New Media Communications 2.0: A Great Good Place for the Theological Community
How does/might it help enhance "life"
The questions concerning time spent online vs Face to face, "natural"
activity avoids /omits the question of how this time would be spent otherwise.
People are not gathering to chat over the fence or sit on the porch and
chew the fat. Even where they do, it is far less likely to be able to
provide the breadth of interaction (number of subjects/issues) to be chosen
from in online "meetings".
Adds to the time for expressing ourselves, putting it before a group, and the chance for others to read it and respond, in their own time. We do not d have top deal with the sense that someone has to go, or that what we have to say to them is not worth their time.
The possibilities for "hearing" (the concerns of others) and "being heard" are more "accessible" to us since we can "talk" in virtual time; the time is taken outside other "routines" which move us around what becomes too quickly for anything other than sporadic "encounters" with others. We can "listen" to someone in our more private moments, and take almost any amount of time to respond. Our schedule is not pressed so that we do not overlook the thoughts and feelings of others.
Now some may argue that this keeps us from learning how to live with each other .that we do not learn the proper patience and "sensitivity" to others. But what would be there in its stead without the online experience. Would it be replaced with more face to face? I think that the sign of the massive flocking to online discussion and forums indicates that there was a prior hunger that was not being met by the post-television, pre-cyberspace era.
There are the host of individuals who found it even more difficult than most to find relationships in the world as we knew it. In the church, where I grew up, it seems that as I got older, the times for learning about each other grew more rare. It's as if the community building activity ceased after youth group and Student ministries were over. My life in Youth Ministry found me hanging around the younger generation since the "grownups" weren't into talking to each other anymore.
I found a very different atmosphere when I logged into Ecunet. People
were involved in a variety of topics, and bouncing ideas and experiences
off of each other. For the first time in years within the church, I felt
I was contributing something that was helping the church find her way
into a new media shift.
Elaboration of social/political stances is available and does not have
to be intrusive.
There is a book called "Electronic Democracy" out, and a host of others on the same subject, which are exploring what this new communication medium might mean for the democratic process. Most of the writing on the subject is wide-eyed and utopian about the possibilities for "engaging dialogue" and "participating in the process".
Others take their cue from the variety of "participation" samples in news groups that are rife with "trivial" discussion, complete with "flame wars", and deduce that these are the signs that sophisticated political debate is out of the question. They fall in to the trap of moving from "popular" culture to real life issues and see little connection, and they are right to doubt that this sample would meet the criteria. But neither would Tim the toolman make the grade as President.
Provide forum and opportunities for expressive and informational writing
The two sides of the coin are that while the ease of Internet publishing
opens the gates for the trivial and mundane to "get air time",
so too does the same freedom allow some other deserving artists and ideas
to reach those who, until now, remained silent and unknown members of
a would be community gathered around some cause or some common interests.
Enhanced story telling; more choices with which to tell a "non-linear" or "multi-dimensional" story
More opportunity to "branch off" for qualification and illustration
(outside of hypertext, we tend to stick to the subject, and in so doing,
leave more to interpretation and reader assumptions)
Tract mentality is the "sound bite" of cyberspace.
Cyberspace testimony can be more effective and appropriately complex on the Web
See my "What is a Christian" page where I place side by side, major theological influences upon my life, with some of the major "points" of theology which have grown up in my thinking as a result of my having been exposed to and having interacted with these people (mainly through their writings)
This illustrates what I maintain is a more appropriate use of the "Linking" capabilities of the WWW. I have noticed how Web links are often used as "page turners" to move from one point to another. While this certainly can be a function of some use, so that Web pages do not become massive "scrollable" documents (which also take too much time to download), the more valuable function of Web links lie in their provision of an almost instant pointer to other resources that will enhance the present discussion.
I always find it much more helpful to discover how a particular position
has been acquired, rather than to hear intellectual arguments as to why
a position is more true than some other. My experience is that people
are much more influenced by the impact of a particular person or community
rather than some theological position. The power of a supportive community
goes a long way toward "conversion" of a person's thought and
actions than "position papers".
The variety of resources we have in the church has yet to be discovered in any concrete way. As people come online, and as we begin to see new models of how our theological resources can be shared, the Web will become a powerful place for helping us, the people of the church, to equip ourselves.
It looks as though we have another "literacy" campaign on our hands. Just as the church was in the forefront of helping to "educate" people with learning how to read, so too should the church see that there is a new kind of training needed that will help us communicate.
More opportunity to "share our thoughts" and for writers to emerge
I have found that it is much easier to just speak my mind and let my story be heard, and let the responses I get clue me in to what needs to be clarified, and what needs to be explored. Before this online opportunity came, I felt much less "worthy" in terms of what I had to offer from my own vision. Now that I have begun to "speak", and I receive word that people are hearing, I feel like much more of a "contributor" in a very concrete way, more so than I would had I been left to simply contemplate how "I am a part of the universal church".
More audience than print
The Print world quickly became an elitist kind of place, where it took money and connections to get your story told. After that massive "filtering" process, it became a matter of determining whether the idea or story would "sell". I remember discussions in Communications Classes at United where Dennis Benson, Ken Bedell, and other of our teachers would talk to us about the process of getting a piece of writing "sold" to the publishers, and the criterion often used to weigh the items which would make the piece "sellable" to what they perceived their audience to be.
With the Web, this step is by-passed. Now there are pros and cons to this. Pro: It enables those who might well otherwise go unheard or unread to gain an audience. Con: It allows a massive amount of increasingly specialized and often meaningless stuff (at least to most of the audience) to be "published".
For me, the hassle of having to "manage" and filter through all of that stuff is worth the benefits of allowing a diversity of voices to contribute. The Web Community has a way of reinforcing what is quality stuff, even though to some extent, the same criteria that makes a piece "sellable" often is the same "popular notions" that keeps some of the more "non-conventional" things out of the mainstream.
The point is: if there are enough "backers" of "non-conventional" (but worthy) material in enough numbers that can point to the stuff which they consider helpful, the power of the ones who make the decisions about "market value" can be curtailed to some extent ; to the extent that the word can be passed in sufficient numbers of places to give some "alternative" material a chance to be seen and read.
If there is one community that should understand the feeling of being on the outside of the mainstream of culture, and yet feeling justified in being so, it is our theological community who believe that we have a notion of community that goes beyond what is normally expected in mainstream culture, and who go to further lengths to maintain and enhance such community.
very little cost barrier
The costs are not to the level of being considered easily accessible to all, and yet this figure is falling rapidly. Two years ago, SLIP connections were much more rare and at least $50-100 A MONTH. Today, many can be found at below $20 a month, and cheap rates for storage of Web files on an Internet Web server that makes their documents accessible from any other Internet service provider.
The complex "web" of social and psychological relationships can be more closely experienced online. There seems also to be a presence online that is much more personal than it is in other print media, because of the element of immediacy. We receive responses in person and in groups. We "lurk" about and read conversations and join them. I would think that the person who only reads and never responds or contributes experiences much less of this "relationship".
Open up creativity and community
More variety and less "editing" allows expression.
Open our eyes to the world
New slants on a subject which various people "search to"-------in these areas sought are found new perspectives and contexts for their search
Helping us to discover the commonalties between ourselves and others
through the gathering center of some common interest.
Mail me comments, suggestions, warnings, flames, whatever This site maintained and researched by Dale Lature, Lavergne, TN