I’ve been blogging for 15 months now, and thought it time to review. As I approach 30,000 hits, a few memes are a’buzzin.

Firstly, I really want to thank each and everyone who has contributed and made this a meaningful conversation.

I remember struggling to come up with a title for the proposed blog. I chose “soundandsilence” initially because it related to music and to contemplation. But as things went, I wrote less about sound and more about light and imagemaking, not to mention much theological musing. I guess it might have been named lightanddarkness just as easily.

Anyway, here is a summary of what has gone on with some things I have learned.

My top 5 postings:

  • The scandal of bishop Carlton Pearson (94 comments / 4,762 views): When I came out in support of Carlton Pearson in his bold evangelical refutation of hell, I had no idea that the debate would become the most heated of all my posts.
  • Being hit on the head with a pulpit.  (36 comments): People do seem drawn to sleaze and scandal. Mind you it’s not pleasent being nutted with a heavy sacramental object, if it had been you I would have wanted a piece of the gossip too. Go in peace, all 36 of you, as well as all you untold voyeurs.
  • Universal Restoration (31 comments): Perhaps the most significant shift of faith I have ever had was coming to view G-d as able to save all, and finally getting down and dirty with the theological idea of “Hell”.
  • Shamanism, interview 1: Anthony Paton (29 comments) : Well my brother Ant is a handy conversationalist, so all you need to do is interview him and then watch the hitcounter rise.
  • Andy Goldsworthy at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park  (1854 views): A bit of a mystery this one, but people seem to search for “Goldsworthy” all the time. And so they should – he is a hugely inspiring artist whose work is really grounded in the creation.

My own favourite posting.
The winner is a baptism of joyful fire : Afrika Burns synchroblog : Why I am especially proud of this report is that is not the result of academic abstraction, but rather the outcome of a powerful, transforming encounter. Roll on, Afrika Burns 2008!

My most controversial post : When you first comment is

“Say what you will Mr Pearson, but a literal hell awaits you………..in the mean time do us all a favor and get lost…………….shut your fat blashemous mouth,,,,,,,,,,,,,so you and satan will have something to talk about when ya get there”

you know your “conversation” has been kick-started. Once again, it’s the old chestnut, The scandal of bishop Carlton Pearson

Some things I have learned

  • Posts don’t “live” very long.
    As a blog writer your thoughts stay with you, because they are yours, but to the reader, who looks in occasionally through the window of your soul, they disappear from view when they hit 3rd place in “Recent posts”, or when they become over familiar via inaction to the browsing visitor. One needs to be aware of the massive bias in favour of what is perceived to be “current”.
  • The conversation museum.
    Blogs can help retain thoughts and threads of conversation meaningfully. It’s very helpful to have a conversation or process “held” by technology and a participating community. This reminds me of the therapists role: to listen, record, and reflect your thoughts back to you.
  • Visualise, mediarise.
    Images, as well as movies or sound clips, as opposed to raw text, are great (current posting excepted). Use them, borrow, steal, share and best of all make multimedia. I have been known to go 2-3000 deep on Google Images just to find one that is right. Of course when I say “steal”, I mean share and credit – always give credit where due.
  • Be journalistic.
    A blog post is journalism, albeit personal. Make it readable, keep paragraphs short. Of course I am not a tabloid sort of guy, and my blogs can run into several thousand words, but that’s how I am and not everyone will like it.
  • Define a blog’s social scope.
    I write my personal journey on soundandsilence, my local communal one on CapeConversation, a national communal on emergentafrica.com and then have a presence on friends’ blogs. Help people to know if they are being hosted in your personal space or a more shared one. Communal blogs have great potential, one of the most promising (and potentially messy) approaches is the “wiki” – see how IKON do it , which is really moving beyond blogs.
  • Focus the flavour and direction of a blog.
    One real advantage of expressing or externalising your thoughts is that you can see the shape of you life. You will see whether you are broadly or narrowly focussed. Look at the categories or keywords that describe your thoughts. When I look at my blog I can see a pattern, moving from Worship to UR to Paganism to Shamanism, reflecting my recent journey.
  • Offline is online, and visa versa.
    I’ve started to get confused between what is online and offline, in a good way. At the moment, by online I mean face to face, and by offline I mean “not in real time”, on the computer, queue’d conversation. I’ve enjoyed carrying on a computer based conversation in parallel to a regular F2F, such that when I meet a friend we simply bring “online” (into spoken dialog) what was already happening via the internet. The best of both worlds.
  • A blog needs to be curated.
    I’ve posted one or two controversial posts, and in handling them there has been a great opportunity to deal with peoples toxins in a constructive way. In most cases, however I see the role of the traditional (and quaintly antiquated) “pastor”, at work.
  • Hold everything lightly.
    When you publish your heart to the world, you will be appreciated, misunderstood, and ignored. The former is great, but you need to be prepared to explain and clarify yourself, as well as deal with no response. You need to expect nothing. I see a great many blogs with very good content, and 0 replies. This for me shows good detachment.
  • Not all blog providers are equal.
    Blogger vs. WordPress vs. Typepad? Well I don’t know too much but just know that WordPress works for me. My least liked feature in blogs I have visited is Bloggers roadblock approach to commenting – new window, doesn’t remember your details. I don’t mind antispam, but I find that on WordPress it is handles on the server not the client and its a lot more inviting that way.
  • Organise events, but sparingly.
    Synchroblogs (multiple, simultaneously published blogs) are great when the time is right, when there is a critical mass of writers partaking in one theme. Also Tags (I write something maybe based on some rules then “tag other” to do the same) are a new game, which are like synchroblogs in chain formation with a random spin thrown in. But all this can get a bit onerous if overdone. (It took me some days to trawl though all 26 contributors on the Halloween SB)
  • Dive bombers waste time.
    The most controversial comments are often left by bitter, sad and largely stupid people who somehow imaging that dropping a stinkbomb and fleeing is going to change anything. Change only comes by engagement. I generally try to give smelly opinions a little space, believing the best, inviting a return, but they almost always never do.