Catholic Techie Dom Bettinelli (Again)

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I think of this interview like I think of my second cup of coffee each morning. The first one is good, yes. But the second one…well, by then I’m awake for it. I’ve had a chance to really enjoy the fact that I’m drinking coffee, that I’m up for the day, that, as my father-in-law so often says, I’m above ground for another round.

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Last summer, I interviewed Dom Bettinelli for the Catholic Techie series. And then, at some point, part of the CatholicMom.com site was eaten and that interview was lost.

In a recent round of recruiting for Catholic Techies to interview, a lively conversation on Facebook made me realize that…well, this was too good not to share…again!

If you’re like me, you know Dom Bettinelli because you know (or know of) his wife, Melanie Bettinelli of the popular Wine Dark Sea. But Dom’s well worth knowing all on his own.

For one thing, there’s the writing he does at his personal blog, BettNet. And then there’s the work he does with the Archdiocese of Boston, both on the archdiocesan site and for Pilot New Media. Just as you’d expect, he’s all over social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, oh my!).

So here’s to second cups of coffee. Pour yourself one and settle in as we chat with Dom.

Tell us about yourself in five words or less.

Apple-using new media Catholic dad.

Of your pursuits, what’s your favorite?

Not sure what this means, but my favorite part of my job is going out on the bleeding edge of technology to bring people to be virtually present with whatever we’re doing, whether it’s a webinar, a Mass, a special gathering, a youth event, or what-have-you. We were among the first dioceses to do live tweeting and live photoblogging and mobile live updating. Perhaps the most extreme example was when we were able to update our social media friends from the field at World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011.

When you think of the New Evangelization from your approach as a “Catholic Techie,” what excites you? What makes you want to continue?

Our primary mission at Pilot New Media is to assist parishes and ministries to use new media tools to advance their own missions. Everyone is strapped for resources, but technology and new media tools can be resource mutlipliers.

I’m excited about the prospect of using tools like Google Hangouts as a low-threshold means to introduce people to our Catholic faith. Getting someone to give up an evening and walk in the doors of a church for a talk might be a difficult for step for some, so maybe getting them to sit down in front of their computer might be a good beginning.

If other parents of young kids are like us, there’s lots going on in our parish we’d like to do, but it always seems to be scheduled when we’re trying to get kids fed or to bed. Technology lets me participate, whether it’s in a meeting or a parish mission.

That’s what motivates me, the opportunity to help parishes and ministries remove obstacles and barriers in order to begin the encounter and build relationships with those who are seeking to rediscover their faith.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work?

What I find most rewarding is when people come up to me and say how great it was to be a part of what the Church is doing through our tweets and Facebook or Google+ updates. I often have the opportunity, as well, to encounter people who might be having a problem with some aspect of the institution of the Church and help them to get through to someone who can help them.

For example, we had someone tweet that they were having trouble getting a priest to visit an elderly relative in the hospital. They weren’t Catholics themselves and were located in California and so were frustrated at trying to get hold of a priest from the Boston area. I jumped in and offered to help, connecting them to our Health Care Ministry Office, which has responsibility for hospital chaplains, and in the end they went from frustration to a very positive experience of the Church reaching out to them. That makes it worthwhile.

In your spare time, what are we likely to find you doing? Do you have a gadget in hand or do you go native and screenless?

I’m almost never more than a few feet from one of my Apple gadgets, whether I’m using them to catch up on Twitter, read a book or magazine, or watch a show or movie. But I also spend a lot of time with our five children and my wife, Melanie, working in our struggling garden, doing yard work, going to the farmers market, or a nice walk on the beach or in some of the nearby parks and forests. Even then tech is part of the experience as we’ll check-in on Foursquare, upload photos, or write updates about the experience. We have far-flung family members and so it’s a way for them to keep up with us and what the kids are doing.

Want more Catholic Techie interviews? Here you go.

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.

Copyright 2013 Sarah Reinhard

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