Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Desiring God's Advice on Reading Blogs / Better Blog Reading

I found this article by Abraham Piper , Better Blog Reading, on the Desiring God Blog and thought that it dovetailed nicely with the recent conversation regarding reading the Bible, Blogs, and other Books. In the article he lists some good suggestions on how to manage one's blog reading.

Read the Bible first.
It is important to read what God is saying in the morning before reading what bloggers or news reporters have to say.

Don't read trash.
A first step toward using the internet wisely is to cut out any material that is sin. Some of this will be obvious—like porn. Others will be less objective and we need to judge for ourselves whether a particular website helps us in our walk with Christ or not.

Read books too.
One goal of mine is to try to keep the DG Blog valuable for you as a reader--and most other bloggers would say the same thing about their blogs--but every blogger worth taking seriously would tell you that if you had to choose between the internet and books, you should choose books. We will miss out on too much of what is true and beautiful if our reading time is monopolized by the computer. Most of us don't have to choose between the two. Since we use both, we should make sure that we maintain a balance, so that reading blogs does not cause us to marginalize books.

Use RSS.
Perhaps you are hesitant to use a feedreader because you'd have to learn how, and that feels like it would require too much of a commitment to blogs. In fact, if you do not use one, you are probably spending more time reading blogs than if you did.

Feel free to add and delete subscriptions often.
I regularly remind myself that subscriptions to blogs are not commitments. They can be added and deleted as often or as rarely as I want. This means I often add blogs to my feedreader—it only needs to have one good post to convince me to see if it is regularly good. Similarly, if a blog is not helpful often enough to make scanning it worthwhile, I delete it without a second thought. I have found that this easy-come-easy-go mentality to blog subscription ensures that I find what is helpful for me and don't waste my time with what isn't.

Scan an article first, then read it more thoroughly if it seems worthwhile.
Even in the short list of blogs I have come to trust, I don't have time to carefully read all the content. I have found it helpful to scan an article before I commit to it. I rely on titles, headers, introductions, conclusions, and topic sentences to inform me whether it would be valuable for me to read the whole thing. Thankfully, good articles generally convey quite a bit of content when I scan them, so even if I don't have time to read them fully, they are still valuable.

Be quick to listen, slow to comment.
The comments section beneath a blog post is meant to further the discussion that the post began. If commenters keep this goal in mind, comments can be very helpful. I try to do my part by asking myself whether I am making a contribution to the discussion with my comment. I don't mean anything fancy--just something that is encouraging, clarifying, or maybe just pleasant. Often I discover that my goal is not to contribute but to correct, or worse, criticize. In these cases, I delete the comment and stay out of the fray.

Another good rule is, if you wouldn't say it to someone in person, don't say it on a blog either. Of course, this isn't a perfect rule, since some of us are mean in person too. Maybe better would just be: Be kind and be positive.

Thanks for the sage advice Mr. Piper.

Jonathan Edwards' Resolution #5:

Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

May my free moments be spent glorifying the Triune God.


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