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Church, Web, Social Media, and captivity to secular IT

April 27, 2014 By: Theoblogical Category: Theoblogical

The “Social Media Business-fication” of the Web has infected the organizations that could be/should be best equipped to do theological reflection on what elements of the Social Web are important to preserve and to build upon.   The “numbers games”  of amassing followers and “likes” drowns out the concerns about the quality of the community maintenance.  The “technological infrastructure” concerns gravitate toward the hardware and IT-costs and the typical “bottom line infrastructure and typical development management geared toward “keeping the servers and sign ins and content management systems running”…all which is obviously important,  but these “daily care and feeding” tasks drown out nearly all attention/investment in the online community itself.   It’s much like the churches whose physical structures demand such obscene money and time resources to the detriment of the obviously needed investment in the people of the church.

And so we see Church Communications agencies ousting all but the young, non-theologically reflective technology people in favor of the “industry standard” programmers who churn out code, and can efficiently monitor and maintain the level of traffic and keep the patches up to date.  But the users who come to “lap up the content”  remain relatively unconnected,  as do the collections of content that cry out for healthy connections and relationships (between the pieces of content)  to offer up to the users that they need us to help them discover.  This requires some theological massaging of the databases that connect the content pieces.  CMS systems are often good at helping us discover and develop “Typical” categories of conetnt,  but to the theologically attuned audience/community, there are specialized categories and sub-categories.  And this is where theological  TAXONOMY is important.  The categories, subcategories,  and what realtes to what within those structures,  is different for every distinct community.  Different theological schools of thought order these categories and their sub categories differently.  This is where the “generic CMS” falls flat in accurately reflecting the “chart” or “theological social graph” (to borrow from Facebook) of particular theological communities. Ultra-conservative to fundamentalist groups have particular meanings in mind when they use certain words and explore certain topics.  “Progressive’ churches have another,  and adopt certain other political categories and allegiances,  which are “sub-topical” under certain theological categories.

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