Friday, October 7, 2011

Digital Media Conference

I had the pleasure of attending the introduction to the Digitial Religion Conference with Cheong, Helland and Echchaibi on Wednesday afternoon. All three speakers spoke about their experiences in field work related to digital media. Cheong told us, but all three agreed, that flexibility is the key to field work. Echchaibi told an interesting story explaining that sometimes in field work you get the chance to talk to people you didn't expect to talk to and whose different perspective will greatly benefit your research. Chris Helland sparked my interest by talking about a new digital innovation known as the "Virtual Pilgrimage." He didn't go into much detail but from what I understood it was a project led by the Catholic community. Since I wrote my first paper over Catholicism, I went home to research this in more detail and from what I could find people are able to create their own avatar and participate in religious activities without ever having to leave their home. There was also a "round table" portion where a few audience members were able to ask the speakers questions. One individual explained how he was from a small religious town but grew up agnostic. His concerns were how to remain unbiased while doing research. Echcaibi and Cheong both said there was a line between still respecting your own beliefs and respecting theirs as well; Cheong had a personal example of only bowing her head instead of fulling bowing so she would still feel comfortable while respecting their beliefs. The whole session was very informative and I looked forward to coming back on Thursday!

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