I can’t start this post without a huge disclaimer: I got mentioned on a list of blogs.
I’m honored to see that people are interested in what I write, even if I have misgivings about why some bloggers were overlooked. However, more than being included on a list, I’m just grateful that we have lists in general on the internet.
I’m not grateful for lists in the way you may expect… At least I hope, or else I may not be as clever as I thought… which could jeopardize my place on future lists!
It’s fair to say that lists have always been a part of the interwebs.
Starting in 2004, I spent years pining after the blogroll in TallSkinnyKiwi’s sidebar. When oh when would my little blog make it to his blog list?
Bloggers sometimes swapped blogroll links as a kind of courtesy among friends, but you always secretly hoped that you would be discovered by a blogger and added to his/her list of top blogs.
I was particularly proud to be linked up on the now defunct Purgatorio site without having to beg for it—though I did endure commenting on far too many posts about Marcy the singing doll (anyone recall that series on Purgatorio?).
As I examined my own blogroll one day, I realized something: I only read and endorsed blogs by dudes.
I was that white evangelical guy who only read and supported other white evangelical guys.
My list pointed out my bias, and it prompted me to start searching for excellent female bloggers. At this point, I definitely read more blogs by women than by men.
So, I have arrived.
Well, not quite.
The more I look at my lists in my Google Reader and Twitter, the more I realize how ethnically and internationally homogenous they are.
In fact, they sort of have a lot in common with the other lists being put together online that lots of folks criticize.
We need lists. They force us to examine what we value and what we’re paying attention to.
If we’re going to be fair, let’s look at our own Twitter feeds, Facebook friends, and blog readers. Are we reading and promoting a diverse range of readers?
I write for websites that have very little ethnic and international diversity. In fact, that list that everyone’s so upset about has more diversity than many websites I write for.
Perhaps there are some flaws in these lists, but the bigger problem is that very few of us read as diversely as we know we should. I sure don’t. Lists are one useful tool for tapping into our bias and limitations.
I’m deeply grateful that we have folks who curate content, who research metrics, and who try to respond to the feedback of readers. I don’t think there will ever be a list that we’ll all feel good about.
However, we can use our lists, whether they’re our own or someone else’s, to ask ourselves some important questions—even if the lists have some flaws in their make up.
I’ve already been thinking about the diversity of the blogs I read, and so this new list of top ministry blogs drives home the urgency of diversity in the church and has prompted some questions:
Are there linguistic and cultural barriers that limit who I read? Perhaps we don’t read as widely internationally because the top international Christian blogs aren’t in English.
Are there topical differences that lead to homogenous blog audiences?
Should we accept that homogeneity as an audience preference issue in some cases?
Should we force ourselves to become uncomfortable and to read topics we haven’t thought about before?
I’m not offering the answers here.
Our lists will prompt us to ask these questions because they reveal what we value as online readers.
The lesson I take from this latest list of bloggers isn’t that he necessarily needs to change his criteria. Sure there are bloggers who should have been included and bloggers on that list that raised my eyebrows. I see this list as more of a challenge to me and to you.
I need to find a broader range of blogs to read and promote. Period.
If a diverse range of Christian blogs aren’t getting noticed, we need to make them more noticeable. That’s how the internet, when it’s done right, works the best. We have the power to promote what we care about.
Respectful dialogue with list makers can help call their attention to oversights, but the much more important problem is our own oversights.
Will I continue to publish for websites that fail to feature a broad diversity of writers?
Will I find a more diverse group of bloggers to promote through guest posts?
Will I share the best content from a diverse group of writers?
Am I willing to promote a more diverse group of bloggers even if that means my own blog and my friends’ blogs fall off the top blogger lists?
Those are the questions that have been keeping me up at night over the past month, and this latest list confirms that these are the right questions to ask.