digital-buddha

HOW DOES DIGITAL MEDIA AFFECT BUDDHISM?

A new book called Buddhism, the Internet and Digital Media: The Pixel in the Lotus, is now available for purchase. Composed by 10 different contributors and 2 editors, this book is a compilation of case studies, ethnographic research, content analysis, and interviews with Buddhism practitioners and online communities. Through this information and research, we can analyze the way digital media impacts Buddhism. The authors question how the internet can also affect identity, authority and community, as well as the impact this could have on Buddhism’s development, proliferation and perception with a digital environment.

The first in the new Routledge Studies in Religion and Digital Culture series, it points out that Buddhism has been uniquely affected by this new digital era. With the integration of digital media and Buddhism practices, some have begun to question if Buddhism truly fits well with the Internet, and other media.

The editors, Gregory Price Grieve, an Associate Professor in Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and Daniel Veidlinger, Associate Professor in Religious Studies at California State University-Chico, put together this incredibly well-researched compilation.

According to Vedlinger, the volume is meant to “assess how digital media affects Buddhism.” He hopes it will also help understand the newer forms of practice and community that have begun developing. The contributors to the book noted that “digital and online media have taken the place of oral communication and manuscripts as new conduits for religion.” They made comparisons between a wide variety of disciplines, include sociology, communications, and Buddhist studies, to look at historical, methodological and sociological approaches. Overall, they argue that “the digital mediation of Buddhism has been an important and well suited transition that expresses much of this religion’s ethos.”

Buddhism has always spoken of notions such as the ideology of constant change. You see the all the time in the digital world. Veidlinger points out that “rules are being reconfigured for online virtual worlds and mobile apps, and communities that are spread out across the globe communicate in new and unprecedented ways.”

Grieve noted, “For historical and conceptual reasons, Buddhism meshes well with digital media’s affordance. In fact, they have shared an intimate link from the very beginning.”

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