Dimbleby Lecture - Martha Lane Fox
Martha Lane Fox's Dimbleby Lecture the other night seemed to hit a nerve. There were some key takeaway lines: "It's not OK not to understand the internet anymore" (Aaron Swartz), "Britain could be brilliant at digital, but we've been too slow, too incremental - in skills, infrastructure, in public services”, “We’re letting commercial technology platforms shape much of our digital lives”…and indeed much of the speech seemed to be a collection of memorable one liners designed to make digital savvy viewers jump for joy!
The creator of LastMinute.com was making the blindingly obvious point that the internet is here to stay; that it is making a huge difference to lives of millions of people already; that the potential is obvious for the internet to make an even bigger difference; that the internet should be for everyone not just for the select few.
As such, she has launched a change.org petition to call on the next Prime Minister to create a new institution – doteveryone – which will lead the way to democratize the web, to protect civil liberties and to put women right at the heart of the digital industry.
This was a key point all the way through the speech – from the glaringly rude question from a potential investor (“What happens if you get pregnant?”), through repeated reference to digital pioneers like Ada Lovelace, through the startling statistics that there are fewer women in the digital sector than there are in parliament. The digital revolution is currently being held back by the lack of this “awesome cohort of female coders, designers and creators” at its heart.
There is so much here for reflection and if you haven’t seen it or read it, then I recommend that you do. I’d recommend you sign the petition too. I have already.
But also I wonder how this presentation would go down in the synods and convocations of our churches? Or in our universities? What if I was to say at academic conferences or church gatherings that it was no longer acceptable for us to say we don’t do the internet? Or more positively, what about the church’s or the academy's role in taking the internet into all aspects of our society – opening up coding clubs for schoolkids or the unemployed or the elderly? What about doing some research into local mission through the internet? What of the Church pushing forward into creating Digital tools for mission, outreach and social enterprise? Where are the Churches and the Academy creating MakerSpaces which are for all society rather than just for the tech-privileged few?
There is so much here for our society, our world and our churches. For those in the conversation, perhaps there is not much new here. But how good to hear it again put so well, so powerfully, so professionally again.
(1 Apr 2015)
[BOOK CLUB] The Meaning of the Digital Humanities by Alan Liu
In the above article, discussed by the CODEC reading group this week, Liu argues that the problem of meaning in the digital humanities registers the crisis of meaning in the humanities more generally:
“My thesis is that an understanding of the digital humanities can only rise to the level of an explanation if we see that the underlying issue is the disciplinary identity not of the digital humanities but of the humanities themselves. For the humanities, the digital humanities exceed (though they include) the functional role of instrument or service, the pioneer role of innovator, the ensemble role of an ‘additional field’, and even such faux-political roles assigned to new fields as challenger, reformer, and (less positively) fifth column. This is because the digital humanities also have a symbolic role. In both their promise and their threat, the digital humanities serve as a shadow play for a future form of the humanities that wishes to include what contemporary society values about the digital without losing its soul to other domains of knowledge work that have gone digital to stake their claim to that society” (410).
(19 Mar 2015) » More about The Meaning of the Digital Humanities
Preaching the Psalms - 21 February 2015
On Saturday 21 February, 84 delegates arrived at Haughton House from various parts of the north east to be part of a day on Preaching the Psalms which St John’s College, Durham University was hosting. The day was organised by CODEC's Research Fellow for Preaching and Imagination Rev Dr Kate Bruce and is part of her series on ‘Preaching’. The day was led by three outstanding speakers.
(18 Mar 2015) » More about Preaching the Psalms Event
Introducing The Portal Project
CODEC was recently commissioned by the Jerusalem Trust to set up an online site for discipleship resources, which will host a broad range of materials from across the spectrum of British Christianity. We know that there are lots of great resources out there, but it can be very difficult for individuals and groups to find high-quality materials that are suitable for their context. We plan to be the first place that Christians from all kinds of churches in the UK will come to in order to find resources to use as they seek to grow and develop in their faith.
(19 Feb 2015) » More about The Portal Project
BOOK CLUB: How We Think by Katherine Hayles
This week the CODEC team focused upon the third chapter of Katherine Hayle’s How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis (University of Chicago Press, 2012). The third chapter focuses upon ‘How We Read: Close, Hyper, Machine’, and certainly gave us lots to chew on.
Initial comments were that we liked what was written, but found the emphasis on all the negative reports about digital as frustrating. An oft heard argument is that our reading is worse ‘because of digital things’, and some members of the team felt that there were broader cultural factors at work rather than solely technological factors. There was agreement that the forms of technology may be changing the manner of reading, as we referring to the ‘F-Shaped Pattern for Reading Web Content’, noting that the further a user scolls, the more eye attention tends to drop off. On p.66, Hayles noted that “Canny web designers use this information to craft web pages, and reading such web pages further intensifies this mode of reading” – so in a self-reinforcing manner, as this form of reading becomes common, more people write for it, so it becomes more common.
(4 Feb 2015) » More about Katherine Hayles 'How We Think'
NEWS: New CODEC Branding
If you keep half an eye on CODEC you might have noticed a few changes that have been happening over the last few months. First up was our designation as a Research Centre of Durham University, then shortly after that came the addition of three new staff members (you can read up all about these events on our blog here).
Well, I’m glad to officially introduce our latest change: the new CODEC branding (including a video).
(8 Dec 2014) » More about New CODEC Branding
BOOK CLUB: Defining Digital Humanities
Back in October the CODEC team discussed Melissa Terras’ inaugural professorial lecture on digital humanities, whilst this week we focused on the associated book Defining Digital Humanities: A Reader (Ashgate, 2013) edited by Terras, Nyhan, Vanhoutte. We focused upon the introduction (pp1-7), and a series of definitions of ‘digital humanities’, covering the years 2009 to 2012 (pp279-297).
Discussions started with a questioning of which of the definitions most resonated with members of the CODEC team, seeking to clarify that what CODEC is doing is actually “digital humanities”. Bearing in mind that the text indicates that “we make no attmpt to imply that one view is more correct than another, nor do we believe this to be the case” (p279), it is unsurprising that there were a range of views. Digital humanities allows us to pursue questions humanists have always pursued, but faster and on a larger scale; it allows us to focus on digital culture, including cyberculture and posthumanism; and other projects allow us to create new online materials for future use.
(7 Dec 2014) » More about Defining Digital Humanities
PRESS RELEASE Transformative Church Technology: CODEC Travels to Finland
Durham researchers travelled to snowy Finland to explore transformative technology with potential for use within the worldwide church.
Peter Phillips and David Stout, two members of Durham University’s CODEC Research Centre for Digital Theology, recently travelled to Joensuu to visit the University of Eastern Finland.
(5 Dec 2014) » More about CODEC Travels to Finland
KEYNOTE Transforming Humanity with Pete Phillips #CNMAC14
The prospect of designer babies, genetically enhanced athletes, human clones and transhumanism all raise huge ethical questions and challenge our concept of what it means to be human.
Watch this 10 minute keynote from CODEC Director, Dr Pete Phillips, at the Christian New Media Conference 2014
(3 Dec 2014) » More about CNMAC14
BLOG: How accurate is research drawn from Social Media Data???
There is a really good piece of research in the Telegraph today which raises serious questions about the use of social media in quantitative research. The article is based on research done by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and McGill University in Montreal. The key argument is that the bias towards specific age groups and social profiles of different social media platforms is rarely corrected within the datasets which are drawn from them.
BOOK CLUB: Discusses Funding in Higher Education
Today the book club met and discussed three pieces I (Josh) selected, none of which came from a book(!), as it happens:
(1) Clay Shirky, “The End of Higher Education’s Golden Age” (from Shirky’s blog). Jan 2014
(2) John Warner, “Clay Shirky Comes Not to Praise Education, but to Bury It” (online Inside Higher Ed).
(3) Simon Head, “The Grim Threat to British Universities”. (online, The New York Review of Book, 2010).
(18 Nov 2014) » More about Book Club - Funding in Higher Education
EVENT: Catherine Keller’s Cloud of the Impossible
CODEC's Research Fellow in Digital Discipleship and Curator for the Discipleship Portal Project, Dr Marika Rose, will be responding to Catherine Keller, Professor of Constructive Theology at the Theological School, Drew University, placing Keller's work into dialogue with her own interests.
PUBLICATION: Review in Political Theology
Dr Marika Rose had a review of Religion, Politics, and the Earth: The New Materialism. By Clayton Crockett and Jeffrey W. Robbins. NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. 181 pp. £51. ISBN: 978-1-137-26892-1 (hbk) published in the journal Political Theology.
(17 Nov 2014) » More about Review in Political Theology
MEDIA: Rev Dr Pete Phillips on Bible Reading in the UK
A month ago, Pete was asked to go on UCB Christian Radio and discuss ebooks and Bible reading with the presenter Paul Hammond. We've just been able to get hold of the interview in MP3 format.
(13 Oct 2014) » More about Rev Dr Pete Phillips on Bible Reading in the UK
MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis Should McCann Twitter abuser have been doorstepped on TV?
Dr Bex Lewis was asked to write a piece for 'The Conversation' (Academic Rigour, Journalistic Flair) on the death of Brenda Leyland related to 'trolling' of the McCanns.
BOOK CLUB: Understanding Digital Humanities
The CODEC team have initiated a bookclub which meets every other Tuesday lunchtime. Recently I was asked to pick the reading for the first meeting and then to write up the conversation afterwards in the form of a blog post. Sadly, so much is happening in CODEC at the moment that I have only just got round to writing this post.
(3 Oct 2014) » More about Book Club
MEDIA: Marika Rose 'Is it Wrong to Seek Miracles?'
Dr Marika Rose is discussion with Charlynne Boddie and Maria Rodrigues, on Premier's Woman to Woman show, sharing their thoughts on the miraculous.
NEWS: CODEC welcomes new staff to the team
Over the summer, CODEC some fun interviewing a host of excellent candidates for the new posts made available through the research grants awarded to us last Spring. The three successful candidates are now in post.
(5 Sep 2014) » More about New Staff
NEWS: CODEC designated as a Research Centre of Durham University
CODEC has been designated as a Research Centre of the University of Durham, hosted by the world-renowned Department of Theology and Religion, and within the Faculty of Arts.
What does that mean? Well, it means that our ground-breaking research, our passion for networking and our brilliant staff are recognised within the university as offering a leading role in developing the new field of Digital Theology. It means that we have more confidence in approaching Research Councils, knowing that we are part of one of the UK’s top five universities and one of the top 100 universities in the world. It means we can hopefully secure more funding to do some more great work.
(3 Sep 2014) » More about CODEC designated research centre
EVENT: Greenbelt 2014
The CODEC team was invited to participate in 'full force' at Greenbelt 2014, running a morning worship session each morning, focusing on discipleship (Dr Bex Lewis), gaming (Dr Tim Hutchings and Dr Marika Rose) and cyber-humanity (Rev Dr Pete Phillips).
(1 Sep 2014) » More about Greenbelt 2014
EVENT: CODEC Participating in Spiritus North-East, an Ecumenical Event
CODEC is a Research Centre of the University of Durham exploring the interfaces between the Bible, the digital environment and contemporary culture. We want to see how the contemporary world interacts with the world of the theology and religion - particularly the Christian faith story. We will be occupying a suite of rooms in Pemberton Hall for the day of Spiritus14. You can find out more about what we do, and we will be offering interactivity in the form of conversation, a discussion board, face-to-face conversation, and some sugar - as well as the following workshops and social media surgery:
(20 Aug 2014) » More about Spiritus North-East
MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis offers 'GodSlots' for UCB Media
Dr Bex Lewis prepared one minute 'Godslots' for UCB Media, to be played frequently across the radio station for at least 6 weeks from w/c 4th August 2014.
(18 Jul 2014) » More about Dr Bex Lewis offers 'GodSlots' for UCB Media
MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis on 'In Good Company' with Jeff Lucas and Ruth Dearnley
Dr Bex Lewis is the core guest on this "Laid back chat show where guests are interviewed about their life ministry and their faith journey", particularly related to her book Raising Children in a Digital Age.
VACANCIES: Work with CODEC
CODEC are pleased to invite applications for three new posts within this exciting and pioneering Research Project based at St John’s College in the University of Durham. CODEC are looking for:
- Curator for the Digital Discipleship Project (full-time, Grade 6)
- Research Fellow in Digital Resources (full-time, Grade 6)
- Research Fellow in Biblical Literacy (full-time, Grade 6)
(27 Jun 2014) » More about New Jobs
NEWS: Call for Papers for Transforming Theology Stream #CNMAC14
(10 Jun 2014) » More about #CNMAC theology strand
PRESS RELEASE: £700k boost for research into faith & digital culture
A leading research centre looking at the interaction of faith and our increasingly digital society has been awarded £700,000 to continue its work into the relationship between the Church and today’s digital culture.
The funding will enable the CODEC research project at St John’s College, Durham University, to develop its exciting and important research into the impact of digital culture on both the academic study of theology and the daily life of the Church.
(20 May 2014) » More about £700k awarded
MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis features in the Church Times
Dr Bex Lewis was interviewed for the much sought-after slot of the back page of the Church Times, as her book Raising Children in a Digital Age continues to do well.
(9 May 2014) » More about MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis features in the Church Times
MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis features in Daily Telegraph
Dr Bex Lewis is the focus of a half-page article in the Daily Telegraph weekend regarding her new book Raising Children in a Digital Age, insisting that “It’s a landscape with so much to offer young people if only you show them how to use it properly."
(15 Feb 2014) » More about Dr Bex Lewis features in Daily Telegraph
MEDIA: Dr Bex Lewis 'Big Guest' on Steve Wright in the Afternoon
Dr Bex Lewis chats to Steve Wright and the team about her new book Raising Children In A Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst as part of Safer Internet Day 2014.
PRESS RELEASE: Getting Creative, Getting Social: Responding to Poems for Lent” #BIGRead14, February 2014
“Lent is a journey that moves us toward the Cross”. So says one of many Pinterest images spilling through my feed today. Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter with fasting, repentance and spiritual discipline, focusing some of that energy into reflecting upon the life and death of Jesus. The BIGRead14 is back for its fifth year, and inviting people to share in that discipleship journey through small groups, and in online conversations, focused around Stephen Cherry’s Barefoot Prayers, a collection of poem-prayers designed to stimulate meditative thinking.
(4 Feb 2014) » More about #BIGRead14