Another blognic in Rome

Well, the blognic sponsored by the Vatican probably will be kind of lefty liberal… so there’s another one in Rome: for Taliban Catholic bloggers.

Check out the invitee list. Pray Tell isn’t invited to that one either.

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  1. There is a recent paper that maps a large blog network and analyzed the emotional tone of posts and comments. Popular, heavily linked posts were generally more negative in tone and garnered more negative comments.

    I wonder what a similar analysis of the Catholic blog networks would look like and if in it would be an answer to the question posed by the alternative blognic, “Why is the Catholic bloggosphere [sic] so nearly uniformly “conservative,” pro-Benedict and, above all, young?” Is it because they are more negative in tone? (Not that I’m sure that any of these assertions are backed up by data. Recent data on science blogging revealed that the bloggers were not disproportionately young, in fact.)

    What is known about the Catholic blogging community? Does anyone know of any data?

  2. @ Michelle – I think there would be an inherent flaw in any sort of data about the Catholic blogging community, or at least some serious classification problems. Here’s what I mean, by example:

    Your blog seems to concern itself with things like your experiences with spiritual exercise, praying the hours and anecdotes about teaching science to children. These, it would seem, are, almost by definition, non-controversial, as you do not seem to take a prescriptive stance on just about anything. It would be hard for even a non-Catholic to take the position that you are telling them what to do or how things should be–about anything whatsoever. It is impossible, I posit, for me or anyone else to be “negative” about your personal prayer life.

    Thomas Peters’s blog (American Papist) concerns itself with things like Planned Parenthood, voting for Pro-Life politicians, and supporting Pope Benedict. These things, it would seem, are controversial, because they involve an “ought.” They tell the world, “This is what Catholic teaching says we/you ought to do.” It isn’t Thomas’s experiences with Planned Parenthood. It’s his prescription based upon what he understands the Church to be telling us through Scripture, Sacred Tradition and Canon Law. Because these are prescriptive matters that involve the whole Church and indeed the non-Catholic public, it is possible and perhaps inevitable that many comments will be negative.

    How are these two types of blogs even comparable? And what would we analyze them for? Your average Catholic, I think, would agree that a blog that purports to be Catholic but is actively against the pro-life cause would not qualify as being faithfully Catholic in the first place. Similarly, a blog that purported to be faithfully Catholic but was established to fight against Ignatian spiritual exercises and teaching physics to school children would be measurably un-Catholic as well, given that prayer and education are notably Catholic…

    1. Don, you might surprised about how negative people can be about other people’s personal prayer lives – as some of my email suggests.

      I do realize that I’m not the American Papist in that I’m prescriptive only in the sense that I’m willing to say that people should pray, and my tone tends toward the expansive rather than the restrictive (e.g. the rosary is wonderful, but have you considered the Hours?). I’m also not the American Papist in terms of blog hits.

      But in describing the breadth of what is out there in the world of blogs that would call themselves Catholic or that could be readily identified as Catholic by an outside reader, I would count both the American Papist and People for Others, and my blog as Catholic. My point is that absent data, I would be reluctant to say that Catholic bloggers are mostly conservative, young, inflammatory, prescriptive, old, spiritual, scriptural…and associated with this conference one might hope there is a move to actually gather such information.

      The analysis I’m referring to does suggest that a more negative tone (controlling for opinion expressed/topic) increases the importance of a post/blog in a blog network. There are less inflammatory ways to say the same thing, they just will not be as visible. When looking at a blog landscape relative to the fuller opinion landscape, it’s important to keep that in mind.

      And for the record, I don’t teach science to children (except my own on occasion) – I teach quantum physics! In that, I’m not your usual Catholic teacher/blogger….

      1. Michelle,

        Although I find it repulsive that someone would berate your personal prayer life, I suppose that anything that one sticks on the Internet will probably be subject to some of that. I even saw a commenter on this website try to diagnose another commenter with a mental disorder. The person whose mental health was questioned had his ability to post here apparently removed, while the person who did the “diagnosing” was never reprimanded or requested to apologize. He continues to post to this very day. It’s amazing what passes for civil discourse as long as the person being negative agrees with you…

        I guess what I’m saying is that there is probably a not a big audience for a Catholic blog that takes a negative stance toward Ignatian Spiritual Exercises and quantum physics. Those subjects seem to be non-controversial with respect to moral issues and Catholic orthodoxy (absent any calls for praying to Gaia or claims that quantum mechanics are of the Devil). If I’m not big into Ignatian methods of prayer, no big rub, it wasn’t meant to be for everyone anyway, you might tell me.

        Not so with abortion, however, and since the laws in this country don’t meet the standards of justice and decency and respect for life required by Church teaching, then it makes sense that the more outspoken, simplistic, hyperbolic and/or shocking the headline, (the more negative, you might say), the bigger the audience. Have you noticed how more and more websites having a single big headline at the top now, just like Drudge Report? (See Huffington Post, and even New Advent). It’s only going to get more and more sensationalistic with time, because with Twitter, you’re working with a limited number of characters. It’s already seeming as though, if you can’t express an idea in a Facebook post, it may never get across.

  3. Don, I do agree that civility in discourse is an issue – and always has been, I suspect, you should see the hot tempered (anonymous comments) made in old chemistry journals. They rival those on blogs today.

    Still, it might be fun to create a website that disses quantum physics and the Exercises and see how many hits it gets!

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