Friday, 07 July 2006
Mark Goodacre has gathered together some of the responses to a questionnaire about blogging and theological reflection that Frankie Ward has been sending around. I responded to Frankie's email a while back now and, seeing that others have gone public, post my reponses to her questions below.
1. How long have you been blogging?
Just over a year - I started in July 2005
2. What got you started?
At the time I was the Doctrine Co-ordinator for the Faith and Unity Executive of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. I had long felt that we needed an online forum to discuss and share news of theological stuff that related to Baptist life in the UK. The blog was a personal attempt to offer something that met this need, but inevitably was also shaped by my own personal interests (not least NT studies). I had also long admired Mark Goodacre's New Testament Gateway Weblog. Mark is a friend so I nicked his idea.
3. Do you have a history of diary/journal/log writing beforehand?
4. How in your own mind do you negotiate the boundary between private and public? E.g. are there things that you would not put on your blog that you would put in a journal?
Not having ever written a journal this is hard to say, but theoretically the answer must be yes. The public nature of blogging means that (a) there is a certain degree of self-regulation in terms of content and (b) that there are certain expectations of what people come to your blog to read and discover. There is loads of stuff that I would never blog about.
5. How do you decide? What criteria do you use for inclusion/exclusion?
My criteria for inclusion is pretty simple: do I find it interesting? does it relate broadly to the focus of the blog? will those who read it possibly find is interesting?
6. How much time, on average, do you spend blogging each day or week?
My blogging is fitful - but I would say about an hour a week on average
7. How many other people do you actively engage with – e.g. are part of your blog community?
Not sure how to answer this, but I have 48 feeds into my Bloglines aggregator if that helps and I get about 300-500 visitors a month to the blog.
8. Who is your readership – literally; as far as you know?
Many of them friends, former students and other Baptist ministers and NT colleagues. I rarely get a comment left by someone I don't know personally.
9. and metaphorically? Do you imagine someone to whom you write/with whom you engage?
10. What counts as successful blogging?
Regularity, Quality (I hate blogs where the person dones't know what they ar talking about) and a certain love of the quirky that keeps you interested.
11. What does blogging offer as a method of theological reflection?
a. Its opportunities
b. Its draw backs
12. What potential do you see for blogging as a method of theological reflection?
I guess the community focus and capacity for easy, accessible reflection is the main opportunity and potential. However, my own view would be that blogging is a 1st order level of reflection and that the best media for sustained work is still probably peer-reviewed journals etc. (print or online). Blogs aren't places where you can easily put up a thesis chapter - but they are a place where your thoughts and reflection on what might go into a thesis chapter can be shared for others to engage with.
13. Do you know of examples of theological education programmes where students are required to keep a learning journal and blog as a form of journal?
14. Blogging and gender: do you think gender makes any difference to any of the above questions?"
maybe not to the above questions, but there was a long debate earlier this year about why so few women blog, so there are clearly some questions around whether women find blogging a useful or helpful medium.
I met with Frankie last week and she is planning to use the data gathered from the responses in a paper she is giving to the British and Irish Association of Practical Theology (BIAPT) Conference next week which is being held here at Luther King House. As part of the paper she will be setting up a blog live as a resource for Conference participants.