virtual and real community

sjz-holyfather004Inspired by the recent Catholic New Media Celebration in Atlanta, I’ve decided to upload the audio from a presentation given last year by Sister Judith Zoebelein, FSE, who was the webmaster of the Vatican’s website when it first appeared in 1995. In February of 2007, she spoke at a LIFT conference in Geneva about the use of the internet in creating virtual and actual community. She has many insights into the way in which the internet is being used, and how it can either increase isolation or foster actual relationships. The New Media Celebration in Atlanta was a great illustration of how a virtual community can become actual… and will, I think, bear good fruit for the new evangelization.

Audio (presentation and informal follow-up interview)
You can listen to the audio, which includes both a presentation by Sister Judith and an informal interview which followed, below.

UPDATE: In the summer of 2009, I had the chance to visit with Sister Zoebelein in Rome; she was no longer working on the Vatican’s website, but she agreed to meet with me to offer some counsel on a website project I have underway. I will always be grateful that she took the time to meet with me and share her ideas and wisdom about the internet, its challenges for the Church and its possibilities. I believe she is truly visionary in her understanding of these matters. And she also schooled me, in a most gentle way, about the pitfalls that can arise in blogging. During the following summer, I painstakingly reviewed all of my content from five years of blogging and deleted over half of it, because I realized that much of it could not stand a confrontation with the face of Christ. I’m in her debt for this. And I can certainly relate to Dr. Robert Moynihan when he describes his encounter with her:

“Get rid of all the lies. Tell the truth, and first of all, to yourself. It’s hard. But you must do it. We all have to.”

In 2011, Sister Zoebelein was recognized by Pope Benedict XVI for her pioneering work in founding the Vatican’s website. Details here.

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