April 2002 by Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Welcome to this month’s journey through the Web. But first a few reminders:
1. When you click on the links supplied (words underlined in a contrasting color) you’ll be taken outside the EEWC site. To return, you can always click on the back button on the toolbar. (If you click on the links in some of the external sites, you’ll sometimes find they open a new window layered on top of the site, and the back button won’t take you back to the site you just left. In such cases, try clicking on the X in the upper right corner of the new window to close it.)
2. EEWC cannot be responsible for the content of these external sites. They’re simply places that I think you’ll be interested in visiting, but they’re outside EEWC’s control. So keep in mind that a site’s inclusion in this column (or “Weblog”) doesn’t mean that EEWC necessarily endorses the material contained there.
3. If this is your first visit to “Web Explorations for Christian Feminists,” you might want to click on the “previous issues” link (at the top of this page on the right side) and read the introductory material and tips supplied with earlier columns.
Informative sites about using the Internet: The problem of cybersquatting
Each month, in talking about “The World Wide Web and You,” I like to introduce some general sites containing information related to the Internet — useful materials outside our main topics in Parts 2, 3, and 4 below.
This month, I thought I’d include some links that explain an unfortunate situation that sometimes occurs in cyberspace–the loss of ownership of a domain name and the problem of “cybersquatting.”
Perhaps you can identify with this scenario: You click on a link and expect in good faith to go directly to the site of a particular organization or informational Web page. Instead you’re whisked to some site you didn’t want at all — perhaps it’s even a site that is totally offensive. Puzzled, you check the URL (Uniform Resource Locator), the long string of letters and numbers that constitute the Web address of the site. EEWC’s URL, for example is http://www.eewc.com.
Once you see that you have keyed in or clicked on the correct address of the website you wanted to access, you might wonder if the misdirection to another site was the work of hackers. Perhaps, but much more likely is the possibility that some website owner (whether an organization or individual) has failed to renew the site’s domain name (which has to be officially registered and paid for, usually on a yearly basis). As a result of the nonrenewal, another owner has purchased the domain name and taken over the site. It’s like failing to renew a post office box number and having another organization rent that mailbox, or like having your phone number become the number of someone else when you moved away. Mail or calls directed to you at your former address or phone number then may reach someone else.
Domain name speculators have found that they can make a lot of money by purchasing the domain names of well-known companies, celebrities, brand names, places, events, and generic terms and then reselling them at a high profit to parties with a special interest in those names.
The deliberate infringement of a trademark in registering a variation of a brand name to make money from the resale of that domain name to the owners of the brand name is called cybersquatting and it is illegal. Famous cybersquatting lawsuits include Time Warner’s suit against the usurping of 107 domain names referring to Harry Potter, and suits involving domain names for Julia Roberts and Madonna. A variation on cybersquatting has been dubbed “Typosquatting,” in which speculators buy domain names with misspellings of famous people or brands.
One of the most troublesome variations that has recently emerged has been given the name “porn-napping.” It works this way: A good name of an organization is “kidnapped” when the organization accidentally lets its domain name registration expire. The domain name is then purchased for redirection to a pornographic site before the organization may even realize that the time for renewal has passed. A surprisingly large number of well-known organizations have experienced the embarrassment of having their Web address co-opted by pornographic, gambling, or other types of sites, keeping seekers from finding the organization they intended to access.
Here are a couple of examples of the problem: A Lutheran women’s organization changed its name and Web address, only to find that its older name (to which a church still posted links) had been purchased by an “adults only” site offering to sell it back — but for no offer less than $500. And the Diocese of Brooklyn similarly found last December that its expired Web address had become a gateway to pornography. When members of the Diocese tried to buy it back, they were told it would cost $1,500!
The moral of all this? Nonprofit organizations –or anyone — with a website should be very careful not to let a domain name expire; and in the event of an organizational name change or move to a different web address for whatever reason, retain the original name for a page redirecting viewers to the new site. That way, seekers can find you wherever you are, and they won’t be taken to where you wouldn’t want them to go.
When Jenee Woodward graduated from Saint Paul School of Theology (United Methodist) in Kansas City, she planned to pursue further education in Biblical studies, Early Christianity, and Textual Criticism in preparation for an academic career. But her plans changed when her son was diagnosed with severe autism while just a toddler. That was seven years ago and much of her time, energy, and resources have gone into his care since then. Instead of her original plan for an academic career, Jenee has found a ministry over the World Wide Web by devoting from 40 to 60 hours weekly providing resources for Bible study and worship. Her website is called, “The Text This Week,” and it provides virtually endless resources on Bible study and liturgy, based on the three-year cycle of the Revised Common Liturgy. In addition to these regularly updated resources, she provides a Scripture index; a “movie concordance,” where you can find films related to a large array of biblical and theological themes; and an “art concordance,” through which you can find famous works of art from all over the world depicting biblical topics. The menu for these is at the top of “The Text This Week” web page for easy access with just a click. (Incidentally, since this site directs the viewer to thousands of outside links, Jenee Woodward has included a brief notice that on rare occasions, readers have reported that a listed link redirects viewers to an offensive site. She therefore requests that anyone who finds such a link notify her. She tries to keep the links up to date, but she sometimes runs into the same problem discussed in Part One above — a problem that we should all understand a bit better now.)
Another excellent resource comes from the Ohio Conference, United Church of Christ, which has put together some guidelines for inclusive language that other churches may wish to consider as well.
And here are some “Ideas for Planning Feminist Worship” from Rev. Judy Redman, a campus minister of the Uniting Church, who serves at the University of New England in New South Wales, Australia.
For this month’s theme, I thought we might consider names – names for God, names for people, and decisions about whether or not to change names as new families are formed.
Names for God
Have you ever wondered why names are given such significance in Scriptures? Why the Jewish people treat God’s name with such reverence, including writing “G-D” rather than GOD? Have you wondered about the Hebrew letters YHVH? If so, you’ll want to check out “The Name of God,” which is part of a marvelously informative website called “Judaism 101,” and is filled with answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about almost anything you’ve wondered about Judaism. (Incidentally, in keeping with the emphasis on reverence for the name of God, the page about God’s name begins with these words: “Please note: This page contains the Name of God. If you print it out, please treat it with appropriate respect.” Once God’s name is written, it is not to be erased or defaced in any way.
Here’s another article on the Names of God in the Bible, this one from the Biblical Studies Foundation
As Christian feminists, we are especially interested in inclusive imagery for God. Be sure to click on “Basic Linguistic Options: God, Women, Equivalence,” by Elizabeth A. Johnson, a reprint from her 1997 book She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse.
Have you ever wondered why some Christian feminists prefer to spell “God” as “Godde”? Here is Katy Scott’s explanation for using “Godde.”
Names for people and the meanings behind them
We have already seen the importance of names for God in Judaism. Names for people in Judaism also have great significance. You might want to explore these meanings of Jewish names, both Hebrew and modern Israeli.
You’ve probably wondered about your own name, too. If you’d like to check out its meaning, click on “Behind the Name: The Etymology and History of First Names.”
Decisions about changing or not changing surnames at marriage
The question of surnames often means agonizing decisions for a couple. The best discussion I’ve seen on all the options and issues surrounding decisions about name changes at marriage, family names for children, and so on can be found under the title “The Name Change Game.”
Two other good sites on the topic are these: “General Information about Marriage Name Changes” from Brideserver and The Lucy Stone League, which promotes name change freedom for women and men and “equality of patrilineal/matrilineal name distribution for children.”
For couples in gay and lesbian marriages, information on options for name change decisions can be found at NOLO: Law for All’s Legal Guide for Lesbian and Gay Couples, and at FindLaw’s Legal Commentary. See also an American Civil Liberty’s news item that updates some of the case information in the Findlaw’s Legal Commentary article just cited.
A number of websites directly address issues of concern to women today. Here are some of them:
(Incidentally, Women’s Enews recently published a condensed version of our own Anne Eggebroten’s article on the Andrea Yates tragedy and referred readers to EEWC’s original publication of “A Biblical Feminist Looks at the Andrea Yates Tragedy.”)
And finally, here are three interactive sites that provide information on past and present events through engaging viewers in active participation:
First, here’s an interactive history of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict from the United Kingdom’s Guardian Unlimited. It provides background information that aids our understanding of the current situation in the Middle East. Just click on “next”(or on arrows) to move forward or backward, like turning pages.
And speaking of history, here’s a feature from National Geographic that lets the viewer have a virtual experience of the Underground Railroad, with several places provided in the narrative which permit viewers to decide to go in one of two directions — and what is likely to happen in either case.
Finally, here’s a site that helps us experience some of the frustration and limited choices of homeless people. Called “Hobson’s Choice: the Game You Just Can’t Leave,” this feature lets you click on numerous choices and tells what is likely to happen –or not happen–when you make a particular choice. It won’t take long before you’ll feel the anxiety and frustration that many homeless people live with daily.
That brings us to the end of this month’s column. I’ll be back again in May with more Web Explorations.
Your Web Explorations tour guide,
Letha Dawson Scanzoni
© 2002 Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus