Radical Instrument

IT is changing the exercise of power. Radical Instrument is picking up the signals.

YouTube and the Vatican

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As reported by the LA Times and others, the Vatican launched a YouTube channel on Friday, with a goal of  evangelizing the “digital continent.” There’s an inkling of social media savvy in the announcement – Pope Benedict XVI called upon “young people” to “announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm” – tempered by concern over the addictive, anti-social qualities of cyberspace, a concern similar to those articulated by Nicholas Carr, among others.

But Vatican City’s still missing the point.

Why YouTube? According to the LA Times piece, the Vatican is seeking to both “expand the reach of the church and exert greater control over its image.” You need only look to any number of marketing ventures, not to mention experiments like the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s efforts at blogging, to understand the goals of reach and control are in fundamental conflict. If it wants to expand, the Vatican has to cede some measure of content control and creation to its proselytizers – imagine, for the sake of argument, a set of online tools that would allow Catholics to assemble a “neighborhood Mass,” similar to the parties you could put together using the Obama campaign’s online kits.

This won’t happen, of course. It requires the Vatican to change its nature as a rigid hierarchy, built on a doctrine that has no room for vigorous debate … and as long as that’s the case, the Vatican will continue to play catch-up with Pentacostalism, Islam, and (in Europe particularly) non-belief.

You’d think someone might have figured this out, after the Gutenberg press and that Reformation business.

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Written by Mark

January 24, 2009 at 7:17 pm

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