prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Where there’s smoke…

Posted by prof e on March 12, 2013

whitesmokeYou may have heard that the Catholic Church is in the process of selecting a new Pope. The Church has been slow to embrace certain changes, e.g. women priests and same-sex marriage, but they have not been as slow to adapt to new communication media. The recently retire pope, Pope Benedict XVI (@pontifex), became the first Pope to join Twitter in December of 2012 and the Catholic Church has more than 413K likes on its facebook page.

Some may find it ironic then that the Church, in this modern digital age, still uses smoke signals to announce the results of a successful election. When the bishops have selected the new Pope, the smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel will switch from black to white.

In a world of high-tech solutions to most every problem, there are plenty of options for staying informed of the latest news in this breaking story. With the tag line, “when the smoke goes up, you’ll know what’s going down”, the website is on top of the latest developments. At the website you can sign up to receive instant notification of the election by either text or email.

For the ultimate in simplicity you can visit

Or you can download an app for your smart phone. Some of the apps provide biographic background on the candidates. All promise to keep you up to the minute with breaking news. Not to be outdone, the Pontifical Council for Social Communication has released the Pope App. Before you know it the Vatican will have its own YouTube channel.


5 Responses to “Where there’s smoke…”

  1. Very interesting. I, personally, like that they are keeping the symbolic smoke ritual. It’s obvious that the Church has accepted new media, and that there are plenty of options for digitally finding out when the new Pope has been chosen. With that in mind, it doesn’t seem like the Church needs an updated method of communicating the election. The online community will know, and tradition can still be observed. Thanks for sharing! There really is an app for everything!

  2. Michael said

    Hi Sam,

    I love the gentle hint of tongue-in-cheek in this post. I hadn’t followed this story. Don’t know why the Pope decided to resign. I thought those men usually died in their assignment.

    Anyhow, I love what the church’s adoption of social media says about the packaging of medieval thinking in digital form. Archaic traditionalism meets state-of-the-art uselessness. Of course, it’s probably nothing new for religious institutions to try and market their goods on the net, but I’m speaking to the never ending rise of techno-narcissism that pervades modern human culture. I know that you’re a media technology buff, and I wonder what your personal thoughts about all this nifty “innovation” are.

    Also, in my usual personal rant digressive style form, I’ve been wondering if there is any evidence that people are beginning to tire of all the magical digital media mystique – just a little bit? My guess is no, not at all; magical, delusional thinking is just too powerful for the human primate to overcome, but what I find absolutely fascinating is that very few of us are putting together that as mineral and fuel resources become more costly to extract and distribute, our scientific advancement becomes much more of a fantasy that could have been but won’t ever be. Without CHEAP energy there is no real economic growth as we presently define it. In other words, there is no genuine transition to a technology based culture that truly uses science to mitigate the highly wasteful profiteering off of your grand-children’s livelihood. We’ve pissed that window of opportunity away, according to some. Such a society is too utopian, too much like communism, or socialism, or whatever else those junk terms might mean. We’d rather have Walmart and Amazon and instant updates from the Pope instead.

    Lastly, now that the Fed has stabilized markets with a policy of infinite monthly $85-million bubble pumping injections, everything is fine. We can all sit back and wait for Apple’s *new* incrementally improved i’M-Already-Obsolete-Phone 6.

    OK, therapeutic rant over. Back to the rat wheel.

  3. Michael said

    Oh, Sam. I almost forgot. I wanted to send you this interview link. I realize it’s not related to the Pope topic, but I think you’ll really enjoy it. Maybe you’ve already seen it, actually.

    Charlie Rose is nothing more than ass-kisser to the elite, but the conversations he has with some of those scoundrels are still very interesting. This particular interview is with Jeremy Grantham, a man I do actually respect. He’s basically an investment strategist, but more to the point he’s a numbers guy. Some of the figures he offers regarding “growth” in the short, medium, and long term are astonishing. He also talks a bit about the use of technology and thus science in relation to our ability to face the future. Guys like this don’t get much airtime in mainstream media, and you’ll see why. Charlie, before this interview, barely new this guy, yet Grantham’s no slouch in his field. He’s also not a looney conspiracy wacko like Alex Jones or whomever else of the Doomer futurists you might think of – me included :>)

  4. Holly Fransua said

    It seems that the catholic church and its followers are attempting to enter a new generation but trying to keep with them there original traditions that they have used for centuries. I feel that if they elect a new pope who has more of an new generation mind that some of the traditions that they fallow may be in trouble and could cause a lot of drama for many catholic followers. Also if they kept a pope who keeps to his old fashions some may question why they haven’t adapted to the newer generation. From Turow on page 487 “It may also be useful to try to figure out how to encourage ethnic and racial groups to mix in a virtual world.” The Catholic church will need to decide when to use or not use social media to discuss about events or happenings.

    Works Cited:
    Turow, Joseph. Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. 4th Ed. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

  5. Boluwatife Olayinka said

    The catholic church is still living in the older ages, they were one of the first churches to spring up so i do not really blame them for their ignorance to the new technology. Not many people have adjusted to this new era and new age of technology to simply pass information across through media. Also the release of certain information to the media might be harmful to some catholic members because of their strict beliefs. Joseph Turow said on page 137 that the new media world is trying to get ahead but people have to make up their minds on the aspect of their surroundings they want to let out on the media.

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