Title: Dialogue Between Religion and Technology: Case Study of Fo Guang Go
Stream: Cultural Studies
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Hui-mei Hsu, Fo Guang University, Taiwan
Miao-yao Shih, Fo Guang Shan Monastery, Taiwan
The use of technology to recreate and enhance religious experiences has been increasingly present nowadays. Fo Guang Shan, as an important Buddhist organization based in Taiwan, practices Humanistic Buddhism, which emphasizes the importance of keeping up with the times. Its founder, Master Hsing Yun, is famous for his use of technology in Dharma Propagation. The purpose of this study is to investigate the case of Fo Guang Go mobile application sponsored by Fo Guang Shan Monastery and how the religious experiences are recreated and perceived. So far, Fo Guang Go has undergone several iterations. Three major questions guided the design of research, including: (1) What functionalities are included in Fo Guang Go? How do they evolve over the iterations? (2) What are the ideas and intentions of Fo Guang Go and their relation to Dharma propagation? and (3) How do users perceive Buddhism in Fo Guang Go? Qualitative interview was adopted as the major research method. Participants were recruited, including the director of the Monastery, one information officer, and frequents users. In order to gain broader understanding, video clips and presentation notes on Fo Guang Go were also collected for further analysis. The research results indicate: (1) Technology, regarded as a neutral conduit, needs a religious transformation; (2) The drive for functionality iterations evolves from gaming to religious practices; (3) Fo Guang Go is perceived as complementary when users are away from the Monastery.
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