Friday, January 13, 2006

Should Ideas be Discussed on Blogs?

Doug Pagitt:

After three years of keeping a blog and reading many I have come to a conclusion: In my experience personal Blogs are useful for allowing people to stay in touch and know what people are up to, but are not a suitable place for the exchange of ideas - ultimately they do more harm than good - in my opinion at least.

I have decided to stop using this blog for the sharing of ideas....


I was saddened to hear of Doug's decision. I feel that my life has been enriched by the new ideas, books, connections, thoughts and adventures that I've heard about on blogs. We've posted in the past ways in which blogs and other online mediums in fact allow for better theological and ecclesiastical conversation. I recently witnessed an international controversy between two organizations that began and resolved within about 72 hours. The fact that it all happened in the open online contributed to the speed of resolution. This is all due to the lowering cost of information. As information declines in cost, more folks are potentially empowered to know and participate in decision making.

The challenge of the medium is the same as the challenges for email, online discussion groups, phone calls and face-to-face meetings: The challenge is my spiritual maturity and yours. How well do we approach disagreement? The quality of our approach to disagreement is medium agnostic.

Now I don't mean to imply that medium shouldn't be given careful consideration. email can be awful as a forum for certain disagreements when someone can't hear voice inflection and view facial expressions. But for extremely emotional discussions, emails can be excellent because they enforce listening and allow for editable communication. blogs tend to privilege the blog owner's opinion as compared to online discussion groups. But blog aggregators allow the surfer to keep up with an enormous amount of information and discussion in a brief amount of time. And so forth. But I'm not comfortable with a carte blanche dismissal of any of these media for the discussion of ideas.

Doug has indicated that he does not wish to be contacted to discuss his decision so I will respect that. But I do hope he changes his mind! I wish to hear his voice!


Fajita said...

I really like Pagitt. The man's got some great ideas. But I feel ditched. His blog was easy access to some good thinking. When I got past his contextless picture shares, I loved reading his mind as expressed in the blog.

Now I am going to have to work really hard to learn from him. Yeah, get access to his books (which is not real time stuff) and listen to his podcasts (which for me is cumbersome and I really son't do it that much). I'm totally bummed.

I kind of get it. I've seen the garbage comments on Tony Jones blog, but I think that Tony is a lightnig rod becuase of his position. Almost everyone else is not a lightning rod. I don't think Paggitt drew the kind of fire that Tony does, for whatever reason.

Anyway, I want Pagitt back.

Oh, and one other thing. I think he is wrong-headed about the scope of conversation in the emerging conversation. Even if he blogged and shut off the comments, there is still conversation that he is part of, even if that is all he contributes to it. The conversation is bigger, much much bigger than what happens in the comments of anyone's blog. What he says enters conversations all over the place.

Doug, dude, come on man!

iggy said...

The exchange of ideas is why I keep a blog and why i read the blogs i do...

To me it is more than just the exchange, but in a big way fellowship. To me it is about keeping the conversation flowing. right now I am tired of coming up with ideas, but it drives me to keep questioning and dialoging with others whom I may never meet in my day to day.

Sad decision,yet it is his to make.


Anonymous said...

Doug sounds frustrated. I can understand his point. At some point a person realizes that folks are incapable of reflection and being present with those they disagree. It's relational-- like most church splits and plants. Most folks want to argue about their theological viewpoint. If someone has a differnt point of view then "gang mentality" often takes over and it is no longer a theological discussion but a relational issue.

It seems that listening is the key. It is hard for folks to listen and be present with those whose ideas differ. This seesm to be true in Christian circles.

Perhpas Doug, if he truly wants to dialogue with others, could set boundairies around how to dialogue on his blog.

Vince said...

Having just been ripped to shreds yesterday on another blog by someone who doesn't even know the first thing about me, I agree completely with the statements by Anonymous above. While Doug goes a little too far in questioning the value of blogs for everyone because of his own bad experience, it's clear that without a code of conduct and agreement by all to at least play by such rules, you're taking your life in your hands just by posting "hello." I still feel it's necessary and beneficial, and a number of blogs have provided help and insights to me at times I can only describe as "lifesavingly providential," but it does get tiring dodging the bullets. :\