A few years ago, I would have had to introduce this compilation of articles by defining and describing a “blog.” But blogs have become so mainstream, so a part of the media structure, that it just isn’t necessary. And the Bloggernacle or Mormon blog networks has become a strong online voice in promoting LDS ideas, news, missionary work and discussion. I love traversing the Bloggernacle each day, looking for gems to post and promote on MormonTimes.com. And after doing this for almost three years, I am still surprised by what the Bloggernacle can teach me.
To highlight why the blogging medium is a valuable Mormon media outlet, I invited five notable Mormon bloggers to participate in a panel titled “Mormon Media Studies: Across Web Time, Cyberspace and Blogging Disciplines” at the Mormon Media Studies Symposium at Brigham Young University in November, where they illustrated, via blog-sized presentations, how blogging enhances conversation, promotes analyses and strengthens testimony. This compilation, a wealth of blogging experiences, stories and resources, is the result.
Kathryn Lynard Soper founded Segullah.org and in the last five years it has become a vibrant community where participants develop their voices as Mormon women through a variety of media, including a published literary journal, a daily group blog and real-time writing retreats. The ongoing conversation covers topics from current social issues to complexities of faith to daily life within and without the domestic sphere. As her contribution to this compilation, Soper will highlight Segullah's unique methods of encouraging literary talent, provoking thought and promoting greater understanding and faith among participants.
Larry Richman, the director of product awareness for curriculum materials at the church and producer of LDSMediaTalk.com, writes about how to strengthen families and build faith by using and sharing electronic resources provided by the church. He both directs and follows many current LDS media projects and shares ideas on how to be aware of and share resources, such as church websites, videos, scripture resources, mobile content, streamed (radio) content and targeted inspirational messages.
Courtney Jane Kendrick, the well-known Mormon blogger of blog.cjanerun.com and new Deseret News columnist with a large audience of both Mormon and non-Mormons, writes about how she translates her Mormon life experiences into blog posts and how she balances her roles of mother, writer and blogger. Pulling from comments and e-mails, she discusses reactions to her posts and how these have influenced her blogging topics and her faith.
Blair Hodges of LifeonGoldPlates.com tackles how the ever-changing technology of new media is both defining and breaking global boundaries. New media avenues provide new spaces meetings of like-minded Mormons. But new media has also created new intersections where the likelihood of crossing paths with Mormons who see the world much differently increases. Hodges concludes this compilation with an essay explaining how Mormons can use new media to merely reinforce what we think we've already learned, saying "we have enough, we need no more" (2 Nephi 29:6) or to break out of our worldview and learn even more.
Finally, Clair Barrus reminisces on the first 10 years of Mormonism on the Internet (1984-1994), a wild west-like uncorrelated world that gradually evolved towards the today's Bloggernacle. Barrus blogs about church history at LDS-Church-History.blogspot.com. Using computer programs, Mormon history content is pulled from over 160 online sources — slicing, dicing and presenting this disparate material as a single coherent historical chronology, which is now disseminated in daily posts.