Category : –Social Networking

([London] Times) Twitter will leave young illiterate, says prominent novelist Howard Jacobson

A Booker prize-winning novelist has warned that children will be illiterate within a generation, because of the devastating impact of Twitter.

Howard Jacobson said that the combination of social media and smartphones had changed the nature of communication so completely that even he — a man who once liked nothing better than to curl up with “300 densely packed pages” of a late Henry James novel — now craved interruption.

Within 20 years, “we will have children who can’t read, who don’t want to read”, he said. “I can’t read any more as much as I used to. My concentration has been shot by this bloody screen. I can’t do it now — I want space, I want white pages, light behind the page.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Children, Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Teens / Youth, Theology

(NPR) In Germany, Churchgoers Are Encouraged To Tweet From The Pews

In Germany this year, the Protestant church is celebrating 500 years since Martin Luther brought about the Reformation. Today, as the number of churchgoers dwindles, the clergy is turning to new media to appeal to those with little time to attend worship in person.

In the eastern city of Magdeburg, the monotone peal of a single church bell calls a modest flock of parishioners to evening prayers at the Walloon Reformed Church of St. Augustine.

As the faithful file into a High Gothic church where Martin Luther once delivered a sermon, most fumble around in handbags and pockets, looking for their cellphones.

But instead of dutifully switching off their phones and putting them away on this Friday evening, these 40 or so churchgoers take a pew and bow their heads over their lit-up devices as if they were prayer books.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Atlantic) Kurt Andersen–How America Lost Its Mind

When did america become untethered from reality?

I first noticed our national lurch toward fantasy in 2004, after President George W. Bush’s political mastermind, Karl Rove, came up with the remarkable phrase reality-based community. People in “the reality-based community,” he told a reporter, “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality … That’s not the way the world really works anymore.” A year later, The Colbert Report went on the air. In the first few minutes of the first episode, Stephen Colbert, playing his right-wing-populist commentator character, performed a feature called “The Word.” His first selection: truthiness. “Now, I’m sure some of the ‘word police,’ the ‘wordinistas’ over at Webster’s, are gonna say, ‘Hey, that’s not a word!’ Well, anybody who knows me knows that I’m no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They’re elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn’t true. Or what did or didn’t happen. Who’s Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I wanna say it happened in 1941, that’s my right. I don’t trust books—they’re all fact, no heart … Face it, folks, we are a divided nation … divided between those who think with their head and those who know with their heart … Because that’s where the truth comes from, ladies and gentlemen—the gut.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Entertainment, History, Movies & Television, Philosophy, Psychology, Science & Technology

(Story in Pictures) the World before Social media

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, History, Science & Technology

(Wash Post) Philip Yancey–The death of reading is threatening the soul

I am going through a personal crisis. I used to love reading. I am writing this blog in my office, surrounded by 27 tall bookcases laden with 5,000 books. Over the years I have read them, marked them up, and recorded the annotations in a computer database for potential references in my writing. To a large degree, they have formed my professional and spiritual life.

Books help define who I am. They have ushered me on a journey of faith, have introduced me to the wonders of science and the natural world, have informed me about issues such as justice and race. More importantly, they have been a source of delight and adventure and beauty, opening windows to a reality I would not otherwise know.

My crisis consists in the fact that I am describing my past, not my present. I used to read three books a week. One year I devoted an evening each week to read all of Shakespeare’s plays (Okay, due to interruptions it actually took me two years). Another year I read the major works of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. But I am reading many fewer books these days, and even fewer of the kinds of books that require hard work.

The Internet and social media have trained my brain to read a paragraph or two, and then start looking around.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Books, History, Science & Technology

(Aleteia) David Mills–Social media: The fellowship of hating for fun

They may be good people, but they speak like jerks, at cookouts or on Twitter and Facebook. I can, as I’ve written before, look back at my past writing and find articles in which I said something almost as stupid and cruel as “addicts deserve to die.” I put it more indirectly and kindly, because I know how things sound, but the sweeping unkindness has been the same.

I also know the feeling when a dull conversation takes flight because you and the other guy settle on a shared enemy to put down. Years ago, when I was an…[Episcopal Church] activist, an elderly minister noted at the beginning of a board meeting how excited everyone got when they went from “How was your flight?” to the latest liberal outrage. He had done this himself and it bothered him now, and he wanted us to stop it. I felt ashamed, as he clearly felt ashamed, but I took years to really see what he meant.

All our saintliness must feel tempted to this Two Minutes Hate, at least when we’re with others. The answer is party to set a guard upon our mouths and a watch over the door of our lips, as the psalmist says (141:3). Or rather to ask God to do this for us, as the psalmist did, because in almost nothing is our fallenness made so clear as in our speech.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology

(PRC) Unplugging is nearly impossible now; by 2026 it will be even tougher experts say

Several broad assertions and assumptions underpinned many respondents’ answers:

Connection is inevitable: Most of these experts argued that humans crave connectivity, and they will seek more of it due to its convenience and out of necessity because it will simply be embedded in more and more things. One thoughtful framing of this idea came from Dan McGarry, media director at the Vanuatu Daily Post. “Connection is inevitable,” he wrote. “It’s what [Terry] Pratchett, [Ian] Stewart and [Jack] Cohen call extelligence. So much of human experience is based outside of the human being these days, you can’t be a functioning adult and remain unconnected.” An anonymous respondent put it this way: “The stickiness and value of a connected life will be far too strong for a significant number of people to have the will or means to disconnect.”

Further, these experts note there is commercial incentive to add this feature to as many gadgets and aspects of life as possible. A sharp description of this dynamic came from Ian O’Byrne, assistant professor of literacy education at the College of Charleston, who said, “More people will become connected because device manufacturers will make it far easier and acceptable to purchase and use these devices. In the same fashion that we added electricity to every device possible with advances in technology, manufacturers will ‘add the internet’ to all devices in the attempt to make them better … but also possibly sell more product. In short, more people and devices will be connected.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Science & Technology

How The Church Of England Is Extending Its Congregation

‘The Church’s structure is unique. We are, in effect, an umbrella organisation at a national level. The way I describe my role is that I shine a light on what is going on locally, whether that is registering Christmas services and bringing them together in a national directory, or creating a great set of videos for them to share. These are the things that our dioceses have neither the funds nor the time to create, and people associate with the Church of England so we can join it all up so that it doesn’t look too random.’

The social media work around Christmas ‘provided a real confidence boost regarding the opportunities there are with a relatively small budget’, adds [Adrian] Harris.

One popular initiative launched by the Church of England is to post a simple prayer on its social media accounts. ‘People write in their hundreds ‘Amen’ underneath,’ says Harris. On All Soul’s Day, when Christians remember deceased relatives and friends, many wrote their memories of lost ones under the prayer. He adds: ‘When awful things happen in the world, prayers tend to do well because it is about the Church showing relevance. It is about us being in that conversation with a Christian message.’

Prayer has proved particularly effective on Instagram. ‘We have got into a routine of posting at key points of the day, such as Sunday evening, and we are really strict about this schedule so that we can reach the biggest organic audience,’ says Harris. ‘We have 2,000 followers on Instagram, sharing prayers and nice pictures of the life of the Church. Every fortnight we are changing our focus, featuring a different church or a different tradition. We have an opportunity to tell our story, and our relevance stems from all the things that we do and the breadth and depth of the Church across the country.’

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Do not take yourself too seriously Dept.–Top novelist @fictionfox’s husband’s career change prompts Twitter gold

So, last week the new Bishop of Sheffield was announced. What this actually precipitated was the most creative burst of episcopally related shenanigans on Twitter that we’ve ever seen from @fictionfox (who happens to be married to the bishop-designate of Sheffield).

Here are some of her best tweets…

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Humor / Trivia, Marriage & Family

(Christian Today) Sinners R Us? We do it God’s way? Help this clergyman find a new slogan for the Church of England

Does the Church of England need a corporate slogan?

Rev Richard Coles, the witty Church of England clergyman who is a former member of the Communards pop group and a BBC broadcaster, has shared on Facebook that he’s been asked to think up a corporate slogan for the Church.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

(AP) Pakistan asks Facebook and Twitter to help identify blasphemers

Pakistan said Thursday it has asked Facebook and Twitter to help it identify Pakistanis suspected of blasphemy so that it can prosecute them or pursue their extradition.

Under Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws, anyone found to have insulted Islam or the Prophet Muhammad can be sentenced to death.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said an official in Pakistan’s Washington embassy has approached the two social media companies in an effort to identify Pakistanis, either within the country or abroad, who recently shared material deemed offensive to Islam.

Read it all. Also, WWM has a look at Pakistan’s blasphemy laws there.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Religion & Culture

(NYT) Why We Can’t Look Away From Our Screens

Q. What makes you think that people have become addicted to digital devices and social media?

A. In the past, we thought of addiction as mostly related to chemical substances: heroin, cocaine, nicotine. Today, we have this phenomenon of behavioral addictions where, one tech industry leader told me, people are spending nearly three hours a day tethered to their cellphones. Where teenage boys sometimes spend weeks alone in their rooms playing video games. Where Snapchat will boast that its youthful users open their app more than 18 times a day.

Behavioral addictions are really widespread now. A 2011 study suggested that 41 percent of us have at least one. That number is sure to have risen with the adoption of newer more addictive social networking platforms, tablets and smartphones.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Science & Technology

(AFP) How algorithms (secretly) run the world

When you browse online for a new pair of shoes, pick a movie to stream on Netflix or apply for a car loan, an algorithm likely has its word to say on the outcome.

The complex mathematical formulas are playing a growing role in all walks of life: from detecting skin cancers to suggesting new Facebook friends, deciding who gets a job, how police resources are deployed, who gets insurance at what cost, or who is on a “no fly” list.

Algorithms are being used — experimentally — to write news articles from raw data, while Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was helped by behavioral marketers who used an algorithm to locate the highest concentrations of “persuadable voters.”

But while such automated tools can inject a measure of objectivity into erstwhile subjective decisions, fears are rising over the lack of transparency algorithms can entail, with pressure growing to apply standards of ethics or “accountability.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Science & Technology, Theology

WCBD-Dark side of Pinterest: Moms learn site can showcase suicide, role play, child pornography

For moms like Stefany Rodriguez-Neely, Marianne Touger and Zakeia Smith, a sinister secret was lurking beneath the surface of their favorite spot online ”“ a website so popular, that more than 100 million use it each day.

“I was clueless. I was like, really?!” Smith told 8 On Your Side. “’Cause I think, when I think Pinterest, or one of those other sites, I think it’s all about crafting and recipes.”

Touger had the same response.

“It never occurred to me, never occurred to me that it would be a problem with Pinterest,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pornography, Science & Technology, Theology

(NR) Group discusses Saint Augustine's City of God on Twitter


That should keep you busy,” an Amtrak conductor commented as he saw my already-worn copy of Saint Augustine’s City of God in front of me shortly after boarding in Baltimore for New York. Reading the 1,000-plus-page classic was not something I had planned for 2017, but something Twitter, of all things, drew me into.

Chad Pecknold, a professor of theology at my alma mater, the Catholic University of America, had the idea to conduct a 15-week seminar over Twitter on a book he was teaching this semester anyway. Of course, a classroom is one thing; social media, very much another. But sure enough, as I got myself to Twitter on that first Thursday night, a father announced he had put his kids to bed and was ready, a federal judge weighed in with his insights, and all sorts of people from varied backgrounds shared their favorite quotes from the first chapters of City of God, and made connections to politics and religion and culture today.

Now entering its fifth week, held from 8 to 10 (Eastern time) on Thursday nights, the discussion is led by Pecknold, who designates chapters and half-hour slots, all flagged by the hashtag #CivDei, which makes it easy for anyone who misses “class,” as I have already a week or two, to catch up at another hour.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Church History, Education, Science & Technology, Theology