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A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Mormon Cybergalaxy John Dehlin.

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Presentation on theme: "A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Mormon Cybergalaxy John Dehlin."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Mormon Cybergalaxy John Dehlin

2 “Podcasts, and Wikis and Blogs….Oh My!!!”

3 Why am I here?

4 Too Far Removed (Community) Too Elevated (Conversation) Dialogue Sunstone Mainstream Church 100,000 to 250,000

5 Too Far Removed (Community) Too Elevated (Conversation) Angry Internet Mormon Groups Dialogue Sunstone Mainstream Church


7 Who are the future custodians of Sunstone?

8 Where do they get their information (Sunstone subscriptions)?

9 What is their community?

10 So I asked them

11 “My attitude towards Sunstone is …I get all I need of Mormon thought on the blogs.”

12 “I know many bloggers think that Sunstone is kind of ‘grey’ (i.e. mainly for old timers who think that things are like they were in the 70’s). I think the unorthodox label is something Sunstone has to show they can get past.”

13 Internet Forums and Chat Rooms Anyone can post Anyone can reply Big players include(d)… –View from the Foyer –ZLMB –Mormon-l –FAIR –AML –New Order Mormons – – (THE juggernaut?)


15 “Blog” History Term coined in 1997 Abbreviation of “Web Log” “ Web-based publication consisting primarily of periodic articles (normally, but not always, in reverse chronological order)” Blogger launched in 1999 Evolved to allow replies, syndication

16 Anatomy of a Blog

17 Jonathan A. Stapley

18 Title Chronological Posts CommentsMost Recent Comments Links to other blogs

19 Archives Permabloggers

20 Detailed comments

21 RSS Feed

22 Examples of blog postings… A link to a recent magazine article or book review is posted, w/ ensuing discussion That same author is featured a bit later in a Q&A w/ the readers An upcoming event (General Conference or Sunstone Symposium) is publicized Key moments of the event are published FROM the event, to the blog (We should be doing this now) Some big newsworthy event is advertized, and is discussed

23 Why are blogs successful? Relatively easy to design and maintain By carefully selecting “permabloggers”, you can maintain quality Still allows for 2-way communication Allows for aggregation through syndication At the end of the day, “It’s the community, stupid!!!!’

24 A VERY Brief History of The “Bloggernacle” (LDS Blog Universe) 11/2002 Metaphysical Elders 08/2003 Dave’s Mormon Inquiry 11/2003 Times & Seasons (Group Blog) 03/2004 By Common Consent 01/2005 Millennial Star 01/2005 The Founding Islands create the “Mormon Archipelago” 02/2005 launched 07/2005 Bloggernacle Times re-launched

25 The “Bloggernacle”




29 “The Big Three”


31 Times & Seasons “First large group LDS blog” “Grown up” Permabloggers have PhD’s or JD’s “800 lb. gorilla”… “Too big”? “Acceptably orthodox” “Very good writers…breadth of interests” “Create a sense of community around the bloggernacle that in turn benefits them” “Somewhat insular, aloof” “Self-referential” “Clique-y” “On the decline”??? “Plateaud”?? –“The reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated” --Mark Twain


33 Aaron Brown

34 By Common Consent Offshoot from Times & Seasons “Most liberal” of the Big 3 Recently forged partnership with Dialogue “Snarkiest, most sarcastic of the big blogs.” “Boisterous and irreverent at times”


36 Millennial Star (or M*) “Most conservative” of the Big 3 –Gospel-based, not necessarily politically “The White Bread of Mormon Blogs” “Plays it straight” Seems to be more open to newcomers, outsiders

37 Meaningful Difference Between the “Big Three”? “If you were to carefully study T&S and BCC side by side I think you would have a hard time finding a substantive difference in their leanings.”

38 “Of course, to many LDS members, they’re ALL liberal, since they actually allow/propagate/facilitate free discussion.” Less “Sunstoneish”?

39 Diversity? “ My main complaint is that the bloggernacle’s idea of diversity is having a few permabloggers who went to law schools other than BYU.”

40 Broad Impact? “Most people still say “Huh?” when I ask them if they know what a blog IS” “Ha! I can ユ t even get my parents to read my stuff.”

41 The REAL significance of the bloggernacle today

42 The COMMUNITY “I think as more Americans become more nomadic than their parents, following jobs and school from state to state, we have to replace the traditional neighborhood community with a virtual one. Without the bloggernacle, I wouldn’t have a social network”

43 “It’s the ECONOMY, stupid!!!” James Carville

44 “It’s the COMMUNITY, stupid!!!” John Dehlin

45 The Future

46 Blog Aggregators












58 RSS Aggregator Applications

59 RSS Feed

60 Web-based Blog Aggregators


62 Podcasts

63 What is a podcast? Think of it as…. –Listening to the radio….BUT… –EXACTLY what you want to hear…. –EXACTLY when you want to listen to it –And most importantly…YOU can have your own show!!!! Requirements (to listen) –DOES NOT REQUIRE AN iPOD!!! (though it’s quite nice) –Broadband Internet Connection –Windows Media Player or iTunes –Speakers or earphones

64 iTunes or even better iTunes + iPod The Recommended Setup





69 Why Are Podcasts Cool? Make better use of your commuting, lawn mowing, exercising time, etc. Express personality and emotion that sometimes text can’t Easier to get good content Reach out to “new generation”…many of which prefer audio or video to text/reading

70 Coming soon…. Screencasts

71 My biggest questions/concerns…. To what end are we blogging & podcasting? Are we just having the same old, tired conversations again and again? Could the conversations become more elevated if the “seminal” articles on the various issues were readily available for reference? What happens to the gem posts and podcasts once they age a bit? Communities are great…but can we do more to extend our reach? How can Sunstone and Dialogue capture the hearts and minds of future generations (and remain viable)?

72 I have a dream….. (actually, I have 2 dreams)

73 Imagine if we could harness all this Internet activity….

74 Imagine if we could create…. “MormonStudies‘apedia” A centralized, categorized directory of the 100+ top issues in Mormon Studies (historical, cultural, social, etc) Each issue would contain: –A balanced, 5-10 page “whitepaper” on the basics of the issue (written from an even-handed, balanced, neutral perspective) –“Liberal” and “Conservative” rebuttals to the whitepaper –Pointers to the seminal articles in Sunstone, Dialogue, JMH, BYU Studies, etc.

75 Who would do the work? THE COMMUNITY!!!!




79 How would we manage the contributions?




83 How can we manage the quality?



86 Sunstone Film Festival & Digital Storytelling


88 Conclusion….

89 “However I know many are hoping that Sunstone reinvents itself. Right now, moreso even than the orthodoxy question is the relevancy question. I don’t think most see it as terribly relevant to modern LDS.”

90 Sunstone Enters….

91 SunstonePodcast SunstoneClassic Podcast

92 Why I’m Optimistic…. Great authors + Print + Solid Editorial + Community + Web = Goodness

93 Kudos to Dan and Mike and Molly

94 “If you want to get noticed in the blogosphere, you’ve got to go visit other people’s blogs, not just send out emails. Blogging is primarily about community.”

95 “It’s the COMMUNITY, stupid!!!”

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