Wednesday, February 27, 2008

And the blog goes on . . .

As most of my online friends know, I'm recovering from a car accident that happened about a month ago. I'm at a point in my recovery now where I'm well enough to mess around online, but not well enough to do much of anything else. I made a few attempts at housework today -- didn't get very far before I wore out. We still haven't replaced the car that got smashed up, so I'm pretty much stuck at home.

I added a little gadget that tracks who has been on this blog, which has been kind of fun, because I can tell where folks are coming from, and what page they've come to see. I had one where I had to check a web page, but I've forgotten my password and just haven't bothered with it for a long time. I was surprised that I'm still attracting traffic here. After all, I haven't done much to update it -- when I do feel like writing these days, it has been mostly on my private blog Karen's Path, where I just muse about my own spiritual life. "Karen's Thoughts" is my blog for broader issues, which I mostly haven't been in the mood to talk about.

Nevertheless, folks are still dropping in, mostly from search engines, or links on other pages. The biggest draw, of course, is what I've written on Baha'i issues -- but the people are not just my online friends. I'm getting visitors from places like Kiev and Hamadan, where I don't know anybody.

It seems to me that Baha'i cyberspace is making a big shift from discussion groups to blogs -- although sometimes the blog comment sections are virtually discussion groups, to the point they aren't really comments on the blog post at all.

Anyway, I'm hearing that Baha'is are being encouraged to start blogs, which is a huge turnaround from ten years ago, when ABMs where telling Baha'is to stay off the Internet in order to avoid the Remeyites and Talismanians.

Blogs carry a different dynamic than email lists and the like. For one thing, there isn't as much repetition of the same issues. A blogger has to come up with something new, even if it's just news about, or a new angle on, an old issue. Debating forums tend to get stuck -- in the worst places I've seen flame wars last for literal years, with scant content other than name-calling. Even the better forums tend to recycle things, especially as new people come on -- the old issues and questions are new to them, and that sparks the debate all over again. There's less "noise" on a blog. And I think more Baha'i bloggers is going to mean more creative thinking -- at least those that keep being updated. After all, if you have to write on a regular basis, odds are you're going to have to do some actual thinking sometime.

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