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Saturday, February 21, 2004
 
Blogsphere : Print : Webworld

I'm "guest editing" an issue of Stimulus around the (very broad) theme of the interfaces between IT : Church : Culture. I get to solicit articles from interesting people and hopefully put together some worthwhile dialogue and provide an update for the readers.

[Stimulus is a quasi-popular, quasi-academic journal published in NZ it calls itself "the NZ Journal of Christian Thought and Practice" it is now in its 12th year.]

This process prompts reflection on the similarities and differences of print (Stimulus - so print-bound that its web site consists of a mailto link), the web (incarnated in the Amos commentary) and the blogsphere (which seems - to a neophyte - to be the term in vogue).

The journal edition will be full of people I network with,

(Actually, of course, the real people concerned are each and all mixtures of the two or all three of these - Steve Taylor is a prime example, met first as a (physical) colleague and friend we've communicated by website and email for years, but more recently he introduced me to blogging [see below - Does anyone know how to do internal links in blogger without hacking the source code for the "a name" tag?]. But for the sake of clarity let's abstract the real people into types.

The web came as a liberation for me, I put up material, people read it, and some of them emailed me and we entered a discussion, or I taught them or they taught me or helped me... Writing ceased to be the lonely pursuit it had been in print.

BUT in preparing the commentary I quickly discovered that it is difficult (because it works against the grain of the medium) to develop an argument in a hypertext. The commentary has developed into something almost anyone interested in the Bible can read: one month Southern Baptists and Brazilian Catholics were studying Amos, another time it was an Orthodox Jew and a Messianic Jew who wrote to me the same day...

Text (typified by the print medium) by contrast discourages interaction, but permits (even demands?) a coherent argument, step-by-step to a conclusion.

So, what about the blogsphere, is it different from the web world or just a small adaptation?

Like the web: a blog is a hypertext, like the web: a blog invites and makes easy comment and contact between reader and author.

YET in the blogsphere things are more ephemeral and faster. Material I wrote for the Amos commentary in 1995 still attracts readers and still stimulates comment and interaction. Maggi's piece Tuesday, February 17, 2004 on these topics seems unusual in the blogsphere in that after 4 days and 27 comments it seems the party is still running and we're not yet washing up [thanks Jen for that metaphor].

In the last 24 hours I've made three new virtual friends. [I don't know a better term for people one is beginning to know and value but whom one has not met in the flesh.]

Two from the blogsphere will probably write articles for Stimulus, speed and community. The other from webworld is more like a print person, he's provided a useful and valuable correction, spotted and pointed out [most people keep their critiques like misers to themselves] a small error in my reading of the Hebrew.

I think I'm sold on blogging....


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