Thursday, June 15, 2006

Is this the Year of the Blog for the PC(USA)?

Two years ago we had the last of the annual General Assemblies, and today the first of the biennial General Assemblies begins.

I have been following these meetings online for about 15 years and have seen how internet technology has developed in providing us with rapid information and even real-time access with streaming video. (or is that "screaming video"?)

Ten or fifteen years ago our choices were limited. There were the official statements of the PC(USA), but they were infrequent and not particularly informative. For too many years, the average Presbyterian heard about actions of General Assembly weeks after the fact. Whatever else you can say about The Presbyterian Layman, they were one of the first independent groups to provide information to rank-and-file Presbyterians. Such other groups as the Presbyterian Forum, The Witherspoon Society, More Light Presbyterians, the Presbyterian Coalition, and others followed suit, and by the end of the 1990s we had more information than we could process. The PC(USA) made serious strides in telling their story, because quite frankly, others were already doing so -- and not necessarily accurately.

The one drawback in all this was that most of the non-official content over the past 15 years has been provided by special interest groups, with their own agendas. One notable exception has been PresbyWeb, which has provided balanced, independent reporting of news around the Presbyterian Church since 1998. Personal web sites were not common enough to have much of an impact outside a fairly limited geographical area.

But that has changed rapidly over the past few years. Blogs, with their easy-to-use editing interface can be updated rapidly, and we have the potential to see even more information and analysis coming now from a greater diversity of people. The Gruntled Center, The Eagle and Child, Dave Ayers, Quotidian Grace, and many others are blogging this week and next on the 217th General Assembly. Some are going to be "on the ground" in Birmingham, and some will be following the action from their home base -- but all of them have voices that deserve to be heard.

For my part, I will do my usual reading of the various traditional sites. I will be relying more on those who blog decently and in order for what I expect will be accurate reporting and cogent anlaysis.

A suggestion -- at the top of this and other BlogSpot blogs is a link to a blog search engine. One button searches JUST the local blog, and the other searches all blogs. The search engine technology is, of course, Google (who owns BlogSpot). They do, however, index all blogs and not just their own. I'll leave formulation of good search expressions as an exercise to the reader...

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Apostle John said...

The bloggers are certainly in force here. This is the 4th GA I've blogged since 2000 (I didn't go in 2001 or 2002). In 2000, I was the only blogger!

Denis Hancock said...

It certainly seems significantly more than two years ago.

I suspect, though, that had we had a GA last year it would have seemed like an unusual amount of bloggers.

Just going from memory, The Kruse Kronicle, The Gruntled Center, Quotidian Grace, The Eagle and Child, and this blog are all new since 2004, and most of them came into being in 2005.

You ought to write up your memories of how the blogging presence at GA evolved over the past 6 years.