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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Personalised evangelisation?

I show quite some YouTube clips in my lessons on world music. Yesterday I was talking about Arab music (I must confess to adherents of modern education that those lessons consist for a big part of me talking and playing musical examples) and I showed some Arab and Turkish YouTube videoclips. As you know, often those clips have either an advertisement before the clip begins or an advertisement is shown at the bottom of the screen. In the case of my Egyptian, Moroccan and Turkish clips, the same advertisement popped up all the time: our Dutch evangelical broadcast corporation called EO wanted to convince me and my students to listen to their Christian music.

I wonder how this works. Are those advertisements shown always with those specific clips, whoever is watching? Or always when I play the clips - does the EO "know" me? And how do they know me, and what do they know - do they think I might be a possible convert to their form of Christianity because they for some reason feel I am on the brink already, or do they, on the contrary, think I am such a sinner that I réally need their help? Or does the advertising only pop up when I play the clip in the electronic learning environment Blackboard - do they think that me teaching students is a path to conversion, of me and/or students? Or does the advertisement simply pops up randomly on any part of the internet?

I am too lazy to find out what is going on. Or actually: I am not bothered enough by the advertisement to make work of finding out what is going on. For my part, the EO may feel free to advertise their religion on YouTube. I don't pay for YouTube, so unwanted advertising is part of the deal, I guess; and if I am stupid enough to leave loads of peronal traces on the internet (apart from this blog, I try to prevent that), then I should not be surprised if shops (because that is what the EO is, of course) know how to find me.

And one thing certainly speaks in favour of the EO, and of many of the new evangelical branches of Christianity: they understand the power music has in daily life. If you don't know it, just check out what is going on with Hillsong. It is amazing, and it is great, even if you are not a real fan of the message.

But what I really hope is this: that the next time I want to play a Bach clip from YouTube in my lesson we get an Iranian advertisement - in Dutch - trying to direct me in the way of Shi'ite Islam. That would level things remarkably, and again would deliver a nice conversation topic in my lesson.

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