity in the fact that reviews cannot be taken lightly, and that they do pose many challenges and give more than one headache.
Bible Software Review started as a service to the wide community of power users, students, pastors, missionaries, Bible translators, professors and scholars who are regularly involved in a rigorous and academic study of the Scriptures and related secondary literature. This is still the main focus. As I think I’ve said before, I like to think of myself as a biblioblogger who does reviews.
Over the years, however, BSR has become quite well-known and more and more people have joined the ranks of those who visit the site looking for advice on all kinds of questions related to Bible software. Most of them are general users who want to learn more and enjoy the opportunity to interact with the latest news and developments that are taking place in the ever-growing Bible software industry. Others are newbies who want to find their way in the middle of what is rapidly becoming a rather confusing and fragmented field.
While there are other websites that tend to offer reviews and info on a wide range of general purpose Bible software applications (many of them freeware or shareware) — and some do it quite well –, I have decided to include a new section here at BSR where these programs will also be covered. These are not going to be full-blown reviews, but will present each product and try to assess their relative merits and shortcomings. To distinguish them from the other packages, these sort of “First Impressions” section will be hosted here at the blog, and will be accessible via the tabs that appear at the top of the BSR banner.
You should see more tabs in the coming weeks, but for the time being I have posted a whole new section with general remarks on writing Bible software reviews and the review policy I follow. I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful, and as I try to recruit other people to contribute regularly to the site, let’s hope that many more exciting features can be implemented soon. Your feedback will be appreciated.Comment
If you have been following the earlier posts on the disambiguation of Louw-Nida’s Lexicon and the Back to the Source movie, you will undoubtedly be interested in checking out the latest interview with Bennie Wolvaardt, CEO of ScriptureDirect, where he gives a background of how the program was conceived and developed.Comment
Not so long ago I told you about the 30-day challenge of LaRosa Johnson, who works with WORDsearch but nevertheless decided to try Logos Bible software, a competing product, in his leisure time.
Last I know is that LaRosa Johnson is still a WORDsearch employee, but there is no trace of the blog posts I linked to. If you search his blog archives you will not find any of the six entries on the subject. They are gone, vanished. Pure coincidence? Not likely. Logos blog talked about Making the Switch to Logos. I simply called my entry An Interesting Challenge. Was that too much publicity for another company’s software? Who decided to delete those posts and why? I’m now sorry I did not copy them, since they were written under a Creative Commons License.
I’m not talking about a conspiracy theory. God forbid! I don’t even know the man, and my emails to the company he works for have been repeatedly ignored. In fact I congratulated Randy Beck (the owner) in very friendly terms just a month ago, and invited him, yet again, to submit an interview for BSR. Never heard back from him. Does make you think… (please don’t read any kind of hostility into my comment, I’m simply sad).
I wish I were wrong, but I’m afraid LaRosa’s balanced and open-minded comments probably proved too much of a challenge for some people. And this is precisely one of the reasons that gave birth to Bible Software Review. I believe in freedom. I believe we can point out the good things about Bible software packages, learn from them and try to improve things with constructive criticisms and suggestions. I believe we can learn to disagree in a civil and even friendly manner. I believe in diversity. I believe that no matter how much we like our own software, it is plain stupid to think there is no life beyond it. I believe we can learn from one another and help one another. I don’t understand why comparing certain features (let alone writing comparative reviews) makes certain people feel so nervous.
I have been under pressure myself. Unfortunately some folks are more concerned about marketing and PR than they are about reaching excellency in developing tools that will help people study the Scriptures more efficiently. I know it’s difficult to stand for what you think is right, particularly in a highly competitive market, but “a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.”
I am sorry I’ve had to write this post, and would love to stand corrected. That has never been a problem for me. Really, I would be happy to say, “hey I blew it! I got carried away with no reason. I apologize.” I would love to have to delete this entry, but facts are facts, and unless there is some plausible explanation for the “mysterious” disappearance of LaRosa’s original blog entries, I am entitled to voice my opinion.
Update (September 10): Be sure to read the final outcome of this story.Comment
Following our series of interviews with Bible software developers, I have posted a new one with Richard Wilson, developer of La Parola. Notice that Richard also hosts a website that mirrors a particularly useful area of his application, with different Greek texts of the New Testamente and a listing of the manuscript support for all the major variants, at http://www.laparola.net/greco/.Comment