Category Archives: The Blog IS the message

With apologies to Mr. M.

With Apologies to Marshall MacLuen

I was just amusing (and educating) myself by adjusting some WordPress features and extension for this website, and I got to musing about content vs the medium. That, of course, lead to Mr. M and his famous “the media is the message” statement. Although there is lots of great content out there, he was so correct in relation to the time we spend on content presentation as opposed to the actual content. The presentation has become so much of the message. If that wasn’t the case, there wouldn’t be a market for 1000s of themes for WP alone.

We can extend this thinking to television network news. The newscast is not longer, in the parlance of Walter Cronkite et al, simply reading the news and letting the audience draw their own conclusions. That assumed people the the intelligence to do so and were entitled to do so. It is now, in the words of the CBC (Canada’s official news organ), a presentation so that the news media can make sense of the news for the you. The unstated message is that without the newscaster you can no understand the news as you “should”. This is clear social engineering and it is an obscene extension of MacLuen’s prophetic words.

Further, those that present the news must be perfectly suited, in the eyes of a social justice society, to portray their part. The news itself is only a small fraction of the delivered package. The result is subliminal social message delivery.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that great presentation is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it should spur technical development. But maybe the overall package has taken over from the facts. On the other hand, this may actually be the intent since it helps ratings (cynical, yes…).

It might help us to NOT put the medium above the message. The show must go on, but drivel by any other name is still drivel (witness this post…).

 

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Almost but not quite.. until now

Having expanded the theme to cover more of the expanse of present LCD resolutions, the form was right.

However, thanks to a timely user comment, I realized that readability had suffered by having the lines of text in the posts themselves containing too many characters – the average person being able to quickly scan only 60-70 characters without extra movement. Since I usually read the posts in the blog interface word processor, I didn’t notice this right off.

I bit the bullet and reverted to my original desire, on the back burner because it was too much work – widening via a second sidebar on the left rather than just wider textual area. some judicious forum searching turned up someone else with more the solution (there is nothing new under the sun, as usual).

So, there you have it, post readability retained yet screen usage increased!

This also means that more of the sidebar material is visible without excessive scrolling, so more of it may actually be seen.

Lastly, it has always annoyed me that when viewing a single post in old theme the sidebars were not displayed. To me this was shortsighted design, limiting the reader’s navigation options when leaving the page. This has now been remedied.

Now to convert my other blog to this format…

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The Face Lift is complete

Well, after some familiar and unfamiliar pain and suffering, our site face lift and update seems to be complete.

This included upgrades to the latest version of all underlying software, add-ons, themes and the header image. Considering that it was WAY out of date it was overdue, which led to various problems along the way (see our other recent post). As this was occurring, I continued posting text and photos, complicating the time line.

Nonetheless, it is done and I am quite happy with the new clearer look, better apparent readability according to some of you, and the new header image.

I hope you enjoy it too…

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MIA in Ottawa?

Well, admittedly it has been sporadic of late, and people have been asking me if I am MIA…

Blogging involves an interesting combination of participating in activities that give one something to actually blog about (as opposed to a running commentary on ones breakfast habits and the like) and then having the time to commit those thoughts to the keyboard.

The last while has been very busy in the areas that I usual like to comment on. Between leading two demanding theology groups, occasional preaching and teaching, taking up shooting, some College lecturing, starting another site dedicated to the Doctrines of Grace and some academic work, there have been LOTS of ideas that would make seemingly great posts. Yet the ideas have been sidelined by the time taken in activities that generate them.

That said, notes have been made (mental and ink) of some of the issues that fly by, and some issues seem to be timelessly common to particular activities. That to say that some blogging material seems to have survived.

So there we are, back to the keyboard, hopefully more regularly again…

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Readers? What Readers?

Does anyone read this? I know that some people do, but what part does it play in the process?

When thinking about people reading these articles, or not, I have to muse about what is to be accomplished here. It would be nice to think of these ramblings as read by lots of people, of value in some way to some, and even stimulating comment or thought in a few. Some of that is a genuine desire to help and collaborate, but it is also admittedly ego in desiring to be useful.

Beyond that, however, this is an exercise in exploration. Another blogger commented to me several weeks ago that it was a soapbox where no-one could easily make him shut up. Amusing, and certainly true to a point. But that leads to part of the real attraction. Since no-one stops you, you can persue thought paths where they lead, for yourself as well as others. In most other discussions there is more outside direction and required protocol.

This is possibly self-indulgent, but also potentially quite liberating. If it were an old fashioned journal, scribbled in a steno pad or leather bound notebook, or even typed on an old typewriter, it would be similar. However, with a journal, since it is written almost completely for self and less for others, there is less need to quantify the ideas and express them at least somewhat articulately. This is especially true of a hand written journal, where correction and revision are next to impossible.

So the present medium is a middle ground of sorts. Here we have many of the advantages and benefits of the hand written journal, but with the correct-ability, revis-ability, review-ability, and more, of the electronic notepad. This seems (at least for me) to allow a greater latitude for creative exploration in thought as well as expression. There is no question that with the hand written option, it would be a non-starter for many, including myself.

Combine all this with convenient publication, and it would seem that one has a grand forum…

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Momentarily sidetracked in the medium

I have continued to be sidetracked by the medium, at the momentary expense of the message.

After moving the site to the new domain, I have been adding a few odds and ends underneath the hood, to hopefully make it a tad easier for people to find.

There are some really neat add-ons out there. One really nifty one (thanks to Lorelle for writing about it) adds a little note pad to the system. This allows me note items for future posts or projects, and subsequently convert them to drafts. The side effect of installing it was that once I transferred various notes from little scraps of paper on my desk it became obvious that I should stop fooling around and get typing.

Nonetheless, working on the medium is fun.

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ThoughtPaths is here…

The move is complete – latest software version and moved into the new domain name.

If you noticed anything wierd this aftenoon when trying to view the site, it was because we were in mid-move. All appears to be operating well now. Over the next few days you may also notice some short or longterm changes in the overall site look as I try a slightly different layout. Time will tell…

If you came to the old address, you were automatically fowarded here by the web server (or you wouldn’t be reading this ).

Please update your bookmark for us to http://www.ThoughtPaths.com.

Now I can hopefully get back to the writing that I have been making notes about (so i wouldn’t forget the topics) for the last couple of days.

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The great name game

The site has now grown to the point where a recognizable name might be useful. That is easier than explaining the current address. Thus began the great domain name search.

The search was for something catchy, quirky, spellable and at least tangentially meaningful. After all that, it had to be something that someone else hadn’t already thought of and registered. Turned out to be a project for thesaurus, lots of domain lookups and suggestions from readers and friends.Then with a few in mind, lots of indecision and other silliness.

Eventually, enough is enough prevailed and the decision was made. The name ThoughtPaths.com has been registered. I hope you like it.

The site will be moved there shortly. The name is operational now and refers to the old address. Once moved, the old address will forward to the new one indefinitely.

On we go…

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Humbled by so many…

In the process of expanding the site and particularly in the addition of various theology related feeds, I have had a chance to survey more other blogs and theology sites that usual.

It has been a humbling experience indeed. There are so many people writing so much wonderful material, both in blogs and larger site offerings. It is the blogs, though, that particularly humble me. Relaxed and often informal in presentation, many of these sites contains wonderful exposition and discussion.

In the face of this, why would I try to add more – especially from a more limited perspective and knowledge than others? Simply because I, like them, feel called to do so. So on we go, hoping to at least shed a little light on some areas, through the mercy and grace of our Lord and His Spirit.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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Writing in a different way

Those of you who have checked in the last day or so may have noticed that the blog has been bereft of new posts. True enough, but I have not been idle! I have been writing in a different way, appropriate the Topic area of this post.

I have writing using the medium as opposed to the message, researching and implementing extensions (functional nuances) to the blog presentation form. Some are fairly obvious (sidebar RSS news headline feeds from OldTruth.org, Southern Baptist News, and Slashdot.org, neat new real time Global Site Map and Last Article in each Topic area under Site Information, menu refinements, and such) and some are more behind the scenes. A couple more are still in the works. Some worked well and stayed, while others didn’t fit and were not kept.

It is indeed (again back to Mr M) another type of ‘statement’, not to mention fun in an obsessive way.

Nonetheless, I hope that you find the enhancements useful and enjoyable, or least not annoying. Back to real posting shortly I hope.

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Confusion of Focus

A good friend, who follows my blogging drivel, dropped me an email this morning that got me to thinking (yes, I know that is a shocking revelation). He commented that a certain situation that he was aware of was, in his words, “figuring in your rants”.

He was correct, but what it made me think about was the percentage of negative ranting vs positive ranting in the blog – not only my blog, but others as well.

Yes, this stuff needs to be said, and yes, often is strikes a common cord with many others. But like media in general, we are often soooooo negative in focus. There are lots of good things, honest there is. It is certainly cathartic to rant righteously, but we also need to rant about that good stuff as well.

Christians have eternal reason to rant positively. And so we are back to my “How shall we live?” thread.

I don’t have an answer, but maybe just bearing it in mind will be a step on the road…

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