Jan 142009

I know I said I wasn’t going to change the theme for a while, but hey!

I couldn’t resist this one when I saw it even though it’s only a 2-column theme and I generally prefer 3-column themes. The background and general theme is ‘visitor selectable’ and it should remember your selection if you have cookies enabled. Click on the icon at the bottom-left corner to access theme options and other tools.

And yes I know it’s a bit ‘Windows-ish’ but I still like it. Hope you do too.

Aug 292008

The internet makes the world a small place sometimes, especially when it comes to connections. Being a bit sad, I regularly look at the search terms used to find my blog and also keep tabs on who’s linking to me. Well, a new link popped up today from ScottishChristian.com. The page is ‘highlighting’ Scottish Christian bloggers. I’m not sure I’d ever claim to be a highlight, bit I will admit to being a little chuffed to have been listed. You’ll also find a few familiar names on the lists (hence the ‘small world’ reference).

This made me think again of Stewart’s point about the use of social media technology and my recent thoughts on it. This, in my mind, is where the technology we have does become useful. Creating links and sharing resources. Maybe it’s not ‘community’ as I would have it but when I noticed my name in the list of links then there was a sense of ‘belonging’. Maybe that’s at the root of what Stewart’s getting at – a need for inclusiveness, a need to participate. I feel ‘part of’ that group of bloggers because I have been included and I participate. Any community, be it virtual or otherwise, be it secular or Christian, needs inclusiveness and participation before it will really work. That, I suspect, is the real challenge to social media – how to make it genuinely inclusive and participatory. (And, arguably, a challenge within our real communities as well.)

So, it’s a small world indeed, and one that we can be part of, but there are challenges to be faced if our small world is not to have communities which are still a million miles apart.

Jun 252008

Having been inspired by the theme for Stewart’s new blog, I had a look at others by the same person and decided I like this new one. The main reason I like it is that it is 3-column, but more unusually for a WordPress theme, it’s variable width and that’s just one of my little quirks – I like the page to fill the browser window.

btw – Stewart’s new blog is hosted by me. I’ve decided to use my techie background to offer web hosting and design services in order to bring in a little cash over the summer. If you’re interested in anything ‘webbie’, please get in touch.

Jun 192008

One of my tasks in looking after the Crossover web presence is to keep an eye on the Crossover Bebo page. We get a regular flow of people signing up as friends and I do have a quick look at their Bebo site. Maybe I’m just an old fuddy-duddy but what I see, I find quite depressing. The language and innuendo to be found on young teenagers’ pages is pretty shocking. With Bebo it’s fairly easy to hide behind the ‘friends only’ restriction, but that, to my mind, encourages this duality in public and ‘private’ personas. One of the sites I looked at belongs to someone I know and I have to ask myself, which is the ‘real’ them? Is it the foul-mouthed, world-hating ’emo’ on Bebo or is the approachable but loud teenager I see from time to time? Or is the real person some complex mix of the two? Which one is the facade? Or is peer pressure so great that there is an expectation to be as ‘bad’ as each other or even to outdo one another?

I did actually toy with the idea of ‘purging’ those friends who did use offensive and crude language (and advertising the fact that I’m doing it) but who am I to judge acceptability. Crossover is a Christian festival but it certainly doesn’t lay down any kind of standards to be met before you can associate with it. That would be, very much, in contradiction to the gospel message. But where does one draw the line? By accepting such sites as friends, is one condoning them? This, to me, is one of the issues of social networking sites – there is little or no control over associations that are made and the assumed ‘privacy’ allows the presentation of public and private faces which, very often, are contradictory.

Mar 292008

It’s a lengthy read, but let me commend a post across at internetmonk.com. I think it presents a very well-balanced view of what, for many Christians, is a struggle to come to terms with – how to deal with the issue of homosexuality. There are no ‘solutions’ offered, just a presentation of the main issues and an appeal to remember our true defining characteristic – imago dei, not our man-made labels.

Mar 282008

As you’ve no doubt noticed, the site theme has changed yet again. I like themes to be simple and relatively uncluttered without lots of graphic backgrounds. The colour scheme’s also got to be easy on the eye. I quite like this current one but I’ve got a few more to try, so you may or may not see this one around for a while.

Mar 082008

… and too little time to read it.

Much as I’ve only really dipped my toe in the vast blogging pool that exists, I’ve quite enjoyed it. But it has a downside. There’s too much out there to read and I want to read it. To be fair, some of it is utter guff and some of it is very challenging and educational (I hesitate to suggest where this blog might fit). But I simply don’t have the time to dig into each and every interesting article that flits across my feedreader. And then there’s the comments! They’re a major read in themselves.

But I have noticed one interesting thing about the sites I tend to visit (I’ve added a few to my blogroll on the right) – I rarely agree with them. This is, in part, a deliberate strategy. There’s no point in reading stuff that just agrees with you – it’s simply affirming what you already know and you don’t really gain anything. But reading stuff you don’t agree with is much more fun (maybe I’m just a masochist). It challenges you. It forces you to think about what you do believe. It makes you dig deeper. It also, I think, forces you to be discerning. There’s a lot of stuff out on the interweb that is unscholarly, biased, ill-informed, misleading and just downright rubbish. But you can tell a lot about the integrity of a site with the way it engages with its commenters. The poorer sites will simply bash away with the “you’re wrong!” hammer. The better ones will recognise and acknowledge different viewpoints and engage graciously in debate.

Maybe that’s just a long-winded way of saying that if I add new sites to my blogroll, don’t assume I agree with them, but I do ‘endorse’ them (for what that’s worth) as being worth reading.