This coming Saturday, the Episcopal Church will invest Katherine Jefferts Schori as the Presiding Bishop, the U.S. primus inter pares (“first among equals”) bishop, and the Episcopal News Service will webcast the service. So far, so good.
The possibly web-retrograde element concerns the ENS’ request that interested parties pre-register for the webcast. The preregistration supposedly will not affect whether an individual can see the investiture; it’s just to help estimate how much bandwidth ENS will need.
That sounds plausible but it misses a whole array of points. First, it shifts the locus of uncertainty away from one part of the enterprise (“How much bandwidth will we need?”) to another (“How many people will want to watch the service without pre-registering?”) in a way that doesn’t diminish the cumulative uncertainty more than a hair or two — especially since the unknown number of spontaneous Saturday-morning viewers will be choosing from a variety of bandwidth options at unpredictably varying rates. And the concern that “[we] be good stewards” of bandwidth* suggests that the event coordinators have decided to spend sizeable sums on the countless different elements of the service (including a satellite uplink), but to shave costs on the webcast.
The reasoning sounds all inside-out to me; I’ll be curious to hear how the arrangements play out Saturday. Not so curious that I’m likely to pass up “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” to check the webcast, but curious nonetheless.
*This made me want to whip up a variety of bumper stickers and buttons with slogans such as “Save Endangered Bandwidth” or “Recycle Used Bandwidth.”