Thursday, December 03, 2015

Buy buy, BeliefNet

The students in Theorizing Religion have spent this week presenting on an "internet source" about religion. Many focused on BeliefNet. The two most illuminating presentations offered structural analyses. One noticed that the bottom of the webpage is information until the heading Advertise with us, which includes various breakdowns of the site's users (apparently unchanged except in layout since 2009). The student surmised that the site is structured the way it is - with lots of little boxes requiring enouraging lots of clicks - in order to harvest this sort of information about users. As you're using the site exploring sources of information it is gathering information about you for marketers.By the way: Belienfet only makes people feel good, but also encourages a sense of self that allows one to realize their grateest potential in the hard-to-find "About Us" section at the top of my post suggests nobody checks up on this page. A different kind of glitch was the subject of the other student's presentation. He noticed that the "Christian Quote of the Day" on Monday was in fact the same as the Buddhist one, while the "Buddhist Prayer" was, like the Christian one, from the Book of Common Prayer. An ingenious analysis of the structure of BeliefNet's other daily sites and sources allowed him to conclude that it treats Buddhism and Christianity as more like each other than the other traditions, because both are constructed as being after the same spiritual goal.

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