Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Margaret Young on The Bloggernacle

Continuing my research on Raymond Carver's "Cathedral" and the Bloggernacle, I recently emailed Margaret Young, an emeritus By Common Consent perma and my creative writing instructor from last semester. I asked the following questions:
  • What is the Bloggernacle?
  • Is it a place, a thing, a concept?
  • Does the Bloggernacle facilitate the creation of communities? How?
  • Is it people simply communicating with each other that creates these communities, or is it something more, like working together to build the bloggernalce?
  • Does the Bloggernacle facilitate the creation of communities in ways that would otherwise be impossible, or create communities that would otherwise not exist?
Here is a segment of her response:
"The bloggernacle is a collection of online "wards" which members self-select. Many go from ward to ward, even if they serve as a "bishop" (perma) in one particular blog. I blogged with Mormonfeministhousewives, Mormonmentality, Timesandseasons, Juvenileinstructor, and of course, BCC. The bloggernacle, in this age of the internet, is a virtual place--and those who actively participate are always thrilled to meet others of the community in person, unless there have been unkind words exchanged. BCC has yearly retreats for its permas, and had all sorts of get-togethers at the Mormon History Association. So that answers your next question about community. Also, the blogs have behind-the-scenes email exchanges, where permas talk about what's happening on the blog or sometimes in their lives. It's sort of like a large bishopric meeting. It also lets permas give input to content, and sometimes request that a comment or a sidebar be removed.
The blogs i've worked with have already been well established, but it's interesting to see new permas welcomed in. Many efforts to make the newbie feel welcome and valued happen behind the blogs.
Because of the self-selection process, the bloggernacle DOES facilitate the creation of communities which would not likely form without the internet. People visit FMH and discover other women who are experiencing similar things, and feel (especially because so many use pseudonyms) safe in revealing things they would never talk about in Relief Society. Such communities would and do exist outside the 'Nacle, but the infinte possibility to accommodate pretty much anyone who wants to join make the 'Nacle unique.
I decided ultimately that I was using too much time blogging, and also had some family issues which required my attention, so I quit blogging--though I can submit a blog whenever I want to, and have blogged twice (on BCC) from England. I drop in on BCC periodically. I'm not terribly interested in the others. Often, permas from other blogs will ask me to visit their current conversation if it's about race issues, and I almost always comply."

I intend to use portions of this response in the completed version of my post "The Bloggernacle: Forming Digital Communities."


  1. I hope this question doesn't detract too much from the main framework of your research, but I was a bit curious if individuals ever use the bloggernacle as a replacement for the physical tabernacle, in the community-like sense of the word. As I read Margaret Young's description of the atmosphere of the online community, I started reflecting a bit on individuals who find themselves retreating more and more into online communities, avatars, second life, etc, and pulling father and father back from the physical world and demands that come with it.

    Have participants on the bloggernacle been able to maintain a balance without finding the online medium as an appropriate substitution for the real deal—in this case, physical interaction with a church community—and relying solely on a medium they may prefer? Young commented that many participants on FMH find an avenue to more readily express their opinions. Finding themselves among like minds and often with anonymity on their side, there are more willing to voice opinions freely. Would it be long before individuals grew tired of a community they feel they must hide in and turn exclusively to one which they feel allows them to speak their minds freely?

  2. You know what's interesting is that the latest Ensign has some articles that are relevant to some of our topics. This article talks about a sister who decided she was blogging too much, like the one from your quote mentioned: http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?locale=0&sourceId=59bcc79fed3b8210VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

    These articles seem to suggest a stance that it is more worthwhile to build community with other members who are in one's actual ward. So I think the big question is what is the real value of the bloggernacle?

  3. Allison, from what I've read some people actually do substitute the bloggernacle community for their own ward communities because they say it's more comfortable, more like minded people, etc. I do want to talk about the limitations of the bloggernacle, so thanks for the relevant comment.

    Chris, thanks for the article. I just read it and again I think it may apply to limitations of the bloggernacle/new media.