Shootout in the Morning, Party at Night
Yesterday was a big day for us at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). In the morning, we participated in a "Bible Software Shootout" organized by the Computer Assisted Research Section. In spite of the title, the "shootout" was a congenial affair in which different Bible software vendors got to show how their software could be used in academic teaching. Mark Hoffmann has written a good summary of the event at his Biblical Studies and Technological Tools blog, and you can download a transcript of the Accordance presentation here.
After the shootout, we returned to our booth to find it packed. The skeleton crew we had left in the booth had been busy the entire time, so those of us who had attended the shootout rolled up our sleeves and got to work. As with each day at SBL, we remained busy throughout the day.
At the end of the day, we all would have been content to put our feet up and rest, but we had a party to host!
Evenings at SBL are generally filled with receptions hosted by book publishers, academic institutions, and other groups. These receptions enable conference attendees to enjoy each other's company, do a little networking, and munch on free food. In recent years, however, as the economy has impacted the budgets of many of these groups, fewer and fewer of them have been hosting such receptions. At the same time, we've long noticed that the Accordance booth has become a place people come not only to buy software, but to network and socialize. If you're a student trying to get the attention of top-flight scholars, chances are you'll find them hanging around the Accordance booth.
Having observed this trend for years now, we decided it was time we hosted a reception of our own. That way, the scholars, students, and publishers who tend to rub shoulders in our booth could meet socially in a more relaxed atmosphere.
Of course, whenever you host a party with a general invitation, you have no idea how it will go over. Will anyone show up? Will we have enough food? Will people have a good time?
I'm pleased to report that we had a great turnout, and just glancing at the name tags of those who came was like reading a who's who of Biblical scholarship. We had well-known scholars there, along with book publishers, other Bible software developers, and plenty of students. Everyone seemed to have a good time, we had plenty of food, and it was a great way to get to know people better.
At the end of the night, we all returned to our hotel exhausted yet exhilarated. It had been a very eventful—and very successful—day.