The New Media Frontier
- Thursday, October 23, 2008
Because of this balance, Christian orthodoxy cannot survive without both the life of the Spirit and the Word. An overemphasis on texts and dogmas made possible by the rise of “old media” allowed the easy spread of “orthodox” teachings (at first a seeming advantage) but also made difficult any authentic community life within those teachings.
By and large, those parts of the church based on personal experience began to suffer while “preserved” things prospered.
Even the so-called individualism of the modern church is not. Tales of conversion are published and religious experiences compared. This tempts churches and individuals to aspire to a standardized “personal” relationship with Jesus Christ. The advent of mass-marketed Christian books and other preserved media limited diversity.
Christian commitments to both “live” and “preserved” culture made it hard for the church to thrive in a culture that came to be overwhelmingly centered in “preserved” discourse. People spent far more time in front of their televisions or other forms of preserved discourse than in interacting with other humans. They did not just forsake the assembling of the brethren but nearly every other assembly.
Implications as Live, or Almost Live, Discourse Is Revived
New media will rectify this old imbalance. They will empower live, or almost live, discourse. Why? New media put a premium on the reaction and creation of content and not just consumption. Due to the ease of production, they allow and even encourage conversations and not just presentations. This might seem counterintuitive since much of the media appear on screens, like much of the old media, but the ease of creating one’s own content allows for immediate reaction to anything printed on the Internet.
As a result, new media encourage “conversations,” whether on blogs or Facebook pages. If I like your web page, game, or blog, then I can recommend it quickly on my web page or blog. If I disagree with what you say, write, or produce, then I can review it quickly. After attending a local play, I am able to write a review that night that will be read by hundreds the following week. Someone who disagrees with my criticism of the play could respond just as easily. The comment sections of many blogs allow this to be done right on the original site.
These virtual conversations can lead to real conversations. People have bodies, and their physicality is an important part of who they are. As a result, the best and truest conversations will always be face-to-face. This book (an old media presentation on new media!) is the result of a group of new media writers (bloggers) who started meeting at a Godblog Convention for the past three years. These “live” meetings were invaluable, and we decided to preserve some of our conversations.
The reason for not merely preserving our thoughts in the new media (our blogs, podcasts, videos) points to the difference between old and new media. New media are vast and tend to be ephemeral. It is easy to create content, but the very ease weakens the demand for high quality, at least at this stage of the development of new media.
Books are, for the moment, more “serious” ventures. More time is spent on them since (unlike most new media) consumers will pay for the contents. As a result, there was still a role for “old media” in discussing the impact and future of “new media.”
This book has probably already stimulated questions and disagreements in the minds of the reader. He may have underlined or written passionate marginalia disagreeing or agreeing with some points we are making. This marks a limitation to old media. If this book were online, the marginalia could be read by everyone who reads the main content. The reader could immediately ask the authors questions.
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