Monday, July 6, 2009

Koogle and the rise of cyber segregation

Believe it or not, a search engine can also be kosher. Koogle, the world's first search engine designed for religious needs proves that there need not be a dichotomy between religion and the internet. But I'm not sure which irks me more, the fact that we need to have a religiously approved search engine or that once again Jews seem to have us Muslims beat in terms of piety (just kidding). Now that the Jews have a religiously sanctioned search engine, I'm not sure what is stopping our religiously inclined brethren from making up a Halal search engine. Let's call it Hoogle.

For the religiously inclined Koogle and Hoogle have a distinct charm. As this blog points out

..., if you are on Facebook or blogging to your heart’s desire and you see adverts with a semi-nude woman with a lollipop (the ultimate test of your faith) asking you to buy this or that, fear no more. The new and improved halal browser, equipped with halal firewall, will take care of it for you. You can look forward to a situation in which only totally halal adverts for items such as halal chicken, halal chips, halal banking and Umrah tours pop on your browser.
So why do I have a problem with this? Well, for one who determines what is halal (kosher) or not? and on what grounds? Considering that there are multiple interpretations of both the Koran and the Torah, which ones should be used to determines the Halal-ness or Kosher-ness of a website? Which sect of Islam or Judaism should determine this? Or should each sect have its own search engine? And most important of all, why should the internet have to be segregated for one religion or another?

Sure, the internet contains content that can be offensive to religious sensitivities (and non-religious ones as well; not all of us are interested in free porn or enlarging our gentalia), but we don't need to have cybereligious segregation to deal with this. The internet provides a meeting place where people from all over the world can exchange information, thoughts and ideas. By allowing users to access only religioulsy mandated websites, we are preventing to interactions between people from diverse backgrounds that may not share each others point of view. In addition to this, we are giving others (priests, rabbis and mullahs) a monopoly over determining religious morality.

Koogle and (soon to be) Hoogle pose a lot of problems for society (both real and cyber). If we are not willing to engage with each other on the internet, then how can we do it in real life? If we are not even willing to accept each other vitually, how can there be respect and understanding on a global scale?

How can we achieve peace in this world, if we don't even give it a chance in cyberspace?

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