Aggregating our Webs

On Beppe­blog, Joe talks about start­ing a clear­ness com­mit­tee [link long gone]to assist him with his strug­gles with Friends. But he also touch­es on some­thing I’ve cer­tain­ly also expe­ri­enced: the impor­tant role this elec­tron­ic fel­low­ship has been playing:

Just the oth­er day I real­ized that I felt more com­fort­able being a Friend since not attend­ing Meet­ing on an ongo­ing basis. My ongo­ing “e-relationships” via the blo­gos­phere has helped me stay “con­nect­ed”. Observe how pleased I respond­ed to Liz’s recent post (the one that I quot­ed in the post before this one). It’s as if I’m starv­ing for good fel­low­ship of some kind or another.

There’s even more talk about internet-mediated discernment/fellowship in the “com­ments to his followup.

Giv­en all this, I’m not sure if I’ve ever high­light­ed a “vision for an expand­ed Quak­er Ranter site” that I put togeth­er for a “youth lead­er­ship” grant in Third Month:

I’ve been blessed to meet many of my [age] peers with a clear call to inspired min­istry. Most of these Friends have since left the Soci­ety, frus­trat­ed both by month­ly meet­ings and Quak­er bod­ies that didn’t know what to do with a bold min­istry and by a lack of men­tor­ing elder­ship that could help sea­son these young min­is­ters and deep­en their under­stand­ing of gospel order. I would like to put togeth­er an inde­pen­dent online pub­li­ca­tion… This would explic­it­ly reach out across the dif­fer­ent braches of Friends and even to var­i­ous seek­er move­ments like the so-called “Emer­gent Church Movement.”

As I’ve writ­ten I was select­ed for one of their fel­low­ships (yea!!) but for an amount that was point­ed­ly too low to actu­al­ly fund much (huh??). There’s some­thing in the air how­ev­er. “Quak­er Dhar­ma” is ask­ing sim­i­lar ques­tions and Russ Nelson’s “Plan­etQuak­er” is a sometimes-awkward auto­mat­ed answer (do its read­ers real­ly want to see the ultra­sounds?). I’m not sure any of these com­bo sites could actu­al­ly work bet­ter than their con­stituent parts. I find myself unin­ter­est­ed in most group blogs, aggre­ga­tors, and for­mal web­sites. The invi­did­ual voice is so important.

And don’t we already have a group project going with all the cross-reading and cross-linking we’re doing. Is that what Joe was talk­ing about? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found some new inter­est­ing blog­ger and went to post a wel­come in their com­ments only to have found that Joe or LizOpp had beat­en me to it. (Some of us are to the point of read­ing each other’s minds. I think I could prob­a­bly write a great Beppe or LizOpp post and vice-versa.) Is this impulse to for­mal­ize these rela­tion­ships just a throw­back to old ideas of publishing?

Maybe the web’s form of hyper­link­ing is actu­al­ly supe­ri­or to Old Media pub­lish­ing. I love how I can put for­ward a strong vision of Quak­erism with­out offend­ing any­one – any put-off read­ers can hit the “back” but­ton. And if a blog I read posts some­thing I don’t agree with, I can sim­ply choose not to com­ment. If life’s just too busy then I just miss a few weeks of posts. With my “Sub­jec­tive Guide to Quak­er Blogs” and my “On the Web” posts I high­light the blog­gers I find par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ing, even when I’m not in per­fect the­o­log­i­cal uni­ty. I like that I can have dis­cus­sions back and forth with Friends who I don’t exact­ly agree with.

I have noth­ing to announce, no clear plan for­ward and no mon­ey to do any­thing any­way. But I thought it’d be inter­est­ing to hear what oth­ers have been think­ing along these lines.

  • Yes, that’s what I was think­ing of: the infor­mal net­work of Friends link­ing and com­ment­ing on each other’s blogs, etc.
    I thought about this post for a day or two. I think I like things the way they are. There are already places to post on Bul­letin Boards, which I find of lim­it­ed use or inter­est (in gen­er­al, not just in regards to Friends).
    OTH, maybe there is anoth­er for­mat that might work bet­ter in cre­at­ing a sol­id “place” on the web for fel­low­ship, reflec­tion, dis­cus­sion. Etc. What that is beyond what is already out there is unclear to me.
    By the way, how much mon­ey was actu­al­ly avail­able from the fel­low­ship that you applied for? For exam­ple, was it 10K, but meant to be dis­trib­uted over five appli­cants? I have to admit that $500 does seem rather paltry.

  • Hi Joe,
    Thanks for tak­ing the time to think about it. I’ve always been leery of grand-sounding inter­net projects that don’t fol­low a mod­el that’s been shown to be work­ing else­where. My Non​vi​o​lence​.org start­ed off mod­eled after Slate and the (late great) Feed, for exam­ple. It adapt­ed into what is now a rec­og­niz­able blog for­mat in Decem­ber 1997 when I named the home­page “Non­vi­o­lence Web Upfront.” Research­ing a lit­tle, I see that was the same month that Jorn Barg­er coined the term “weblog” which I think is less a coin­ci­dence than a con­fir­ma­tion that many of us were try­ing to fig­ure out a for­mat for shar­ing the web with oth­ers. (Wait, it’s even clos­er than that: the first use of “WebLog” was “Decem­ber 29, 1997”:http://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​I​m​a​g​e​:​W​e​b​l​o​g​.​png, the same _day_ that Upfront debuted!). I’ll have to post this…

  • The dis­cus­sions above cov­er an awful lot of ground, so it’s nei­ther fea­si­ble nor desir­able to respond to some preg­nant lines of thought…
    But at the risk of repeat­ing some­thing I have prob­a­bly writ­ten else­where, I feel (intu­itive­ly, that is – per­haps even mis­tak­en­ly) that Friends, who once rep­re­sent­ed the lead­ing edge of all human-rights advo­ca­cy, have long since fall­en behind the Uni­tar­i­ans in effec­tive­ness, and the Uni­tar­i­ans in turn now lag behind Unit­ed Church of Christ in their advo­ca­cy for jus­tice. Now, I can’t prove this per­cep­tion; it’s just a concern…
    Assum­ing that I am not mis­tak­en in my con­cern, even this has a sil­ver lin­ing; name­ly, the oppor­tu­ni­ty to study our neigh­bors as a mod­el for pow­er­ful min­istry. Which brings me to the point of my post… I like “Quak­er Ranter” very much. But I also like the blog run by UCC sem­i­nar­i­an Chuck Currie:
    http://​chuck​cur​rie​.blogs​.com/
    I would like to know whether Chuck has been enabled in his Ministry-Via-Diary by supe­ri­or coöper­a­tion and supe­ri­or fund­ing from his denom­i­na­tion…? If so, does that explain what he is able to achieve?
    I sus­pect The Ranter has a legit­i­mate Trav­el­ling Min­istry. He has the abil­i­ty to trav­el the world over, vir­tu­al­ly, with the speed of an elec­tron. This is far less roman­tic than the horse­back labors of ear­ly Friends, and involves less risk and hard­ship, but Friends need to adjust their per­cep­tions to appre­ci­ate a twentyfirst-century min­istry. I would like to see this min­istry con­tin­ue, and thrive, in new directions.
    Final­ly, tak­ing a leaf from the para­ble of the starv­ing wid­ow who con­tributed a tiny mite to the Tem­ple, I have tak­en advan­tage of The Ranter’s con­ve­nient Pay­Pal but­ton to make a lit­tle contribution.
    Use it in good health… I wish I had more to give.

  • Hi Mitch,
    Thanks both for your kind com­ments and the donation.
    I don’t know the details of Chuck Cur­rie to know just how he’s been sup­port­ed (I’ve found that among Quak­ers, the details often make a big dif­fer­ence as to who gets noticed). Still, I find it hard to imag­ine some­one like him being rec­og­nized by Friends.
    I recent­ly got an email out of the blue from a famous­ly unapolo­getic lib­er­al Friend (enough of a clue?) who had just read my “Peace and Twenty-Something”:http://​www​.non​vi​o​lence​.org/​m​a​r​t​i​n​k​/​p​e​a​c​e​_​a​n​d​_​t​w​e​n​t​y​s​o​m​e​t​h​i​n​g​s​.​php essay and chal­lenged me to stop com­plain­ing and actu­al­ly do some­thing (he even offered to use his “mojo” so I could lead a break­out work­shop at a par­tic­u­lar­ly boring-sounding con­fer­ence lat­er this sum­mer even thought the dead­lines had passed). His email was pret­ty nasty, though I think he want­ed to come off as a gruff-but-lovable goad. How do I even start to explain that I’m a bona fide inter­net pio­neer and pub­lish one of the most wide­ly read Quak­er peace pub­li­ca­tions in the world? I don’t like to boast and even if I did I’ve found it to be a waste of time.
    It doesn’t seem like Cur­rie needs to spend all of his time con­vinc­ing the UCC higher-ups that he’s actu­al­ly doing some­thing. That must be nice.