Friday, July 13, 2012

General Convention Enters the Digital Age

One observation about this General Convention is that the event has entered the technological age …mostly. Broad adoption of new technologies were evident in many places – deputies offering amendments or speaking before and against resolutions spoke not from notes on paper, but from iPads. While paper is still in evidence, and deputies and bishops are still toting large three-ring binders, just as many are pulling up resolutions on iPads, cell phones and other electronic reading devices.

You could follow all of the Convention’s actions – down to high points from sermons
– on Twitter. Walking down the hall in the Convention Center, visitors could photograph large QR codes with their smart phones, and access short films about Episcopalians.

There are some logistical issues. While up-to-date legislative materials are all available online, there is very limited internet access in the legislative halls. All the legislative sessions and worship services were available streaming online, but the feeds did go down occasionally, especially on the last few days. Of particular note, the General Convention became a Twitter event. There were many people live-tweeting events in both legislative houses, and some of the movements of General Convention actually became Trending Topics on Twitter, meaning that Tweets that contained General Convention tags (#gc77, for instance) were showing up more than other tags on Twitter at particular times. The significant Twitter traffic did make it possible to sit, say, in the House of Deputies, and also follow the action in the House of Bishops in real time.

The Convention also took concrete actions to bring the whole Church into the digital age. Two pieces of legislation – the Website Challenge and the Social Media challenge – passed both houses without much opposition. The Website Challenge states that online resources provided by the Standing Commission on Communications and Information Technology will empower every congregation with the tools and knowledge to build an effective, dynamic and current website, no matter their size or budget. The Social Media Challenge challenges every congregation in the Church to engage with social media.

So, the reality and the recognition of the role technology can play in our governance, our ministry and our ongoing conversation is here, and will carry us into the next General Convention in Salt Lake City, by which time, surely the tools and technology will have changed and evolved.

1 comment:

  1. As a regular Tweeter, I was gratified to see how many others attending General Convention Tweeted. I only had time to live-Tweet a couple of legislative hearings. As a Legislative Committee vice chair, co-chair of our deputation, and member of three caucuses, I found it difficult to focus in multiple directions with increasing sleep deficits each day. It's thrilling to be in the company of so many young and young-at-heart church members who love and care about the church and who want to share what we're about and what we're doing with the rest of the world. To me, this is a huge part of contemporary evangelism!