October 29, 2006

BYU TV Is Great Web Video Resource

I don't talk much about religion on the blog, but for introductory purposes, I'm LDS (Mormon), having been born into the church, raised in the church, and an active participant for the better part of my life, with a 4-year self-imposed sabbatical that overlapped my college years being the only exception. While I'm a typical Mormon in some ways, in that I don't drink, use drugs, don't swear often (that I know of), and attend services on Sunday, I'm also somewhat atypical in the way I vote, in that I don't exactly like Utah in any way, I didn't serve a full-time mission, and I don't have kids.

The church has been very impressive in the way that they have utilized new technology and especially the Internet. Unlike many churches, who preach from their meetinghouses and limit their sharing of the gospel with their attending members, the LDS church has a very-thorough Web site, targeting both members and non-members, with a fully searchable Gospel Library, including the scriptures (Bible and Book of Mormon), teaching guides and archived church magazines. While some non-LDS call the church a cult, the religion is in fact, the complete opposite, not hiding secrets within, but promoting openness and welcoming questions.

Beyond the centerpiece LDS.org Web site, the church operates sites for genealogy at www.familysearch.org, and a site for more curious visitors, at www.mormon.org. LDS.org also offers daily e-mails about church members in the news and streams the church's twice-annual general conference talks over the Web in a wide variety of languages. Additionally, the church-affiliated university system, BYU (Brigham Young University) also has adapted the Web, using some of the best streaming video technology I've ever encountered, on the university's BYU TV site, at www.byu.tv.

While for most, the world of online video is one full of stuttering stop-start performance, and inconsistent buffering, or small video windows, BYU TV offers visitors a rich, fast, streaming video experience for any operating system or browser, and lets people select not just from what's on the channel right then, but from a menu of the day's offerings, in addition to special features, including the aforementioned General Conference talks, where the church's leaders, including the prophet and apostles talk to its members. Just this morning, when we were looking at BYU TV, we were entertained to see a "classic" BYU football game against Oklahoma, or we could queue up aerobics videos, scrapbooking how-tos and gardening tips.

While the pedestrian content might not wow you, and trust me, I'm not bowled over by instructional sewing videos and arts and crafts, I was very impressed with the technology, and pleased to see the church and its affiliated university continuing to be on the cutting edge, taking advantage of what the Web has to offer. In an increasingly skeptical world, where many are either turning away from religion, or relying on religion as the basis to blame others or incite hatred, it's good to see a calm, consistent voice available to anybody at any time - and with good quality too.

Listening to ''Surrender'', by Depeche Mode (Play Count: 10)

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