Hallo again to all.
Britain buried its beloved Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother this week, and millions of people from around the world, most of whom had never met her, shared in the mourning. Global broadcast media were so pervasive by the end of the century that virtually everyone in the world who spoke English knew of the Queen Mum and recognized her face. We are told that Queen Elizabeth II contributed ideas for her mother's funeral service booklet and chose for it a poem that was printed on its inside first page. This mysterious and anonymous poem probably reached Her Majesty by way of someone who got it over the internet (see our News Centre).
The term 'global village' was coined in the 1960s to describe the effect that mass media had on global culture, but that effect was still unidirectional. Newspapers and radio and television reached the many from the few. The internet has enabled the many to talk to the many, and brought into being communities that are diffuse, but global. And real. (We'll tackle the question of reality in another letter...) We've written in the past of the grief we felt at the death of a friend we had known only in this online place. And we've forwarded, and had our friends and families forward to us, all manner of poems, pictures, and 'have a look at this web page' messages.
Anglicans Online was created out of the belief that the internet made obsolete the notion that 'freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one'. We run on a shoestring, with a budget of just a few hundred pounds a year. We do seem to have readers, even if we're fairly confident that HM Queen Elizabeth does not read AO. But we recall our high school chemistry teacher telling us that 'Every time you breathe, you are inhaling molecules that were inhaled by Caesar'. He was trying to make us understand just how small and numerous molecules were, but instead he started us thinking that the world was small. It's now come to feel much smaller. In some odd way, having evidence that the Queen associates with people who might receive, over the internet, the same poem that our mother might have sent us shrinks the world even more.
There are, of course, negative aspects of a shrinking world. It's hard to start an argument or a war with someone that you've never seen. It's hard to form a theological disagreement with someone whose theology you have never come across. Now that we can read news about the church in places remote to us, we can object to what we read. We can feel righteous, contentious, or smugly superior. We can draw hasty conclusions and spread rumours based on them. In short, we can act on 'world shrink' in ways that are not very useful. Caveat shrinktor.
Part of our noting that the world is shrinking is the happy duty of reporting to you new web sites around the world. In the past few weeks we've reported, on our New This Week page, new sites from Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, England, Uganda, the USA, and Australia. Browse round our recent listings, and see just how small this beloved Anglican Communion of ours really is.
See you next Sunday.
Last updated: 14 April 2002