Phone Apps for Text-Mobbing Speakers with Textual References at Conferences

I had the pleasure to witness (and to be honest, participate in unwittingly) a relatively-new phenomenon that is an interesting intersection of medieval thought and modern technology: Text-Mobbing.

In olden times (2-3 years ago), an audience member might have a question or helpful thought about the presenter’s claim about or interpretation of a text of St. Thomas Aquinas. But unless one had the encyclopedic knowledge of Thomas’s corpus such as Fr. Lawrence Dewan, O.P. used to demonstrate, the best you could do was make a note of your concern or suggestion, look up the reference upon returning home, and then follow up with the presenter in an e-mail.

Now, however, there are a multitude of useful apps for your phone that give you immediate access to the whole of Thomas’s texts in your hand, so that you can look up and find the relevant Question and Article on the fly. This permits you to immediately direct the speaker’s attention to the text itself in the question and answer period.

When the questions are particularly interesting and/or contentious, however, and multiple audience members have looked up the passages they deem relevant but did not get a chance to share their thoughts, then themoment the polite applause designating the end of the session has ceased, the speaker is approached by a zealous mob with texts in hand, eager to demonstrate their points.

Hence: Text-Mobbing.

The poor speaker is confronted with multiple phones bearing tiny text that they are implored to read, all at once. It is generally polite to enlarge the font of your text, and allow your target to focus his or her eyes on the phone before launching into your argument. And like any other polite conversation, the speaker should be allowed to conclude reading one text before somebody thrusts another phone before their eyes.

As for the sources of these texts, any smartphone, tablet or computer can point its browser to:

for the Corpus Thomisticum or to the Dominican House of Studies site for Thomas’s texts:

But if your internet connection is spotty or slow, there’s no substitute for having the whole text on your device; for that, I can recommend the following apps:

iPieta (iOS and Android)

Probably the best app I’ve found is iPieta, which has multiple modules that allow you to have Thomas’s Summa Theologiae (Latin and English), Catena Aurea and Compendium of Theology, along with the Fathers of the Church, a plethora of spiritual writings, prayers, daily readings, etc.

STh It (Android)

This is the Summa Theologiae from the Corpus Thomisticum, as adapted to the Android OS by by the Polish Dominican Fr Andrzej Nakonieczny. It has the advantage of retaining the indexing from the Corpus Thomisticum, as well as “+” and “-“ buttons to increase or decrease the size of the font with one click.

Microsoft Office Lens



Office Lens allows you to snap a picture of a sheet of paper and instantly turn it into a PDF with text recognition. This allows you to easily scan the useful handout of the person sitting next to you, when there are not enough copies to go around or if you just want your handouts available electronically for future reference.

The above apps are all available free, and can be immensely useful for finding relevant references during a talk or in polite conversation afterwards.