Tuesday, May 13, 2014

UM & Global launches online paper

In addition to curating this blog as a place for discussion and conversation about the global nature of The United Methodist Church, I also tend the related Twitter feed, @globalumc.  The Twitter feed is a way not only of announcing new blog posts but also a means by which I can retweet news about stories happening in the church around the world.  If you haven't checked it out yet, I encourage you to.

In a positive trend, there seems to be more such stories now than there was a year ago when I first started.  Indeed, we've gotten to the point where I've been interested in finding new ways to assemble such stories to make them more accessible.  Therefore, I'm pleased to announce the launch of a new online paper, the United Methodist Globe.  The Globe will compile the types of articles that I've been retweeting in one, convenient to access location.  You can check the Globe daily for new updates, which will be posted at noon US Central time.

The Globe is currently an experiment.  Over the next several weeks, I'll be trying to determine a few things: First, whether there is actually enough content out there to justify a daily paper.  Second, whether the mix of stories is informative about what's happening in the UMC not just in the US, but around the world.  Please use the comment section of this blog post to let me know your thoughts on the content.  Third, whether the Globe is attracting adequate traffic.  If you think this is a useful resource, please share it with your friends.

Already in this experiment, I have learned a couple of things about the limitations of the internet and technology as a means of promoting global awareness.  We think of the internet as a means of connecting people across distance, but the internet can surprisingly be another way of reinforcing existing divisions.  (For a great explanation of how this works, even through social media, see this TED Talk by Ethan Zuckerman.)  My first go-around in creating the paper, it mostly contained stories about the UMC in the US.  I actually had to de-emphasize the #UMC hashtag in my news collection to avoid being overwhelmed by US stories.

Moreover, in assembling my list of sources for the paper, I was struck by how much more likely American Annual Conferences are to have a(n active) Twitter feed than Annual Conferences elsewhere around the world.  There are a few active United Methodist Twitter sources in France, Liberia, and the Philippines, but most news stories about the global UMC still come through traditional news agencies like UM New Service and denominational boards like GBGM and GBHEM as well as American Annual Conference.  Technologies like paper.li and Twitter do allow us to connect to United Methodists elsewhere, but we really have to work at it.  I hope this effort that goes into this paper will prove a success.

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