Saturday, October 07, 2006

the new third place and the declining cost of information

UPDATE: I had already linked to it below, but I just wanted to especially highlight that Tim Keller and Tony Jones interact with each other and Scot McKnight and others within DJ's blog in comments. Not to be missed.

as dj chuang pointed out, we had a great time at lunch yesterday. dj and i hadn't seen each other since the hard times emerging church cohort confab over a year ago.

I asked dj if he had ever heard of a blogger hack that allows you to set up the same option you see on jesus creed so that when you leave a comment, you can opt into getting emails whenever anyone else comments on the same blogpost. he said that he didn't but told me about cocomment which allows you to sign up and follow all the posts on which you comment. now while that's undeniably cool, and I might use it, I'd like to set something up on this blog that serves my readers and doesn't force them elsewhere. I'll either wait for blogger to add it or switch to WordPress (comments or alternative suggestions welcome).

this has become more important to me since I shut down the faithmaps discussion group. i finding i'm more interested in comment here and will probably pay attention to it more. And whereas in the past, there seemed to be more interest in discussion groups, nowadays folks seem to be doing more of their online discussion in blogs.

In fact - and more significantly - blogs seem to be the new third place where various ideological streams can co-mingle and interact. we've seen this recently with the somewhat amiable collision (here and here) between the new reformers and emergent precipitated by the just completed Desiring God 2006 Conference entitled Above All Earthly Powers: The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World and in the even more amiable very minor collision between an emerging church reformer and a new reformer within the conference itself.

while I do have a dog in the fight (that I may post later), here i'm just commenting on the discussion itself. it's quite notable as an illustration of our new information situation:

A conference occurs and the sessions are posted quickly for all to hear. within one session, one presenter makes mildly critical comments of another (in the context of criticizing himself). this leads to much online discussion and then one the presenters emails the other to demonstrate relational unity and then the conversation is posted after permission for the world to see. controversy begun and ended in record time.

meanwhile, tony jones reveals that piper's comments on the emergent church at the conference didn't occur outside of a relational context and invites more discussion with tim keller which begins in the comments of tony's blog (with keller commenting further here).

i've heard more than one major leader complain about blogs and surely they can be maddening. anyone in the developed world with a little financial means can basically broadcast whatever they think in completely unexpurgated fashion to anyone.

but i have to say that I find all this conversation between different theological perspectives a wonderful thing. while there is absolutely no question that tony is correct to value the wider sensory bandwidth that came with his interaction with piper and would come with his desired meeting with keller, the immediacy of online interaction does not limit the conversation to the severe time, coordination, and financial constraints involved in having to be in the same room at the same time.

the bottom line is that with the lowered cost of information afforded us by blogs, discussion groups, audio downloads, etc. we can move more quickly in coming to mutual understanding. If we want to.

Is it a panacea of theological formulation?

Of course not, because while the conversation is easier to have, the maturity that's required for such a conversation is still very difficult to come by (which I've discussed here and here).

Our humility and character will still dictate whether or not we'll all be able to strengthen the church within our new information situation. But if those are in place, we do now have the ability to have our own perspectives adjusted, widened, or sharpened more quickly.


djchuang said...

I dug around the internet blogosphere, and here's some hacks I found that kinda sorta fit the bill:

a blogger hack for people to subscribe to all faithmaps/emergesque comments or, hack together a comment rss feed

And here's a hack that is closer (though not exactly identical) to what you're wishing for - to manually notify a commenter about a follow-up comment (note: this only works for bloggers who are logged in to

Or, you can switch over to the commenting system, which now provides 100% free email notification of followup comments

Anonymous said...


I've been following these discussions and interactions in the blogosphere, as you have, and I've been just as impressed and amazed at how much is finally getting said and the progress that is being made in finding that "mutual understanding" (which, of course, does not necessarily mean "agreement").

I hope you will post more about your "dog" in this "fight" at some point ;-)

Steve K.