A lot has changed since my father called me into his office at Children’s Hospital, some two decades ago, to show me something called “The World Wide Web”. The adolescent gaming nerd that I was, I pictured some kind of apocalyptic computer game about venomous spiders that harbored imperialistic designs. Actually, the truth was far more eschatological, and depending on your perspective, apocalyptic, than I could ever have imagined. The Internet has changed Everything. It is the proverbial dramatic event that casts a shadow over every utterance, every thought in its wake.
Since its inception, the Talmud Blog has endeavored to create a new kind of discourse in the field of Rabbinics, and hopefully beyond. It partially grew out of a dissatisfaction with the spaces available for scholarly communication. For some of us, the sparring articles in journals and books, the hidden footnotes, the local symposia, and the bigger conferences, are too slow and not dynamic enough. With the development and perfection of social networking tools, the future is now.
As a portal to the future, The Talmud Blog is now hosting a number of “Special Projects.” Here, we’ll be presenting new spaces for dialogue. One is The Book Club, where we will be discussing recent books. Another project is a new kind of forum for scholarly conversation among Talmudists, called ‘The Academy‘. It is essentially a closed ‘circle’ on Google+, where free-flowing conversation can take place among specialists. We started a pilot version (The Academy 1.0) with a dozen guinea-pig Talmudists, and it has been quite a success. We’re now opening up the Beta version. If you’re a critically trained and producing (that is, publishing) Talmudist, now is the time to participate in this cutting-edge endeavor. And we need you to make this project a success.
To get started, open a Google+ account for yourself, and fill in your areas of expertise and/or academic interest in the relevant spots in your profile. Make sure you activate the ability to receive messages. Create a Google+ circle called ‘The Academy.’ Then, search for “Resh Metivta” in the Google+ search bar, and add him as a friend in the academy circle. Once you do that we’ll send you an e-mail with further instructions. We look forward to seeing you at the Academy, where you can spin your own talmudic web.