As the deadline for my April piece gets ever nearer (by the hour) here's last month's effort:
This month I don’t advocate that you look at all my reviewed sites for advice. I want to show you how difficult the world of the internet can be if we do not exercise any discernment. Maybe you knew.
I was preparing an Alpha presentation on guidance the other day you see and decided to surf. What would happen if I was an innocent punter with no idea how to assess or prioritise the information I was being given? Much of the answer depends on the words or combination of words you use for your enquiry. If you insert the search text into Google using double quotes, e.g. “spiritual guidance” the engine will only throw up sites which include that exact combination of words in that order. So obviously the more words you use the more you restrict the results to exactly what you need.
By and large it was the world of the alternative to which “spiritual guidance” pointed me. The wonderfully named Perry Rabbitts, at his spiritualgarden site, wanted me to get in touch with my natural inner spirit through exercise – he claims to be a clairvoyant. Next stop Sahar Huneidi’s Spiritual DIY at psychicsahar. She describes herself as ‘...a professional intuitive, and a monthly Spiritual Life Coach columnist for Prediction, the original body mind spirit magazine in the UK; Intuitive Horoscope columnist for Sharq Magazine, and the editor and publisher of PS-Magazine.com.’ She is now so busy she has a three month waiting time. Perhaps she should have seen that coming. Next I found myself at the Christian Muslim Forum which appears a useful organisation and has a bona fide two day conference in Leeds at the end of April to promote. Looks good.
I tried, “What should I do with my life?” Four of the top five results were for a book of that exact title by Po Bronson. Buy it from Amazon. The other top five entry was an article in Realworld magazine about looking for your first job after graduation.
“God guide me” accessed a dating site for Single Muslims. “What should I do?” is a rather interesting medical site dedicated to self-care. “Help with guidance” will send you spiralling into a world of social response, data collection and life coaching. In this latter category I found Evoke change, a nicely designed site that seems interesting. I ended up at Talent Quest which will help me audition for almost-anythingidol and give me career advice should I ever wish to write for a living. Stop sniggering.
“What’s next?” was perhaps the most interesting port of call. Here I found, and spent time with, Roo Reynolds on his eponymous web-site. He describes himself as a ‘...Metaverse Evangelist based at IBM’s Hursley Park laboratory in the UK. He is part of a team which facilitates the use of Virtual Worlds within IBM. All of this work is made all the more enjoyable thanks to a large world-wide community who are learning to collaborate and get things done in totally new ways. He was previously an Emerging Technologies Specialist in which his role included attempting to keep on the early-adopter curve.’ Got that? He seems fascinated by laptop stickers.
“What’s next” also deposited me at a number of sites which had tried to imagine the future. These sites are always far more fun to visit when the future is here. Interesting articles at Prospect Magazine (politics of the future), Time (2008), Gamesindustry (games consoles), New Scientist (coffee) and the Telegraph’s James May (cars).
“How does God guide?” was the search which squared the circle. Nicky Gumbel of Alpha fame has, as you might be aware, written a book of the same title. My search led me to Christianbits who will sell you it.
The most depressing result was, ‘ Your search - "Life guidance and help" - did not match any documents.’ Ah well. Perhaps I shouldn’t have restricted my search to UK sites. Then again if there’s this much crankiness in the UK what does the whole world hold for me? Another time maybe.
Discernment is described in the Bible as a gift. We need it. Today we have access to almost all the world’s information at the touch of a button but very few tools to help us discern which of it is right, wise, trustworthy and useful. Engage brains for safe surfing brothers and sisters.
Previous columns archived at Mustard Seed Shavings as usual. Drop in and tell me what you reckon.