August 26th, 2007 by bigjim
How many times have you stopped and wondered what it would be like to have a second life? A life where you could re-write some of the rules, and re-right some of the wrongs you may have experienced in your current one? A world where having a job was not as important as having a good time?
Well, around 8 million people seem to have virtually found this…literally. Second Life is a self-described ’3-D world entirely built and owned by its Residents.’ It is basically a massive, multi-player, online game where players create avatars of themselves and interact with others. Over the last four years, it has exploded in popularity.
This is no game for kids – players must be over 18 and there has been plenty of media coverage about the adult-oriented aspects of the World. However, a recent Reuters article quoted the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattoica stating that Catholics should be recognising this fast-growing missionary field for what it is – ‘fertile ground for new converts wishing to better themselves’.
Indeed, a multitude of virtual churches already exist in the World, and many characters extend their real prayer life into their avatar’s virtual ones. Depending on who you talk to, constructs like Second Life are the future of the social internet, and one has to wonder what kind of a future we are heading towards. When God is not made present in such ‘worlds’, anonymity and fantasy quickly form a potent mixture that excludes decency and moral value. Second Life has applied this mixture liberally.
So what should we do about this? Throughout the ages, Catholic missionaries have often gone to dangerous destinations with a view to spreading the Good News of Christ to all. 21st century missionaries better recognise that there is a whole new world out there.
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August 17th, 2007 by fastmikey
One of the best things about the Internet is the feeling of being connected to others. The latest craze sweeping the web world relates directly to this ? social networking sites are the ?hot new thing?. Sites like Facebook (www.facebook.com), MySpace (www.myspace.com), and Bebo (www.bebo.com) all provide you with the ability to have the latest incarnation of a home page, with a twist ? you link that page to your friends, also on the service, and this provides a whole new way for you to communicate with each other.
What does this have to do with Catholicism, however? These sites by their very nature offer an excellent way to link up with other likeminded individuals! A quick search on Facebook for Catholic shows well over 500 groups relating to Catholic interests. Specifically for Kiwis, there is the Catholic NZ group with a burgeoning list of members.
So, your internet homework for the week: sign up to Facebook, and join the Catholic NZ group. Help us show the world we are not alone!
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August 12th, 2007 by bigjim
I think most people would agree that email has become a mainstay of modern communications. It seems that the majority of the current population has an email address, or two, or more! Billions of emails are sent every day – friends communicate on opposite sides of the world, business workers conduct commerce of all kinds, and complete strangers offer everyone great deals on dodgy herbal supplements!
There are also a lot of emails from people telling their friends that they have changed their email address. Maybe it’s because their ISP has changed, or their old webmail client is no longer good – whatever the reason, most people are not in control of their personal email destiny.
That’s something which is quite easy to fix. The internet is made up of domains – names that you use in email and website addresses in order to find people and websites. For example, nzcatholic.org.nz is a domain; www.nzcatholic.org.nz points to the paper’s website and the email addresses are @nzcatholic.org.nz.
Now, it used to be that you had to have serious money to purchase a domain, but this is no longer the case. You can go to websites like Freeparking (www.freeparking.biz) or 1stDomains (www.1stdomains.co.nz) and register your own domain name for as little as $25 p.a. So, you can have email@example.com as an email address, and have it forward on to your ‘real’ email address (firstname.lastname@example.org for example). Then, if you change from Xtra to someone else, you can change your address without anyone needing to know – their emails are still going to email@example.com.
If it all sounds too geeky, there are a number of local Catholic IT companies that can manage this for you. Believe me, once you go down the path of owning your own domain, you’ll never look back: an email address for life!
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