Does the Pope surf the web?

According to Scoble’s interview with Sister Judith, Director who runs the Vatican’s website, she’s not sure, but at about 11 minutes into the interview she confirms that Pope Benedict is interested in the web and her budget is increasing. She went on to say that she hopes to see the expanded use of online technology for private collaboration.

Currently, the website is used to “get the message out” as opposed to a place for community dialog. She estimated that the site gets 11-15 million hits a day with the monthly traffic originating from ~120 countries.

When asked about the possibility of the Vatican leveraging videocasting to drive transparency (at about 12 minutes into the videocast), she not surprisingly indicated that this isn’t in the plans. I can’t help but wish that they had a social media evangelist on staff to rally the support and understanding of the value they could leverage in this space. I’m quite familiar with the glacial pace that the Vatican takes regarding change since I’ve been a Catholic all my life, but that doesn’t change my conviction regarding areas that I wish would change (at a far more rapid pace) — though I fully understand this is not at all trivial in a 2,000 year old institution. Sister Judith describes the task of integrating technology into the Vatican as both challenging and fascinating.

UPDATE: Per Tom’s comment below, there is a group that has been entrusted by the Holy See to syndicate audiocasts of papal activities. Vatican radio provides feeds by language. I’ve only done minor sampling of the audiocasts, so I’ll withhold most of my initial reaction, but I think it’s a huge step in the right direction and I hope to hear authentic dialogue (a term used in the site’s tagline) in addition to news type reports.

During the last few minutes of the interview she mentions their use of Sun technology — additional details are posted here.

  1. #1 by Kevin on February 19, 2007 - 10:16 pm

    Cool stuff. She seems far more knowledgeable and articulate on IT matters than most politicians.

  2. #2 by Skrocki on February 20, 2007 - 8:03 am

    Indeed. I can’t begin to imagine how she deals with the dichotomy of her role as a Nun at the Vatican vs her role to drive the use of techology at the Vatican — especially in light of the participation age stage that we’re all living in.

  3. #3 by Adam on February 22, 2007 - 5:12 pm

    Apparently validation and standards compliance are sins.

  4. #4 by Henk Poley on February 23, 2007 - 1:24 am

    btw, “the” Catholic podcast is from the “Star Quest Production Network”. Fr.Roderick also travels to the Vatican several times per year:

  5. #5 by Tom on February 23, 2007 - 6:36 am

    This is just the main page for the vatican, so its forgivable that they don’t have vidoecasting there….most companies don’t put any kind of casts up on their main public facing pages. If you want video or podcasts, go to the vatican radio site: This is the arm of the vatican that handles media, and they’ve been podcasting for around two years.

  6. #6 by Skrocki on February 23, 2007 - 7:04 am

    Thank you Henk and Tom! Tom, I’ll update my post with the Vatican Radio link — good stuff!

  7. #7 by JK on March 2, 2007 - 9:06 pm

    Sharp observation.
    Still, “interested, given more budget but probably not surfing (doing)” — this is common among management level people, isn’t it? Not surprising upon deeper thought though, given the wide scope of “work” that they oversee.

  8. #8 by JK on March 21, 2007 - 2:39 am

    By the way, you might be interested to know that there is also an Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) where visitors can download archived RealVideo and RealAudio clips in English or Spanish.
    Most of these media seem to be one-way though, except for Fr Roderick’s podcasts (e.g. Daily Breakfast, Catholic Insider) where he often plays snippets of audio recordings from his audience.

  9. #9 by Skrocki on March 21, 2007 - 6:13 am

    I’ll check it out. Thanks, JK.

  10. #10 by BJ on April 11, 2007 - 11:06 am

    Hi! I thought you and your readers might be interested in some post-Easter news about Pope Benedict XVI…
    The Pope’s car is being auctioned off to raise money for Habitat for Humanity:
    The bidding is already more than $200,000! Personally, I think this is a really fun and creative way to raise
    money. The auction goes until April 14th if you and your readers want to check it out.

  11. #11 by Whee on October 19, 2008 - 6:35 am

    Just what we need – give the religious idiots even more platforms from which to spew their divisive mythology.

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