Mark Johnson, Coordinating Editor.
The month of December brings us closer to the end of 2012, and to the end of a year of much change for the Australian Friend. As well as the shift from the care of Queensland regional meeting to that of New South Wales, the significant change has been that of the movement of the journal into an online environment. This move raises questions and challenges to Friends as the consequence of the technology.
From this year onward the Australian Friend is no longer a niche publication at the specific service to a specific group. The technology opens both the Australian Friend and therefore the life and concerns of Friends in Australia to audiences far and beyond what the printed journal could. Whether by intent or by just idly stumbling upon us via a meandering web excursion, the Australian Friend can be readily available across the country and around the world by those with access to the technology. Latest stats show that nearly fifty per cent of our readership is international. The Australian Friend continues to speak of and to the life of Friends, but now does so knowing that others too share in such lives.
The technology has in effect made the Australian Friend a means of outreach, and a means for seekers to consider that of God which may speak to them both via the words of our community, and by the actual lives of those which the words are a testimony of.
In case readers were not aware, this year is also the one hundred and twenty fifth anniversary of this publication – having undergone several name changes throughout its history. Our feature article takes us on a journey along some of the Australian Friend’s history via the recollections of many of the editors of the past forty or so years. Living voices giving recollective expression to their experiences of a living journal. I’m sure that many readers will enjoy the written voices of past editors, and maybe recall fondly the particular character that each editor gave to the Australian Friend whilst it was in their care.
I particularly liked reading of editions of the Australian Friend being stapled together, and too of families (not so willingly) gathered around a table to carefully collate, page by page, an Australian Friend edition.
On behalf of the current editorial team, and too on behalf of you, the reader, I would like to thank all past editors of the Australian Friend for their time, their skills, their humour, and so many of their attributes given freely.
This is a good opportunity for readers to consider that the Australian Friend isn’t just a document. Reading the writings of past and present editors, and recalling the character that each imbued the journal with, is a way to appreciate the Australian Friend as a living word. It is, and has been, a place in which the concerns and life of the Yearly Meeting have been listened to and interpreted by people. These same have contributed back, helping to shape the articles sent in for consideration for publication.
The Australian Friend is not separate from the life of the Yearly Meeting. It is not a static document dropped out of the virtual ether, like some startling alien, into our lives. It is part of our lives, speaking in the many voices, to the many voices, and with the many voices, of this Yearly Meeting.
It seems that the many-voiced environment of the internet is a perfect amplification of what the Australian Friend already was.