Friday, November 23, 2007

Ponder These Statistics

Assuming that the information in the video below is true (and some of it is undoubtedly a stretch), I leave it to you to ponder these statistics. I think the most interesting question posed by the whole piece was that if there are more than 2.7 billion searches performed on Google every month, who answered these questions before Google?


I am reminded of Henry Drummond's lines in Inherit The Wind:
Gentlemen, progress has never been a bargain. You have to pay for it. Sometimes I think there's a man who sits behind a counter and says, "Alright, you can have a telephone, but you lose privacy and the charm of distance. Madam, you may vote, but at a price. You lose the right to retreat behind the powder-puff or your petticoat. Mister, you may conquer the air, but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline."


What does this have to do with our fraternity?

Obviously, the exponential growth in information and speed affects virtually everything in society. Likewise, it affects Freemasonry. An ever-increasing number of men are knocking on our lodge doors after learning about us from the Internet. Individual Masons have been quick to adopt the web for masonic education and communications, but few Grand Lodges have embraced it. In fact, many Grand Lodges regard the Internet with suspicion, or treat it as insignificant. And more than one Grand Master has seen the Internet as a threat to his unquestioned authority — suspensions and expulsions over e-mail and forum postings rises every year, most recently in West Virginia. So what should Freemasonry be doing to embrace the technology, beyond posting instructional videos on YouTube?

2 comments:

Widow's Son said...

Interesting couple of articles you posted, Bro. Chris, this one and the one about Gen Y expectations above.

Grand Lodges, for the most part, are still living in the 20th, or maybe 19th century, both technologically and socially. Elder Masons generally missed out on the technological boom since the 1980s, and they still prefer things to progress at the pace they grew up with.

Younger Masons grew up with today's technological treats, and expect information to flow instantaneously.

Old and young both know the maxim "Knowledge is power" is true. The elders of lodges and grand lodges like to hold onto that knowledge, because it empowers them; it literally keeps them in control.

Younger Masons realize that it's the sharing of knowledge that empowers all of us.

We'd be in Darkness without the Internet. How would we have learned of the events in West Virginia, or Arizona, or Ohio, or Michigan, or Alabama and Georgia, without brothers from those areas telling us via the Internet?

Exactly. Without those brothers and their computers, the grand lodges would have been able to keep all that information to themselves, which would have kept the rank and file ignorant of the goings-on, out of the loop, more sedate and pliable, and thus, less likely to speak of change, rebellion or outright revolution.

Without information technology, would we be a better fraternity? I think that would depend on who you ask — those who want to know, or those that don't want others to know.

Grand Lodges should use their websites to share information about what's going on in the fraternity, the good and the bad. Instead, most use their sites to post the same old boring information about fish frys and the traveling schedule of the grand master.

The GL sites should become Masonic news centers and libraries. They should have discussion forums, interactive question and answer forums where the activities of the GL's are explained, sections devoted to articles and discussions on the Seven Liberal Arts, and much more.

If there are no grand lodge members with the desire or ability to operate websites of such high caliber, they should ask some of today's outstanding Masonic bloggers to step in and help. Keeping us at a distance is only going to further separate members from their grand lodges, not bring them together in brotherhood.


Widow's Son
BurningTaper.com

Chris Hodapp said...

I don't know. So far, blogs and forums have not become the Masonic tool I thought they would. After the forced shut down of Wbro. Jeff Naylor's Masonic Light Forum in 2004, I worked with the Grand Lodge of Indiana to get Hiram's Forum up and running, with GL approval. My hope all along was that it would be where members and officers could share ideas back and forth, keep track of the latest news, post education articles and Masonic essays. We're coming up on our 4th year now, but like most forums it's the same dozen or so guys posting. And like so much on the web these days, positive articles get little or no response, while negative ones cause a major traffic jam. I guess it's human nature.

I wish more Masons really would share their experiences more, and more important, that officers would share their successes and failures with everyone, so we all wouldn't have to reinvent the wheel year after year and suffer in silence when things don't work. Like everything else on the web, there's lots of promise, if only everybody would dive in and use it.