2015 ETS/SBL Reflections, Part 2
Seven Kinds of Accordance Users
As I mentioned last week, I’ve been participating in the Accordance “discovery space” (see part 1 of my reflections) at the annual Evangelical Theological Society and Society of Biblical Literature meetings for a few years now. And in all this time, I never get tired of meeting and interacting with Accordance users of all kinds. With each year’s conference, I’ve discovered that some Accordance users can fit into a handful of categories, which I’d like to share here. Perhaps you see yourself in one of these groups (don’t worry—they’re all good!).
- The Neophyte. There are actually two kinds of persons who fall into this category. The first kind is the person who has simply never heard of Accordance. Perhaps it’s because for so many years we were Mac-only, but we still have people who will walk past our booth, pause and stare for a few seconds, and then say, “Are you a new company?” Then we can tell them we’ve actually been around since 1994 and invite them to have a seat for an Accordance test drive.
My favorite kind of Neophyte, though, is the person who is simply new to the idea of Bible software in general. It’s fun to give these folks a basic demonstration of what Accordance can do for their studies and then sit back as the virtual light bulbs begin to go off over their heads as they realize all the time they could save with Accordance as opposed to time-consuming page-flipping in their research.
- The Seeker. This is the kind of person who is either frustrated with another Bible software platform or trying to determine which to invest in as a first-time purchase. The seeker always begins with this question: “What’s the difference between Accordance and [other Bible software brand]? I’ve always felt that when given a fair comparison, Accordance stands on its own without having to say anything negative about other companies. My strategy in this kind of situation is to say something positive about that other brand and then simply show off Accordance’s strengths. In these situations, Accordance sells itself.
- The Groupie. Some Accordance users just want to come and hang out; and, of course, we welcome that. Accordance has top-level biblical scholars among its users, so the Accordance booth is the place to be at a conference like ETS or SBL. Sometimes, an Accordance Groupie’s eyes will go wide and say, “Oh my—there’s Dr. [Well-Established Biblical Scholar]! I didn’t know s/he used Accordance, too!”
- The Challenger. I like to remind people that Accordance is extremely versatile and used by a wide variety of people each day. Occasionally, users who are deep into their research has become stuck because they can’t figure out how to do something. I tell them my first rule is to always assume Accordance can do it—it’s just a matter of figuring out how. When I first started working these conferences, I was intimidated by the idea of the Challenger. What if someone asked me how to do something I don’t know how to do? This actually happens now and then, but it’s not a big deal. All of us demoing Accordance have our own specialties and interests. If I don’t know how to do something, I can bring someone else in to help.
This year, I didn’t have to get help for the main challenger who sticks out in my mind. I had a user who needed to know whether or not the non-biblical texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls had any connection, or perhaps even influence, on a particular section in Leviticus. This is not a problem for a program like Accordance. Simply narrow down to one section of Leviticus in the Hebrew Bible and run an Infer Search from the Qumran non-biblical manuscripts. This challenger told me he had prayed that I would be able to give him the answer, and fortunately, I could!
- The Remediator. Some users who have had Accordance for a while, for whatever reason, forget how to perform certain tasks. Their introductory statement is usually something like, “I’ve had Accordance for a few years, but do you have a few minutes to give me a basic refresher?” We’re happy to do this, of course.
My favorite Remediator memory has to do with a a well-known biblical scholar a few years back who had been tasked by his publisher with revising his volume a very popular Bible commentary series. He had owned Accordance for a while, and he knew the exact kind of tasks he would need to do as he brought his commentary up to date. I sat with him and was able to show him everything he asked as he hurriedly wrote down notes on everything I showed him. A couple of years later, when his revised commentary was released, I was thrilled to see it available for the Accordance Library; and I even felt like I had been able to make a small anonymous contribution.
- The Hungry. This type of Accordance user is immediately recognizable by the questions, “What’s new in Accordance?” This kind of user often knows our software inside and out but is excited to hear about new features or new titles available for the Accordance Library. Although we release new features and new resources all year long, ETS and SBL often become a primary time to “catch up” on what’s new with Accordance. And those of us in the Accordance booth get to show off new features and newly available works.
- The Elder. This is the most exclusive group of Accordance users. I began using Accordance around version 3.x, so I will never be an elder. This group often comes under the guise of being a Challenger or one of the Hungry. Somewhere in the process of talking to them, though, they will will make the statement (with a certain level of reserved modesty), “You know, I’ve been using this software since version 1.” I find myself in awe of these individuals because I wish I had been using Accordance long before I actually discovered it.
And there’s actually one subgroup of the elders. A very exclusive part of this group will tell you they were handed a copy of Accordance on a floppy disk somewhere between 1992 and 1994, when it was in its initial beta before the first version was released. Even in this early form of the software, these individuals will tell you they knew their biblical studies would never be the same.
So, these are my seven kinds of Accordance users whom I often come across at conferences like ETS or SBL. Do you fall into one of these groups? If so, let us know in the comments!