UPDATE: 20 April
The new L’Osservatore Romano site is working better today, though it is still clunky and a bit hard to navigate.
I was able to bring up the PDF of today’s daily.
One curiosity: They fuzzed out the Vatican stemma at the top of the front page.
I presume that they don’t want people to copy it and then use it elsewhere.
NEWSFLASH to the L’OR STAFF: The horse has already left the barn.
ORIGINAL POST 19 April
My general mantra for how the Vatican uses technology has for decades been:
Yesterday’s Technology Tomorrow!
The semi-official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano has at last expanded their online presence in an effort to make more of the content of the daily and different language editions available online and also probably make some money.
For 50 Euros (roughly US$72) you can subscribe to the daily, which is in Italian, for one year.
Imagine my shock when I tried to subscribe (I would like to support their effort) and I was kicked back to a previous page, with both Firefox and Chrome. Eureka, it worked with IE, however. Be prepared for Italian language buttons (a bad piece of planning, that). Use “conferma” to go ahead. They need buttons that have English beneath the Italian on the same button.
Moreover, you should be able to view a PDF of the daily at the click of a mouse button.
I tried it and – today at least – it doesn’t work on any browser I tried, and I am both registered and logged in. The PDF seems to be broken at the time of this writing.
Sure there will be bugs.
I am reminded of the press conference for the inauguration of the new Vatican Curia office for “New Evangelization”, during which the President, Archbishop Fisichella, said they didn’t have internet access. But that isn’t a “bug. That’s poor planning that reflects a culture within the Curia and how quickly (not) they get things done.
Slowly but surely the culture of extreme caution (read: paranoia) about technology is shifting there, probably as a result of younger blood filling more and more positions. It will take a while to shift the prevailing view of how the Curia uses technology. They are not exactly leading the way, but we have seen some big moves in the last few months.
For example, around Christmas time the Vatican Radio and Vatican TV have provided the impressive live streams for which you can choose audio for your language (from Vatican Radio) just the raw audio without voice-overs. That was a HUGE step forward. Sincere kudos for that!
To be fair, they have to deal with various languages all at once. That complicates and increases the workload. Nevertheless, given the pool of really smart people they could choose to draw on, if the Catholic Church can’t do it well, then who can?
Finally, I hope that the subscription income they will gain they will be able to afford a coffee machine in the editorial offices. They need to wake up and smell the doppio ristretto there.
But that is another issue.
The site seems to have been overcome with traffic.
I hope they are ready for DOS attacks.