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I had a challenging but interesting conversation with a City vicar last week about my PhD work. I am currently recruiting volunteers for a round of pilot interviews to take place later in the year. That’s in the small window of time after completing analysis on the first phase of content analysis and coming up with the questions for the full interviews for 2011.

I used the now-revised poster I had prepared earlier in the year as a starting point for a discussion. In A4 format rather than A1, that would have been rather tricky to manipulate in the bar, I may have knocked my wine over.

There’s an awful lot of work already been done about the nature of authority and hierarchy on the internet and how Web 2.0 is breaking boundaries; I don’t need to rehash those arguments here, and it’s not the main focus of my work. (This is an interesting starting point) But there was one very interesting point that is worth recording here. That is that the way the Anglican church hierarchy works means that the person who stands in the pulpit and delivers a sermon is authorised in some official way (lay preacher/ ordination, that kind of thing). Which is completely not how peer-to-peer communication across the internet works. So, if we work from a model of official authorisation as being the only channel for communication, it is not surprising that there is little or no takeup of more democratic means of communication.

I’m writing this in a hurry and I am not entirely sure if I am clearly getting across the point that was made and how it was important – I possibly need to have the conversation all over again! I wanted to blog the moment though so I would not forget…