Several Weeks ago I finished reading a preview copy of The Next Story by Tim Challies. I have been slack in posting a review of this excellent book. If you are interested in how a Christian worldview sees the current tsunami-like influx of media technology, this is a book to read.
What is wonderful about the book is that it won’t tell you what to think about technology, but it strives to help with how to think, theologically, philosophically, and technologically, about different facets of the information tidal wave.
Seeking to help us gain a better understanding of the nature of our current technological scene, Tim gives a brief overview history of the progression of technology, offering good insights such as the fact that prior to the nationwide expansion of the railroad, no information in the world travelled faster than a horse. (Though, I’d question the outcome of a race between a horse and carrier pigeon perhaps?). This was followed shortly on by the telegraph, the telephone, the radio, the television, and the Internet. In short, in a short 150 years, the entire nature of information flow has been fundamentally altered.
We are not dealing simply with a new tool we need to know how to master, we are dealing with a new reality, requiring new skills, new disciplines, new discernment, and fresh thought. Ironically, if we are to succeed, we must implement these new modes of operation using ancient wisdom. Tim helps bring this to bear.
He then goes on with some practical implications of this new reality, again not giving us methods and how-to’s, or what-to-think’s but rather the more helpful how-to-think-about’s. One of my favorite concepts he unpacks is the idea of “mediacy”. Most of our communication no longer happens face-to-face, but through a medium (e-mail, text, phone or voice chat, video chat, etc).
This medium, by definition acts as a “mediator” (something that stands between), and it has effects on the communication. As I learned in my 101 speech class in college, the medium literally distorts the message, and so requires effort on the part of the communicator and receiver in order to understand properly. Understanding how various media impact your communication will help you apply the correct effort.
This book is worth a read.