Not always are we able to respond so quickly to our readers. It's been only a few weeks since we heard from Craig Henry of Carlisle, Pa., with this nice note: "The addition of BlogWatch [p. 15 in this week's issue] was a bold step for WORLD. But WORLD should go further and start a blog of your own. A WORLD blog will fill an open niche and perform a valuable service. Nearly all the high-traffic blogs are either liberal or libertarian on matters of religion, cultural values, and social issues."
So, Mr. Henry, the WORLD blog you asked for is ready and waiting for you, right now. Just go to worldmagblog.com on the Internet.
But wait up! If you're one of those folks-a majority, I would guess, in the WORLD readership-who couldn't define a "blog" if your life depended on it, hold on. Blog is not to be found in my desk dictionary, which is admittedly a few years old; neither is it in the electronic dictionary provided earlier this year by Microsoft Word. So don't feel out of it.
"Blog" is short for "Web log." In Internet parlance, a blog gives you the opportunity to watch, over his shoulder, the daily reading habits of someone you respect. It lets you, with that person's permission, get a bit into his thought stream.
In WORLD's case, that person is our editor in chief, Marvin Olasky. For nine years, he has been WORLD's intellectual champion and leader. So it is natural now for the rest of us to turn to him to lead the way at worldmagblog.com.
But by going there, you will not simply be watching Marvin Olasky's unusual mind at work. You will instead be watching our editor in chief interacting throughout each week with various members of the editorial team he directs. Nick Eicher, Ed Veith, Bob Jones, Mindy Belz, Tim Lamer, Lynn Vincent, and I will regularly join our staff of senior writers in channeling to the Olasky desktop a variety of Web contacts all of us have also found interesting. And you will get all that in a rich Olasky context not normally available with his weekly column here in the print version of the magazine.
Columbia Journalism Review noted recently that "reading a blog has a bit of the voyeuristic thrill of flipping through someone's journal, no matter how mundane the content. Today's blogs ... are diaries and soapboxes, where people can post everything from daily minutiae to manifestoes to sophisticated political and cultural commentary and reporting."
Or, as Mr. Olasky puts it on his brief introduction to WORLD's new blog: "'Sitting in the catbird seat.' The catbird seeks the highest perch in a tree, so that's how baseball announcer Red Barber described his booth high behind home plate. My catbird seat for watching political and cultural sports is a home office on the top floor of a tall house in Austin, perched at the edge of the Texas hill country.
"The office is wired with high-speed Internet access and news channels, but it's windowed so the television talkers are dwarfed by God's brilliant sunset paintings each evening as well as His majestic thunderstorms. My third window on the world comes through WORLD's staff members, who throughout the day send e-mail notes.
"Biblical perspective on news flashes and lightning flashes: Join me in the catbird seat and we'll try to learn from both."
You can, for sure, very much keep up on the world, through WORLD, without accessing worldmagblog.com. If you decide to restrict yourself to WORLD's print version, you'll still find an increasingly tasty feast, every week, of well-researched and thoughtfully expressed news and opinion. But if you choose to go that route, you should also know that blogs have become part of the very news you read. Columbia Journalism Review also noted, for example, that "bloggers have been credited with helping to topple Trent Lott and Howell Raines, with inflaming debate over the Iraq war, and with boosting presidential hopeful Howard Dean."
Our new worldmagblog.com may or may not have such startling results. If all it does is to extend our contact with a number of you readers, so that we can communicate several times every week instead of just once, that will be gratifying. And we expect that the blog will, by itself, introduce some passersby to the print version of WORLD and prompt them too to become subscribers.
It's a strange new world, this publishing business. A bit disorienting, but absolutely too exciting even to think about falling behind.