Article 4 in “The Ghetto: Solutions”.

So, yeah – I’m a new kid on the block, I have some interesting ideas – maybe. That’s nice. So what. The blogosphere is an interesting phenomenon, but can it be used the way I’m talking about? If we do the same old things… No. That’s why we’re in the Ghetto to begin with. Remember? To change the paradigms, and actually get _out_ of the Ghetto – we have to rebuild it. Will it happen all at once? Of course not. Can it happen? I believe it can. Why do I believe this? I’m about to tell you why. I’m also going to tell you _how_ I think it’s possible for us to do it.

I’ll go back to my familiar themes. Hubs/Metablogs, Meta-Niching, and Individual Blogs.

This, time, though, I’m going to step past theories, models, and ideas – and get to practical application. I told you I was going to…

A. Hubs.

Last time, we talked about Hubs as the “portals” for the niche-blogs. Actually, they are portals for the meta-niching blogs, to be precise (although, of course, they’ll find plenty of any given something on their own. They ARE our uberbloggers, after all. Right?). As far as hubs go – I think that’s something our “leading blogsmen” (and women!) need to work out. They all know each other, to some degree, and are leading this discussion as we speak. Most have chimed in, to some degree. I’ll do a quick onceover, just in case you missed any of them.

Joe, from his comments section at EO:

One of the reasons I started my “Outtakes” feature was because I was getting a lot of emails suggesting that I point out a particular story or post. Before, if I didn’t want to write an entire post on a subject I wasn’t able to use it.

I think if we had a blogger who was willing to do the same thing that Reynolds does it would have a great impact on faithblogging.

(For the record, I’m open to using my Outtakes section for this purpose until someone comes along to fulfill that role. Anyone is free to email me with story ideas and posts and I’ll try to include as many as possible.)

Also, in response to this question, from Bene Diction:

You may be able to create a US Christian instapundit out of sheer willpower and technical expertise, but even that instapundit will not represent the church, and at the risk of getting verbally boot-kicked – most god-blogs.

I don’t think that any single blog can represent the church or even the community of god-bloggers. But what we need is a central clearing-house in which to find one another. We’ve often discussed how there is little overlap between US and international bloggers. I think one reason is that we don’t have enough exposure to one another. A “Christian Instapundit” would simply be one way of being able to find bloggers that we might not otherwise know about. After all, I would not have found BBO if it had not been for Blogs4God.

He also notes that Bill Hobbs is working on

That’s idea #1.

Adrian Warnock, just like yesterday, has a slightly different idea, for our idea #2.

I would like to propose a true blogging solution, one which at first sight sounds like it has unecessary repetition and overlap in it. The reality, however is that it is the very redundancy of this system and the fact that it can grow and continue without any central organising system that makes it viable on the world wide web… Blogs can belong to more than one aggregator and each aggregator is managed independently of each other. Thus a rather elegant decentralised approach exists. Anyone wanting to start a new aggregator which covers a different area is only an email to me away from appearing on the Blogdom of God aggregators page.

I have an idea for another aggregator which should help with this notion of using prominent blogs to direct people to intermittent but good posters. This aggregator would be entitled Twelve Christian Blogs. This site would aggregate 12 prominent Christian Blogs who are committed to serving the community of Christian blogs. Each of these blogs would have a different flavour, and each of them would have two things in common. Firstly they would be consistently listed by the Truth Laid Bear ecosystem as having lots of other bloggers linking to them. Secondly, they would each often give back to the blogging community by linking to the posts of other Christian bloggers. These blogs and the hundreds of other Christian bloggers out there have the potential to make massive impact. If you wanted a quick glance at what the Christian blogosphere is speaking about right now you would go by that page. Each of the bloggers would also be happy to receive a personalised email if a blogger believed they had posted something that will be of interest to one of them.

I think that’s an excellent idea, myself. I would add, that it also coincides with my “meta-niching” concept, until we DO actually get an Instapundit in our ranks. So, really, it’s not really… actions WE can do. But, it’s something THEY can do. Or someone in “their league”. I’m no Adrian or Joe, that’s for sure. (Note: Toward the “Head” of the blogosphere, the available options get a bit smaller – because the tail drives the head. If the tail is apathetic, the head will be crippled, regardless of how good their blog is. Know what I mean?)


B. Meta-Nichers

There IS something you can do. If you’re a decent-traffic/medium-traffic blog, and you find yourself posting about the same things most of the time… find the other people who post in that subject matter, or you identify with. Link them from your site, and do it often, and freely. Set yourself up a blogroll, and/or an aggregator with those names on it. Monitor them, link their best stuff, or their interesting stuff. Let the “hubs” know you’re doing it. Congratulations. You are now a meta-nicher. The Instapundit of snail-salting, or the Hugh Hewitt of canoeing – or, perhaps, the Online Evangelism meta-nicher. Can I get a witness?

But really. All it takes is a bit of surfing, through the people you surf anyway. A short post giving a “round up”, or a “headlines” of that subject – and, you are now a “destination” For everyone in that list, at very least. For the hubs, you are a “content provider”, by linking them to the “best of” in your niche, any time they want it. Your niche-mates win, you win, the hubs win – which makes, necessarily, everyone a winner. Once again – action of a sort – now, with a slightly larger “action pool”. You are “enabling” both those “under” you (traffic/links wise), and those “over” you, by providing a service both find helpful. However… your success requires one thing – which is the most important of all.

C. Individual Action, by Individual Blogs.

All of this is utter drivel, if all we do is stay huddled in our stupid ghetto, and don’t _engage the REST of the blogosphere as Christians_. Period, end of line, no use trying – if we don’t get this point. YOU, mister/miss “I’m just a little blog, what can I do” – it’s up to you! (I can see those faces on the other side of the screen, right now… ME???)

Why is it all up to you? Because, my dear readers, and fellow denizens of the blogosphere – individual blogs, and teams of blogs, and triplets of blogs, and quartets of blogs, are the ideal size to actually _DO_ things. A “Blogdom of God” has to be notified, before they can DO anything. An agnostic has to be challenged about their preconceptions, before they will debate you with intellectual honesty, and a knowledge of what they are actually debating. Those you find asking the serious, heartfelt questions about God, and their meaning in life – they need to be answered. Those who present a gospel that is not true – they must be answered, and identified. Those who mock and deride our Lord, and His Word, must be defended against. Those who are looking for an answer to their questions about God, here in the blogosphere, need to be able to find it – and you need to be actively answering, searching, and identifying things like I listed above.

I’ll give you an example, from my blogging. (Warning: Content.) Jesus’ General (aka General J.C. Christian, Patriot – who signs every email he sends to various Christians (especially Christian leaders) “Heterosexually yours”) is a completely blasphemous, utterly derisive blog, which seems, at least to my view, to have their sights set directly on a systematic mockery of Christianity, and our Lord. (Yes, by the by – I have plans for a future “discussion” with mister “J.C. Christian”.) He’s a fairly high-traffic blog. Where are his opponents? I was so angry, after reading for an hour or so on that site, that I had to go outside, and walk it off. Trust me – it wasn’t just “oh, he makes me mad” – it was righteous anger, that you get when you see someone mocking God. (Just remember: “Be angry: and sin not”.) Go look at what is out there, and that may give you an idea for “action”.

Or, go read Raving Atheist. I get really depressed reading sites like these. However, someone, somewhere in this blogosphere is going to have the heart, and the spiritual gifts to engage them. (Read some of the comments: There are some there already. Go help them, if God leads you!)

Oh, Christians! Use your gifts _for the body of Christ_! Sure, this is only a digital extension of it – but, there are real people here to love you, and real people on the other side of every one of those text characters – which we have a potential to influence. Not as the world influences – but as the Sword influences – “piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart”.

We are called to be salt and light – and in many cases (not all, and maybe not “most”.), we’re just kicking back inside the saltshaker, commenting on what a great view we have through the glass. As Paul would say… “May it never be!”. Blogger – if you read nothing else in this post at all – read this: The way you can make a difference, is by conversing with non-Christians, and changing YOUR paradigm. We can talk about theories, and models, and ideas all we want. Here is where the rubber meets the road, though. WE HAVE TO ENGAGE. Not “watch someone else engage, and comment on it.” You _can_ give someone their kudos, and such – but, don’t use “blogging for the sake of blogging” as an excuse to get out of your Biblical mandate to “make disciples of all nations”, and to be the light of the world, and the salt of the earth.

Hubs can bring in traffic. Meta-niching can direct the traffic. However, it’s you – the individual bloggers, and individual Christians, that make up the body of Christ. Bodies all have functions – but, they also have a central nervous system, for a reason. Do what the body is supposed to do – and make sure you’re prepared, supported, and lifted up by your fellow believers. Both here, and in the church.

If I’ve done nothing else whatsoever during this series – I want to have encouraged you to ENGAGE. Do it. The Ghetto will stay the Ghetto until we’re willing to leave it. The only way to change the Ghetto is to change the neighbors – by actually meeting them, and getting to know them. You know your neighbors in the ghetto – get to know them. Then, you go together (A strand of three cords is not easily broken) and get to know the rest of the neighbors – outside the Ghetto.


Related: Notes on the Ghetto – and Solutions