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The Peril and Promise of the Internet Within Mormonism John Dehlin.

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Presentation on theme: "The Peril and Promise of the Internet Within Mormonism John Dehlin."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Peril and Promise of the Internet Within Mormonism John Dehlin

2 Explosion of Digital, Online LDS content

3 LDS stuff you can get online for FREE…

4 Church Sponsored Content Hymns and primary songs both in MP3 format, and printable (sheet music) Complete PDF and HTML versions of all the scriptures, manuals, and church magazines from 1972 forward –All of the above in mp3 format for listening –Much of the above in Spanish and French –Tons of stuff for Palm or PocketPC devices Past and current General Conferences in video and audio format ( and BYU Broadcasting) A redesign of, which includes a “special topics” section

5 Unofficial LDS-related content Past issues of Dialogue and Sunstone online Past Sunstone symposium presentations in MP3 format MHA and BYU Studies journals online, MHA in MP3 Past Utah newspapers online (dating back to the19th century) Updated Mormon Studies and Mormon History databases from BYU The entire Journal of Discourses The entire LDS temple ceremony (past and present) in both text and audio formats

6 And most importantly….. Tom TrailsTom Trails!!!!!!

7 Identity Matters

8 Why does identity matter? Allows reputation to be a potential asset for increasing quality of contribution Lets readers quickly decide who to pay attention to, and who to ignore Personalizes the conversation Provides the building blocks of relationships and community

9 Identity Matters Some use real names: Dan Peterson, Lou Midgley, Nate Oman, Kaimi Wenger, Tal Bachman, Bob McCue, Mike Norton Some use “aliases”: RoastedTomatoes, SerenityValley, WattMahoun, Polygamy Porter, Hyrum, Mental Gymnast Increasingly, many seem to be “coming out” and revealing their real name In my mind, this is only goodness

10 “Bannergate”: A case study in the down side of aliases “Under the Banner of Heaven” blog formed, led by a set of “real people” as permabloggers A healthy readership developed In-depth conversations and strong relationships blossomed Very personal stories were shared that included things like sexual struggles and miscarriages. It turned out that all of the main participants and the shared stories were fake (in at least one case a male assuming a female identity)

11 Privacy is Dead…Get Over It

12 Who knows me in Sioux City Iowa?

13 City, State, Country, IP Address Country Pages visited Date, Time Duration of visit Referring Link, Search String Domain Name/Company Entry and Exit Pages

14 Google Search Terms Referring Folks to Mormon Stories (or “Privacy is Dead…Get Over It”)

15 The Personal “John Dehlin” “John Dehlin Mission President” “single dallas robbins”

16 The Strange “Jim jones survived” “How to mold football mouthpiece” “Jones jello cult” “Joseph smith vs. l. ron hubbard”

17 The Curious “do lds believe in creation”

18 The Sexual “LDS Whores” “gay mormon studs” “extreme mormon girl videos” “mormon boys sleeping naked on mission experience” “mormon elder homosexuality” “open marriage stories” “was joseph smith gay” “slept with a married woman Mormon” “mormon missionaries gang raped names”

19 The Struggling “Conflicted with Mormon faith and now in love with non-mormon” “Mormon used to agree” “Mormon leaving church telling TBM parents” “Suicide in the lds community”

20 Google Trends

21 Google Trends (Top 10 world cities Googling “Pornography)

22 Moderation wins over open dialogue

23 The Idealistic Values I Started With… Free expression Open and respectful dialogue Diverse points of view Honest, objective analysis of the facts Everyone’s comments are of equal value Tolerance Acceptance Marketplace of ideas Correlation = Bad

24 My bursting onto the scene I wrote “John Dehlin’s Thoughtful Faith Modern Mormon Manifesto” (a la Ted Kazinski)John Dehlin’s Thoughtful Faith Modern Mormon Manifesto Created my own blog and Podcast (Mormon Stories)PodcastMormon Stories Started commenting on LDS Blogs Came in more with an agenda than to engage on topic, and become part of the community –Wanted to promote my manifesto –Wanted to promote my blog and podcast –Wanted to exhibit “leadership” on the Mormon internet

25 The Result? “Who the heck is John Dehlin, and who does he think he is?” A few isolated supporters among the “establishment” A somewhat tentative, if not cool reception from some LDS blogging notables Some of my comments held in the moderation que (IP blocking?) Overall…..a resounding thud

26 So I go on an “Openness Jihad” Add a tagline to my blog that reads, “Open, Honest and Respectful” Criticize some of the big LDS blogs for “censorship” Puff with pride that true believers and the disaffected can engage respectfully on my blog--without a need to moderate Experience some success

27 Fast forward 6 months after steady growth…. Apologists and anti-Mormons begin frequenting my site Raging battles ensue I don’t have time to follow and moderate all the threads People from both sides start telling me that they are losing interest in my blog because of the tone I have to start moderating folks, and putting some into the “penalty box”

28 2 final observations on moderation…. Even HEAVILY moderates (virtually any/all positive stuff about the church is removed) Ironically enough, one of the few places for relatively unmoderated discussion is…..FAIR!FAIR –(And they’re really struggling with it)

29 The Desperate Need for Ratings

30 The life of a blog post Thoughtful blog post is made Responses ensue, comments grow Conversation begin to flow off topic (thread jacking) Polar debates begin to rage Conversation grows to 100+ comments, often times w/ 3 or 4 conversations going on simultaneously Thread is often relegated to name calling Rinse and repeat

31 Blog Aggregators: A step in the right direction

32 Blog Aggregators: A few challenges Who gets the prime real estate? Who gets relegated below? Who gets left off completely?

33 2 models for a solution A combination: –http://www.diggdot.us

34 Ratings Filter based on ratings Log in Cool stories and posts submitted

35 How do these sites work? Readers (not permabloggers) submit or nominate interesting articles and posts Other readers rate the submissions The higher the rating, the higher the visibility of the submission Comments are made per submission Comments are rated just like submissions Over time, you develop “karma”, where good submissions and good comments provide you more influence within the community Readers can set a filter to ignore the lame posts/comments based on karma and ratings

36 The LDS Internet DESPERATELY needs a community-driven aggregator that has equivalent functionality to Slashdot and Digg (ratings and filters)

37 Audio is Great (Podcasts)

38 Sunstone Podcasts

39 GA Speeches Podcasts

40 Anti- or Ex-Mormon Podcasts

41 Personal Podcasts

42 Potential Podcast Reach Mormons and Masons w/ Greg Kearney 3,512 New Order Mormons Pt. 1 (Ann)2,983 Polygamy with Todd Compton Pt. 12,729 Kiddie Baps – My Mission Story in Guat.2,683 Grant Palmer Pt. 42,486 Stages of Faith Pt. 32,435 Interview with FAIR2,247 ~2,500 downloads per episode on average

43 Video is Greater

44 Google Video “Mormon” Anti-Stuff

45 Google Video “Mormon” Pro-Stuff

46 Youtube Video: Mormon Mash Ups Almost 100,000 views!!!! Up to 7800 views!!!!

47 Youtube Video: Mormon Porn Over 28,000 views

48 Youtube Video: Mormons & Popular Culture Over 28,000 views

49 Digg meets Youtube Over 35,000 views almost overnight!!!! Labeled as inaccurate By the faithful Google laughing all the way to the bank 653 Diggs 354 comments

50 Youtube Video: Church Content 2,656 Views

51 More Good or More Bad?

52 Top 25 Web Sites Within Mormonism* Church Sponsored –(1) –(2) –(3) –(4) deseretbook –(5) –(25) Anti-Mormon –(6) –(9) –(13) –(14) –(21) –(22) –(23) –(24) richard packham Apologetic –(10) –(18) Blogs –(7) –(11) –(15) –(17) –(19) Other –(16) –(20) –(8) –(12) *Not counting dating sites

53 Top Podcasts Within Mormonism True Believing LDS –This Mormon Life –Mormon Mom-Cast –MormonCast –Mormon Archipelago Anti-Mormon –Mormon Truth! –Thechurchisnottrue –Catholicmormon –Living Truth –Mormon Musings –Sons of perdition Apologetic? Borderlands –Mormon Stories –Sunstone –Sunstone Classic –An Atheists’ Prayer Reproductions of GA Talks –LDS Voices –BYU Classic Speeches –April 05 General Conference


55 Social software Myspace and facebook Warnings against it ELGG



58 When Bryce Peterson, a freshman from Portland, Ore., used to log onto Facebook, he didn't think he was doing anything his bishop would disapprove of. But recently, several BYU bishoprics have cautioned their wards against the dangers of online social networks like Myspace and Facebook, citing inappropriate pictures and Internet relationships as their top concerns. "I'm cautious of what people feel compelled to put on their (pages)," said Richard Lytle, a bishop who has asked members of his BYU student ward to reconsider their involvement with social networking sites.

59 Lytle said there have been incidents in which students have posted "very inappropriate" pictures on their Myspace and Facebook accounts. He also worries about dangerous relationships developing through such Web sites. "Predators can use social networking websites to network people for less than honorable reasons," Lytle said.

60 These warnings are not church policy, according to Lytle, and different bishops are saying different things to their wards. Some, like Peterson's bishop, have expressly asked their congregations to stay away from these sites. Others, like Lytle, are simply telling their wards to be "thoughtful" with their online activity.

61 Student reaction to the counsel has been mixed. After his bishop issued the warning, Peterson went straight home and deleted his accounts on both Myspace and Facebook. But despite his willingness to obey, he didn't completely understand his bishopric's counsel. "Obviously I didn't see all the reasons behind it," said Peterson. "Basically I just got rid of it because (my bishop) said so." Many students see this counsel as a sort of trial of their faith. "My personal opinion is that it's fine to have (an account) if you're smart with it," said Hunter Schwarz, a freshman from Gilbert, Ariz. "But you should always follow your bishop. At least that's what my bishop tells me.“

62 Still, some diehard Facebookers and Myspacers are fighting to hold on to their digital social circles, despite what their bishops have said. Arielle Waters, a freshman from Petoskey, Mich. said that her bishop compared the online temptation of Myspace and Facebook to the temptation Eve endured from the serpent in the Garden of Eden. "I feel like I should be repenting for using Myspace," said Waters. "Which I don't think is a sin.“

63 "Myspace is trashier because on Facebook it's mostly kept within the school," said Schwarz. "BYU students aren't going to be putting half naked bathroom mirror pictures up.“ Since Peterson deleted his accounts, he said that he hasn't seen any clear results in his spiritual life, but that there have been some definite social benefits. "I have tons of extra time now," said Peterson. "It's kind of nice not to have to worry about the whole social thing online, too."

64 Pop star-turned-doll maker MARIE OSMOND has launched a personal crusade to clean up the Internet after learning her two teenage daughters have been posting sexually explicit correspondence on their websites. The PAPER ROSES singer felt compelled to give a statement to US tabloid National Enquirer after the publication uncovered outrageous content on her daughters JESSICA and RACHAEL's blogs. On her site, 18-year-old Jessica, who was adopted by Osmond as an infant, claims she is a bi-sexual who craves sex "as many times as possible," while her 16-year-old sister describes herself as a "slut" and a "whore" in correspondence and opened up about her dreams of having sex with DAVID BOWIE. In her statement, shocked Marie, a devout Mormon, says, "I am saddened by some of the choices that two of our children have made. "The insidious potential for harm from adolescent Internet sites like only exacerbates these kinds of problems. "If my being a celebrity figure is good for anything, let it be as a voice of warning to other parents that no matter how protective we think we may have been with our children in the past, we need to become more knowledgeable and even more vigilant now in order to protect them."MARIE OSMONDDAVID BOWIE

65 The struggling, the isolated, the lonely (The “Battleground”)

66 I am a lifelong member of the church, always very active. Years ago I subscribed to Sunstone and enjoyed the articles. My wife did not approve of some of them, so I started having them delivered to my office. When the great intellectual purge took place a few years ago, I let my subscription to Sunstone lapse. I guess I didn’t want to get caught in the next purge. Yet, I have missed the articles and ongoing discussions that Sunstone provided. These podcasts provide a safe way for me to participate again.

67 I don’t go to church anymore. It just makes me either bored or depressed. I wish I had a better reason like some of the historical issues that are brought up on your show, but I haven’t delved into them as deep as your guests have. I find their analysis fasinating(sp?). You’re show …gives me some new and interesting things to hear. And it brings back that element of church that I did miss in my life, leaving out the parts of it that I hated. So keep up the good work.

68 You stated that you wanted to create a forum that helps people the same way that you needed help. I thought I’d tell you that this is exactly what you’ve done for me. I’m a newly married medical student and have loved the church my whole life. But, like Enos, people have to grow up. I’ve had to recently ask new and sometimes faith-threatening questions about what I believe (a necessary but precarious step in spiritual growth). Those can be heavy and scary days, as you seem to know. And I had no one to talk to. I didn’t want to burden my wife, my family, or most of my friends with something that exists only between me and God. I felt close to drowning a few times until I found these podcasts. They were not only honest, open, and informative, they were freeing.

69 Final reflections Schisms vs. bridgebuilding Wasting time vs. socializing vs. making a difference Seminal works within Mormonism Audio will continue to grow, video will become huge

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