Bloggers gather in London

by Richard on September 25, 2008

Yesterday I attended a bloggers’ event organized by the Evangelical Alliance at their headquarters in London. There were about 25 of us there, many more men than women. Methodist blogging was represented by my good self, the estimable Mr John Cooper and the always delightful Olive Morgan. Everyone’s favourite cartoonist, Dave Walker was also there. I’ve only met him on two or three occasions but it’s always a pleasure. As well as being a creative genius with a pen, he’s also a thoroughly splendid fellow. I’ll take any opportunity I get to chew the fat with him.

And, as always with this sort of occasion, it’s the meeting people that is the best bit. The sessions were very good and raised some interesting stuff, but I don’t know that I came away feeling like I’d learned anything. Maybe I’m being arrogant, but I have been blogging for close to 7 years so I do know a little about it. However, it is always good to get some fresh perspectives and get to know some new people. (The first speaker was Mark Meynell and he’s been kind enough to post a summary of his talk, Hitchikers’Guide to the Christian Blogosphere. Maybe the other speakers will do the same.

One weakness of the event, caused entirely by the lack of time, was that there weren’t really many opportunities to hear from the other attendees about their blogging experiences. I’d ‘ve enjoyed that, I think. However, EA have promised to circulate an attendence list, so in time I’ll be able to point you at the blogs of those who were there.

There was a bit of an agenda to the gathering. The EA is keen to come up with a code of conduct for ‘Godly Blogging’, which I’m in favour of in principle, but which is quite difficult to do in practice. A draft was circulated which we discussed briefly and the promise was that it would be re-drafted to take our various comments on board. When something comes out, I’ll be sure to let you know. Methodist bloggers have talked along similar lines, though we’ve not quite got round to drafting any sort of statement. Maybe the Evangelical Alliance will save us the bother.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1

dh 09.25.08 at 7:15 am

Just curious, Are you a member of the Evangelical alliance, Richard?

2

Richard 09.25.08 at 7:25 am

No, I’m not.

3

PamBG 09.25.08 at 10:32 am

Interesting. Thanks for blogging about it. Part of me wishes that I could have gone but September has been completely crazy-busy.

I find the idea of setting up ‘Godly blogging guidelines’ somewhat ‘interesting’. It sounds like an attempt to control the un-controllable and suggests a misunderstanding of the blogosphere and the post-modern Zeitgeist. (Sorry to use jargon, but I can’t think of any other way to say it.)

4

Olive Morgan 09.25.08 at 9:21 pm

Thanks, Richard, for such a good write-up, which made me feel a bit better about the interview I was asked to give at the end. When I was asked what I had got out of the day, I had to say that I hadn’t learned much that was new. I, too, have been blogging for 6 years, which is much longer than some of the speakers had! I’ve had no time to post about it on my blog because of a friend’s funeral tomorrow and I’ve had to concentrate on drawing up the October Prayer Guidelines for the Northern part of the Circuit and send it off today to be printed for Sunday.

I’ve now received the suggested revised code of conduct and am about to set down my comments on it. I’m afraid I got a shock when I saw some of the new ‘rules’, with which I will not be able to agree. So it looks like another late night if I’m to give it the time and reflection that it ought to have!

5

Bene D 09.26.08 at 4:26 am

Remember way back - the term ‘herding cats’ was used often to describe the push of how to control blogs and by extention bloggers.

Can’t be done.
Shouldn’t be done.
Won’t be done.
I cannot imagine signing a code of conduct even in good faith.

Meeting other bloggers is a splendid idea and I applaud the EA for facilitating the opportunity. The body of Christ having another way to say hello.

Glad you went and reported back Richard.

If their membership has to follow a blogging code, then so be it, but it is not going to change the blogosphere.

Olive, looking forward to what all of you have to say, there were always be people who want top down rules.

It only took four years for the US GodBlogCon to go corporate and market, is this where the EA is heading with thier code? Again, not questioning sincerity, questioning herding cats.

We are constrained by the love of Christ, not rules and codes.

6

Kim 09.26.08 at 7:47 am

BD: “We are constrained by the love of Christ, not rules and codes.”

Absolutely. Ironic, isn’t it, that the EA, of all people, would joudaise the ethics of blogging? Ironic, but perhaps not surprising, as many conservative evangelicals are deeply legalistic.

J. Louis Martyn: “The whole of the Law post Christum is the Law that Christ has loosed from its paired and plural mode of existence, restoring it to the original singularity in which it spoke God’s own word. It is the singular Law of love, and nothing other than that.”
Theological Issues in the Letters of Paul (London: T&T Clark, 1997), p. 251.

7

PamBG 09.26.08 at 9:10 am

I’m not at all surprised that the EA want to devise a code and if Olive doesn’t feel she can agree, I feel certain that I can’t.

8

Olive Morgan 09.26.08 at 5:18 pm

To be fair to EA, I have now had an answer-phone message to say that they have taken much of what I had to say on board and would like to discuss the code further with me on the phone. They intend to publish the result in a broadsheet on Monday, so please pray that I may be guided by the Holy Spirit in this conversation.

9

Richard 09.26.08 at 8:15 pm

It looks like you’re heading for the big time, Olive. Don’t forget to spare a thought for us little people!

10

graham 09.26.08 at 10:43 pm

‘There was a bit of an agenda to the gathering. The EA is keen to come up with a code of conduct for ‘Godly Blogging’, which I’m in favour of in principle, but which is quite difficult to do in practice.’

Really?! Maybe if this wasn’t the EA it wouldn’t trouble me so much.

Isn’t it possible that some of us who have been blogging for the last few years don’t actually need a code of conduct? Maybe rule #1 should be, treat us like adults?

11

Richard 09.27.08 at 12:39 am

>> Isn’t it possible that some of us who have been blogging for the last few years don’t actually need a code of conduct?

Quite. And it is also true that those who do need a code of conduct probably wouldn’t take any notice of one.

12

PamBG 09.27.08 at 10:09 am

Maybe rule #1 should be, treat us like adults?

I’m getting the impression that what was going on at the EA was something like this:
1) We want to publish a ten commandments of blogging and we have an idea what we want them to look like.
2) Someone knows Ruth Gledhill and this will be a good way of getting some publicity.
3) How about setting up a bloggers lunch? Sounds good, and we can talk about our ten commandments. What they say will be one input for us but we can ignore their views of we don’t like them.
4) The deadline for the article is XX September 2008.
5) OK, KK likes these, so we’ll go with them and Ruth can get her article out.

My guess is that it was mainly about their agenda. Still, I wish I could have gone as it would have been great to meet other bloggers.

13

Richard 09.27.08 at 8:55 pm

It wasnn’t quite like that, Pam. We were presented with a draft which was originally very different from what has appeared. There was some conversation about re-drafting them, and vrious comments were made. The suggestion was that the ‘code of conduct’ would be drafted in the ‘wiki’ way, with contributors able to make a real difference to what might eventually appear. Then, towards the end of the conversation, someone (I forget who) suggested that the code of conduct should ‘parallel’ the 10 commandments more closely. There wasn’t alot of conversation about this, and I didn’t expect the draft that was going to be circulated to be in that form. When the email came, it was a surprise.

I suppose I can’t blame the EA for taking the opportunity to get some broadsheet attention, but I’m not happy about the way this has been done.

14

PamBG 09.27.08 at 9:27 pm

It wasnn’t quite like that, Pam.

Points taken.

I suppose I can’t blame the EA for taking the opportunity to get some broadsheet attention, but I’m not happy about the way this has been done.

I don’t blame the EA for trying to get broadsheet attention. I just had the impression that it was supposed to be a bloggers’ get-together. I believe that the original invitation was ‘an informal lunch event for Christian bloggers to network and think through a Christ-like approach to blogging.’ With hind-sight, that encompasses what happened, but I’d not have translated at the time into ‘The EA are going to be putting out a press release.’

15

Jeremy 09.29.08 at 9:24 am

Yes, I was rather surprised by the end result too. It’s a shame, because it could have been a neat opportunity to say something positive about Christian blogging, but the final set are rather self-righteous and unnecessary. Not sure anyone in the room would stand by the final draft.

But, although the 10 commandments debacle is rather embarassing, the day itself was great. Some wise words from the speakers, and it’s always good to meet fellow bloggers face to face.

16

Olive Morgan 09.29.08 at 9:43 am

Richard, I’ve just caught up with your earlier comment about my ‘elevation’! Unfortunately, Friday was an exceptionally busy day (with a friend’s funeral and important pastoral work at the ‘wake’ right across town at her daughter’s, followed by a small ecumenical group to discuss Gospel Outreach - street evangelism - on which I was a representative) so that it was after office hours when I came home to pick up the EA’s answer phone message. By then it was too late and it would seem that Ruth Gledhill had already been given her copy. I’m wondering what the outcome would have been if I’d been available for discussion earlier!

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