Wednesday, February 18, 2004

whats the internet point 2

NB. The post is not designed to induce guilt in any readers.

As an academic, I make my mark by writing and publishing. It’s called publish or perish. As a blogger, I live in an instant world, where yesterday’s post is old news. It’s called publish or persish. Academic publishing takes months and years. Blogging is instant.

(I am also a pastor, parent, partner, coffee drinker, but I will stick with the academic and blogger at the moment.)

Sometimes these values clash. For instance, late last year I delivered a paper on a postmodern monastery. It would shape up nicely into a journal article, but that might not be released until the end of 2004. Yet I mention on my blog that I had given the paper – on postmodern monasteries – and there are LOTS of requests for the paper. So do I go academic or go blogging? Academic writer vs blogger are in tension.

So I decide to make the paper I delivered a PDF, surround it by creative commons copyright and blog it. I decided to ask that if people downloaded it, they would offer some comments, sort of like tossing me a bone, sort of like fair trade. I wondered it this would resolve the tension between writer and blogger, because I can blog it, but if people give me feedback, that might improve the academic paper.

So I put the paper on postmodern monasteries on my blog, and asked for feedback.

My web stats tell me that over 120 people downloaded that PDF, while only 9 people commented.

Which sort of leaves me back at the drawing board. How to manage the book writing and the blogger instant demand? Which leaves me very unsure over what to do with my PhD on the emerging church once it is passed. There is a book there, but people want it instant.

I am yet to be convinced I can do both.

Posted by steve at 05:18 PM


  1. A couple of comments.

    Firstly you got nine direct comments relatively quickly to your posting of the article. That’s pretty good I think and better than just being cited somewhere else without you knowing it.

    Secondly, I imagine some people grabbed the paper and haven’t read it yet and so haven’t responded. Others may have read your previous postings about it and have responded in other ways before.

    What I’m trying to say is don’t be discouraged first off. Try a few different things and then make the call.

    Comment by Stephen — February 19, 2004 @ 12:35 am

  2. write the book.

    good wine takes time; fast food makes you fat and still leaves you hungry. Think Marlborough (an I don’t mean smokes!) and write the book.

    Comment by maggi — February 19, 2004 @ 1:09 am

  3. Steve

    I am a guilty party – I downloaded the article, read it sitting in bed and put it on the bedside table, to remind me to thank you for it…. SO this little reminder is good.

    I reflected for a while on the Spam evangelism part. I am reading through Gospel of Mark at the moment, and it really struck me yesterday that here was the God-Man walking around seeing society with such needs that He could have made a real difference in. He not only saw the symptoms of the problems, he saw their cause – whether it was the need for forgiveness, freedom from opression by demons or that the religious leaders were trying to trap him.

    Wouldn’t it have been awesome if Jesus did some mass evangelism/healing/deliverence. Just imagine it, crowds of people there, and Jesus puts up his hand and they were all instantly healed. That is not how the story reads – he treated each one according to their need, and the records show it seemed to be one at a time. He waited till they came to Him for healing – He didn’t push it on all and sundry.

    I guess that is how I feel about evangelism I agree with creating something that people will want to come and get, not have given or pushed onto them. I really like the film analogy you gave.

    The postmodern monastery – I can see a picture.
    A picture of a group of people commited to living together in community – a simple community that exists on sustainable principles, and cares for the earth God has placed us on – yes an environmental community. It is a spiritual community – where “pilgrims” can come and find spiritual peace and retreat, a spiritual experience. It is a community on a journey, where all are learning together. But the “purpose”, “call” or whatever you call it of this community is the digital creative works to be given to society – supported by the associated work as you say.

    Bring it on!!!

    If there was a place for this modern/post-modern crossover, I would love to be there

    Comment by Janet — February 19, 2004 @ 9:11 am

  4. Oh … and …
    As much as I love instant gratification of the internet, and I have been wanting to see your PhD thesis for some time – I am with Maggi, publish it as a book. There is a place for both in our society, and the book should be developed so it can be around for a long time.

    Comment by Janet — February 19, 2004 @ 9:15 am

  5. I too put my hand up Steve and confess I am guilty as charged.
    I think that replying to blogs is quite an intimidating thing for people, especially when the writer and many of the people who dialog with them have Phd’s or are in the process of producing them. I could be exposing my own insecurities but I think blogging can often become an intimidating academic exercise in such an environment if you aren’t one of those in the process of producing a Phd or the like. Many of the people who dialog with you are university lecturers, making it quite scary for the non-professional to engage with them in fear of flaunting ignorance.
    By the way I loved your article and the link between much evangelism and spam, you are a very creative thinker.

    Comment by Andrew — February 19, 2004 @ 9:33 am

  6. Steve, nine comments on a piece of work in just a few weeks – in the print world that would be astounding.

    But I’m with Maggi, take time craft the book.

    And I’m against her, find opportunities to publish quick and dirty, and get the comments enter a conversation and join/start a real virtual community!

    Comment by Tim — February 19, 2004 @ 12:11 pm

  7. Steve, I see the tension, but don’t see it as an either/or option. I don’t think you do either. Write the book, and where you’re able continue to interact at a more ‘popular’ level with the kind of material you’ve been blogging for over 12-months. Some material will be more suited to an academic context, some will able to be re-written for more popular consumption, other material won’t be academic per se. Your soapboxes gave you a good chance to distill some of the work you’ve done at an academic level – weave in a bit of de Certeau here, and DJ’ing there…no doubt other forums / mediums will enable you to keep interacting and engaging at both an academic and a more popular level, and I shall continue to be enriched by both.

    Comment by Paul — February 19, 2004 @ 12:16 pm

  8. Hi Steve,
    Here’s a practical person’s viewpoint
    B…..r the academic/blog tension
    Do which ever produces income,-parents need income
    Stephen King started a book once on-line but he
    scrapped the project because it seemed that writing on-line produced a taking audience rather
    than a receptive paying one.

    Comment by Diane — February 20, 2004 @ 10:33 am

  9. Another guilty party, but I’ve not forgotten I need to respond to you, I just need to give it some thought and come back with something that might be useful. Write the book and generate an online website for discussion as you progress. I believe Andrew Jones is doing something similar and he might be a good person to discuss this with.

    Keep up the good work,your stuff’s inspiring and creative. Will be in touch.

    Comment by Gary Manders — February 20, 2004 @ 10:31 pm

  10. Hey Steve,

    Like many others, I’ve downloaded and printed and it’s sitting in my pile of stuff to read over the coming weeks … Liked the look of it as I skimmed it but will comment or email once I’ve read it more.
    Read your blog mostly at home – where I can’t comment too 🙂

    It’s all a hard dilemma hey!

    Been thinking of you as you start at Opawa.


    Comment by Barb — February 21, 2004 @ 10:08 am

  11. Hi Steve,
    Also guilty of downloading and skim reading.
    Really enjoyed it and should go back and give it some more thought. (Andrew had a good point about being a bit intimidated. Same deal with your Ch1 handout of Postcards. Who am I to comment?
    Would love to see the monastery thing happen.

    Comment by Greg — February 23, 2004 @ 9:40 pm

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