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Hallo again to all.

More years ago than we care to admit, we were at the British Museum in London looking at the Tutankhamun exhibit, which was beginning one of its rare tours outside Egypt. We waited in long queues for our turn to gasp at the opulence of the artifacts and the amount of labor that must have gone into their creation.

By far the most memorable aspect of that memorable exhibit was the imperfection of King Tut's iconic death mask. We had seen countless photographs of it, none of terribly high quality, and had formed a sense of what it was and what it must be like. When we finally saw it, close enough that we could have touched it had there not been bulletproof glass between us, we were transfixed by its imperfections. The brush strokes were not quite even. The gold stripes were not the solid gold of our imagination but gold paint, on top of what looked like wood. The carving of his beard was slightly uneven and slightly asymmetric. The triangular blue stones along the bottom were startlingly uneven in size and position. Tut's mask was not made by machines, it was made entirely by hand, by real people three thousand years earlier. The brush strokes and uneven lines and imperfect spacing caused those people to spring to life in our imaginations. We could feel their presence, we could practically hear them breathing. Never have we looked at something made entirely by robots, such as an automobile, and felt any kinship with the robots. But looking at something from the distant past that had been made entirely by hand, we felt a kinship with the craftsmen who had been dead for a thousand years before Christ was born.

Last week we were in a food market, looking to buy butter, and noticed that some of the butter was marked 'made entirely by hand'. We've seen the same claim on certain high-end cameras, jewelry, clothing, hunting knives, beer glasses, book bindings, wheat bread, and many more goods, but for some reason we didn't really stop to think very hard about this business of being hand made until we saw the butter package proudly proclaiming its provenance.

Some things are probably better when made by machines (such as water pipes or implanted teeth), or perhaps even impossible unless made by machine (such as integrated circuits or laser printer toner or aspheric lenses). But we aren't to be prised loose of our general belief in the value of handmade items, and each of us treasures the handmade in our lives.

Anglicans Online is proudly made entirely by hand. We have been publishing AO for much longer than blogging software and content management systems have existed. Longer than Google has existed. We read books and magazines to get ideas for this page. We read the news ourselves in search of global Anglican news for our News Centre. We write and proofread and edit using very primitive tools. We try not to handcraft any verbs or facts, but are shameless about the handcraftery of our HTML.

Yet we are not Luddites. We all do Facebook. We wrote all of the AO software ourselves. We use modern tools to do the tasks that feel right being done with modern tools. We often repair our own computers (it's so much cheaper than buying new ones). And from time to time we add technology to our venerable handcrafted site. Today we have added some buttons and links in our left navigation bar for social media. You can click on the f button to go to our Facebook page. You can click on the t button to go to our Twitter page. And you can click on the @ button to go to the subscription page for our new Email Updates service.†

We've been announcing AO publication on Facebook and Twitter for quite some time. The email notification is new; it's for people who would like a weekly reminder but who aren't interested in facebookery or tweetery.

No change comes without a cost. We aren't yet sure what that cost might be. We're wondering if the email notifications might start to push us towards adding a title to these weekly letters. But we suspect that more of you might remember to read AO every week if we send you a little reminder, so we're now offering that service.

See you next week. We'll let you know when.

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All of us at Anglicans Online

17 June 2012

†Those of you with very sharp eyes and sharp dispositions will notice the rectangle highlights around the three social-media buttons. Those are caused by the non-use of CSS there. Anglicans Online predates CSS1 by several years, and we have only added it to our site in places where we think it is a good use of our time. We will migrate those buttons to CSS3 before Canada Day.

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