The Spring 2007 issue of Dialogue arrived yesterday. I notice an increasing number of references to familiar LDS weblogs and bloggers in the letters and articles in this issue. The shadow of the blogs is growing longer. Just one more reason for bloggers to subscribe.
There is a short story, "Where We Lay Our Scene," by Shawn P. Bailey, a permablogger at A Motley Vision. One of the letters to the editor was first posted online at the Dialogue website. And R. John Williams' review of Proving Contraries (which I posted on here) includes two paragraphs of reflection on LDS blogging. He thinks we're young and cheap:
The "next generation" of Mormon scholars do not, as a general rule, shell out $35 for essays in honor of the previous generation (which is not to say they shouldn't). They do not, unfortunately, even subscribe to Dialogue. Whoever these next Mormon intellectuals are, they are connected to digital networks, computer screens, and online discussion groups. One finds them woven into the fabric of online "threads," moving through cyberspace with relative anonymity. They show up at online sites such as Times and Seasons, Exponent II Blog, By Common Consent, Feminist Mormon Housewives, Millennial Star, and a host of other blog-like discussion sites.
Personally, I think the "next generation of Mormon scholars" are probably reading books and writing papers rather than loitering at "blog-like discussion sites," but it's still a nice thing for Williams to say. He later notes how "exciting, heated, wonderful, and brilliant" some online discussions are, but laments the fact that most bloggers and online discussants seem unaware that many of their favorite topics have been discussed at length in prior issues of Dialogue.
I think those are all good points. Blog posts and discussions are generally entertaining and often informative, but they'll never match the depth, detail, and quality of edited journals or books. There's also the attention span problem: I can read a book or journal for an hour, but I max out at about 90 seconds for onscreen text before I jump to the conclusion or click on to something else. Perhaps I exaggerate slightly, but I just have a real hard time reading even the equivalent of a short article in HTML or pdf form — I'll usually print a hardcopy of any online article. Your experience may differ, but I don't think blogs or other online forums will displace journals or books anytime soon.