Sunday, December 17, 2006

are blogs toxic? or how I won Time's "Person of the Year"

hamo comments:

"I rarely have people say this to my face, but I seem to hear it around the place a little more often than I’d like.

It seems that in some folk’s estimation it isn‘t ok to ask questions of current church practices or to express an opinion that is non-conformist. The phrase that I seem to hear most often is ‘blogs are toxic’, as if to suggest the expression of an alternative point of view is somehow dangerous… or poisonous…"

I remember reading several years ago a Fortune article while flying on a business trip that talked about how Lotus Notes has transformed this particular consulting company. This must have been in the early days of email because whenever a consultant would have a question about some area in which they did not have expertise, they would just email all their other fellow consultants to get answers. Suddenly every consultant was instantly smarter. email had worked to de-hierarchalize this particular company so that employees were no longer just valued based on their particular ranking in the company's food chain; they were valued according to their knowledge and wisdom.

This is the upside of the declining cost of information.

Another potential benefit of information's cost decline is the lowered cost of platform. It's a positive result when illegitimately marginalized groups or individuals are empowered to advocate their point of view.

This can, understandably, be threatening to the status quo and to institutions who are used to having more control over their information. After the printed page lowered the cost of info, the Roman Catholic church was rocked. And so we read of Westminster Theological Seminary feeling the need to monitor its students' blogs, the Church of England's concern with staffer's blogging, etc. And I have had conversations with highly placed church leaders where they complained about how anyone with a computer can hold forth on blogs and criticize.

This radical shake-up in the status quo led to Time Magazine to select "You" as "Person of the Year" Reuters reports:

"You were named Time magazine "Person of the Year" on Saturday for the explosive growth and influence of user-generated Internet content such as blogs, video-file sharing site YouTube and social network MySpace.

"For seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, Time's Person of the Year for 2006 is you," the magazine's Lev Grossman wrote."

Surely the declining cost of information is good or bad depending on the quality of the one speaking. Dehierarchalization works best when the members of a particular community are mature. That being said, I find myself in general agreement with Andrew that we are in a position of a net sum gain when it comes to new media and communication.


Pastor Astor said...

I guess new ideas are always most threatening to those who used to be the ones with new ideas, but has most recently settled down and feel they have reached everything they where striving for. It tends to be the last renewal movement that opposes the new the strongest.

When new ideas also makes use of new technology, they become even more threatening.

Several books on the emerging church have been published in the last year, and they all seem to claim egergents don´t believe in truth. When the books are reviewed by emergents the criticism is always the same: Have you talked to emergents before writing this?

I am sure the authors have used all the usual means of obtaining information: Books and articles.
But have they realized that the real information isn´t there - but here?
By taking part in the online dialog, they wuld have learned more about the emerging church in a day, than they did through their whole writing process. By publishing parts of their manuscripts online beforehand, they would have had a lot more intersting and accurate information for their books!

The sad thing is I'm not sure any of the criticism they have gotten has reached their ears, since it isn´t published as a book or article.

Anonymous said...

I just watched the brilliant Peter Weir movie, "Dead Poets Society" recently. This movie more than most really communicates the absolute threat of challenging "tradition."

There is SO much in this movie to break down and study regarding a basic anthopology of who man is and his psychological/spiritual shortcomings.

I have come to the conclusion now that what took place among the staff against the character, Mr. Keating, is normal. The persecution of an innocent man as a scapegoat to make oneself (in this case the school) look better is part of depravity. It is naive to think this doesn't happen in the church.

I highly recommend watching this movie and discussing it.

posted by Pocketplayer

Stephen said...


- Can you say more about the connection? I saw the movie maybe 20 years ago or so. Is Mr. Keating the character Robin Williams plays?

Hamo said...


I justmade the connection myself and then read your post!

Snap :)

Anonymous said...

Robin Williams plays Mr. Keating. GREAT movie. Never thought about it in connection with faith-stuff, before reading the above comment, though.

Anonymous said...

See my, Dead Poets Society review for a more detailed explanation.

Signed in as anonymous because I'm lazy!