a (nun)conventional habit

21 09 2009

Where is the internet? This keeps me awake at night. It must be somewhere. Is it underground, like the water pipes? Is it suspended in the air like the telephone wires? It seems to be in my computer, but it can’t just be there; if it was, when I turned mine off, the whole internet would go off. It does seem to follow me though. I’m not one to brag, but it is even in my iPhone. Does it just exist; is it formless and void like the world before creation; does the spirit hover over its waters, or would that cause an electrical fire? Is it even electric? What sort of plug does it use? And who owns it? Does it have edges? Will it get full?

Questions like these are best left to certain people who we used to laugh at in school because they loved maths, and who now have the last laugh because they run the world. “The internet” (I’m now wondering what it is, let alone where) is a strange mixture of people; an eclectic community of geeks, who learn a special language and make it work; of artists and designers, who tell the geeks what it should look like; and the writers, those who fill the text boxes with words and pictures.

People who ‘do’ the internet though have a certain image.Think of people who work for Google or Apple and I imagine an impossibly trendy group of 20-30 year olds with perfect hair, scruffy dress-down-but-expensive suits and a keen eye for the cutting edge. So it was with intrigue that I attended the Christian Web and New Media Awards last week, desperate to a) do some minor Christian celebrity-spotting (a dismal failure) (no offence to the Bishop of London) and b) see who the movers and shakers are in the world of Christian web-work. I was actually representing my bishop, Nick Baines, whose blog was up for Most Inspiring Leadership Blog – and who, deservedly, won. So I got to collect an award from a Coptic Orthodox Bishop, even though it wasn’t for me. A moment to savour! Should I ever win anything, even the raffle at the Christmas fayre, I will send him to collect mine.

The most fascinating thing about the evening though was the breadth of people who now ‘do’ the internet, and do it pretty well. There were Pentecostals, free churches, Anglicans, Methodists and Catholics; old(er) people, teenagers; big churches, small churches; some impossibly trendy people and some downright ordinary looking people.

The highlight of the evening, (apart from Nick winning, of course) (and a competition between a black Pentecostal minister and Coptic Orthodox Bishop about who’s definition of a minute was longer), was the presentation of the People’s Choice Award for best website.

Nun the wiser

Nun the wiser

This was voted for by Premier Media listeners and viewers (which may explain it!) but it was a stroke of genius. A community of 3 elderly Benedictine nuns, who make their money through selling jam, marmalade and  – of course – running their own web design company! They couldn’t come to collect their award because they are a closed community and cannot leave. So maybe the internet is where they live, because they are allowed in it.

Their home-made video acceptance is amazing! And they are proof that stereotypes are made to be broken and preconceptions are so often wrong. The trendies at Google and Apple had better watch out, because the nun-conventional habits are taking them on and here, at least, are winning.



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