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Surf Your Values
Interview with Daniel J. Lohrmann
Becky Garrison
Monday, March 21, 2011

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Daniel J. Lohrmann, author of Virtual Integrity, is an award-winning computer expert. As Michigan's chief technology officer, he directs over 750 technical staff in the State of Michigan's Infrastructure Services Administration. Becky Garrison conducted this interview with Lohrmann.

What does it mean to surf one's values?

Surfing your values means connecting your offline values with your online world. It starts with a good understanding of the risks you face every time you enter cyberspace. Our integrity is being attacked every day, and the Internet is now at the frontline of that battle. It also means living out the implications of your faith when you connect.

I know people who are afraid to use the Internet today because of the temptations they face and their inability to block content that violates their convictions. As Christians, we have an opportunity to influence how the Internet evolves in the future. Many technology companies like Microsoft are interested in providing easier ways to surf your values in cyberspace. They rightly view online trust to include much more than just security and privacy.

How do you see the concept of online trust developing?

As we move forward over the next decade, I would rather have a few trusted Internet partners hold my data than hundreds of smaller online retailers who can't properly secure my data in cyberspace. Think of these data brokers as similar to banks that currently hold our financial data, but these companies will hold our detailed "values" profiles. This approach can enable online experiences to revolve around our beliefs, as well as likes and dislikes. But we will control the settings. This information will be vital to provide characteristics for coming avatars (online representations of us). While this may sound like "Big Brother" to some, I believe it can enable Christians to maintain a more wholesome experience in cyberspace. Rather than filtering as we do today, websites will deliver the content that we value—personalized to our beliefs.

What suggestions do you offer to those Christians who find themselves getting caught up in blog battles while defending their religious beliefs?

First and foremost, be humble. Psalm 41:12 says: "… In my integrity you uphold me …" Spurgeon's commentary points out that God's power and strength enable our integrity and every good gift. We should praise God that he restrains each of us from gross sin. When others sin, they show us what we would do but for his grace. Remember that most of the arguments floating around cyberspace have been around for hundreds or even thousands of years, so you probably won't be the one to end various controversies. Ask yourself if you should even be in these conversations during work. Know what is appropriate for various situations.

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