I’ve participated with the “Bloggernacle” since before it was called that (I recall the whole Banner of Heaven debacle, which shows my age somewhat). I have never served as a power player or all that prolific, and I mostly just lurk these days as I find most of the arguments the same old same old; you can only have the same arguments about authority, obedience, scripture, etc. before they get really tiring.
However, I do have a few random thoughts/reflections (in no particular order) on the ‘Nacle based on my many years hanging around. Your mileage will definitely vary about whether my insights make any sense or not:
1. I really miss Clark Goble. Long before President Nelson called for more civility in online discourse, he lived it. No matter how crazy, cranky, or divided the discourse on the blog – and whether it was progressive, moderate, or conservative blog, Clark could always find a way to discuss things civilly, reach across the ideological divides, and (overall) he just came across as a great guy. One reason I don’t comment as much as I used to is that Clark Goble really set the standard for what I wish I could do with online engagement, and when I ask myself “What would Clark Goble do here?” I often can’t replicate his civil, reasonable discourse. We’re much poorer without him.
2. The “Bloggernacle” doesn’t really exist much anymore. Back before social media really took off, blogs were the social media. Now, many of the original blogs are dead, dying, or way off in paths I’m not interested in heading down. A few, like BCC have managed to diversify (such as with BCC Press), and Times and Seasons appears to have some staying power, though the audience is clearly smaller. Also, back when it first started to really take off, there was a lot more crosstalk and engagement. Over time, the blogs tended to fracture across ideological lines and retrench into their various camps rather than continue the engagement. I don’t want to point particular fingers, but I found it rather funny when one blog would complain another blog was deleting comments when they did the same thing; the only difference was which ideological side the comments were on. Progressive blogs were upset when conservative blogs deleted progressive comments, but the conservative blogs would get upset when the progressive blogs would delete conservative comments. Not exactly a ticket to unity, there.
3. The so-called “snark” sites are something I don’t miss. While the movement of the snark from them to the main blogs (they served as an outlet, but they also allowed people to wallow in the snark) indicated a serious change in tone and engagement across blogs, I don’t think they helped. Mostly, they just helped people entrench in their ideological castles more, rather than try and engage civilly.
That all seems enough for now. I’ll likely write about Battlestar Galactica, The Princess Bride, and Pop Culture Philosophy type stuff in future posts, but trotting down memory lane seems like a useful exercise and a way to get a few things off my chest before changing focus.