My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

09 May 2006

Turning Blogs Inside Out

Alan Jacobs had an interesting article in the most recent Books & Culture about blogging. It was very well written and even-handed. His main point was that blogging is pretty cool, but has its downsides. It is good for information purposes: news, news-checking, updates on subjects of interest, etc. But it's not so good for conversations. He argues that the architecture of a blog prohibits really valuable conversations from taking place. Other than the inherent roadblocks of an inhuman interface, the blog world seems to be one where one must, like university professors, publish or die.

Discussing this with my wife, especially concerning the propriety of this here blog, she made the comment that this blog does seem to generate good conversation, just not on the internet. With relative frequency, people will strike up face-to-face conversations about something I've written on the blog. This is partly possible because I believe I know personally most of the people who read this blog (and would really like to meet the rest of you). This is, in my opinion, the answer to Mr. Jacobs' valid argument: if the thoughts and conversations on blogs, and cyberspace in general, remain there, it's likely that little has really been accomplished. But if we can take from there thoughtful comments and bring them to our face-to-face conversations, it would seem we've found a useful tool. This way, blogs become matches rather than the whole fire.

This clarifies the "user instructions" for this blog: it is far better to take material from here and use it to light real conversations than simply to engage in polemical "commenting" ad infinitum. Though I do love a good comment now and then.


Please read this by George Grant. I'm done being nice in my sermons. :)

Please read this by Barry York.


quaintlittlehead said...

Blogs prohibit valuable conversations from taking place? No. My fear that the people standing in front of me do not actually care about my life and occasionally their inability to stop talking about their own prohibit valuable conversations from taking place. My logical but mistaken belief that my former grad school friends aren't interested in my church life, or vice versa, prohibits valuable conversations from taking place. A blog is like a diary you let people read only to be surprised that they actually care enough to do it. If blogs don't start conversations, then why did Meg call me at midnight to tell me my last post was "soooo badger?"

Of course, as Leonard would say, blogs don't start conversations, blog writers and readers do.

Barry York said...

My experience regarding blogging is the same as yours, and actually is the purpose for blogging. I'm not trying to generate conversation with people way out there in cyberspace, but with people in our church and community. Blogging as given me inroads with some that I otherwise would not have.

Also, you beat me to referencing Grant's article on offense. Experiences of late were leading me to write (and I may still) on the art of rebuke in preaching and worship. One question I would raise: Could it be it's really not the music but the rebuke of the psalms that many want to avoid?

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