My Challenges to the Bloggernacle for 2006

John Dehlin Mormon, Mormon Stories

It’s been 5 months or so since I entered the bloggernacle with a huge thud. Since then, I’ve tried to be a bit more focused, and constructive in my comments and contributions to the Bloggernacle, but I know I still have a long way to go.

Bet even though I’m a bit more experienced and realistic than I was 5 months ago, I still have grander aspirations for the Bloggernacle than what it seems to be offering today–and so I want to humbly issue a few friendly challenges to the Bloggernacle in 2006. Here goes:

  1. Encourage Identity: I know there are some good reasons for maintaining anonymity on the Internet, but I believe that deep down, a fear of open, candid, personal discussion is one of the biggest sources of pain in LDS culture. Instead of feeding into this, I believe that we need to stand up and be honest and candid about who we are, and how we feel. Until we do this–I believe that we will always be perpetuating what is most ill within our culture. One of my favorite quotes from Les Miserables (the musical) is: “To love another person is to see the face of God.” I ask you–can we really love someone when we aren’t even sure they exist?
  2. Annual Bloggernacle Event: I challenge the Bloggernacle to initiate an annual Bloggernacle event, where we can all meet face-to-face to share, commiserate, complain, and plan to do even greater things.
  3. Ratings, Archiving and Reuse: I challenge the Bloggernacle to figure out a way to do a better job of rating, archiving, and reusing the super high-quality posts. Right now, posts that go to the archives are largely lost to all but the really persistant and detail oriented. There must be a way to rate, harvest/mine, and reuse the “best of the best” posts–such that future conversations can build upon old ones–not just be rehashed in the same old way. If we can collectively figure out a way to incorporate rating technology into our blogs a la digg.com, I believe that this will be a great start.
  4. Podcasts: I challenge the Bloggernacle to do more podcasts. If you look at the top 10 Froogle searches for Christmas this year, 4 of the top 10 searches were some form of iPod. Text is great, but we can reach so many more people (in the long run) through audio and eventually video. At a minimum, I feel like the following podcasts need to exist, and I promise to anyone who wants to start one of these all the help I can muster:
    • An LDS women’s issues podcast
    • An LDS art/movies/literature/media podcast
    • An LDS history podcast (good hopes for this one)
    • An LDS podcast focused on the youth
    • An LDS podcast dedicated to parenting
  5. Sunstone: I challenge the Bloggernacle to consider giving Sunstone another chance. I can offer at least 3 reasons why this should be so: 1) Forgiveness: As Christians, we believe in the notions of repentance, forgiveness, and redemption. I know for a fact that under the leadership of Dan Wotherspoon, Sunstone has worked very hard to atone for its past “sins,” and reclaim its position as a responsible, productive voice in the LDS community–and I believe that we should give it one last chance, 2) Bridging the Gap: Yes Sunstone is full of many “old-timers,” but among these old timers include the likes of Charlotte England, Armand Mauss, Molly Bennion, Toby Pingree, Gregory Prince, Jeff Burton, Levi Peterson, and countless others who have contributed much to what we are now benefitting from–and who still have much to contribute. In my opinion, the “younger generation” of the Bloggernacle and the “older generation” of Sunstone need to be brought together, because we have much still to learn from, and to do, with each other. We could be so much more effective as a unified community, than as separate silos. Finally, 3) Print Still Has Power: The Internet has exploded, but guess what? Magazines are still thriving (just ask Oprah). There is still a lot of power in print, and we could all stand to benefit by harnessing this medium.
  6. Collaborative Projects: I challenge the Bloggernacle to break out of its obsession with posts and replies and web traffic and popularity–and consider other ways to contribute to the LDS community on the Internet. Collaboration on Wikis, screencasts, screenplays, documentaries, podcasts, musical scores, historical research projects and community events are just a few of the possible ways that we could extend to support/embrace if we looked to find new and better ways to make a difference. With all the time we collectively spend online–is there something greater we could do than what we are doing now–lots of posts and replies? I challenge all of us to figure out how to expand even further our reach, and our impact.

I know that I have little place to be challenging the Bloggernacle to anything–but I do believe that we can do even greater things if we’re willing to think beyond our own site’s popularity, response depth, and the clerverness of our writings.

I hope we will seize the moment.