26 August 2016

File sharing: a Swedish religion

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Worshiping at the ‘Apple Chapel’ is nothing more than a tongue-in-cheek expression for most of us, but Sweden is literally putting its faith to technology.

In 2012 the Swedish government agency Kammarkollegiet officially registered the Church of Kopimism as a religion organisation. The church professes that “information is holy and copying is a sacrament.”

“A religion is a belief system with rituals,” the Church’s website reads.The missionary kopimistsamfundet is a religious group centered in Sweden who believe that copying and the sharing of information is the best and most beautiful that is. To have your information copied is a token of appreciation, that someone think you have done something good.”

The church recognises CTRL+C and CTRL+V as sacred symbols and believes in the open distribution of knowledge to all.

According to the organisation, “information holds a value, in itself and in what it contains, and the value multiplies through copying. Therefore, copying is central for the organization and its members.” They regularly hold “Kopyactings”, religious services in which they share information with each other via copying.

Over 2002-2008, file sharing accounted for 40-60% of all bandwidth usage, according to Oberholzer-Gee and Strumpf (2009:12). It’s in our phones, on our computers, on our TV screens and filtered through our lives.

Civilization is the direct result of the human need to share. Michael Tomasello, the Max Planck Institute, claims that we exist as we do because of our tendency for “collective cognition.”

Whilst we may not have been baptised into the Church of Kopimism, by being born into this era we are born to worship a digital deity. The Swedes have embraced the worship of the exchange of information, how long will it be until the rest of the world realises that we do too?

Claire Dowler is a Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.

A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests.

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