It’ll be pretty plain to see that I haven’t been posting that much recently. Stuff happens, and, on top of that, I’ve been feeling a little faded/bored with it. By it, I mean blogging. And by blogging I mean, in this context, stuff connected with the ’emerging conversation’. Perhaps it’s just me.
I’ve just written a piece for Third Way – coming out in November – about Facebook, and other social networks. In the article I quote two things from Bauman’s Liquid Life. Firstly Bauman himself who writes that:
“flattened into a perpetual present and filled to the brim with survival-gratification concerns, [the world] leaves no room for worries about anything other than what can be consumed and relished on the spot”
Secondly, Bauman quotes a Stasuik, another cultural commentator, who notes that:
“it is highly probable that the quantity of digital, celluloid and analogue beings met in the course of a bodily life comes close to the volume which eternal life and resurrection of the flesh could offer.”
And what I’m feeling at the moment, springing out of these thoughts, is just the volume of noise in the blogosphere. I’ve likened it in the past to being at a party where everyone in the room is shouting, but no one is actually listening. Conversation is thus impossible. To converse we must be quiet and listen, and digest what others are saying, and reflect and then reply.
(By the way – welcome to those readers who’ve made it past the 240 word mark. You’ve done better than most web-readers do, according to studies)
For me the ’emerging conversation’ has become too much like a whole bunch of people mouthing off… Pretending to listen, by occasionally quoting others, but, for the most part, just yabbering on about their little world regardless of what others are saying. In the book I mention some of the conditions under which a system might become ’emergent’, or ‘self-organizing’, or ‘a learning system’, to use different syntax. One of the key conditions is an ability to sense and respond to its environment. And this requires careful listening. I think we’ve lost the art.
So I’m moving over to a new blogging-style system called Conch. The creators say that Conch is “designed to emphasise the connectedness side of being part of a network, not unlike sitting round a dinner table, where certain rules about listening before speaking are important.”
You thus start by creating what they call a ‘table’ of other members. Once your table is set, you can begin posting, just as you would with any other blogging system. The difference is in the discussion element. Conch uses an algorithm to detect how the conversation around any post is going, and table members can rate other members’ comments. These ratings are then used, along with the algorithm, to invite a member of the table to post a new thought once discussion around the previous one has died down. This member can then either: post a new piece or defer to someone else in the group who they feel ought to ‘have the conch’ that time round – the allusion obviously being to Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Such a deferral gains a member ratings; members can force a new post themselves, but doing so is ratings-costly.
Of course, for the small part of the bell-curve who made it to the end of a post this long, you’ll realize Conch doesn’t exist. But sometimes, amidst the noise and haste of a movement that appears to be whirling around in hyperspace like a dervish, constantly spinning and going nowhere fast, I wish it did. Thus ends, according to Technorati, the 17,754th post on ’emerging church’, the 100th in 24 hours, and that’s including a Sunday, when good bloggers like TSK don’t even post 😉