Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Bit on Blogs

Blogs have been around for quite a while. They can be a wonderful format for fostering discussion. I have a new series about to start here on the Ontario Regional Thoughtworks Blog called Blogs that Make you Think. Every month we will highlight a few blogs that are worth visiting, beginning with some Canadian Vineyard blogs. Blogging is not like other formats you might be used to (although there are many examples of people trying to make blogs that function like traditional web pages). It is not like a web page in that a blog does present some sort of article, but then it allows you to interact with that article by commenting. But it is also not like a forum (or a newsgroup for those who have been around the internet a long time) where the conversations are continuous threads generated by an ongoing discussion - although the conversations in the comments can sometimes turn into veritable forums. The difference is that the blog post is what generates the comments.

Blog posts are an interesting form of writing too. Often they are constructed in a stream of consciousness fashion. Much as I'm doing in this post. There is usually a central idea and the blog forms a sort of sermon, if you will, around that idea. As such, blog posts are often not fully cooked ideas - they are meant to express someone's thinking on an area they are interested in. I do this all the time on my personal blog. Where the posts come out of what has absorbed my attention that day. Also it is important to note that opinions in a blog post reflect an individual - which is why on this blog we have a policy of noting who the post comes from at the end of the post. My hope is that you will find less and less posts with my name on them and more from folks around the region. This distinction is important because the posts on this blog do not represent the Vineyard or even Thoughtworks - but represent the individuals who offer them up as part of an ongoing conversation. Although they do represent the value of a rich and diverse conversation amongst people trying to express faithfulness to God's Kingdom.

Comments is where blogging becomes a rich form of conversation. Once a post is out there, then it spurs others to also reflect on that idea. Over time a certain ethos will develop, that is a set of ideas that are of importance to the bloggers and those who read the blog. We set out an explicit ethos that we are trying to create in our initial post. Over time blogs will attract followers who become the most frequent commentators, but most blogs are open to anyone commenting. For those interested, we have set up comments to require some sort of identification - the reason is that this cuts down on the amount of spam comments and it also promotes a more civil discussion. There are always ways to comment anonymously. We also monitor comments for spam, which is an advertisement pretending to be a comment. In terms of what people comment on, I always find it surprising. But that is be beauty of the blog. Conversations can spring up and go well beyond the initial post.

I hope this little introduction is helpful. The first post in our new series is scheduled to come out Monday. I trust that you are all enjoying the holiday season and finding opportunities to place Christmas as the center of your festivities.

Merry Christmas all.

Frank Emanuel - Freedom Vineyard, Ottawa

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