There’s no doubt Wired wunderkind (my turn of phrase) and marketing guru Seth Godin have an impassioned following through his blogs and books and speaking engagements and you name it… But, he doesn’t do a lot of one-on-one interviews that canvas the sweep of his personal triumphs and failures. Krista sat down with him (via ISDN) for 90 minutes of a highly engaging conversation.
I think my favorite phrase Seth uses to describe navigating this new world of vocation/avocation is a “landscape without maps.” It’s this ambiguity that’s worth embracing rather than fleeing from. Rather than merely tolerate change, he says, we are now called to rise to it — and, we’re invited and stretched in whatever we do to be artists — to create in ways that matter to other people.
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor
The computer is like electronic cocaine.
Internet Everywhere: The Future of History’s Most Disruptive Technology (live video)
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
In “Alive Enough?,” the director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self, Sherry Turkle, cautions that technology is not alienating in and of itself, but that we must mature as our ever-expanding relationship with technology grows. And, she says, we can and must lead examined lives with our digital objects — actively shaping technology to human purposes.
Well, at this year’s World Science Festival, some of the pioneers (including Vint Cerf) of these disruptive technologies examine “the Internet’s brief but explosive history and reveal nascent projects that will shortly reinvent how we interact with technology — and each other.” And they give us a view of what technologies and interactions are in our future.
The live webcast starts at 1pm Eastern. Our producer is there and will be live-tweeting this panel of dynamic thinkers from NYU’s Skirball Center. Watch the live video stream with us and let us know if there’s anybody you’d like us to interview for On Being.
Students with Depression Use the Internet Differently
by Susan Leem, associate producer
Photo by Pedro Figueiredo/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0
Moving beyond the debate of whether Facebook or other Internet use causes depression, researchers at Missouri University Institute of Science and Technology found that students who show signs of depression clearly have different patterns of Internet use. These students are more likely to share large files, send email, and chat online. Also, they are more likely to switch from application to application in a random manner, which is thought to reflect a difficulty with concentrating, and is one marker of depression.
Researchers hope this data can be used someday to help diagnose mental disorders by unobtrusively monitoring and analyzing the Internet behavior of a wider population. It may even alert the user when their usage starts to reflect a depressive pattern.
Jason Russell and Joseph Kony Can Teach Us How to Love One Another on the Internet
by Chris Miller, guest contributor
As a social media nerd and a nonprofit worker with a heart for Africa, the past month has been fascinating. In that time we have witnessed the rise of the “KONY 2012” campaign and the fall of the mastermind behind it, Jason Russell.
On March 5th, an organization named Invisible Children launched an online movement to make Joseph Kony, a Ugandan war criminal and rebel leader known for his use of child soldiers, famous. The goal was to bring so much attention to him that governments would work together to bring about his arrest. Invisible Children produced a sleek thirty-minute video presenting this idea. The video went viral, racking up more than 86 million views.
However, not everyone thought the video was a good idea. (Myself included.) The Internet had a bipolar reaction. Many supported the campaign, posting links on Facebook and Twitter. Many others criticized the movement and the organization behind it.
The video featured Jason Russell, a co-founder of Invisible Children. Because of this, he came under personal attack. Sadly, the burden of this criticism was too much to bear. Suffering from ”exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition,” he had a nervous breakdown. Ten days later, he was detained outside of his home, where he was found nude, pounding his fists into the pavement and yelling profanities at the devil.
The Internet was quick to respond. He was mocked in every possible way. In fact, many of the top tweets were so offensive I do not feel comfortable sharing them here. To make it even worse, TMZ.com obtained a thirty-second video of his breakdown and posted it on their website. It went viral.
The Wrappings of Love in Enveloping Arms: An Advent Reflection
by Pádraig Ó Tuama, guest contributor
There’s an internet site called The Nicest Place on the Internet that I came across the other day. I’m not sure how I saw it — a link from a tweet, or something somebody wrote.
When you open the site, an acoustic version of “I Have Never Loved Someone” by My Brightest Diamond begins playing. While it’s playing, short videos of people hugging a camera are played. There seems to be an unending slew of people who have sent in these YouTube videos of themselves approaching the camera. That’s all it is: the song on repeat and these videos of people hugging the camera that’s filming them.
My first time meeting Protestants from the north was at a church camp in August 1987. I was eleven years old. I spent my camp asking the poor Protestants if they were Irish or English, with a curiosity I usually reserved for asking whether certain characters in Wonder Woman were goodies or baddies. At the end of the church camp, one of the Protestant women, a woman with blonde hair called Annette, said “Give me a hug.”
I didn’t know what she meant. I didn’t know what hugs were to give her one. I didn’t know that I had one to give.
Online Initiative Enriches Study of Sacred Texts and Deepens News Coverage
by Matthew L. Skinner and Joshua M. Z. Stanton, guest contributors
Photo by Trey Ratcliff/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0
Picture this: an Iraqi reporter becomes interested in the work of a Jewish student in Israel after reading an article about Jewish-Muslim relations in medieval Spain that the student published online. The reporter contacts the student and interviews him about future prospects for Jewish-Muslim coexistence.
As the student in this story and co-author of this article, Joshua Stanton knows first-hand how technology is reshaping the way people of different religions interact. To start with, he and the Iraqi reporter would never have connected without the Internet, which enabled them to bypass regional politics and borders.
Yet the Internet’s potential can yield various outcomes. Despite our increased connectivity, people of different faith traditions remain all too likely to talk past one another. Just look at the comments section of any online news article.
The Internet also allows people to perpetuate longstanding arguments over the most central of religious identifiers: sacred texts and the figures within them. Which son was Abraham prepared to sacrifice — Isaac, a central figure in the Jewish and Christian traditions, or Ishmael, whose story is central to Muslims? Did Isaiah predict the birth of Jesus in the Hebrew Bible? And of course, who was the religious prophet of ultimate importance? Recycled ignorance and nasty disagreements over disparate prophetic texts often leave online dialoguers depleted and demoralized.
The key, it would seem, is not whitewashing the differences that exist between religions and their sacred texts but clarifying them and using them as a basis for informed discourse online.
People of faith do well to read their own sacred texts with curiosity about how these writings influence their understanding of what a life faithfully lived looks like. Yet we also become more responsible and more informed practitioners when we allow those outside our traditions to read along with us, over our shoulders. Too many people have not looked seriously at other traditions’ texts. And too many interpreters do not interpret in ways that invite “outsiders” into the conversation.
For example, Muslims and Jews may know that the Torah and the Qur’an differ over which son God called Abraham to sacrifice — Isaac or Ishmael. But do they know that some rabbinic commentaries affirm the Qur’anic position that the events must have taken place in a dream? And have Christians considered how such ideas might inform their interpretations of the story that view it as foreshadowing Jesus’ obedience and death? Without opportunities for more public, hospitable investigations of one another’s scriptural traditions, Jews, Christians and Muslims might simply reassert old stereotypes, even as their leaders and scholars model isolationism.
Technology allows people to learn about sacred texts, their origins, their histories of interpretation and their ongoing relevance from informed leaders and scholars they would not otherwise be able to learn from.
ON Scripture, a new initiative launched by Odyssey Networks, a multi-faith media coalition, in collaboration with the major online news site, The Huffington Post, aims to create this sort of online space. It presently offers resources focused on the study of Christian scripture, but is poised to launch ON Torah in the coming months, which will focus exclusively on sacred Jewish texts. Odyssey Networks also hopes to launch ON Quran in order to highlight the rich textual traditions of Islam and thus enable all three Abrahamic traditions to have centres of text study housed on the same website, making it easier for individuals to find out information about all three faiths.
While initially operating independently, the weekly online articles from ON Scripture about the Torah and the Christian Bible offer interpretations that religious leaders put forth about their own tradition’s sacred texts, guided by the traditional cycle of scriptural reading of that particular tradition.
In time, we hope to expand the conversations, perhaps having rabbis, pastors and imams in dialogue with each other in videos that broadcast respectful dialogue about scriptural texts, even in light of real differences. While the forum is currently in English, it may come to span multiple languages, bringing people of faith from across the globe into constructive dialogue aided by cutting-edge translation technology.
As people of faith open their scriptures in full public view, they open themselves to grow in mutual understanding and appreciation of how ancient scriptures continue to shape and motivate people of faith. Even in disagreement, there can be understanding.
Matthew L. Skinner is Associate Professor of the New Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota and Founding Editor of ON Scripture.
Joshua M. Z. Stanton is Founding Co-Editor of the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue and of ON Torah, as well as a Schusterman Rabbinical Fellow at Hebrew Union College.
A version of this article was published by the Common Ground News Service on November 8, 2011. Copyright permission is granted for publication.
I wish there was a website where non-profits could ask for what they need and people could work for them from home.
An image of wooden prayer tablets in Japan made me think of this virtual suggestion box, of sorts, where people can petition their “prayers” for the future of technology. The quotation above was one of those submissions, which I liked because it suggests using technology to serve and connect.
The Internet Wishlist creates a space for people to share the holes and needs in their complex lives where apps and websites could do them some good. Start-ups and developers, pay attention to these missives! The pedestrian longings of today could lead to the technological advances of the future.
If you’ve got an idea to contribute, simply post your idea on Twitter and include the hash tag #theiwl.
by Susan Leem, associate producer
Speaking of Faith Wins a Webby!
Trent Gilliss, Online Editor
Just as we were getting used to our Peabody success, we learned we won a Webby Award — yes, the “Oscars of the Internet” — for our site. Our fellow nominees included some heavyweights we think highly of: BBC Religion & Ethics, NPR’s This I Believe, Beliefnet, and Faith & Values Media’s Youthroots (our former underwriter).
There’s electricity in the air and Kate won’t stop buying food, everything from bagels and five tubs of cream cheese to yogurt-covered pretzels and cinnamon gummy sombreros. She said she would eat her hat if we won both awards in the same year… and so she did. ;)
In 2005, we were the first public radio program to win a Webby. Back then, it was more of a one-man show trying to create and expand an online identity for a burgeoning radio program with unbelievable content and an unrepresentative site: small images, swooping lines, baroque hues of gold and red with a visiomaticized (great term from Tufte) navigation scheme (Would you like to see a snapshot?). My intent was to defy those uninformed stereotypes, break the rules on image size and quality, bring a human perspective, and create content that paralleled the depth people were hearing on the radio.
In 2008, we have a different story to tell. The staff mindset has shifted and stepped up in unbelievable ways and contributed significantly to the effort — through blog posts, writing particulars, producing multimedia elements, etc. — a true group effort:
- Krista writes a weekly essay exclusively for online use and even blogs on occasion. (I’m working on this busy professional to post more with less, but she always has so much to say that’s worthwhile.)
- Kate is a blogging wunderkind who’s armed with an iPhone. She’s got the camera mastered. Now we need to put her vocabulary arsenal and vivacious sass to work and begin “tweeting/twittering” (look for that later this year *fingers crossed*).
- Mitch, well, this guy does it all: accommodates my video requests, blogs, creates best-of playlists, produces narrated slideshows, you name it.
- Colleen does more quietly and thinks in online ways from the get-go. Her interview with a choral director for a multimedia piece on the marginalia on Bach’s Bible is fascinating, along with her putting John O’Donohue’s reading of a poem to pictures. She blogs from the inside and from the outside (see post about her doggy Oban). The list goes on…
- Shiraz and Rob are relatively new staff members, but these young whippersnappers (How old am I?) have already posted some incredible material. Shiraz blogs the news, religious conventions, and sci-fi like nobody’s business — not to mention recently producing a wonderful audio slideshow of black belts mastering acts of kindness in the ultimate test of skill. Rob is the Cliff Clavin of SOF. He has an uncanny ability to take disparate facts and little-known trivia and weave meaningful blog posts (cue entries on Mr. Rogers and the personality of numbers) and interesting anecdotes in each week’s annotated guide to the program.
- Andy, the latest staffing addition. He’s only been on staff six weeks but has had a major impact in subtle and dramatic ways. He’s finally got our free transcripts to print within the margins — important indeed — and coded a dynamic mapping application that gives voice to hundreds of Catholic stories that would have otherwise been silenced in a database. It continues to grow.
- And, even our interns have stepped up: Anna was the first production intern to contribute, and Alda has become a blogging regular, as well as a compiler of links and resources for each week’s program.
Honestly, we didn’t think we would win. We appreciate that our graphic design and navigation paired with our content was recognized as something special. Hoka-hey!
*UPDATE: Seki reminded me in the comments section about an idea we had. The beauty of the Webby Awards is that each winner can give a speech no longer than five words. I botched it last time, so I’m counting on you to make us look good, clever, intelligent… Add a comment to this post and the staff will select one of your suggestions to be spoken loud and proud at the Webby Gala on June 10 in NYC. This should be good.