Blogging questions

A quote from a recent conversation with guy who doesn’t understand blogging.

Guy: I just don’t understand why blogs are suddenly so important. I read them, and it’s all crap. It’s all personal stuff about people’s lives, and I just don’t care. People say that there are good blogs out there, but I can’t find any. Who’s got all that time? Who’s going to sort through all of that stuff? And the comments are so mean-spirited. Who cares what those people think?

Actually, this is one quote, but I’ve had the conversation a hundred times. It’s voiced in different ways, but it’s usually the same stream of questions. It feels like they are asking, “Why would I care about your life? How can anything substantial regarding ecclesiology come from people who do not have the proper credentials, who are self-publishing? Why would I want to read material that has not gone through the rigors of selection and editing?”

So, what would you say to them?

It seems like there is a shift happening here. Maybe I have too much time on my hands, or maybe I just watch less television, but I’m often sorting through blogs. Visiting my favorite ones and discovering new ones. I like the fact that they seem kind of raw and unedited. I like the mundanity. I like reading the rants that would have no life left in them after they went through the sterilizing editing process, or if the author put more time and thought into them. I like being able to talk back and question the writers and readers. I love the feeling of building a relationship with someone that I’ve never met.

But what about those questions? Are some of them valid? If church leaders are going to be expected to blog (and I think they will), isn’t that just another layer of hassle on top of our already too busy lives? How do you find blogs that are interesting? Do you think that anything important is happening here? Why do you read, write, and comment on them?

And while I’m on this barrage of questions… is there a blogging etiquette? If there is, what does it include? Personally, these are the formerly unwritten rules that I abide by:

If I write a blog, I should read blogs. I don’t know why. It just feels like someone is too big for the genre if they’re not willing to show up on someone else’s site a little bit. Plus, it’s about the conversation and not the dissemination of information.

If someone comments on my site, then I usually visit their site. Again, it just feels like a common courtesy.

I try not to post a comment that’s longer than the original post. Although I’m not always able to do it, and I love reading comments that are longer than my post, I know that it annoys other bloggers.

I try to always remember that it’s a hobby. I love taglines that proclaim how the author is changing the face of Christianity with his blog, or other such grandiose idea. But I realize I’m just banging out my thoughts. Reflecting on everyday life. And, you know, if it’s no longer fun, then I’ll walk away.

So what would you add?

photo’s by MrLomo

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15 thoughts on “Blogging questions

  1. I have almost become addicted to reading blogs, and I am dissapointed when one that I read often goes on vacation or takes time off from blogging. It also helps me keep in touch with folks from seminary. Most of the blogs that I read are PCUSA pastors. Lately, since I met some folks at GA, I have been reading presbymergent blogs.

    For me writing on our blog gives me a way to let family and friends keep up with us without writing a bunch of letters or email. Maybe it’s lazy.

    Jim

  2. Though I’m a blogger and I enjoy it, I’m also fairly suspicious of the medium. When it comes down to it, I’m not convinced web 2.0 is any better, nicer, more open, than other forms of communication. Sure, there’s many benefits, but there are a lot of crap blogs out there. People’s time is poorly spent reading them. I’m worried how online life fails to include the poor (without internet) and the elderly (without know-how). Do the good ideas float to the top? I’m still undecided.

    Maybe I’ll blog about it one day;)

  3. Guy: I just don’t understand why books are suddenly so important. Have you seen the books that are out there? Trashy romance novels, tell-all gossip memoirs, “self-help” manuals that are just out to make money, and crap written by celebrities who think they can write. People say there are good books out there but I can’t find any? Why should I care what any of these people have to say?

  4. Hi:

    I really appreciate your comments on blogging. I enjoy blogs for various reasons, keeping up with friends, or seeing how theological thoughts perk up through the ordinary events of life for people, as they do for me.

    I blog (and when we got married my husband he joined my blog) and I have realized that having a space to write ideas that are really starts of ideas most of the time has helped me – for some reason I don’t journal such things, but I blog them. So, I think my blog is mostly for me – its a idea starter, a scrapbook, and place to share my life even the weird stuff thirdly. My blog helps me be a better writer in my work because I have a place for the fun, the non-good writing, the idea that isn’t worked out.

    I like blogs to hear people’s opinion about current events, theological implications of every day and current events, and like some other commenters I miss people when they are on vacation.

  5. I like it because what I have found is that when the traditional media filters miss or skew something, there are a lot of people willing to jump in and toss out problems. Now sometimes they exacerbate the problem, but the nature of viral media has an amazing self-corrective property to it. Just look at studies on the accuracy of Wikipedia which I still find counterintuitive. But Britannica had to offer itself for free for a good reason. What is shows you is that just because some media have gatekeepers, we cannot trust that the gatekeepers are doing the best they can for the public. More professors and authors are publishing outside of those boundaries with great success now. Independent music is much the same way through MySpace and so forth.

  6. I look to blogs for information and inspiration. I look at quite a few craft and art blogs, where there is inspiration and information about supplies, products, technique, etc. I also read several travel blogs, gardening blogs, and church-related blogs for the same reasons — inspiration and information. It’s not necessarily the mundanity of people’s lives that I look for, but what gets them creating and innovating. I’m also thinking of searching out some writing blogs for the same reason — because I’ve begun a book and need something to keep me going (I envy you — self-motivated for 3 hours a day!). When I comment and then receive visits to my blog and comments and responses there, it builds a community of support for my interests.

  7. I freebase blogs. I think I may have a problem. I subscribe to 44 blogs on my reader. I post on my site almost daily. I comment on the blogs I read a few times a week. I occasionally post on four other blogs. I need BA.

    I love blogs and when you find thoughtful writers that are serious about their writing. It is a craft that takes time and I enjoy watching the blogs ebb and flow with the life of the author. This is my favorite part the life infused commentary on what is important to the author. It is a beautiful performance piece of art on a large scale.

    I would uphold your rules and add…read the entire post and seek to understand before being argumentative with the author.
    Palabra tu Madre!

  8. It’s just interactive journaling, a yummy fusion between the scribbled notebooks of my Gen X youth and real conversation. If you find good bloggers, it stirs your thinkin’…particularly if they disagree with you and can do so civilly.

    I think it’s a must-do for pastors. As public thinkers, we need to think and express ourselves publicly…and blogging is a great medium for that exercise.

  9. I’m with Adam’s combination of affirmation and suspicion. Communication is a good as an end unto itself and blogs are a form of communication. But as with all forms of communication, they are neither good or bad in and of themselves. They are vehicles. Much of the hate and untruths about Obama are being spread on blogs. It is downright frightening to see what people are saying on some of them and the speed with which lies get spread. Blogs are what those who use them make of them.

  10. Very true.

    I’m reading Daniel Solove’s book right now, which is dealing with this. Solove is interested in protecting free speech on the net, and is concerned with the chilling effect that litigation will have on it.

    Drew is right, wiki sites can have a self-corrective property, but that doesn’t always extend to blogs, where the author can control the comments. Trying to silence a blogger, as Andrew recently said, can be like pouring gas on a fire. And public figures have very little power for damage control.

    It will be interesting to see what will happen in the future…

  11. Hi Carol,

    It was good to see Brian at GA wish we could have see you too. We are great, expecting a boy in Jan, and still in our first call. God is good. I am still trying to get a handle on this emerging thing but I ordered your book and a couple of others now I will have to make time to read them.

    Jim

  12. one of the critiques I have heard is from someone who just says she has trouble reading on the computer. I actually get that.

    more here than that, but that was my first thought.

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