#MediaLit17 Chronicles 3: The Digital Revolution

Andy Byers was fantastic, do check out his TheoMedia book . Now we’ve moved on to the Digital Revolution with Tallie Proud — the digital media officer for the Church of England.

Currently hearing an array of interesting stats and figures surrounding social media. Everything ranging from the 93 million selfies taken a day (my contributions can be found here), to the fact that Facebook owns 4 of the top five most downloaded apps; Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, Messenger. The fifth is Snapchat.

Generally a positive assessment of the situation, with the ‘power of hashtags’ being celebrated while acknowledging the advertising underbelly that powers social media.

I would be curious to explore Facebook and Twitter’s role as editor/publisher and the issues around suppressing hashtags and so on, especially with Zuckerberg’s increased likelihood of attempting a presidential run in the future.

However, having acknowledged the new digital world which we are immersed within we have to face the reality that it requires businesses and churches to transform how they engage with it in order to keep up.

One of the big problems is that we can only consume a small proportion of all the available content out there. So when it comes to our own content we have to try and be effective and make sure that it’s good. There’s also the balance imposed by the principle of diminishing returns; how much effort goes into quality of an ephemeral piece of content?

Livestreaming is one of the big arenas which is being engaged with. I’ve written about Facebook Live before. The Archbishop of Canterbury has had a significant number of views of various bible studies and trips which has been a great opportunity for the Church of England.

Facebook owns no content, Uber owns no vehicles, AirBnB owns no properties. This is the sharing economy and it’s huge.

Proud has moved on to talk about the Internet of Things, though I’ll admit with a more positive and expectant view of what will happen and be possible than I would personally anticipate.

This is quickly running from wearable tech through to smart tattoos, 360 filming and Virtual Reality. The possibilities of Virtual Reality will be ‘amazing’, we could include those who can’t make it to church services in our services. I write with an underlying sense of hesitation. The age old ethical conundrum of the relationship between ability to perform and morality of actions seems particularly pertinent.

Provoking some interesting conversations in the room around similar issues. What if? How about?

It seems that once a feature is made available, the morality shifts from should we do X to how we do X.

The conversation has now moved onto Artificial Intelligence. This isn’t the future, it’s the present (depending on how you define it I suppose). They can learn more and more about you. This comes into our homes through Amazon Echo with Alexa, and it will grow with the new Google Home .

Overall, an interesting session, if filled more with information about a variety of technologies than any sustained argument.

I personally find the inevitability (and acceptance of that inevitability) somewhat disheartening. It seems like the future was made yesterday and the panopticon reality becomes ever more pervasive — a reality which has been decried morally as ‘a lost cause’.

Kate Bruce ended with a helpful challenge to reflect on how the TheoMedia principles Andy shared with us earlier might help us to engage with this technological reality. Does it have to be dystopian? Or can it be redeemed?

Now time for Lunch!

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