Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Limits of Combox Discussion
When I comment on other blogs, especially in matters liturgical, I've found that many, many more writers line up against my viewpoints. It has been my previous practice to look upon that as a challenge and present the progressive view quite tenaciously. As of the new year, I had resolved, however, to focus my internet writing more on my own blog, and limit my posting elsewhere to once per thread. In other words, state my opinion, then get out to let others participate. I believe I may have transgressed about a half-dozen times in the past five months. But I didn't realize the "old me" had been missed. In this thread at NLM, my colleague and frequent ideological adversary, Shawn Tribe said: You talk about dialogue but for the past number of months you've exhibited a very bad habit on here of "hit and run" criticism. You throw out criticism and then when someone challenges you or engages you in debate on what you've said, you seem to all but disappear. Where is the dialogue in this? We used to have discussions and debates in the early days, and I'd be glad to have them again. As enjoyable as comboxes may be, I do not think that constructive dialogue can take place in them. The limits and disadvantages of relying on the posted word alone have been well-covered elsewhere. Additionally, most conservative web sites (even by self-avowed middle grounders like Amy) attract a substantial number of conspiracy theorists, detractors, and the like, so as to make a focused discussion nearly impossible. This would be my solution: What if a NLM contributor (perhaps you, Shawn) and I were to exchange a series of e-mails on a specific topic. It would be focused enough to permit a paragraph-for paragraph discussion that would be easily followed by interested readers. You and I could joint-edit it, then post on this blog as well as my own. If any progressive liturgist reading this happened to think she or he could do a better job than I, or in addition to me, feel free to jump in. Interested? And I repeat the offer to any of my readers who feel they need more of a voice. Neil accepted an earlier invitation to blog. Liam knows he has an open invitation to do so at any time. A few years back, a liturgical publisher suggested a point-counterpoint presentation on disputed points in Catholic liturgy. I made a few inquiries, but no takers. Maybe the time for this idea is closer to realization, especially considering the emerging comfort with podcast and other internet technologies. I think it would be exciting to have a one-on-one discussion presented, then open it up afterward for comments. The authors would have the time to make thoughtful points. An editing process could clean up the straw men and other side tracks. And instead of one side putting words into the mouth of the other, each person would have to deal with the best of the arguments their adversaries could fling their way. So, what do you say?

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