Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I've tried writing this post a number of times. It's hard. I can't figure out how to accurately compress the information that I want to express. So all I'm going to do is provide my notes. I could probably make a blog post out of each of these points. (Did I mention that I'm wordy?)

What's prompting this post is blog written by James Emery White. This was written a couple of months ago. But I'm reminded of it because of a different blog talking about Twitter, that a friend shared with me. Both of these blogs talk about how our culture is becoming more and more narcissistic, either as a result of, or aided by tools like Twitter, facebook, MySpace, iPod, YouTube, etc. I'm skeptical, and I think that it simply may be a misunderstanding of what these tools can do and what they represent.

Anyway here are my notes:
  1. The Wisdom of Crowds: a small amount of participation by many people can produce something bigger than the sum of the parts.

  2. Technologies are not good or bad, they just carry potential. It’s who uses them and how they’re used that make them good or bad.

  3. Social Networking, Open Source Software, markets, and iPods: what do they have in common? They morph the direction of communication. From top down, to bottom up. From edicts to conversations.
  1. iPods take advantage of the long tail. Making it easier for lesser known musicians, broadcasters, ranters to participate. Distribution of music, news or podcasts no longer requires huge amounts of capital. It’s cheap. Wide availability of iPods (and other portable audio devices) makes this possible.

  2. Social Networking: building on the wisdom of the crowds, I connect to Loreann because I know she’s my cousin. Elsa connects to Loreann because she knows her cousin. But I didn’t know about Elsa until we were both connected to Loreann. These relationships don’t get built from top down; they get built from bottom up. Imagine what it would be like if we could leverage social networks to find those who are desperate to find Christ but don’t know it until the right connections are in place.

  3. Open Source: millions of people contributing a small amount can compete with a behemoth. What if that’s the best way to compete against satan?
  1. You, My & I in all of those products are not invitations to narcissism. They’re invitations to participation. And that participation is highly prized. People are flocking to it because they can build community.

  2. The building is not the church. The building is simply a technology. The church is people. Currently the church likes to use buildings as one technology to build community with Christ and invite others to that community. But social networks are a technology, too. The church should use them to invite others into that community.
    1. What would open source Christianity look like? Could each of us, contributing a small amount, united in Christ, hold back Satan until Christ returns to defeat him?

    2. What would Christian Social Networking look like? Are there people out there who are desperate to find Christ but don’t know it until the right connections are in place?

    3. What would iGod look like? How can we take advantage of the long tail of Christians who have thoughts, ideas and stories. Any one of which might be exactly what one person needs to be convinced for Christ?

    4. I don’t know the answer. But I’m certain that we now have the tools available to begin to ask the question. And if we can get enough initial participation, how big of an impact could this make? Isn’t it worth a try to find out?
My conclusion: if all you see in those tools is narcissism, I think you’re missing a fantastic opportunity to expand how the church can reach others for Christ.

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