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Since the first scholar used the first personal computer, the question of how to preserve his or her work for future generations of scholars has been an issue. The software that scholars use has changed over the decades, making the problem of sharing as well as of preserving scholarship that much worse. But recent events bring new hope that productive conversations on both sharing and preserving biblical scholarship may be at hand.

On May 21st, Microsoft Corporation announced that it would support OpenDocument Format as a native format for its Office products. OpenDocument Format is a means of representing scholarly work so that it isn't tied to a particular piece of software or type of computer. This means that an OpenDocument Format file that is readable today, will be readable ten, twenty, or even one hundred years from now.

Microsoft did not mention it, but members of the SBL are partially responsible for this tectonic shift in the world of document processing. Through the SBL you were all present at the founding of the OpenDocument Format committee that is responsible for the drafting and promotion of this standard. And you were along for the long trail that resulted in it being approved as an international standard.

There are any number of reasons for being a member of a learned society but I think being able to make this sort of difference is one of the important ones. As SBL members you can take pride in this accomplishment and point out to your colleagues that learned societies in general and the SBL in particular, can make a difference.

Patrick Durusau, Covington, 24 May 2008

Citation: Patrick Durusau, " The SBL and the Preservation of Scholarship," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited June 2008]. Online:


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