Whence Our Open Conference Thread?

April 4, 2009 | 13 comments
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Times and Seasons has historically hosted an open thread for comments on each session of conference as that session was being broadcast. We’re trying something new this year.

I’m posting this as a bit of notice to our readers, and in an unofficial attempt to explain.

I say unofficial, because we haven’t quite finished discussing this issue. But I did bring it up yesterday to make sure that as a group of bloggers we weren’t stepping on each other’s toes. To my surprise, we didn’t see much enthusiasm for these threads.

Let me give an example that  think might explain why.

In one ward I attended, I sat behind a very nice couple who had a somewhat odd habit — they talked during the sacrament meeting. They weren’t loud, or necesarily rude, but if you sat in the bench immediately in front of them, or immediately behind them, it was distracting. You heard every little thinkg they said about the meeting and how it related to their lives.

Given Sister Lifferth’s talk today in the morning session of conference, you’d have to say that their practice is irreverent.

Now, I don’t want to say that Sacrament Meeting is the same as General Conference. I’m not one of those who think that I need to get in my Sunday best for General Conference. Nor do I think its a bad idea to do other activities while listening to Conference, so long as those activities don’t distract.

Personally, I can’t do some activities and actually listen. When my six-year-old asks me questions, its easy to loose the thread of the talk I’m supposed to be listening to. I can’t do some computer tasks, including reading hundreds of comments, and listen as carefully as I would like. So I’d rather not monitor a comment thread while conference is going on.

Others of my co-bloggers have said that they don’t care for the types of comments that sometimes show up, and I agree that they sometimes seem off-topic and pedestrian — after this morning’s session I read comments that talked about someone’s combover, and how another person who happened to be on camera was licking his fingers. Amusing? yes. Anything wrong with the comment itself? not necessarily. Helpful to me as a consumer of General Conference? NO.

I don’t want to make too much of the content of comments — obviously what is worthwhile to some isn’t useful to others. For me, its distracting when I’m trying to get something out of the talks.

I’m also wondering more and more if the immediacy of blogging during the sessions is worth it! What do we gain by making comments during the session that we miss by waiting until afterward? I do think that the comments say a lot about the commentors and the way that they react immediately to what is being said. But do the timely nature of the comments add something to our understanding?

I don’t want to make it seem like the above viewpoint is universal or final. We are certainly open to suggestions and reasoning that might make us, as the bloggers here on Times and Seasons, change what we do. If my reasoning above is wrong, please tell us. We’d love to get your opinions and feedback.

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13 Responses to Whence Our Open Conference Thread?

  1. It's Not Me on April 4, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Thanks for the explanation. It confirms my suspicion.

  2. Seth R. on April 4, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    I agree with you actually.

    Doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy blogging during conference as a guilty pleasure. But I do agree with you.

  3. gst on April 4, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Translation: Kent also has a combover, and he doesn’t appreciate jokes about it.

  4. gst on April 4, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Also, I think you mean “whither,” rather than “whence,” but I’m not certain–I don’t keep up with my archaisms like I used to in days past.

  5. steve evans on April 4, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Will you also shutter the site during Devotionals?

  6. Kent Larsen on April 4, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    gst: Hmmm. I think you are making my point — that some people have an obsession with this kind of physical appearance. I can honestly say, its not my issue, probably because so far I’m following my father, and maintaining a full head of hair late in life (unlike many of the men on my mother’s side of the family, who go bald early). I like to think I’d go bald before I’d combover, when I bother to think about hair at all.

    Of course, this is probably more information about my head than you really wanted to know — just like whoever has a combover is more information than I really cared to know.

    As for “whither” or “whence,” it depends a lot on what you think I’m saying — i.e., whither implies where its going, while whence implies where its coming from.

    So, you’re probably right.

  7. Kent Larsen on April 4, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    Steve evans: We didn’t shutter during conference, so why would we shutter during devotionals?

    Its just a matter of whether we post then or not.

    Please, if you don’t like our reasons, give us an argument to change them. Tell us why our reasons are wrong!!!

  8. Steve Evans on April 5, 2009 at 12:36 am

    Kent, diff’rent strokes. I don’t need to explain to you why I think your chosen approach is lame, any more than why you needed to explain to all of us why the rest of the bloggernacle is lame.

  9. nita on April 5, 2009 at 1:31 am

    I think this is a great idea. I can’t read here during conf anyway, as I watch it at the church (no cable). But you are right, when I’ve come back and read posts many comments are trivial, as you say and not enough on the true substance of the talk.

  10. Kent Larsen on April 5, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Steve Evans: I don’t think what the rest of the bloggernacle is doing is lame, just distracting if I choose to read it during a session.

    As for whether you think we are lame, I can’t control that, nor would I want to. BUT, it really is as much or more about us bloggers being distracted from the messages as anything else. I’m not covering conference in this way for anyone else but for me. The other bloggers here may have different reasons. I just don’t want to be distracted so much.

  11. thesnakeguy on April 5, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    I don’t think you will get as much participation after the fact, so the quantity of the commentary will be less. I like reading different perspectives of a talk and I like to read them quick enough that I still remember my own initial impressions. Many times people write short impressions of a single line in a talk. After the talk is over, they will write about the whole talk. So I think in a way you are forcing the discussion to be more general and less specific, which I think is a loss. You are also taking away the choice (except for the choice of the moderator) to either participate live or read after the session is over.

  12. Kent Larsen on April 5, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Thanks, thesnakeguy. I think these are reasonable arguments, and I’ll add them to our discussion of what to do in the future.

  13. Janet on April 7, 2009 at 6:01 am

    While I understand your point and am guilty of making pedestrian comments at times, the open threads have always helped me pay attention and feel a part of the communal event of conference. Staring at the top 1/3 of a person reading from a teleprompter, no matter how inspired their words may be, contains an inherent soporific quality easily mitigated by open threads. I realize your ability to concentrate would be destroy by editing the fluff comments, but I’m sorry you’ve stopped the tradition. It helped me concentrate. Reading others’ immediate reflections also helped me “read” the texts in ways I otherwise might have dismissed.

    Oh well, different strokes and y’all have to do what works for you. Those of us who enjoy the dialectic can go to BCC. Either way, good conference.

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