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Following Jesus into Virtual Space? Web 2.0 and Social Media as Generators of New Christian Communities of Practice?

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Presentation at the 13th European Christian Internet Conference “Challenge 2.0. Church Communication and Social Networking”, 13/06 – 17/06/2008 in Lyon, France.

Presentation at the 13th European Christian Internet Conference “Challenge 2.0. Church Communication and Social Networking”, 13/06 – 17/06/2008 in Lyon, France.

Published in: Technology, Spiritual

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  • very useful insights
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  • Thanks, an excellent resource on the interaction between Web2 and religious practise. I will be sharing this with my fellow teachers.
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  • 1. Following Jesus into Virtual Space? Web 2.0 and Social Media as Generators of new Christian Communities of Practice? Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies University of Heidelberg, Germany simone.heidbrink@zegk.uni-heidelberg.de Simone Heidbrink, Nadja Miczek, Kerstin Radde-Antweiler, Jan Wessel Institut für Religionswissenschaft, Universität Heidelberg
  • 2. Topics. (1) Who I am and what I do. (2) Web 2.0 and Social Media. Theoretical and Methodical Approaches. (3)Towards a “Topographie” of the Internet. (a) The „Static Web“. (b) The Interactivity Turn: „Rituals Online“ and „Online Rituals“. (c) Religion and Rituals in Social M edia. (d) Web 3D: „Virtual Worlds”. (4) Web 2.0 ↔ Church 2.0? (5) Case Study: „Emerging Church”. (6) Conclusions. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 3. What I am and what I do. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 4. What I am and what I do. • Junior researcher (Religious Studies). • Member of the Collaborative Research Center “Ritual Dynamics”, University of Heidelberg (Germany). • Currently 2 research projects: – Social Media and/in Religion (“Emerging Church”) → PhD project (http://www.rituals-online.de/en). – “Buddhism in Second Life. Constructions for the Virtual Realm?” → (http://www.sl-research.de/). Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 5. What I am and what I do. Simone Heidbrink Hana Undertone Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 6. Web 2.0 and Social Media. Theoretical and Methodical Approaches. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 7. “Web 2.0” ↔ Social Media. Perception of the term “Web 2.0” in the public discourse. ? Most of the interpretations seem to be very idealized and are often interrelated to social, political and cultural concepts. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 8. “Web 2.0” ↔ Social Media. Web 2.0. What *is* “Web 2.0”? • Tim O'Reilly (2004) proposed: “Internet as platform”. → Development of web-based communities and services (social-networking sites, blogs, wikis, ...). • In fact, “Web 2.0” is ... – ... no new version of “the web”, – ... no reference to an update of technical specifications – ... rather a modification of user habits! Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 9. “Web 2.0” ↔ Social Media. Web 2.0. • Tim Berners-Lee: “Web 1.0 was all about connecting people. It was an interactive space, and I think Web 2.0 is, of course, a piece of jargon, nobody even knows what it means. If Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then that is people to people. But that was what the Web was supposed to be all along.” (http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/podcast/dwi/cm-int082206txt.html ) Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 10. “Web 2.0” ↔ Social Media. Social Media. The term “Social Media” as possible alternative? • According to Wikipedia ... ... “Social Media is an umbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and “building” of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories, and understandings.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media) Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 11. “Web 2.0” ↔ Social Media. Meta Perspective. In a meta perspective ... • ... “Web 2.0” points to a (technically inacurrate) notion of a “new Internet” (in opposition to “Web 1.0”) ... • ... whereas “Social Media” emphasizes the (factual phenomena of) new user strategies / new perceptions of Internet and new Internet applications. In the following, the term “Social Media” will be applied as technical / scientific term and to describe the researcher´s perspective on new Internet technologies. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 12. “Web 2.0” ↔ Social Media. Actor´s Perspective. The relation of the actor´s and the researcher´s perspectives. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 13. Towards a “Religious Topography” of the Internet. The “Static Web”. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 14. Religious Topography of the Internet. Religious Text Collections. Examples of religious text collections: The “Internet Sacred Text Archive”, http://www.sacred-texts.com/ and a collection of searchable online bibles on http://www.biblegateway.com/. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 15. Religious Topography of the Internet. Individual Homepages. There is a multitude of private hompages of individuals expressing their faith and their religious opinions. Especially in this segment of religious Internet presences individual strategies of generating spiritual significance beyond theological doctrines (“religious patchworking”) are clearly visible. Before the age of the Internet these individual faith testimonials have not been accessible due to the hierarchical structures of the book market etc. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 16. Religious Topography of the Internet. Homepages of Religious Groups. More and more parishes, congegrations and other religious groups make use of the benefits of the Internet. Whereas in the beginning, the main focus of these homepages where to provide information on real-life services, bible study groups etc., in contemporary sites a clear tendency towards additional services like downloads or the opportunity to interact via e-mail forms, chats, etc. is visible. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 17. Religious Topography of the Internet. Homepages of Religious Institutions. Die Internet site of the Vatican in the course of time: http://www.vatican.va/phome_ge.htm, for the earlier versions see the “Internet Archive” on: http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.vatican.va/phome_ge.htm. 1998 2000 Development from rather text- 2002 centered and information-based pages to pages offering interactive 2003 and multimedia content. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. 2008 Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 18. Religious Topography of the Internet. Homepages of Religious Institutions. The trend towards interactivity and additional (communicational) services in the course of the last 5-8 years seems typical for institutional web presences ... 1996 1998 ... as the example of the EKD 2001 (Evangelical Church in Germany), the umbrella organisation of the protestant churches in Germany clearly shows. 2008 Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 19. Religious Topography of the Internet. News Portals and Online Magazines. Religious news portals and online magazines have been a part of the World Wide Web since the early beginnings of this media. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 20. Religious Topography of the Internet. Target Groups. Religious services for certain target gropus, focussing on the wishes and needs of special segments of religious communities. “Touch me God”, an initiative of Add for evangelisation and ministry several catholic dioceses in Germany, by senior Christians. Austria and Switzerland, focussing on teenagers and young adults. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 21. Religious Topography of the Internet. Events. “Hello Luther” (http://www.hallo-luther.de/), an initiative of the protestant church of Hannover in order to promote the “Reformation Day” (31 of October) mainly among young people. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 22. The „Interactivity Turn“: Rituals Online and Online Rituals. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 23. Rituals Online and Online Rituals. Theoretical Background. • Distinction Ritual Online - Online Ritual: – Ritual Online = The materials, prescripts, instructions are provided online on websites etc., the ritual itself is conducted in an offline context. – Online Ritual = The ritual itself is conducted (in a virtual environment) online. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 24. Rituals Online and Online Rituals. Ritual Spaces. Virtual spaces as precursers of ritual performances online. Interactive chapel of the protestant church in Frankfurt / Main (http://www.frankfurt-evangelisch.de/) featuring music, art and bible reading as aid for prayer. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 25. Rituals Online and Online Rituals. Ritual Spaces. “Reconstruction” of the prayer chapel “Redemptoris Mater” of the late pope John Paul II in virtual space (http://www.vatican.va/redemptoris_mater/index_en.htm). Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 26. Rituals Online and Online Rituals. Early Example. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 27. Rituals Online and Online Rituals. Sacred Space. “Sacred Space” (http://www.sacredspace.ie/), an early project of the Jesuit Media Initiatives in the UK (http://www.jesuit.org.uk/jmi/) that attempts to transfer the exercices of Ignatius of Loyola into virtual space. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 28. Rituals Online and Online Rituals. “Light a Candle”. Multilingual and non-denominational interactive “Light-a-Candle”-Site. http://www.gratefulness.org/candles/enter.cfm?l=eng Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 29. Rituals Online and Online Rituals. “Pray Station”. “Pray Station” of the Internet initiative “Touch me God” (http://www.touch-me-gott.de/): Visitors have the opportunity to light a candle, write prayers or prayer requests in a prayer book and comment on other peoples prayers. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 30. Rituals Online and Online Rituals. Rosary. Different technical realisations of virtual rosaries featuring a wide range of functionalities. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 31. Religion and Rituals in Social Media. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 32. Religion in Social Media. Wikis. Many Social Media applications like Wikis do not only offer the opportunity to see the results of individual strategies of generating spiritual significance but also its genesis. Here, one can not only see the contemporary Wikipedia article on “Religion” but also the discussions concerning the entry. Additionally, wikis provide every (registered) user the opportunity to modify the entry and compare the revision history of the article. Thus, the software enables the users to visualize different discourses concerning a certain topic. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 33. Religion in Social Media. Wikis. Social Media can lead to opinion pluralism and an de-hierarchization of truth. Different “clones” of the Wikipedia encyclopedia featuring different religious viewpoints. Wikipedia: “neutral” / non- denominational. Conservapedia: US Athpedia: Kathpedia: American conservative / atheist catholic worldview. evangelical worldview. worldview. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 34. Religion in Social Media. Blogs. There is a multitude of weblogs by “religious experts”, religious laymen, scholars of theology or Religious Studies that provide information on individual or systemic religious discourses and / or strategies of evangelisation etc. By use of trackbacks, permalinks and comments it is possible to visualize threads of conversation and discourse. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 35. Religion in Social Media. Podcasts. “Pray as you go” (http://www.pray-as-you-go.org/), a podcast project of the Jesuit Media Initiatives in the UK (http://www.jesuit.org.uk/jmi/). Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 36. Religion in Social Media. Social Software. YouTube (http://youtube.com/) and GodTube (Fake) myspace profiles of the pope and the (http://www.godtube.com/): two Examples of Dalai Lama. What do these profiles tell us video sharing websites. Many videos on both about the religious dispositions of its sites are featuring religious content. authors? Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 37. Web 3D. “Virtual Worlds“. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 38. Web 3D. “Virtual Worlds”. Church of Fools. The Church of Fools (http://churchoffools.com/) was a project of the UK-based Christian website Ship of Fools (http://www.ship-of-fools.com/) . It was the first 3D online interactive church where “official” church services were run from May to September 2004. The new Internet church project of Ship of Fools is a 2D environment called St Pixels (http://www.stpixels.com/). Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 39. Web 3D. “Virtual Worlds”. Second Life. “The Anglican Group in Second Life is a new, fresh expression of doing church and of being Anglican. It respects the past and connects with the present.” (http://brownblog.info/?page_id=155) • 5 services per week for the major time zones. • Bible study group. • Currently 400 group members (and growing). • Leadership team of 8. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 40. Web 3D. “Virtual Worlds”. Second Life. Quite typical for Social Media: Interconnectivity between different new media forms: The Second Life Anglican church is connected to weblogs, where you find further information on the project. The weblogs are linked to YouTube or Flickr, where you can watch stills or video clips of church services and other in-world events. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 41. Web 2.0 ↔ Church 2.0? Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 42. Web 2.0 ↔ Church 2.0? How do churches use Social Media? “Ingredients for “church 2.0 breadrolls” (How to use the Internet in church?) ● Contact forms for registering for events “iChurch. Church goes Web 2.0 (saves time). In order to provide congregations, ● Photographs of church events on Flickr. organisations and associations with ● Newsletter system (saves time and money). professional and innovative Internet ● Merchandising products like T-shirts presentations we offer a selection of (to raise money). web packages on easy terms and ● Sermons as books on demand. cheap introductory prices (...)” ● Sermons as podcasts. ● Services as videocasts. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. ● Journeys etc. as weblogs.” Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 43. Web 2.0 ↔ Church 2.0? What´s the interrelation between “church” and “W 2.0” (if there is any)? eb „Church has to learn from Web 2.0” “(...) What can congregations learn from Web 2.0? On the contrary, Web 2.0 has learned from the church. Namely the idea of sharing and community. Blogs and video communities have these communal aspects and the primary community we know of is Christianity.” Interview with Peter Weibel, theoretician of Media Studis and curator of the Center of Art and Media (http://on1.zkm.de/zkm/e/about in Karlsruhe, ) Germany, during the German Protestant “ Kirchentag” in 2007. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 44. Web 2.0 ↔ Church 2.0? Going “Church 2.0” by (rhetorical) means of “W 2.0”? New voices. eb “10 Things church can learn from Web 2.0 (...) [1] Decentralisation of truth. [2] Participation. [3] „Go-structure“ instead of „come-structure“. [4] Creation of an organic environment. [5] Organic formation of authority / leadership. [6] To listen and engage. [7] A new comprehension of property. [8] To overcome borders. [9] Interconnecting activities. [10] Abandonment of a monopolized truth claim.” Reactions to the interview with Peter Weibel during the German Protestant “Kirchentag” by the blogger “Pastor Buddy” ( http://www.pastorbuddy.de/). Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 45. Web 2.0 ↔ Church 2.0? Going “Church 2.0” by (rhetorical) means of “W 2.0”? New voices. eb Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 46. Case Study: “Emerging Church”. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 47. Web 2.0 ↔ Church 2.0? Emerging Church. • Decentralized and heterogeneous “movement” of young urban Christian intellectuals. • Modern web technologies as important means of group- formation, communication and religious practice. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 48. Web 2.0 ↔ Church 2.0? Emerging Church. • Western Europe (GB), USA, AU, NZ. (Launch of www.emergent-deutschland.de in summer 2007.) • Variety of practices / doctrines / denomination. • Main goal: (de- /re-)construction of Christianity for the (contemporary) “postmodern culture”. • Key concepts: – Minimalized / decentralized organizational structure. – Holistic / pluralistic approach to religion / Christianity / worship. – Practice of „Alternative Worship“. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 49. Web 2.0 ↔ Church 2.0? Emerging Church. Emerging Church version of the Light-a-Candle-sites: “Prayer Lava Lamp”: http://www.emergingchurch.info/prayer/lamp.html. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 50. Web 2.0 ↔ Church 2.0? Emerging Church. • St Paul's cathedral labyrinth (London) in 2000. • → Combination of modern media, popular culture and Medieval religious practice. “Virtual candles” as reminiscence of contemporary media culture. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 51. Web 2.0 ↔ Church 2.0? Emerging Church. “Reconstruction” of the labyrinth installation for the online performance in virtual space: http://www.yfc.co.uk/labyrinth/online.html . Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 52. Conclusions. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 53. Conclusions. • Development of Internet applications in a religious (Christian) context from early “static web pages” to “Web 3D” focussing on religious practice / rituals ... show • ... interdependencies of technology and its cultural, social, ... contextualisations, determinations, and interpretations. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 54. Conclusions. Influence of new media technologies on (the formation of new) Christian communities of practice! • New? • Internet phenomenon? • Or in general: The result of the impact of media and technology on society / culture / religion? Consequences? Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 55. God, launching a Weblog “... invented the Internet Thank you! today. Let´s see if it´s gonna connect people?!” Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 56. Talk to me? For further questions or information you are most welcome to contact me by email, in Second Life or visit one of the following websites: • www.rituals-online.de Second Life: • www.sl-research.de Hana Undertone • www.om-sein.de first life: Simone Heidbrink Simone Heidbrink (simone.heidbrink@zegk.uni-heidelberg.de). Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)
  • 57. Legal Disclaimer The presented materials exclusively belongs to the author with whom lie all the copyrights. Please quote as follows: Heidbrink, Simone (2008): “Following Jesus into Virtual Space? Web 2.0 and Social Media as Generators of new Christian Communities of Practice?” Presentation at the 13th European Christian Internet Conference “Challenge 2.0. Church Communication and Social Networking”, 13/06 – 17/06/2008 in Lyon, France. Simone Heidbrink, M.A. Institute for Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg (Germany)