Pope Francis on the Internet and communication

Pope Francis's Message for World Communication Day addressed itself to the Internet's place in Catholic society and the wider world. David Weinberger -- an "agno-atheistical Jew who lives in solidarity with an Orthodox community" who has a long track record of saying smart things about the Internet -- has a very good commentary on the Pope's words, which he found to be in the spirit of the best the Internet has to offer.

“Communication” as the transferring of meaning is a relatively new term. The Pope’s answer asks us to bring it back from its abstract understanding. Certainly the Pope’s sense takes “communication” out of the realm of marketing that sees it as the infliction of a message on a market. It also enriches it beyond the information science version of communication as the moving of an encoded message through a medium. (Info science of course understands that its view is not the complete story.) It instead looks at communication as something that humans do within a social world:

Those who communicate, in effect, become neighbours. The Good Samaritan not only draws nearer to the man he finds half dead on the side of the road; he takes responsibility for him. Jesus shifts our understanding: it is not just about seeing the other as someone like myself, but of the ability to make myself like the other. Communication is really about realizing that we are all human beings, children of God.

From my point of view [more here, here, and here], the problem with our idea of communication is that it assumes it’s the overcoming of apartness. We imagine individuals with different views of themselves and their world who manage to pierce their solitude by spewing out some sounds and scribbles. Communication! But, those sounds and scribbles only work because they occur within a world that is already shared, and we only bother because the world we share and those we share it with matter to us. Communication implies not isolation and difference but the most profound togetherness and sameness imaginable. Or, as I wouldn’t put it, we are all children of G-d.

A gift from God

(Image: thierry Ehrmann le 112 ème est Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis), painted portrait DDC_7823, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from home_of_chaos's photostream)