Digital Islam and the New Sheikhs

Technology and Religion.

Yet, and more significantly for our purposes, the video feud highlights a relationship between technology and religious authority, and indeed how changes in the former can serve to transform the latter. An early 20th Century Dawah Man certainly would not have been able to bypass traditional gatekeepers and speak directly to the masses at the scale enabled by the Internet. There are, of course, many precedents: from the printing presses that produced Martin Luther’s vernacular Bible to the local access channels that nurtured the Moral Majority; there is nothing static about the nature of religious authority. And while we often associate technological innovations with some form of democratization — as individuals gain the ability to access holy texts in an unmediated fashion, to do their own research, and to theoretically reach their own conclusions — this emancipatory narrative does not capture the complexity of these transformations.

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Suzanne Schneider — The Revealer

Science Fiction Is Not Social Reality

“The trouble with a kitten is that eventually it becomes a cat.” — Ogden Nash

Tech creators and tech billionaires are influenced by Science Fiction for different reasons. Some of these have to do with the narrative of the ‘hero outsider’ who uses their knowledge and skill to fix a problem through engineering a solution or through adapting tools and technology in new ways to solve some type of problem. Other reasons have to do with creating a Utopian society that is “bettered” through time-saving devices that are automated. The doors in Star Trek, the just-in-time data knowledge and data access in any number of films: BladerunnerStar WarsMinority Report, etc. and books all are delivered seamlessly in Science Fiction. When things do break, there is often an engineering solution. Even when Science Fiction turns against mankind, as it did in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the gadgets and gear are shown as sufficiently technologically inspiring, so much so that even though it was a warning film of sorts, that element becomes minimized in favor of recreating “cool technology.”

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S.A. Applin — Motherboard