Information Technology, New Media, Religion
Keynote Address at the 2015 CSIR ConferenceAfzal (2012) defines “information organizations” as “organizations that engage in all or one of the activities involving acquisition, organization, preservation, processing, recording, creation, assimilation, packaging, repackaging, presentation, dissemination, transfer, and access of information” (p. 102-103). Libraries, museums, publishers, music companies, and news channels are all examples of information organizations. I propose that North American Christian churches are information organizations. Weekly they create and present information in the forms of sermons, classes, bible studies, and music through organized events and activities. To support these activities they produce documents like newsletters, bulletins, and reports in print and increasingly digital formats. Churches are preservers of social and cultural data such as births, deaths, marriages, baptisms, and community events. Churches are voracious consumers and disseminators of educational, evangelistic, and worship materials that support a thriving publishing industry. Churches want to reach out to their wider communities, historically adopting new communication technologies like television and radio, and now using the power of the Internet and social media. Hutchings (2015) offers a contemporary overview of the many ways that Christian churches are engaging with technology to mediate faith and to evangelize their communities.
David Michels, "Digital Faith: Law, Ethics, and Theology for the Online-Engaged Church" (Keynote address at the 5th Annual International Conference on Information and Religion at the Center for the Study of Information and Religion, Kent State University, 6 May, 2015), online: CSIR.