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is the iPad a liturgical game-changer?

iPad promotional image from

Nearly a year ago, I finally made a move to the dark side (or the light depending on your perspective) and bought an Apple Macintosh computer.

After years and years and years of being a Windows user, I basically got fed up with the viruses, the clunky way Windows operated. I needed a new machine and I knew that if I bought a PC that meant Vista (at the time) and I had heard so much negative stuff about that.

So I bought a Mac. I also signed up for an iPhone and I have been loving my conversion ever since.

Now this post is not about my Mac conversion. This post is about the new iPad which is shortly to make its way into shops.

As a relatively new Mac convert, I was interested Read more

CofE falls foul of digital switchover

An image of a microphone on fire

You know how you sometimes bookmark news stories and websites that you think ‘I must blog about that’ and then never get round to it? No, may just be me then.

Anyway, here is my oldest ‘must blog about this’ story that I never got around to that stems from 2007. The BBC ran a story in February that year about the Government’s plans to auction off the spectrum of frequencies controlled by Ofcom. They noted that the auction could threaten the use of radio mics in theatres, festivals, concerts and other special events because they were not being ring-fenced in the proposals. Use of such frequencies could either get more expensive (much more expensive), they might cease to function entirely, or, at the very least, if they did work, interference could be a real issue.

I took note of the story because the obvious thing to say from a church perspective is that a lot of churches would be affected as well. I can’t remember a time when I visited a church (even fairly high, traditional churches) where the leader of the service and/or the preacher was not mic’d up. Indeed, more often than not the microphones were radio mics. Churches, in that sense, are obvious users of such technology since as a president of a Holy Communion service or a preacher, you’re going to need a fair bit of freedom of movement that a static microphone is going to find much harder to accomodate.

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The day you lose sight of the pen is the day you get it…

Archbishop Vin with silence smiley

I apologise for the recent stuttering nature of posts. The joys of running a Children’s Holiday Club here in my parish took up a great deal of my time in late July, but here I am post-gunge-tank and slowly but surely coming up for breath as church life does quieten (a little) during August and I recover a sense of the normal rhythm of life… what rhythm I can find anyway.

I was intrigued last week and frustrated and appalled and unsurprised to see an article in which the new Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster Vin Nichols pronounced social networking, the computer, Facebook and all the rest to be the root of all kinds of evils since they ‘build “transient relationships” which leave them unable to cope when their social networks collapse. He said the internet and mobile phones were “dehumanising” community life’ (to quote from the Telegraph article).

These sort of articles come up from time to time. In the House of Lords in February, Baroness Greenfield repeated claims that she had made three years earlier that she feels new technology is effecting the developing brain of children and, of course, that the effect is negative.

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What I’ve been reading this weekend

The Future of Church House Publishing (2)

Church House Publishing

Further to my post yesterday about the future of Church House Publishing, I said that there would be a ‘part two’ in order to cover my questions regarding the new media side of CHP’s work. So here it is!

I think the New Media side of CHP’s work is slightly different and I do want to continue the examination of recent developments by taking a good look at this side of things, however before I do that – a quick bit of history for those that don’t know.

CHP entered the world of new media in the late nineties. To say it happened ‘by accident’ wouldn’t be correct but one might say that CHP and the AC were not prepared for the success of all that was to follow at that point. Read more

Oh what it is to grow up digital

Grown Up Digital book jacket

Amongst all that I am supposed to do as an ordained minister is the fact that in my ordination I made a vow to be a good student of all that will deepen my faith and fit me to bear witness to the truth of the gospel. I am also a curate and therefore still in a period of training although sometimes it feels like I’m a long way away from anything ‘theoretical’ (which is what I always associate with training, wrongly I guess).

While it may not be the average book that curates are reading around the country, I’ve recently finished reading Grown Up Digital by Don Tapscott. The book was inspired by a large research project which spoke to over 10,000 people and produced over 40 reports. It assesses the worldview, culture and impact of what Don terms ‘the Net Generation’ – people born between January 1977 and December 1997. Those who right now in 2009 are between the ages of 12 and 32.

It’s a fascinating read that has done a great deal for me in trying to make sense of several different things. Read more

Powerpointless sermons

Cognitive Style of Powerpoint book jacket

As part of my dissertation work, I have come across an extremely interesting pamphlet called The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint by Edward Tufte. Tufte is Professor Emeritus at Yale and he is something of a guru, it seems, on statistical evidence, analytical design and interface design.

In the extremely readable pamphlet, Tufte eviscerates the use of Microsoft Powerpoint and says that in presentation situations, it weakens verbal and spational reasoning, corrupts statistical analysis, foreshortens evidence and thought, and forces all thought into hierarchical linear structures.

Amongst other things he highlights the Investigation Board into the final flight of the space shuttle Columbia and the sad disintegration of the shuttle during re-entry on 1 February 2003. The conclusions of that Board stated that they believed the endemic use of Powerpoint briefing slides instead of technical papers as a key component in the disaster and an illustration of all that was wrong in the technical communication at NASA at the time. He goes onto show a few of the actual slides and illustrate just what a terrible method of communication it was in that context.

He’s not alone. Greg Pece has examined the use of Powerpoint in the US Military and concluded that it has changed how missions are conceived, briefings are conducted and then the missions executed… and not for the better. Read more

mobile phones and projection

Mobile phones and projection

I’m less in touch with the bleeding edge of technology than I once was (and I was never that bleeding edge at the best of times) but I was interested to hear the news that those clever technology geeks are working on putting digital projection equipment into mobile phones.

There’s some very obvious business applications for people like sales reps who currently lug various bits of technical equipment around to do a pitch with the ubiquitous Microsoft® Powerpoint presentation. They will go from laptops and projectors to their mobile phone on its own. With phones increasingly being able to store and present Word files and all the rest, if you add a projection capability in there, those reps will be laughing.

I’ve been ruminating, given my dissertation interests, about how such technology might find its way into church and, to be honest, I’m struggling to see any obvious applications at the moment. The PCC meeting, perhaps, might be able to make use of it or, indeed, other smaller meetings – staff meetings, home groups, youth groups perhaps. I’m not sure yet though that the church has a ‘killer app’ for this sort of thing in the same way that businesses may well be able to make heavy use of such things.

Nevertheless, projectors and mobile phones. You heard it here first! 🙂

Church of England wants your help

Church of England website

I was pleased to see that the people that run the Church of England website are looking for feedback. A survey has been made available to enable users of the site to give their thoughts and opinions… presumably as a first stage of an overhaul of the current offering.

The current site, I would guess, is around five or six years old which is ancient in Internet terms. Before I am too critical, I guess I have to remember too how bad it was in the days before the current site was created and published. Certainly, this current site represented a big step forward for the Church of England and since that time, the Communications unit of the National Church Institutions have continued to move things forward through a series of initiatives and sub-websites for particular things and the ongoing tweaking that comes when you run a big website like that.

I guess sub-websites for particular projects, like the recent Advent campaign, will always be needed and will always exist but it’s indicative that some of the material on those sites weren’t incorporated into the main CofE site. I think a lot of it should have been incorporated but navigationally the main site really isn’t very good so you can see why it was kept apart.

Of course, I have to be a bit careful as to what I say because Read more

when does technology get in the way?

Obamas faced by sea of mobile phones

Rob Ryan alerted me to this post by Matt Rees about ‘technology and presence’ featuring a fantastic photo of Barack Obama and his good lady surrounded by a sea of mobile phone screens lit-up while they all try and photograph the moment.

It’s an interesting question as to when technology gets in the way of the moment, in this case the historic experience of seeing the first African American to occupy the White House.

As some readers and friends will know, I’m currently wrestling with a Masters dissertation on the influence of digital projection technology on worship and certainly a key question there is whether the technology facilitates an opportunity to engage and experience the Divine or whether it gets in the way. My emerging thought is that despite the raft of literature focussing on the pragmatic how-to’s of the whole thing, I think it changes more than just the pragmatic and practical and that actually our theology, our ecclesiology are all impacted. I am not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing but I think it is important to recognise and explore that impact.

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