One of the best things about the explosion of the blogosphere, YouTube and other social media is that virtually anyone could speak their mind and achieve instant global communication. When you stop and think about it, this is really pretty amazing.
I discovered this soon after I started blogging back in 2006. I just started blogging because I wanted to write stuff that wouldn’t get published in the mainstream. This is because the content we wacky or niche or risky and editors wouldn’t take the risk. So I discovered that blog gave complete freedom of speech (within legal and ethical limits).
This is not to say that all editors were harsh censors. They were not. However there were all sorts of restraints in writing that acted as a form of social censorship. Market forces acted as a censor-the editor naturally wanted to appeal to the widest number of readers possible. This conditioned the writer however, to write for that audience. Editors also–while wanting to be controversial–did not want to be too controversial. It was okay to pick on certain socially acceptable scapegoats, but there were others who were out of bounds. Other forms of censorship were self imposed. If you wanted to earn some money writing you would have to tailor your writing to the needs of the editor and the expectations of the reader.
Blogs and other social media lifted all that.
Then there was the dimension of instant, adaptable, interactive global communication. You typed it out and hit “Publish” and it was out there for all the world to see. If you were writing for a niche market (as I was) it might seem small, but when it was global it was not insignificant. The communication was also adaptable meaning you could go back and change it if you made a mistake, and it was interactive through email and comment boxes. Wow!
Then things moved on and blogs became marketable. Websites like Aleteia and Patheos and others began publishing bloggers writings. Newspapers and magazines went online and their online articles–often written by bloggers like myself–began to merge with the blog posts. Blogs lost their personal touch and became big business, or if not big business, at least a business. I went along with this and was pleased to have editors recruit me for their sites, publish my material and pay me for it.
But along with the commercial aspect went some weakening of the blog itself and my message. This was not intentional, but an instinct to write for my perceived audience. If it was a larger, centrist audience, then my writing and tone would adapt–that’s just what writers do.
Last Fall, however, I decided to switch gears. In creating the new blog-website I’m doing something which is starting to be called interest networking. Instead of the website being just a blog, it is a place for people with the same interests to congregate. You’ll see that I’m starting to pull in guest bloggers, integrating my podcasts and pulling in the Twitter feed and other stuff to interest people who already like reading the blog.
Other developments in the world of social media are happening. I think the total freedom of social media and the internet will start to close down. The news about Facebook and Twitter censorship is growing, and I would not be surprised if there is eventually some government control of the main social media sites.
With this in mind, I’m encouraging more people to maintain direct contact through the blog-website and my twice monthly newsletter. I’ll be disengaging from Facebook soon, so if you come to my blog through Facebook links, then make sure you bookmark the blog, use the links in the right sidebar to sign up for the RSS feed, join my podcast channel at iTunes, subscribe to the newsletter. All that is free for all.
To make it free, I invite you, if you can, to become a Donor Subscriber. For these first two weeks of April I am having a new Donor Subscriber drive. I won’t be doing this again until October. Donor Subscribers have access to much more archived material, they get discounts on books purchased from my website, get regular free offers and discount offers on Catholic stuff and my monthly Boox Grab Box–in which a pile of freebies are on offer first come first served. Check out these and more benefits to being a Donor Subscriber here.
I call these helpers” Donor Subscribers” because they also help to keep most of the content on the blog-website free for all. You’ll notice that I don’t carry advertisements of any kind, and while I sometimes recommend stuff in a blog post, I don’t push anything even though I have lots of requests to do so.
Finally, as I’ve pointed out before, unlike some famous Catholic personalties, my work is not subsidized by any major donors or foundations. I keep doing this because I love it and feel called to it, and I rely on the Donor Subscribers to help with the expenses of creating, hosting, maintaining, improving and promoting the blog-website.
So can you help? The Donor Subscription fee is $8.95 per month. That works out to less than thirty cents a day. Three dimes. I hope you’ll respond. Go here.
PS: New Donor Subscribers are entitled to a free copy of Carl Olson’s Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead? as long as supplies last. If you subscribe during these two weeks shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll put one of these books in the mail to you as a little “thank you.”