Re: [-empyre-] Digital Spiritual

I think tapping spirituality via a Computer, [capital C], is a very tricky proposition.

That's because a Computer is locked down in awfully particular metaphors and interaction styles -- we interact with Computers in a very limited, superficial way, which reduces most interactions to superficial manipulations. This is the cognitive dissonance that arises with many people when they try to converse with others over instant messaging -- they find it impossible to connect to the other person, as they normally would. They're in front of the screen, they're working on a virtual desktop, point 'n' click, drag 'n' drop, ad nauseum... using a Computer requires a suspension of disbelief, because you're communicating in a lexicon and within a context that has only abstract, academic bearing on real life. When you're using a Computer, it is very hard to forget that you're doing so. Thus, I think any attempt to use the Computer to speak to something as deep and soulful as spirituality, would reduce it to something very superficial as well. When you talk to your soul the same way you talk to Excel, it's hard to take it very seriously.

On the other hand, I think there is great potential in this realm for computers [lower case c]. The particularly peculiar demands exacted on us by Computers can and will be opened up, so we can interact with them more naturally, as Environment rather than Device. At that point, there will be much more of a chance to harness their informational power to explore something as nebulous and elusive as spirituality. This is actually one of the current overarching goals in the field of human computer interaction. One can explore these possibilities now, using experimental technology, and that's what a lot of the better technological installations do. I recently completed my first such effort, an Electric Confessional (, which uses neither a screen nor an input device -- and it just _feels_ so much more real, so much less contrived, and so much more accessible on one's own human terms.

Fono [long time lurker, first time poster]

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