Friday, November 11, 2011

Popularity or Authority?

While discussing authority in class, I couldn’t help but
drift back to my past memories of high school.
Picture this—Nominees for prom queen and king line up. In our case, there is one representative from
each organization (one male, one female).
We have representatives from Student Council, Choir, Band, Theatre,
Sports…etc. Who will win? The contest is decided by popular vote;
therefore the most “popular” person will win.
In my high school, two people in band won, and the crowd was ecstatic,
except for the elite group who was sure that they were a shoe in for the crown. I would venture to say that this elite group
had influence and authority on a daily basis, but when the votes were tallied
up it became obvious that they were not the most popular people.
Now I would like to apply the same concept of popularity vs.
authority to blogging. While a
particular blogger might receiver a notable number of “hits” (views of their
blog by other people), they might not be an authority. Visa versa, a voice of authority might have a
blog that is popular. What does this
teach us about the measurement of popularity and authority in general? Both concepts are difficult ones to
measure. Popularity is not always
positively correlated with authoritativeness.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Video Game Hero?

About a week ago, we had an in-class discussion about identity online and how Facebook is or is not a good representation of what we consider to be our true identities. Some said that Facebook was a good way to manage multiple identities, arguing that one might censure certain parts of their lives in order to maintain the identity that a particular audience (most religiously affiliated) had perceived to be true. I on the other hand said that Facebook was a tool to expose multiple facets of our identity to a larger audience and show them a more complete perspective of who we truly are. Facebook is an interactive media like videogames, the subject of this week’s discussion (video game heroes). One of the pressing questions was whether or not video games were capable of creating authentic religious identity. I think Facebook and videogames are two very good mediums to compare because both social networks and games involve virtual reality and are the most popular mediums used by my generation (in my experience). If we can make decisions of Facebook to maintain a certain identify (regardless of whether those decisions truly reflect our lifestyle), why couldn't we do the same in a religion based video game? Say a Muslim teenager is playing a Muslim-moral based video game with a friend. After defeating a level, he is asked to accept Islam or not. Regardless of his true decision, he might be "socially pressured" to accept. In this same way, peer pressure impacts the decisions we make on Facebook. So my question is, "If we can easily trick the media into creating false identities for us on interactive mediums, how can we be sure when an identity is authentic via digital media?”
The Christian Identity Forum

Friday, October 28, 2011

Creating an Identity
After having been raised in a church setting all my life, I still to this day struggle to define my own identity in my faith. I know the beliefs, rituals, and social norms associated with my church but for me, it is finding an avenue to express my opinions outside the church curriculum that keep me from feeling complete. What do other Christians think about politics? What do they think about the environment? Are we all supposed to be on the same page involving outside interests? For some of these questions I might have never known if it weren’t for online resources such as blogs and chat forums that allow you to take conversation outside of the church. Such blogs, such as, allow people discuss politics involving religion, which are often times pushed aside, in order to successfully complete their individual church curriculum. There are also other blogs, not primarily based on religion, but created by someone with religious ideals, where people can gather and express their opinions outside of the church. These online resources have helped me strengthen my religious identity. I have used them as an outlet to overcome geographical boundaries as well as time constraints.

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Excuse me...I have a question?"

Have you ever walked out of a church feeling like there was something you wish you had said? Maybe it was your first time visiting, and so you decided to withhold. Or maybe you were worried that your question might not be in congruence with popular opinion. There are a number of reasons why people choose not to speak up at church services, whether it be intimidation, hierarchy, or simple lack of knowledge. It is for this very reason that churches have created online resources that allow people to continue unfinished dialogue. Religious affiliated websites allow people to interact through streamed sermons, chat, and blogging. This open space of dialogue gives members and non-members alike, the opportunity to learn more about a religion and the people involved. Through discourse and interaction, people form relationships that might not have been possible in an offline setting and it is through blogs that religious affiliations, such as St. Pixels (an online blogging forum), create community. Consistent dialogue is a key component to this process. In an offline setting, we reach out to people around us on a day to day basis in order to form meaningful relationships. It is no different with online communities. It becomes a social obligation to “keep up”, in order to become a productive member of society online.