The intersection between theology and Cluetrain rantings


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  Saturday, May 17, 2003

AKMA, in blogging the presentation Weinberger gave at Seabury-Western

A global recommendation system has sprung up, making us interested in things we never knew we would be interested in. While there’s value to straining toward objectivity, the Web provides a massively interlinked intersubjective network, giving some of the weight that objectivity always used to have.

For me,  this is the thing in which lies the greatest potential for the Church and online communications.  Because we can now find a veriety of things related to particular search words,  we can find others who are writing about the topics which interest us,  and, in the process,  find out things that we may not have realized were connected,  or things we knew existed,  because of the connection with these others.  It's a variation on the Amazon theme, "People who bought this also bought that";  Peple who are interested in this smae topic are also interested in these other things.  It seems a good kind of algorithm to use for matching up people on mission;  people seeking connection with "kindred souls" ,  to get some support and resourceful information,  but also to discover a vast array of heretofore unknown, unrealized connections.

3:48:48 PM    comment []

Commerce is a natural part of human life, but it has become increasingly unnatural over the intervening centuries, incrementally divorcing itself from the people on whom it most depends, whether workers or customers. While this change is in many ways understandable — huge factories took the place of village shops; the marketplace moved from the center of the town and came to depend on far-flung mercantile trade — the result has been to interpose a vast chasm between buyers and sellers. (p.10 The Cluetrain Manifesto)

Danger for communications:  As official statements and pronouncements circulate on the denominational communication channels,  the process of "chasm building" mentioned above can take place.  Only where there is an intention to spark "dialogue" can these "opinions" of the world of "experts" really have an impact. 

For me,  to "feature" the "offical pronouncements" and provide no link to encourage dialogue is a bity of a heresy.  It is to promote the idea that this stuff is not profoundly related to the "theological process" which us neccessarily "lay" and "grassroots".  If it remains an intellectual assent thing;  if the people receive notices (like "memos") of what "the bishops say",  apart from the "call to conversation" ,  the subject matter is in the process of being "de-voiced";  in danger of becoming detached and irrelevant.

The Cluetrain authors are advancing a "recovery" of voice for commerce.  They're not "against" commerce.  Trade must happen.  But the most effective,  persuasive aproach is to bring the "one on one" and "many to many" back into the equation,  so that the there is a vast pool of "evaluation" information that comes not from the manipulative drivel of the mass-marketer,  but from users who speak the language of interest group who seek such products.  In the Church,  the "market" is multi-level:  the members,  seeking rersources for their ministries,  the "observers": the ones who are involved and attending but whom the Church is hopefully seeking to invite to deeper involvement,  and the "world out there" to which "outreach" is extended;   to find ways to "invite them into the community".  In all three,  VOICE is crucial.  The membership are more susceptible to the "church-speak",  because of familiarity with the "theological language",  and so unaware of where this terminology may lack voice.  AKMA alludes to this:

It sounds little and hollow, but people can tell--that's part of the Cluetrain affirmation, and I'm on board with that. Not that no one can fake integrity, but that corporate-speak and ad-speak don't even begin to try, and in church circles growth-speak and (what to call it?) goopy-pious-speak don't communicate integrity either. |Integrity from AKMA's Disseminary Blog

  The best way to overcome this is to enable and encourage the proliferation of voice by building online places which encourage expression and dialogue.

12:50:25 PM    comment []

I see Church publishers and organizations providing us with plenty of "religious versions" of "marketer-speak';  phrases and lingo that does not quite ring true.  Absent,  are the "testimonies",  the expressions;  the passion.  CHurches and their "communication" agencies have been mysteriiously absent from any discussions ,  say for instance,  in the "Social Software" arena. 

The Pope's Astrophysicist article in WIRED back in the December issue brought home to me how the Church has missed the boat,  and continues to do so,  when it comes to seeking an understanding of the way people are communicating and expressing themselves via Social Software.   If the Catholic Church can spend a significant amount of money for astronomy research,  in order to "address the questions of the origins of life",  how is it that ,  by and large,  the Churches MISS the significance of studying the social worlds being constructed,  inhabited,  and hosting numerous conversations,  questions,  expressions of humanity,  and ultimately,  spiritual questions. 

While questions around the origin of the universe and the beginning of life certainly have a significance,  and are worthwhile questions,  they don't seem quite so directly related to the ministry issues at stake in the communicaton issues: like,  how well do we communicate with a significant and growing portion of human society?  How well do we ,  as a people,  devote our resources to worthwhile ministry pursuits that directly address the problem of what people are searching for? 

12:22:06 PM    comment []

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