Weblogs and Spirituality the Escalating Thesis
Excerpt from Thesis :
icio.us, which enable users to publish, categorize, and share their bookmarks
Enables users to create and edit the content of a Web site, leveraging the expertise of online users
Consumer Wikis enable users to comment on content, in addition to editing content
Wikipedia, a community Wiki encyclopedia, includes approximately 1.3 million English-language articles
Sources: (Bernoff, Li. 2008, et.al.)
Web 2.0 Explained
Inherent in the user dynamics of the map completed by O'Reilly and Battelle are the catalyst of why social networking is such a fertile platform for spreading word of God's love and peace to the world. Ironically the foundations of social networking as defined by O'Reilly and Battelle are identical to the needs that churches fulfill. The "architecture of participation" that is mentioned by O'Reilly in his definition of Web 2.0 (Weinberger, 2007, 19) exactly parallels the needs that any church fulfill as well. In addition, the harnessing of collective intelligence is also a shared attribute. Focusing on the Core Competencies as shown in Figure 1, the parallels to the needs fellowship meet are clear. The parallels between the Web 2.0 platform and the fundamental unmet needs that Gods' church fulfills are also illustrated in how both have the potential to bring an entirely new level of participation. Social networks are in fact becoming the new church for many people globally, having become the new communities many rely on to stay connected to the outside world.
The greatest paradox of social networking is in fact the appearance of a high degree of connectedness and coherence, yet in reality, people have never been more disconnected and lacking in trust of each other and institutions. The framework of social networking presented in this section illustrates how blogs can't be considered in isolation anymore, especially when considering the combined effects of all social media strategies to further God's Word. The following sections discuss blog's popularity and the significant potential Christian blogging has, in conjunction with other areas of social networking.
Explaining Blogs' Popularity
There is today an insatiable desire to get to the truth. Traditional media is in many cases seen as suspect and biased at best. The emergence of blogs is a result of the combined effects of a declining level of credibility traditional media has, the increased trust in bloggers' embracing and in some cases challenging freedom of speech, and appreciation of how fast news can be communicated in this new medium. The combined effects of these three factors are leading to dramatic growth in blogs. Blogs have become the most pervasive means of self-expression today online.
While many see blogging as new and unique, in fact the concept of blogging has been around for thousands of years, beginning with St. Augustine's Confession (St. Augustine, 1992) and progressing through the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
The growth of blogs has expanded beyond the U.S. To now include 81 different languages, across 66 nations encompassing six continents. In addition, bloggers on average generate close to one million posts per day. The aggregated statistics from (Technorati, 2008, et.al.) shown in Figure 2 quantify the pervasiveness of this medium.
Figure 2: Technorati's Assessment of the Blogosphere (Technorati, 2008)
In order to be successful in bringing God's message to the world through blogging, the importance of this specific aspect of social networking must also be taken into account. Figure 3, How Internet Users Perceive Blogs as Sources of Information illustrates how critical it is for any Christian blogger to strive for accuracy, genuineness, honesty and candor in writing about what their relationship to the Lord means to them. 71% of Internet users contacted in the Technorati study cited (Technorati, 2008) state that they take blogs more seriously for their primary source of information. A surprising 49% of Internet users who responded to the survey also see blogs as a valid media source vs. traditional media.
With how important it is to present
a Christian blog with accuracy, honesty and sincerity, Proverbs 17:27 provide insightful guidance in this regard, "A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered." It is critical for any Christian blogger to realize that staying in peace and under control is critical for their blog to be taken seriously. As can be seen from Figure 3, there is ample opportunity to gain the trust of Internet users searching for insights on how to improve their lives through a relationship with God.
Figure 3: How Internet Users Perceive Blogs as Sources of Information
The majority of blogs are personal in nature, written by adults over 25, the majority of which are married, as can be seen in the data shown in Table 2, Demographics of U.S. Bloggers. Blogs that are less pedantic and more insightful and introspective about actual testimonies of how a person's relationship to God has progressed, faced challenges, and grown stronger is the type of content these specific bloggers respect. Throughout the research on blogging (Hamm, 2006, 46, 47), (Lukacs, 1997, 16, 17) and (Palmer, 2008) the need for immediacy, sincerity and most of all honesty, is critical for any blog to be respected and consistently read. Speaking out for God and about the realities of His love and its impact on our lives, how His answering prayers and giving us not escape from our challenges but a triumph over them is a critical message for these specific bloggers as well. The concentrating on bloggers as an audience is also very important, as a blogger will only be read by a broader population if they are first read and supported via links and comments from more established bloggers as well.
Table 2: Demographics of U.S. Bloggers
18-24 years old
Median Annual Investment
Median Annual Revenue
Blogs with advertising
Sell Through a Blog ad Network*
Have Affiliate ads*
Have Contextual ads*
Among those with advertising on their blogs
The concepts behind Web 2.0 are critical for any Christian looking to share their faith through blogging. Specifically in the area of video blogging or as it is sometimes called vlogs, the advent of GodTube (Miller, 2007, 11), a religious online video site modeled after YouTube, is emerging as one of the most popular variations of traditional blogging online. Videos of church services are increasingly being loaded onto GodTube as well (Biever, 2007, 24, 25) and (Davis, 2000).
In conjunction with video included in blogs, it is critical for Christian bloggers to consider how best they can use tagging technologies (mentioned in Table 1) including Digg and del.icio.us (Chopin, 2008, 552, 553) and also, when initially creating their blog sites, integrate in RSS Feeds. The concept of RSS Feeds is to make the task of staying up with content as it is produced as efficient as possible (Gurak, Antonijevic, 2008, 60). RSS Readers are available from a multitude of online sites including Google, Yahoo and others. It is critical for any Christian blogger to make their content available through RSS Feeds, as this is quickly becoming the means by which the majority if Internet users get information they are interested in. When a person subscribes to an RSS Feed, they get the real-time updates automatically. Combining video, RSS Feeds and also generating a consistent stream of content that includes not only praise, but plenty of testimony and discussion of how God has provided strength, and how in His presence there is peace, is crucial for transforming blogs into a meaningful outreach (Palmer, 2008). Blogging alone is not enough to reach Internet users who need to learn about the strength and love God provides. Combining video, RSS Feeds and easily accessible links to resources are critical. Figure 4, Web 2.0 Technologies' Impact on Blog Readership, quantitatively illustrates this point. This data is also from the Technorati study (2008, et.al.). Consistent with the underlying concepts of Web 2.0 and the need to invite interactivity,…
Sources Used in Documents:
Celeste Biever "When pastors swap the pulpit for the webcam." New Scientist, February 17, 2007, 24-25 (Accessed October 1, 2008).
Josh Bernoff, Charlene Li. "Harnessing the Power of the Oh-So-Social Web." MIT Sloan Management Review 49, no. 3 (April 1, 2008): 36-42. (Accessed October 2, 2008).
Kimberly Chopin "Finding communities: alternative viewpoints through weblogs and tagging." Journal of Documentation 64, no. 4 (July 1, 2008): 552-575. (Accessed October 1, 2008).
Aaron M. Cohen "Young, Single, and Spiritual." The Futurist 42, no. 4 (July 1, 2008): 16-17. (Accessed October 1, 2008).
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