I am sitting in on the second Religion Online panel at AoIR. We have three presenters.
Maria Beatrice Bittarello is speaking on Sacred Space vs. Sacred Place. She is basically is making the argument for differnetiating that Sacred Space denotes a sense of global, generic transcent space or a an arena in which one loose the sense of self--where as sacred place she says is defined as limited localised locations which are small and communal. These distinctions may become important when seeking to categorize different virtual space and how they are formed and one interacts with them.
Tim Hutchins is presenting (or presented as due to battery issue I am finishing this post 24 hrs later) on models of Church online. He draws on the work of .... (1999) who studies relations and conflict within offline congregations and developed 4 models to look at the relatiosnhips formed online in these church groups such as i-church & st pixels that be describes as: the family, the leader, the community or the worship center/space. Facinating study.
Nadja Miscjek from University of Heidlberg is doing work in the western esoteric tradition (i.e. new age religions) and how those who connect themselves to this tradition use the internet to present a distinctive religious identity. She spoke specifically about new ager practioners web page profile as a space to present their spiritual journeys.
So a lot of diversity of topics being covered at Aoir and I am glad I am no longer the lone voice of calling for attention to be paid to the online practice of religion and its potential offline implications.