SG’s Evolving Internet Presence

After NQC, Tony Greene’s passing, SN Fan Awards, the Dills concert, and doing the Crist Family CD review, in addition to my regularly scheduled life, I have to admit I was a bit worn out, so thanks for understanding my couple days of silence.  I needed a couple of days to refresh myself.

I’ve been doing some reflecting over how the SG internet presence has changed over the years.  The rise of the internet coincided with my entrance into college in the mid ’90s, so I have been here pretty much since the beginning.  When I first started college, the only real web page (and that was mostly text based) was the Singing News.  The SN had an email list that at first was primarily aimed at artists and other industry related folks, not so much for the general fan.  I got in on the tail end of this list, as I was invited to join after I started my Gold City page.  Soon after that, the SN opened up the list to fans, and it started to grow much quicker.

As text based browsing began to give way to graphically enhanced pages, with the rise of the Netscape browser and PPP/SLIP accounts, as well as the rise of AOL, eventually the email list died off and gave way to web sites and chat rooms.  The finest SG chat room was run by Harold Timmons at his Memory Lane Gospel site.  I started chatting there within the first week or so it opened, and that room was a great place to be for several years.  It grew to the point that for a 3 or 4 year span, they had formal luncheons on Saturday at NQC.  I performed for the luncheon in 1998, getting to share the stage with groups like the Dove Brothers, 3 for 1, Marcia Henry and Latter Rain, and the Rabbit Easter Band.

While chat rooms are still around (DBM just announced the start of one here), their popularity eventually fizzled and gave way to message boards.  When it comes to message boards, there are/were two that always stood out to me in the beginning:  SouthernGospelNews.com and SouthernGospelLovers.com.  These two boards were the pioneers (pun intended of course, as SGLovers was run by the Pioneers Quartet from GA primarily) of SG message boards.  Message boards today are still pretty popular, though their usage levels are not nearly as high as they once were.  Daniel Mount started a great board with his SouthernGospelForums.com site, and it is probably the most widely used board currently, along with SGNews.com’s boards, which are still up and running.

Not too long after message boards took off, a new phenomenon also came into the SG web world: blogs.  DBM’s Musicscribe and the now infamous Averyfineline were the first to really make an impact, with Daniel Mount’s SouthernGospelBlog not far behind.  Yours truly was a relative late-comer to the scene.

While blogs continue to be fairly popular and oft-read, in the past couple years a new phenomenon has swelled in SG internet circles: social networking.  Most artists, labels, and even news sites and blogs now have a presence on Facebook, and singers, industry folks, and even bloggers can be found tweeting away on Twitter.  I initially resisted the social networking movement, and still haven’t set up a Facebook page for the blog specifically, but as those of you who are friends with me on Facebook know, all my blog posts are also posted to my Facebook wall.  I also signed up for two Twitter accounts a while back, one for the blog, and a personal one as well.  While the names and specific sites may change, these networks are here to stay.

So where is this all headed?  Currently we seem to use the social networking sites to develop relationships between industry and fan, and to follow late breaking headlines.  Blogs such as this one are primarily used to provide commentary and reviews, while artist sites are places to find concert events, and order product.  Will this trend continue for the foreseeable future, or can you see the next step in SG internet evolution?

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