notes from a small curate
Blog for God
published in Church Times, 15 August 2003 (slightly different version here)
Had Samuel Pepys lived in the computer age, he wouldn't have been a diarist. He'd have been a blogger. The website pepysdiary.com offers a flavour of what that means. His diary entries of precisely 343 years ago are posted there each day.
The word 'blog' is derived from 'weblog', which means an on-line diary. If you decide to begin a weblog then you become a blogger. Bloggers use the web to record the events of their daily lives, to share ideas profound and mundane, and to offer links to other websites of interest.
Dave Winer runs Scripting News, one of the earliest and currently the longest-running weblog on the Internet. He writes: "A weblog is kind of a continual tour, with a human guide who you get to know. There are many guides to choose from, each develops an audience, and there's also camaraderie and politics between the people who run weblogs, they point to each other."
The web hosts thousands of bloggers, posting entries each second of every day. You can see this happening before your eyes at weblogs.com, a list of weblogs that have changed in the last three hours.
They come in from all over the world, journals bearing titles plain and obscure (Iggy's Movie Reviews, Momentary Lapses of Dilution). They cover every topic under the sun, with equally varied degrees of seriousness.
If you go in search of Christian bloggers it won't take long to find one. You might start at blogs4god.com, currently listing 734 blogs in nine languages. If you google the words uk Christian blog, you will find about 28,000 sites to surf. Once you've found a blogger whose website interests you, their links will transport you into networks of like-minded narrators and web essayists.
Among those blogging regularly from the UK are Jonny Baker, who styles himself a "uk voice in the global conversation and buzz about alternative worship, mission, postmodernity, emerging church and all that", GrowProject, a "community of seekers and worshippers" in Oxfordshire, various contributors to the Greenbelt festival blog), and a network of people based around The Wibsite, a youthful Ship of Fools-type site which also includes Dubious Ministries - missionaries to the Anglicans.
Enthusiastic, informative weblogs like the Orthodox Christian Huw Raphael's doxos.com can form lively online communities around them. But some blogging can be banal and self-absorbed. In attempting to satirise the humdrum nature of some bloggers' writing, the people behind The Wibsite created The Dullest Blog in the World . Unwittingly, this celebration of mediocrity has become one of the internet's most popular blogs.
Providers such as Blogger make things easy for weblog beginners to set up their own sites. After that, the web is at their fingertips. Some will communicate for pleasure. But weblogs are "avenues into people's hearts, and into their souls," insists Dale Lature of theoblogical.org . "Thousands are using the avenue of writing to express their deepest anguish, and their deepest hopes, and articulate enduring dreams that won't go away."