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Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0’

Religiousness and God in Computer Games

by Simon Heider

A lecture that deals with Computer games – The eyes of many people would light up immediately and they would start to listen with eager anticipation. I also was curious what Michael Waltemathe would tell us about „Religiousness and
God“ in Computer games.

The first part of the lecture dealt with the topic of religion in computer games. For that he chose three games as main examples to show how the topic might be placed and handled within a computer game.

The first one was the final sequence of Jedi Knight – Mysteries of the Sith. In the  sequence the character Mara Jade has to solve an encounter with her friend Kyle Katarn, who has been corrupted by the dark force. Before that final encounter she had to find her way to the center of the temple. During that she passed many pictures which described what two Jedis have to do in order to solve a conflict. One of this things is that the player learns that conflicts are solved by the abdication of violence. So in the final scene the only solution is at first not to cross the bridge to attack Kyle but to commit „suicide“. In the following scene a picture at one end of the thrown hall shows a kneeling Jedi with his switched off lightsaber in front of him. This is the final hint for the player – only if one condemns violence, one is a true Jedi. When Mara switches off her lightsaber Kyle is so moved by her confidence in their former friendship that he sees his failures and realizes the corruption by the dark force. In Waltemathes opinion this scene shows the central substance of the Star Wars universe where a Jedi acts in accordance to friendship, faith/reliance and devotion.
Only if one’s matters are seen as arbitrary one can become a good Jedi. The inspiration by some religions can be recognized in it’s absolute clarity in this scene. He used the term sledgehammer method for the approach of Mysteries of the Sith.

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Researching the Everyday Mediatization of Religion

by Xabier Riezu Arregui


“Mediatized Worlds of Religion: Researching the Everyday Mediatization of Religion Empirically” was the title of the lecture on August 05. The professor Andreas Hepp of the University of Bremen talked to us about the importance of taking mediatization processes into account in our research projects. His lecture was aimed to provide us with the conceptual tools for that purpose. Hepp says there are two extreme positions with regard to the meaning of “mediatization”. The first one discusses mediatization as a “logic of the media”. According to this approach, there is one specific logic of the media, and what we can study is how actors and organizations accommodate to that logic. The second position on the contrary, contends that the society is shaped through a lot of acts of appropriation, interpretation, and resistance; not necessarily media related. Furthermore, the media-related pressures are too heterogeneous to be reduced to one media logic.

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Islamic websites – religion online or online religion?

After getting firm with Christopher Hellands contrary concepts of “online religion”, with a high level of interactivity and freedom, and “religion online”, just providing information without interaction, we had the possibility to apply this categorization to some websites.

In our lecture about “The Role of individual and Community. Web 2.0 and the Rise of a New Form of Religious Community” by Hans G. Kippenberg we talked about some Islamic activities in the Internet. He started with the idea of subnationalization, the establishment of cultural enclaves below the national level, which are driven by religious associations and authorities. These communities come together through medial communication, which is the base for their social existence. They also adopt internet-based communication like WWwebsites, which is used in a very different way due to technically founded characteristics: the nearly unlimited international availability. On the base of maslaha (“public interest”), a traditional concept of the Sharia, these websites establish an Islamism that claims a strong Islam in the public realm. This discourse is focused on practical considerations of public welfare and social justice.


A person who is very strong in this discourse is Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The Islamic scholar living in Qatar is a very influential authority for Sunni Islam and his comments are well-known from TV-broadcasts and top-selling book publications. Furthermore, he is running the Islamic website islamonline.net, which is very popular within the transnational Islam. Even if this scholar is known for his conservative statements according to Islamic law, his positioning to new media is very liberal. The working group, which was checking his (not longer available) online-declaration for islamonline.net, found out that he judges the utilization of WWW as a possibility to get in contact with scholars all over the world. It would be important to release knowledge online for giving it to a wider community. That is also the reason why the website is available not only in Arabic, but also in English.

The idea of online fatwa – a religious question about how to act or what is right and wrong in a special situation – is very common in this sort of online environment. A religious authority, or rather someone who presents himself as being so, will answer online to these fatwas and – if his authority is also accepted – have some influence on the users of these fatwa-websites. One of our groups was intensively dealing with these online fatwas and found that is has some useful advantages: There is a very direct link between the believer and the expert, which can reduce the distance between the religion of authorities and the everyday religion.

The last group dealt with problematic circumstances emerging during the research within Islamic websites. They tried to follow some references made in the scientific text about the „Islamic Legitimacy for the London Bombings” of 2005. Unfortunately, most of the Islamic websites didn’t offer any English version – you should be able to read Arabic not only for understanding the offline texts but also for the online sources. Additionally, many links were dead and couldn’t be reconstructed with helping tools of the “never-forgetting” internet, like The Internet Archive or Google Cache. The availability was especially bad for those websites who represented opinions supporting the bombings as lawful Islamic fight. Links to websites declining the Islamic acceptance of the bombings were more likely to be available after years.

The Internet is the Trailer Park for the Soul. Seminarnachlese (Heidelberg).

05.04.2009 Kommentare aus

von Simone Heidbrink

Im Wintersemester 2008/09 starteten wir ein Experiment. Wir, das waren Kerstin Radde-Antweiler, mittlerweile an der Uni Bremen und ich, beide aus dem „Dunstkreis“ der religionswissenschaftlichen Internetforschung:

Wie würde es sein, ein Seminar zum Thema „Social Media“ und Religionswissenschaft zu veranstalten und diese Plattform dann eben auch zur Veröffentlichung und zum (wissenschaftlichen) Austausch zu nutzen?

Also nicht nur „Trockenschwimmen“, nicht nur Theorie (wie es in unserem Fach doch oft praktiziert wird) und Darüber-Reden, sondern hinein in die Praxis!

Zu diesem Zweck gründeten wir diesen Weblog. Und damit das mit dem Austausch auch wirklich klappt (denn wer kommentiert schon Beiträge des Kommillitonen, der im Seminar direkt nebenan sitzt?), wurde das Seminar gleichzeitig an beiden Universitäten, also in Bremen und in Heidelberg, angeboten. So weit so gut.

Natürlich unterschieden sich die beiden Seminare voneinander. Teilweise in der Konzeption, teilweise auch (jedoch nur geringfügig) in den Texten und thematischen Schwerpunkten, die besprochen wurden. Ich werde im Folgenden aus meiner Perspektive der Dozentin aus Heidelberg berichten, wie das Seminar dort ganz allgemein so „lief“. Weiterlesen …

Social Networking Websites: A Short Essay.

by Giacomo Puliti

This article comes from the need to do some considerations after I read a research concerning MySpace, made by Mike Thelwall: „Social Networks, gender and Friending: An Analysis of MySpace Member profiles“ (Link to a Word-Document).

Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, are names familiar to a lot of people and quite often you hear about them on TV, or of course in the Internet. Some of the readers might be a member of one of these “communities”. Apparently some of these Social Network Websites (I will call them SNW from now on for convenience) are more and more quoted as new sources of happiness, depression, addiction, democracy, and new forms of social and political life. Not a long time ago, during the last elections in the U.S., Obama’s crew set up an online supporter group for Facebook, which allowed users of this SNW to link with other users actively in the campaign of the democratic candidate.

Using Thelwall’s definition, a Social Networking Site is a web server that allows Internet users to register, to create a personal profile and communicate with selected others. Usually you can personalize your personal space on this site in different ways using personal information, interests, personalized graphic and music to give an idea of you to other people: your profile.
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So verschieden können Blogs sein! – „Brightsblog“ vs. „Himmel und Erde“

von Hannah Grünenthal

Nachdem ich mich in meinem vorigen Essay mit der Theorie des Analysemodells für Praktiken des Bloggens nach Jan Schmidt beschäftigt habe, werde ich in diesem Essay andeuten, wie es praktisch angewandt werden kann. Ich habe zwei religionswissenschaftlich interessante Blogs als Beispiele zur Anwendung ausgewählt, die ich zunächst kurz vorstellen möchte:

brightsblog.wordpress.com

brightsblog.wordpress.com ist der Blog der Brights. Hier eine kurze Beschreibung des Blogs: Der Blog wird von den „Brights“ geführt. Was ist ein Bright?

A bright is a person who has a naturalistic worldview. A bright’s worldview is free of supernatural and mystical elements. The ethics and actions of a bright are based on a naturalistic worldview.

Auf diesem Blog werden Artikel verlinkt, die im weiteren Sinne Religion zum Thema haben. Im weiteren Sinne deshalb, weil einerseits der Begriff „Religion“ weit gefasst ist und andererseits das Thema Religion oft nur am Rande eine Rolle spielt. Die Artikel an sich sind oft pro-Religion geschrieben, da sie aus religiösen Online-Journalen oder Blogs entnommen sind. In den Kommentaren werden die „Schwachpunkte“ aufgezeigt, also aufgezeigt, wo aufgrund religiöser Vorannahmen oder Argumentationen „falsche“ Schlussfolgerungen gezogen wurden.

Religionswissenschaftlich interessant ist der Blog der Brights, da hier vor allem religiöse Themen besprochen und diskutiert werden, und zwar aus „atheistischer“, das heißt in diesem Fall fast ausschließlich anti-religiöser, Sicht. Weiterlesen …

Analyseraster für Webseiten

18.02.2009 Kommentare aus

von Anke Drewitz

Bereits im Essay Online-Journale als religionswissenschaftliche Quelle? wird eine Problematik angesprochen, mit der sich Religionswissenschaftler bei der Internetforschung auseinandersetzen müssen. Um die Präsenz von Religion im Internet zu analysieren wird von ihnen fächerübergreifendes, multimethodisches Vorgehen gefordert, welches sie sich in der Regel erst aneignen müssen. In Heidelberg haben sich Wissenschaftler die Frage gestellt, wie dieses Vorgehen in der Praxis aussehen könnte. Welche Methoden müssen in ein religionswissenschaftliches Analyseraster für Webseiten einfließen, bestehen Wechselwirkungen zwischen der technischen und der inhaltlichen Ebene und was muss bezüglich der Archivierung der Online-Quellen beachtet werden? Aus diesen Überlegungen entstand ein „Analytical tool for Cultural Studies Online“ (Heidbrink, Miczek, Radde-Antweiler, Wessel; in Vorbereitung). Dieses Analyseraster ist in unterschiedliche Bereiche gegliedert. Die Bereiche betreffen die reinen Daten, den Inhalt und die Arbeitspraxis des Forschers.
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