Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The JBlogosphere Community?

Wikipedia's Defintion of Community: A number of ways to categorize types of community have been proposed; one such breakdown is:

Geographic communities: range from the local neighbourhood, suburb, village, town or city, region, nation or even the planet as a whole. These refer to communities of location.

Communities of culture: range from the local clique, sub-culture, ethnic
, religious, multicultural or pluralistic civilisation, or the global community cultures of today. They may be included as communities of need or identity, such as disabled persons, or frail aged people.

Community organizations: range from informal family or kinship networks, to more formal incorporated associations, political decision making structures, economic enterprises, or professional associations at a small, national or international scale.

Dov "he wants you to buy his book" Bear paraphrased R' Gil Student from Hirhurim as follows:

When Gil said that he didn't think the Jewish blogosphere is a true community the angels cried (Disagree) (I think he's dead right. Lots of different communities may exist within the J-blogopshere, but the J-blogosphere is not a community itself: We don't have common interests, and no one views the blogosphere as a distinct segment of society. We speak of aliya-nics, or skeptics, or TorahTrue-niks, not of "Jewish bloggers")

What does it mean, "the J-Blogosphere is not a community itself?"

Is Judaism today a community itself? Is Israel a community itself? When R' Gil said he wouldn't want to expose his readership to the "Haveil Havalim" blog carnival, does that mean he is anti-community? Of course not.

The lowest common denominators of Judaism and Israel today have eroded down to close to zero. What do Neturai Karta and Humanist Judaism have in common? The Chadash political party and Tekuma? The Treppenwitz blog and Lisa Goldman? DovBear and the Muqata? Jewlicious and Netanyahu (well, we know one is much funnier than the other one)
I'm honestly shocked that the "Who is a Jew" controversy didn't materialize over the past JBlogger conference, since the exact same controversy is applicable to "Who is a JBlogger", or more precisely, "What is the JBlogosphere 'community'?"
It's rather silly for DovBear to say "the J-blogosphere is not a community itself: We don't have common interests, and no one views the blogosphere as a distinct segment of society."
One could say the exact same thing about Jews. What common interest does a Neturay Karta Jew from Kiryas Joel have with a skeptic orthoprax Jew, a totally athiest Jew, and an aliya-minded minded Jew? Perhaps nothing, but they are part of the "Jewish Community" (even if some of them would hate the defintion, and would scream and rant that they have nothing to do with each other) -- and yet there was far more criticism of calling last week's event, a "JBlogger convention" than say, a UJA appeal.
No organization, company, or event has a monopoly on the "JBlogosphere." No one owns it, runs it, manipulates it, or controls it -- JBloggers write what they wish. whenever they want, and however they want.
It's open to pretty much anyone.
To all those harping against the community aspect of it -- give it a rest. I found lots of new friends through it -- even though others think its insane to find friends through any sort of virtual "sphere." I found many new ideas through it, learned alot, and contribute my point of view. And I had a blast meeting so many of you in the US and at the convention
Contribute to the KCC or Haveil Havalim, lurk around it, or ignore it -- it doesnt really change the "community" apsect of it. The JBlogosphere exists, just as the "Jewish Community" exists.
Yet don't overdo it -- as CK from Jewlicious said at the convention, "maybe you should get out more often...get a bike or something."

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


Gil Student said...

Jews are a community because of a shared history and a shared religion. If the video is working for you (it isn't for me), you'll see that I specifically said that there is a general community of Jews and of people. But I consider blogs to be extensions of people's regular activities. J-blogs are part of the Jewish community and its subcommunities. Torah blogs are part of the Torah community. Jewish cooking blogs are part of the Jewish cooking community.

Can blog communities exist? Certainly. I think my blog has a community of writers, commenters and readers, and that overlaps with a few other blogs. But it doesn't extend to probably 95% of the other blogs.

The fact that I'm Jewish and use a blog and he's Jewish and uses a blog does not automatically make us part of some J-blog community any more than I'm Jewish and take pictures with a digital camera and he's Jewish and takes pictures with a digital camera.

It's not that I don't like the people who aren't in the extended Hirhurim community. I'm sure they're great people and loads of fun. But why does that make us into one big community?

Lurker said...

As I said over on DB: When Orthomom was threatened with a judicially-ordered "outing" and a lawsuit for expressing her opinions on her blog, all of us -- from all across the political and religious spectra -- came to her defense. Including many (such as myself) who happen disagree with many of her opinions. I think that indicates that we are a community.

Anonymous said...

Jewlicious and Netanyahu (well, we know one is much funnier than the other one)

Finally, someone who appreciates my sense of humor!

Anonymous said...

I'm prepared to admit that we're a community if you'll buy my book.

Leora said...

Looks like I need to say something about connection. And it isn't Jameel who needs to hear this; I'm pretty sure he gets this. We post recipes and photos as a way to connect to each other as human beings and as Jews. It's not about the photo or the recipe or the story itself but on trying to find commonality with others. People need each other. Some are lucky to live in a community of Jews; others are not. And we have common problems as well. Some may be very knowledgeable about Jewish topics and can use that as a way to connect. Others may not even know how to ask the question but might crave the connection.

Somewhere I learned in my Jewish education that mitzvot ben adam l'havero were important. I guess that's less important to some Jews.

RivkA with a capital A said...

If you comment, you are a part of the community.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

Here here! To everything everyone has said. Especially Bibi's ghostwriter.

I think there's most definitely a J-Blogosphere community. It's a rich tapestry that continues to grow, and I think we all know who each other is (or are?) and it crosses the divide of cultural/religious/spiritual/ethnic/etc. Jewishness.

Gil Student said...

I agree that if you comment regularly you are part of the blog's community. I can't speak for anyone else but I only comment on a handful of blogs.

Leora: Your potshot is unnecessary and unproductive.

SuperRaizy said...

Ummm, folks?
Bibi said that he doesn't like to use ghostwriters. Hence-"bibi's ghostwriter" has got to be Bibi himself. Methinks that the former Prime Minister of the State of Israel has just outed himself as a fan of the Muqata. Welcome to our community, Bibi!

Jack Steiner said...

I'll take this to a place no one really wants to go, but the reality is that those who hate Jews do not distinguish between us.

Gil, Leora, Jameel, Me, we're all the same to them, just a bunch of Jews.

If you want to claim that you are not part of the community, well you can do that.

You are wrong, misguided and misled, but that is ok. I'll still show up on your blog and I'll still refer to it in Haveil Havalim.

The fact that I'm Jewish and use a blog and he's Jewish and uses a blog does not automatically make us part of some J-blog community any more than I'm Jewish and take pictures with a digital camera and he's Jewish and takes pictures with a digital camera.

I use a very simple definition to determine what makes us part of a community.

If you are Jewish and you blog about Jewish issues you are a JBlogger and part of the community of JBloggers.

Commenter Abbi said...

Yeah, Leora, Gil is in charge, so don't mess with him, mmkay? :D

And I agree with you, Gil, 100%, about commenting: You tend not to comment, at least on the majority of blogs I've seen, so that does make you "poresh min hatzibur".

But I also agree with Jack's simple and elegant definition.It's really not that complicated and when you start with the pilpul, I think it says more about you then about the jblogosphere.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

But why does that make us into one big community?

Gil: One could ask the exact same thing about the "Jewish community"

We're all a bunch of (mostly) Jewish bloggers. The fact that there was so much interest in the convention means there is a definite feeling of community.

I'm curious what your readers think...(I'm sure they found it interesting to see your posts about the convention and the flight).

BTW - if "Commenter Abby" says anything about commenting, we need to take her seriously -- its not like she's "Blogger Abby" who blogs alot ;-)

Anonymous said...

"What do Neturai Karta and Humanist Judaism have in common?"


"The Chadash political party and Tekuma?"

Hatred for the Israeli government

See, that was easy!

Commenter Abbi said...

Hey, i told you i wanted to liveblog last night's srugim episode, and I couldn't get in to post! Can't i just click on my name on the side? I'm confused. :(

The alpacas are waiting, if i can just finish a-packing our suitcase! badam-bing.

Anonymous said...

OK, I was pointed this way by Chavi on her blog.

I didn't attend the Convention, I'm new to blogging and new to Judaism HOWEVER I thought that Jack's comment was quite right - those who hate Jews will lump all of us together as if we all behave/think/act in the same way.

Any group of people that is considered different will always suffer from that kind of treatment - Roma, gays, left-handed people (in England us left-handers were thought to be witches in the middle-ages).

So we can kvetch about it all we like (or even restrain ourselves to a civilised discussion!) but whatever we think from within, many others will treat us as if we are all one homogenous group.

Just my thoughts, anyway.

Sarah Likes Green said...

whatever the 'Jblogosphere' is I am glad to have found it and be a part of it and met so many great ppl via this medium.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Commenter Abbi: go to blogger.com and log in!

(And Gil, I appreciate your dropping by and commenting!)

Tobie said...

Okay, can I be the annoying person to ask what on earth the nafka mina is? I mean, are there normative implications to either decision? Is we are a community, does that justify/necessitate more interaction? Is it just a question of how people prefer to self-identify?

Gil Student said...

Jack: I'm not comfortable allowing antisemites to become our halachic authorities, but that is entirely beside the point. I'm not excluding anyone from the Jewish community.

Tobie: That question makes way too much sense. I can't handle it.

Baila said...

To me, a community is a bunch of people who care about each other. I don't think I felt like part of a community a year ago when I just started blogging. But now I do. I wonder if someone is okay if they haven't posted in a while. I think building community take time. I am starting to think of this motley crew as friends, and as time goes on, I assume this will increase.

In any case, you guys are the only people I can discuss the latest episode of Srugim with. Last night's episode was particularly intriguing, so I am waiting for you to kick off the discussion, Jameel. (Eat your heart out, LOZ).

Commenter Abbi's idea to live blog it is a fun idea, I wouldn't mind doing it if she can't or writing up a critque after the episode, just let me know if you need it and how to post it.

Anonymous said...

Communities are also part of one's state of mind, not only ethnic/religious or based on a historical group of individuals.

JBlogging, in my mind, is considered community.

Unknown said...

superraizy - I hate to break this to you but bibi's ghostwriter seems to be just that. The article about the convention on the Bibi Blog is from a ynet article by Adar Shalev.
I find myself finding merit in both sides of the issue. I especially agree with Gil that we should not let the Goyim define us. It seems to me that there is a spectrum to any so called community - from one which is loosely connected to one which is tightly knit. I think that the members of any community will form that community with whatever strength of cohesion suits them.
I hope that's somewhat coherent.

Gil Student said...

My post on the subject: http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2008/08/on-jblogging-community-or-lack-thereof.html

Gil Student said...


rockofgalilee said...

I'm going with community on this one. JBloggers all have something in common. A JBlogger is not a Jewish person who blogs about technology or politics not related to the Jewish people. It is a Jewish person who blogs about things relevant to Judaism.

In community there are sub-communities and cultures as well. For example, reform jews may have their community and Orthodox Jews have their own community, and the two don't generally mix. However, when the jewish community needs to come together to protest against the treatment of jews in Russia (in the 1980s, for example), the auditorium was full of Jews from across the spectrum who came to take part in the communal event of hafgana.

YMedad said...

Have you seen Haim Watzman's complaint?


Here's my take on it.

Esther Kustanowitz said...

Can't we go back to talking about "Serugim," now?


s(b.) said...

jblogosphere is as much my Jewish community as the town in which I live, which has at least half a dozen shuls. I'm on the jsphere almost daily (yes, I take shabbos off of orthoblogs, out of respect for their hosts). I don't go to shul daily. Your mileage may vary.

Lurker said...

Esther Kustanowitz: Can't we go back to talking about "Serugim," now?

Absolutely. Just scroll up one post. :-)

And Srugim watchers are definitely a community.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Good post, If I am allowed to express my opinion.

Jewish blogosphere is a slice of Jewish community that reflect most of our ills. Including the infinite ability to fractionalize till a necessary number of micro-communities of one is created.

Haveil Havalim was created and intended as one of the means to unite us, if for an hour or two per week. Pity that a person would shun it because his/her political or religious view make in non-kosher for him/her to participate.

And re Gil Student's "Jews are a community because of a shared history and a shared religion.": this is precisely because of the history of our internal strife that he should be supportive of HH. Unfortunately, the opposite happens. Funny that...

ProfK said...

Yes, the J-blogosphere is a community, but in a very loosely held sense. It isn't the Jewishness of the bloggers or the Jewishness of the blog's content that makes for a J-blog/blogger. If those were the sole criteria then a non-Jew blogging on Jewish topics would be a J-blogger and a Jew blogging on non-Jewish topics might or might not be a J-blogger.

Anonymous said...

well, as a newcomer to the 'community', i was welcomed to this one as graciously as to any other. the people i've 'met' (though some i actually did meet, at the NBN event) have all been great and helpful.

Batya said...

Remember that a community isn't homogeneous. Just because you disagree with other members, doesn't mean you're not in the same community. No two people are identical.

Esser Agaroth said...


I think this question can be answered in a more simple fashion.

A group is a community if the members of that group say that they are.

A member of that community is a member when s/he identifies as such.

Gil doesn't. Others do, but not all in the same way, nor to the same degree.

What's the big whoop?

Commenter Abbi said...

BY: It's one this to say "This community is not my cup of tea" and bow out.

It's quite another to accept an invitation to speak at a convention and declare that there is "No such thing as a jblogosphere community". The first is a matter of personal choice. The second is making the choice for everyone else, yet mysteriously choosing to address this non-existent community.

Esser Agaroth said...

I'm not so sure about that.

If I remember correctly, this was a Jewish Bloggers conference, not a Jewish Blogosphere conference, nor a Jewish Blogging Community conference.

Gil is Jewish and a blogger.

What's the problem?

Not everyone identifies in the same way.


Commenter Abbi said...

sorry, jewish bloggers/jblogosphere really doesn't make that much of a difference. The question was whether there is a community or not. A convention implies that the people attending share something (not necessarily that they all agree or approve of each other). Otherwise, why would the people who came bother attending?

Esser Agaroth said...

To share views and exchange information.

I understand your argument that there is an implication of a community here.

But I see nothing which refutes Gil's view.

I only see a variety of views of how people identify and how they identify a particular group of people.

Personally, I DO identify the JBlogospere as a community,...for myself, and I identify as a member.

A Living Nadneyda said...

I'm pretty new on the blog-block, and I started blogging to get back to writing, and soon discovered that writing is nothing without reading, just as talking is worthless if you don't know how to listen.

I discovered (am still discovering) a fantastic community, full of engaged people with opinions and ideas and great things to say, who made me feel welcome from my first post.

So we're all different? Fantastic! Different is interesting.

Thanks to everyone for being out there, and for the dialogue. What a great community!

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