Zotero 2.0 RC 3–4

Zotero 2.0 release candidates three and four have been released with several improvements, including upgrades and fixes for the synchronization and indexing functionality. As always, new Zotero users can download the latest version from the Zotero homepage. For those who may be interested, although composed for Zotero 1.5, the screencast below still highlights the main features of Zotero 2.0.

Subjective or Sympathetic Interpretation?

The later is arguably a better practice than the former:

We can set aside Schleiermacher’s ideas on subjective interpretation. When we try to understand a text, we do not try to transpose ourselves into the author’s mind [in die seelische Verfassung des Authors] but, if one wants to use this terminology, we try to transpose ourselves into the perspective within which he has formed his views [in die Perspective, unter der der andere seine Meinung gewonnen hat]. But this simply means that we try to understand how what he is saying could be right. If we want to understand, we will try to make his arguments even stronger (Gadamer, Truth and Method (2006) 292; Gadamer, Truth and Method (2013) 303; italics added; Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode 297).

Of course, in addition to its direct relevance to interpreting the New Testament, this suggestion to seek to understand “how what [another person] is saying could be right” and even to understand how these arguments could become more plausible is good advice for interpreting all kinds of human communication, perhaps especially communication from those with whom one disagrees. Specifically, such understanding helps prevent premature critiques, and it enables critiques that are made to be made much more carefully.

Evernote for Windows Overhaul

Evernote is a program that manages assorted notes and images while attempting to render searchable any text—even handwritten text—that is in its database. While the program already provides some very useful features for biblical studies research, a beta version of a major overhaul for Evernote’s Windows client is now available. The new version mostly aims to enhance performance and to make future improvements easier.

To download and try Evernote, click here. To see a list of some of the biggest changes in the latest, Windows client beta version, click here.

A Plea for Scholarly Engagement

Steve Runge has posted a fantastic essay on “The Bane of Dismissive Scholarship.” Among his most poignant statements are the following:

[T]he literature review and preparation for writing the paper. . . . is where I should be adding to my already profound arsenal of Knowledge, filling my cup til it runneth over. Realistically, I feel like many use this stage to fill their quiver with barbs that they will launch at other scholars. Why? Because some folks seem more interested in being right than in getting it right. . . . The specific issue that has got me in a tizzy is folks getting it mostly right, but being dismissed because of the portion that is lacking. To put it another way, instead of remodeling the missing element of the structure, they demo the whole thing so that THEY can be the builder, THEY can save the day. . . . It behooves me in writing my paper to stop and ask what my objective is: to be right or to get it right? If I am claiming something that no one else has ever claimed before, I have good reason to fear. If I am claiming something that represents the core idea the grammarians have expressed for over a century and I can build on or clarify that argument, there is a far greater chance of getting things right. It is a win-win: in getting it right, I get to be right (Runge, “Dismissive Scholarship”; italics and capitalization original).

The rest of the essay further presses home these points, and the post bears reading in its entirety. The whole post also reminds me of a very pithy sentence from Anthony Weston: “If you can’t imagine how anyone could hold the view you are attacking, you just don’t understand it yet” (Weston 6; cf. Gadamer 302; Machen, quoted in Baird 352).

In this post:

William Baird
William Baird
Hans Georg Gadamer
Hans Georg Gadamer
Anthony Weston
Anthony Weston

Creating Research Timelines in Excel

Although it certainly can be used otherwise, a progress tracking system like the one Paul Silvia suggests in his book How to Write a Lot seems to work best for writing that can be open ended: by following a regular writing schedule, projects can regularly and reliably come to completion. What happens, however, if one is working under a deadline (be it self-imposed or not) and, therefore, needs to develop a writing schedule backwards from this due date?

This spreadsheet is at least an elementary attempt to provide a tool for performing such a task. Yet, one obvious limitation of this spreadsheet method is that all the writing projects are arranged serially along the completion timeline rather than allowing for working on more than one project at once.

If anyone else should find this tool useful and has refinement suggestions, I would be very interested in seeing them. These formulae appear to work on Google Docs exactly as they do on Excel when that program is operated on a Windows platform, but to my understanding, Excel calculates dates differently on Mac OS than it does on Windows, so Mac users may need to adjust this spreadsheet’s formulae.

Tracking Writing Progress

In How to Write a Lot, Paul Silvia provides his own progress monitoring system as an example (39–45). Since finishing the book last month, I have been adapting Silvia’s database format to a Google Docs spreadsheet that will track some additional data in addition to the data that he finds helpful. Since it has been helpful thus far, I thought I would make it available with some sample data.

Some Additional Details
Column E: I am working on estimating the average number of words that I write in an hour (including time for research), and thus far 175 seems fairly close, hence that value running down the E column. Behind this number is actually the formula =350/2—for an average of 350 words on one of my standard pages (including footnotes) and an estimated 2 hours for writing that page, though I have a sense that something like 2.25 to 2.5 might be more accurate.

Column F: An overall daily goal calculated based on =[Column D]*[Column E].

Column G: The results of a word count (including footnotes) at the beginning of the day. As the spreadsheet above shows, however, I did not start tracking beginning and ending word counts until May 29.

Column H: The results of a word count (including footnotes) at the end of the day.

Column I: A daily progress total based on =[Column H]-[Column G]. Cell I2 computes the average daily progress.

Column K: A daily progress measure against the daily goal based on =[Column I]/[Column F]. Cell K2 computes the average amount of the daily goal that is actually met each day.

Column J: The cells for each work day use the formula =IF([Column K]>=1,1,0). If a given daily goal is met, Column K = 1, or if it is exceeded, Column K > 1. In either case, this formula returns the binary value 1 (= Yes). Alternatively, if the daily goal is not met, the formula returns the binary value 0 (= No). Cell J2 then averages the values in Column J to determine the portion of the work days that meet the daily writing goal. The significant disparity between Column J and Column K appears because, as would be expected, some days have been more research intensive and other days have seen more writing.

Column L: Column L indexes how much “life happening” has affected the actual writing progress made versus the progress that was planned. A negative number indicates the number of planned writing hours that were spend on some other task(s), and a positive number would indicate additional, unplanned time devoted to writing. Cell L2 provides the total number of writing hours that actually happened over or under the planned number of writing hours.