I posted a tweet minutes ago: 2010 lays before me- What is God calling me to? Something Geeky and Theological. Techno-Theo Geek is available for work. Then I began to post a follow up (the title of this post), but as usual, the 140 character limit stopped me, so I came back to a post (whose title , in which I include hashtag(s) then gets tweeted), to tell you a bit about what I’m thinking. I’m looking for sources of income that compensate me for work I feel called to do.
It’s work that involves a lot of technical familiarity; both in terms of some experience as a developer, but even more so as a member of the church and as a "theological geek". That sounds like a joke, but I can think of no better term than that to describe the passions for the possibilities of the kinds of tools that keep arriving and grow to the extent that a new term has now come into use to describe them : Social Media. Thing is, the Web and its evolution has always been Social, and always been a "medium". It’s just that now, more than ever, people have awakened to the impact of online communication upon day to day interaction.
Back in the mid 90â€™s , I had graduated from the MARC program at United Theological Seminary in Dayton OH. (MARC- Masters of Arts in Religious Communications). After getting that degree in 1991, I began paying close attention to the social nature of Online Communication, and it burst onto the mainstream scene with the deployment of the graphical Web browser (NCSAâ€™s Mosaic, soon to be rolled into Netscape after Silicon Graphics founder, Jim Clark, enticed Mark Andreeson, the lead developer on the Mosaic team, to join him in creating Netscape.) Nothing has been the same since. And most likely weâ€™ll be having several of those â€œnothing will be the same againâ€ happenings over and over in the years ahead. We can already see a couple of examples in Facebook and Twitter (and before them, MySpace).
Immediately, I warmed up to what Howard Rheingold wrote in The Virtual Community, which came out just prior to the popularity of the Web in1992. In this book Rheingold told many stories out of the experience of The Well, a messaging/meeting system that had been growing throughout the 80â€™s. Rheingold was to write another book 10 years later called SmartMobs, which clearly saw the Social Web arriving in 2002: Smart Mobs, which focused on mobile communication technology. The blog, smartmobs.com, pours constant updated articles into that overflowing stream of exploring and discovering of the increasingly ubiquitous technologies that are building a whole new layer of social realities.
These realities are worthy of study, of reflection, and discernment. In fact, it is a MUST-HAVE for the church in order to be good stewards of the TOOLS. Our mode of adoption must be theologically solid. If not, we participate in yet another â€œGreat Giveawayâ€ — a reference to David Fitchâ€™s book The Great Giveaway: Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from Big Business, Parachurch Organizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism, and other Modern Maladies – where we cede the style of adoption of technologies totally to the assumptions and market driven priorities of the rest of the world. This is no luddite revolt. It is a discernment of great importance. And I will be returning to some of my favorite sources like Howard Rheingold and other SocialMedia-ologists to help me –and hopefully in small measure through me, the rest of usâ€”be faithful stewards of new media tools by deploying them in a manner that is distinctive and constantly re-evaluated.