1. The philosophy of ContactGPS

A. The worlds of speech

The ContactGPS locates your «world of speech» based on where you mostly stand.

What does it mean?

Schemes of thought

A «world of speech» implies schemes of thought, representations of reality (worlds) that can be put into words, that can be expressed at the heart of interpersonal and collective relationships. The schemes organise and structure the way we experience the social, the natural and the spiritual. They allow us to relate through communication, with ourselves and others, and with the invisible third party (God).

The channel : the word

Communication comes through the word. It is the channel that provide to the schemes their potential for a relationship, for interpersonal and collective interaction. This passage through the word is one of the origins of the diversity of schemes. The word is always directed. It seeks to come into contact with others who will validate and challenge at the same time the pertinence of the scheme. So, the word become the interpretation and transmission to others of a scheme, and that’s where their original diversity is grounded.

The stake : contact

The ContactGPS is situated at the intersection of schemes and words. There where words appear as a contextual expression, or become a relationship reprising a scheme; there there they enable a contact (action-reaction-retroaction). This is why a ContactGPS doesn't place itself in the order of the true/false, but in the order of the relational, of words that connect, that favour contact (hence the name of ContactGPS), mutual understanding. In the end, it actualises not just the contents (ideological or religious) you may adhere to, but also the forms of interaction, of exchange, of militancy, of adherence, such as the values, the symbols that you favour in a given media context. 


As an example, one of the most symbolic studies of schemes that constitute «worlds of speech» is that of French anthropologist Philippe Descola. In his reference study, «Beyond nature and culture» (University Chicago Press, 2013), he sought to discover, in human history, the different visible forms of links between nature and culture. He categorised four: totems, analogism, animism and naturalism. These are a number of «worlds of speech» he identified.

In the area of theology, a ContactGPS team attempted a similar project. It developed a GPS (demo version) that analyses each of the four gospels as a specific «world of speech». The project was awarded a prize.  

Questions that situate

The ContactGPS works by asking questions that entice the person who answers them to express themselves in words surrounding a theme linked to their social, natural or spiritual experiences. To bring out the mental schemes as words, the questions need to be discriminatory and delimitate real choices in communication that are inscribed into a precise context. The more the answers and questions refer to this context of words in a given situation, the more the results of a ContactGPS are likely to be pertinent.


B. The two axes of differentiation

Text to come


2. Our main references

A melting pot : journalism

 The ContactGPS was birthed from the heart of the journalistic practice of columnist-commentator-  presenter working for a public service media organisation (Radio Télévision Suisse). In order to do a  job correctly, a journalist needs to evaluate the diversity of opinions, but also, and in a much deeper way, situate where each protagonist is coming from. To carry out this work, the mapping of the «worlds of speech» has turned out to be a very useful tool. A GPS map is a means of welcoming diversity in a positive and legitimate way, but also of seeking out the logic that makes up its structure. By distinguishing the discriminatory axes surrounding a theme, the journalist can take some distance, allowing him/her to ask the right questions that will extract background choices, provide different ways of interpreting et communicate an experience of reality.

A domain: communication

The development of the ContactGPS can be written naturally as an action-reflection at the heart of communication, a «total human act» as per the famous expression by Michel Serres. The approach isn’t intended to be totalising, and certainly not totalitarian. «The totality of communication does not in any way signify that it qualifies and determines in itself all social acts and human experiences, but that it is indispensable to the totalisation of human existence» (M. Serres, L’interférence, Paris, Editions de Minuit, 1972, p.138). The explosion of communication that marks the birth of the 21st century proves, if still necessary, the pertinence of the views of a philosopher. Nowadays, the sciences of IT and communication take up a significant place in the world of knowledge.  

A focus: speech

In his book «Critique de la communication», Lucien Sfez remarks that «communication is never spoken of so much other than in a society that is no longer able to communicate with itself, where its cohesion is contested and values are disintegrating, and where overly worn-out symbols are no longer able to bring unity… It’s in this cavity dug out by their failure that communication is birthed» (p.16-17). Our starting point and anchor is not communication, but rather speech, and more precisely, the man of speech. It is also the Word pronounced by man that comes from Another than himself, a Word that Jacques Ellul, a great thinker on technology and the alienation of society, predicted as a form of humiliation. In examining theological sources, we aim to hopefully dispel all or part of this prediction and other pessimistic diagnoses.

A discipline: practical theology

The generation of theologians who welcome the development of mass media has considered decrypting the risks and possibilities for the transmission of faith. Their work has become a form of training. In French-speaking Europe, Pierre Babin is a noted person on the catholic side and Jean-Marc Chappuis for the protestant side, with his famous fiction: "Ecclesiastic park".

Today’s urgency : creativ software

For the practical theology, there is an urgency. It is to develop software, the latest means, to create «digital» relationships, all the while articulating them with the other cultures that continue to support us and that precede current globalisation via the screen. As for the way of thought that goes with it, the idea is to seek out a study angle for the software that will include the anthropological, theological and spiritual questions, placed up against the digitalisation of this world for man (ubiquity, addictions…), society and the transmission of values and beliefs.

 An inspiration: mediaspheres

The works in mediology initiated by Régis Debray take into account new media from an angle that provides a new space for mediations of speech. His three different mediaspheres (logosphere, graphosphere and videosphere) closely ressemble our «worlds of speech». These spheres invite a systemic approach. The philosopher mainly revolve around vision, linked with his catholique culture and anthropology. For our part, our powers of analysis are grounded in orality.  We consider orality as a sustainable means of transmission, but mutating also in function of new media. This is the pathway of study and thought we follow in order to situate the importance of this software and its programming within a historical perspective.

A solid reference: orality

To help us consider orality, there have been many works, as much on orality itself as on the connections between orality and scripture. For example, the works of linguist W. J. Ong, or anthropologists Jack Goody and Jean Bottéro, or again specialists in Formgeschichte such as Werner Kelber. The latter uses as a metaphore the biosphere to describe oral tradition; and this resonates with our concept of a «world of speech».  


A vision: intercultural theology

Finally, another vein, theological and spiritual, that we attach ourselves to, one that analyses Christian tradition as differentiating procedures of transmission based on an oral and narrative dynamic. For example, the works of W. Hollenweger that have enriched and widened our thoughts on orality in Christianity, as we acknowledge its intercultural reach. His works also put orality into a pneumatological or spiritual perspective (Interkulturelle Theologie). The various «worlds of speech» the ContactGPS is attempting to identify are in effect a tool for examining cultural differences and opening up to the Breath that blows through them and connects them.






Work in progress... 

Tradition as an ORAL SYSTEM of transmission                                                                                         

Orality as

a system of transmission


Channel of a total system

always includes the whole system - everything handed down in a gene[i]


Digital processes

expresses distinctions as specified by the author[iii]


Channels of logical networks

allow themselves to be observed by those who are not [ii]  


Analogue processes

grasps the communication, becomes the context [iv]

Mediatised orality

1870 -> ...

radio broadcasting



Creating an algorithm (artificial intelligence)



Data (big data)



Consulting information



The human "modem": from numeric to analogue

Secondary orality





Theses, caricatures...




Books - The Renaissance[v]

Calvin: The Institutes



The writings that open debate




Translation of the Bible (Luther)

=> vector of language

Mixed orality

600-1500 parchment



The scribes

The Law and the prophets



Universities[vi] - schools

The Canon



The corpora, monks

4 Gospels



The commentary

Saint Paul

Primary orality

3600 BC -> 600 papyrus



Existing in relation

God created by His Word



Relating to a public

Moses' staff





The Tables of the Law



Reducing the signs to  increase meaning


The choices of communication

(axes of the ContactGPS)


Transmitting a maximum of information          

(qualitative space)


The most important is what will remain tomorrow.

(NARRATIVE timing)


The most important is to reach the greatest audience 

(quantitative space)


The most important is what I can communicate now



[i]  "everything handed down..." through a channel that excludes nobody - All the genetic heritage is handed down in one cell

[ii] "can be observed from the outside and cannot be driven from the inside by the speaker - no motivation (a channel inside the digital system)

- an oral network (synodal) allows itself to be observed by those who are not of it. 

[iii]  The things that compel us and are transmitted are distinctions defined by the speaker. 

[iv] Tradition is a context, it is not an immunity against the attacks of time. Its origins form the context of the discussion (not the words). 

[v] The apparition of new modes of spreading information, the scientific reading of fundamental writings, once again honouring antique culture (literature, arts, techniques), the renewal of commercial exchanges, the changes in the representation of the world (The Renaissance according to R. Reymond, Wikipedia article on The Renaissance). 

[vi] Theodosius II and his extended family are at the basis of the creation of the first university, the university of Constantinople in 425 (Article on Universities, Wikipedia).  


3. A brief history

ContactGPS is based on an original idea by Michel Kocher a Protestant theologian and journalist working for the Swiss public radio and television network (RTS) in his role as director of the Protestant media agency, Médias-pro, partner of the RTS. A former assistant to Professor Jean-Marc Chappuis, Kocher studied with Walter Hollenweger in Birmingham, UK. He has a Masters degree in theology from the University of Geneva and a diploma in applied studies in Practical Theology. He has done lengthy research in communication techniques, specialising in the aspect of tradition as a fundamental oral  mode of transmission

Between 2008 and 2015, the computer versions of the software and the site were handled by Jean-Christophe Emery, Protestant theologian, qualified journalist and former head of the Protestant Radio Service (RTS) and IT administrator for Medias-pro; currently director of "Cèdres Formation". He is also the author of one of the most-used GPS, the "Projet Khi". 

The initial web versions of "Forms of Celebration" and "The Calvin Neuron Factor" were conceived by Daniel Barbezat, head of IT development of FileMaker Pro for Medias-pro. Today FileMaker is no longer being used as the development software. 

Thanks to a generous donator, since 2012, ContactGPS has been developed using PHP/MySQL (web version) and iOS/Android (Apps) by Yves Bresson, IT specialist and partner with Medias-pro. All versions are now developped on the new PHP/MySQL platform.