Members of the LDS Church soon will be able to get a copy of their patriarchal blessing online, as well as a chance to contribute their technological expertise to a new LDS wiki, thanks to a Web initiative announced Tuesday on www.lds.org.
LDS Tech, as the project has been named, is designed to give church members worldwide "a glimpse" into "the type of technical work we do ... and how you can get involved," according to the home page, located at tech.lds.org.
One of the features that may be of most interest to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is their ability (in the near future) to view and print a digitized copy of a patriarchal blessing either their own or those of their spouse, direct-line descendants and deceased direct-line ancestors.
A link on the Web site describes the new offering, noting the first phase of the project "was to scan all of the blessings into digital form and add meta tags. To date, 1.7 million blessings have been scanned out of an estimated 3.6 million."
The project's second phase is a new Web application that finds the digital blessing being sought.
At present, a request can be
made to personnel in the Church History Department, whose employees have access to the digital archive. They can then call up the blessing electronically, get the required information from the person requesting a copy and print the blessing.
In the near future, however, "there are plans to tie this project into LDS.org, allowing members to log in to LDS.org, find blessings that they have access to and view or print them. This will be faster and more convenient than the current process," the announcement said.
Links are provided on the Web site for more specific information about how to make a request.
Latter-day Saints receive a patriarchal blessing from a patriarch, a designated priesthood holder in their geographic area who has been asked or "called" by church leaders to provide these specific types of blessings. Each is believed to be a declaration of God's promises, warnings and guidance for that specific individual, and the pronouncements are highly individual.
Members receive such a blessing at their own request, and a transcript of the blessing is provided to each recipient. Latter-day Saints are urged to ponder the blessing as a means of help and guidance throughout life.
By April, stake patriarchs will be able to digitally submit a copy of each blessing they give, and stake presidents will have the ability to log in and view the activities within their stake, according to the announcement.
Also announced is a new LDS "wiki" a collection of Web pages that allows users to add, edit or change content following a specific set of guidelines (one widely known wiki is Wikipedia). Members who want to use their technical expertise to help develop the church's wiki which will contain articles on a variety of topics are encouraged to participate.
Those who are interested in creating or expanding an article they believe would be useful as part of a specific project on the wiki are also encouraged to do so, and users can add attachments, links, sample documents, spreadsheets or templates that will "add breadth and depth to the articles," the announcement said.
The site also details how the use of technology is being expanded for church members who can't personally attend LDS general conference twice annually in Salt Lake City.
A summary of technology use during the last conference earlier this month shows there were 6,838 satellite broadcasts, covering 85 percent of the earth's land mass and enabling approximately 87 percent of church members to participate in 60 languages, provided in real time.
It also lists the number of computer users receiving the broadcasts live via the Web and the percentage change since April 2008:
• Average number of audio and video streams (Windows Media Player and Move Player) per session: 93,133 an increase of 132 percent.
• Average number of audio streams per session: 21,065 an increase of 89 percent.• Average number of video streams per session: 72,068 increase of 148 percent.