Ten years ago, Tom Grosh IV and I launched the Emerging Scholars Blog. When Tom called me recently to talk about this milestone, I was honestly surprised that the blog had made it that long. This website started as an experiment to connect members of the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN) — students, faculty, and independent scholars around the world, joined by a common faith in Christ and commitment to the life of the mind. There had been previous attempts to use websites to connect ESN members through forums and email, but they had not proven sustainable. Like the physical third places that we share, online communities require ongoing maintenance and care to stay healthy. They must also justify their existence and attract regulars. Most third places — coffee shops, libraries, bowling alleys, pubs — have a clear reason for returning again and again. What would lead someone to return to a website?
Bill Gates knew the answer in 1996 — Content is King, he wrote in an essay announcing the formation of MSNBC. In 2008, I was an avid reader of blogs, often through the dearly departed Google Reader. My favorite blogs, such as GetReligion and Boing Boing, continually drew me back with, yes, great content, but also strong writers’ voices and the online communities and friendships that grew up around these blogs. These communities were my inspiration for the Emerging Scholars Blog.
Under the guidance of Tom Grosh IV and Hannah Eagleson, the Emerging Scholars Blog has grown in ways that I could not have imagined. They have assembled a large, diverse, and distinguished list of regular contributors, a testament to their editorial hospitality. They have crafted an unique online “third place” for discussions about faith, scholarship, and academic careers. I have been blessed by their work, and I am thankful for their legacy.
May God bless the Emerging Scholars Blog and all who read, write, and gather around this website!