I’ve been watching the new pope being sworn in (does a pope get sworn in?) and all of the tradition and the pomp & circumstance which surrounds the occasion. Secrecy and intrigue are clearly paramount in this process, apparently the Sistene Chapel is swept on a daily basis to ensure no listening devices have been planted by interested parties. And Cardinals are threatened with ex-communication if they attempt to make contact with the outside world. The intrigue continues between the appearance of the plume of white smoke and the eventual appearance of the new pontiff, with the BBC commentators speculating enthusiastically and with growing anticipation. One of them made a comment about how oftentimes during momentous worldwide events there are twitter feeds from first hand witnesses, but of course this could never be the case in this process and interested parties just had to wait and see. Without having a view of whether this was a ‘good thing’ or a ‘bad thing’ I thought it was an ‘interesting thing’. Here is something that will affect millions of peoples’ lives; in a connected world (at least in the so-called ‘developed’ world); where public and private are arguably no longer separate notions; but yet a group of men in a church can still make an entirely secret decision which holds the world’s attention. And most interestingly to me was the fact that there was a swirling mass of multimedia opinion/speculation/excitement/disdain, and more, dancing around the process but not being allowed to touch it. Perhaps there are just some ‘places’ where the walls are too thick.
(The picture attached to this post is a world map of twitter trends taken about an hour or so after the event. It’s perhaps not surprising that most of the trends in the roman alphabet have some connection to the pope. Although I was rather taken with the trend of ‘shed’ in Australia!)