Future of Mormonism
The Future of Mormons on the Internet
Additionally, as others have noted with respect to publishing in the LDS community, it is today virtually impossible to make a living writing for a Mormon audience without going through Deseret Book. We may never again see a mass-market piece of LDS thought written by an author who is not an apostle or a product of the Church Educational System. Popular biographies, such as those written by Prince or Bushman, may prove the exception to this rule, but they are history books, and as such they are presumably neutral (and harmless). Finally, society as a whole has become more distant, more alienating, and less connected than ever.
We entertain ourselves by streaming movies over the internet into our homes. We work by toiling alone in cubicles in front of computer screens. We harvest our food by placing an order online with convenient at-home delivery. The time we spend with our fellow saints, formerly the hub of our society, is now a mere three hours a week -- and we bemoan every minute. Ask a Mormon what she would say to a two-hour block instead and you will see a gleam of joy in her eye. Indeed, the love of men has waxed cold.
So we are modern Latter-day Saints: filled with instinct to reach out and commune with our sisters and brothers, but no real idea how to do it, few unsupervised and obvious avenues available, and with the whole of modern society geared against us. Little wonder, then, that the Bloggernacle came into existence; in retrospect, its creation seems almost inevitable. We desperately want a place to talk to each other and with each other, cry with each other and lift each other up, but modern life and the institutional activities of the Church do not adequately meet this need. We created the Bloggernacle because without it we were lost. It is no panacea, and (as I have argued elsewhere) it cannot wholly satisfy our eternal craving for community, but it is immediately available and it is amazingly empowering, and as such it has surprising vitality.
Where are these new media going, anyway?
Remember first how blogs first came into existence: usenet forums, BBS, and online diaries, all fused together in the 1990s. Blogging as we know it today represents the evolutionary pairing of various early internet technologies, made popular by informal political diarists and virulent discussion threads. These origins may explain why blogs today are still filled with lengthy comment threads, political rampages, and in-jokes; more importantly, remembering the evolutionary path of blogs reminds us of the inevitability of technological change and perhaps gives us an indication of where we might be heading. Steve Rubel established a public "mind map" that charts possibilities for blogs, but I see a few trends worth noting.
2) Persistence of the long form. Though it may cause some to roll their eyes in disbelief, blogs increasingly represent the long-form essay format in the context of internet discussions. Readers today have attention spans rivaling hummingbirds. Even blog posts of three paragraphs can scarcely retain the interest of the average internet reader, who is relentless in his need to be entertained. That said, there will always be a need to flesh out arguments and give context to thoughts. Somewhere, people will still need to explain themselves in full.