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BY ERIC SCHESKE
Bloggers have joined the
No, they’re not manning the
controls of the Tilt-O-Whirl, guessing people’s weight or barking up ticket
sales for the Yak Woman. They’re combining cyber-forces to bring readers an
array of perspectives on single topics.
So it is that “blog
carnivals” are raising their tents across the blogosphere.
It’s a great idea. If you’ve spent
any time pondering the information age, the first thing you figure out is, “We
have too much information.”
Some people might find such a
statement heretical or paradoxical. How, after all, can we have too much information? Doesn’t
information make us better informed?
Fifteen years ago, that would have
been a good point. But we’re now seeing that the overload of information
available from the Internet, e-mails, multiple news channels and other sources
make it difficult to process and retain meaningful knowledge.
Enter efforts to organize the
information. There is, for instance, software that makes it easier to find
information once it has been stored it in your e-mail archives or hard drive,
such as “X1,” which costs about $75. There’s also a free version at Yahoo!
(desktop.yahoo.com). (Warning: I’ve heard such software can cause problems with
your hard drive.)
The Register’s own Blog Watch (ncregister.com/blogs.php) is another effort to distill
information. By giving readers five posts every weekday, it boils down some of
the Catholic blogosphere’s best blogging
into one page — without adding to the glut.
And there are Catholic blog carnivals. They’re the idea of Eric Williams at Funky
Dung (alesrarus.funkydung.com) and
the product of Jay Allen’s efforts at Living Catholicism (livingcatholicism.com).
Williams noticed that Protestants
had been holding successful carnivals and thought Catholic bloggers
should try it. Allen liked the idea and got it started in October 2004.
As of this writing, there have
been nearly 100 Catholic blog carnivals. Every week,
Allen sends a “Call for Submissions” to bloggers,
asking them to send their favorite posts from the past week. He gathers the
submissions, then arranges the posts on a single page.
Like a regular carnival, the
Catholic blog carnival travels. It rotates around the
In addition to Living Catholicism,
the following sites regularly host the Catholic blog
carnivals: Cow Pi Journal (cowpi.com/journal),
A Penitent Blogger (penitens.blogspot.com), Universal Call (universalcall.libsyn.com), Deo Omnis
Gloria (deoomnisgloria.com), Our
Word and Welcome To It (hadleyblog.blogspot.com), and Herb Ely (herbely.com).
Each of these hosts receives
various submissions from Catholic bloggers, then organizes them into a theme. Sometimes the theme is
obvious. Sometimes it isn’t. It largely depends on the posts the host receives.
At times, the Catholic blog carnival calls for submissions on a specific topic,
such as Lent or indulgences.
They should do this more, like
their non-Catholic carnival brethren. The essence of a carnival is multiple
perspectives on a single theme. If the single theme isn’t set, then it’s a
loose carnival, at best.
Nonetheless, the Catholic blog carnivals are doing a good job of bringing together
some of the best posts from the blogosphere. If you
want to see a handful of great posts each week, I suggest you monitor Allen’s
Living Catholicism blog. He has become “Mr.
Carnival.” If there’s an interesting Catholic blog
carnival in play, you’re most likely to read about it from Allen.
If you’re interested in monitoring
carnivals of all types (religious, political, historical, sports), check out blog carnival (blogcarnival.com).
This site does an excellent job of tracking carnivals throughout the blogosphere and has become the carnivals’ main
Still the Best
I mentioned St. Blog’s Parish in one of my first columns, but it deserves
mentioning again. It has been a source of confusion: There’s more than one St. Blog’s site, each site does something a little different,
and they keep morphing.
I’ve been keeping an eye on the
situation for the past six months and I’m prepared to recommend The St. Blog’s Parish Directory (stblogsparish.com/blogs/bloglist.php).
This site breaks down the Catholic blogosphere into
five categories: Clergy, Women Religious, Men, Women and Groups. It also has a
“New” feature, which notifies surfers of new bloggers,
and a link to a Catholic blog aggregator (groups.blogdigger.com/StBlogsParish)
that allows users to key-word search for specific information.
Though I highly recommend the
site, I have one warning: St. Blog’s Parish doesn’t
weed out dissident Catholic bloggers. You might run
across the occasional heretic.
Incidentally, if you’re looking
for an old-fashioned search engine that concentrates on Catholic blogs, try Catholicblogs.com.
It canvasses more than 800 Catholic blogs and does a
good job of getting recent posts into its engine.
Monthly Blog Pick
When researching Catholic youth blogs for last month’s column, I ran across The Lair of the
Catholic Cavemen (catholic-caveman.blogspot.com).
I planned to mention it as a youth blog. Its
contributors are clever and they write with the sass of an 18-year-old smart alec. Subtitled
“The Car Crash of Blogs. You Don’t Want to, but You Just Can’t Help but Look,” its posts live
up to its self-promotional hype.
But then I saw that its
contributors aren’t so young. In fact, they appear to be older than I am. The
ring leader, Kevin Whiteman, who blogs under the name “Vir Speluncae Catholicus” (The
Catholic Caveman), is a retired Marine master
sergeant. He says he blogs because he quit drinking
but misses the days when he was the loudmouth at the end of the bar.
I don’t know the ages of his co-bloggers.
Whiteman tells me they want to remain anonymous. I wouldn’t be surprised if
they’re all Whiteman himself, which is cute — a throwback to the old radio days
where disc jockeys would take on multiple personalities.
Visitors to the Catholic Cavemen
will find discussions of politics and religion. You only need to view the left
sidebar of his blog to see where the Cavemen stand,
spiritually speaking. You’ll see pictures of Bl. Solanus Casey and Bl. Vincent Capodanno (Medal of Honor winner), along with logos of the
Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Leathernecks.
The Cavemen are no-nonsense guys
with a sense of humor, though their humor is quite caustic and occasionally
crude. I’m sure you’ve seen the hard-edged type before.
If that’s the type you like,
you’ll enjoy a trip to The Lair of the Catholic Cavemen.
Erich Scheske blogs at