Technology use in Spiritual Formation

It's mostly curiosity that lead me to this project led by Susan Wyche with Gillian Hayes, Lonnie Harvel, and Beki Grinter. As described on the webpage:

"Churches are increasingly using technology for spiritual purposes. Sermons are being podcast, PowerPoint slides are replacing hymnals, and e-mail is prompting prayer, all of which indicate religion’s growing presence in computer users’ lives. Despite churches’ rapid adoption, we know little about how to effectively design technology for worship services, what interface issues arise when computers are used to support prayer, or how to facilitate meaningful communication between church leaders and their parishioners. Our empirical study begins to answer these questions by examining how area pastors use communication technologies for spiritual purposes."

They wrote a paper about it for CSCW2006:

Wyche, S.P., Hayes, G.R., Harvel, L.D., and Grinter, R.E. Technology in Spiritual Formation: An Exploratory Study of Computer Mediated Religious Communications. To appear in the proceedings of CSCW 2006. Banff, Alberta, Canada. 2006

[Thinking about where the name CSCW comes from (Computer Supported Collaborative Work), it is exquisitely intriguing to see that the field started by looking at collaborative work/learning practices and is now moving to all sorts of collective activities ranging form gaming to religious practices.]

The paper offers some intriguing material about the uses of technologies in three aspects of "religious work": religious study and reflection, church services, and pastoral care. It also examines how the collaborative religious uses of technologies cross and blend work and personal life.

"Some religious uses of technology seemed similar to workplace practices. or example, in pastoral care, ministers (like employers) used technologies to coordinate action (...) And yet, while some aspects of technologically enabled religious practice seemed analogous to technologically supported corporate practice, others differed. Some practices echoed previous research largely focused on recreational groups, in particular on-line communities. For example, ministers described a dilemma with counseling, preferring to talk face-to-face, but recognizing that some people found it easier to discuss difficult topics in an electronically mediated setting."

Why do I blog this? curiosity, sunday reading blogged on monday.