Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New Media Epiphanies and Strategy

Epiphanies come in many shapes and sizes, though these episodes of discovery come more frequently and rapidly.

In the past 6 months, even after coming from a huge newspaper household in my youth, I can no longer bring myself to buy a newspaper. My fingers avoid ink stains, I don't dispose of a pile of paper, and my access to archives is greater without attempting to save piles of papers and taking up storage space in my house. I read most of my news on my iPhone these days. Most of the time I even forget the wonderful mobility of a laptop.

I desire to learn about new (if not already mainstream) media without the burden of earning a new degree. I want to put some theological flesh on the meaning of communication using today's tools. I want to learn while having my insight respected and not be given too much jargon or techie lingo. I want to connect with God and others, and I want to expand my imagination in doing so.

Using Twitter over the past 8 months, I find the connections to good information and specialized discussions increase in probability. While intentionally seeking to learn and grow in the scope of connecting with God and others through new media, I found a local, Seattle Mariners-loving, Mainline-Oldline Protestant Christian who develops new media strategies with congregations (Will Boyd). We met in a Seattle neighborhood (Ballard) at fun little BBQ restaurant (Pete's Smokin' BBQ) with free wifi. The entire meeting was arranged on Twitter. We didn't share any contact information outside of Twitter (until today). We had a solid theological conversation that took me to different places of thinking, while receiving ideas for tools that can be used for more effective communication.

While reflecting on my experience on my ferry ride back to my office from Seattle, I thought about my history with networking. A connection like today's conversation 10 years ago may have taken months and thousands of dollars to develop. I used to attend conferences for networking. Not to say that conferences are a resource black hole, but my return on investment with new media is exponential. I don't have to wait for big conferences to make important connections, I choose the scope and frequency of that connection.

The entire experience today was physically framed by driving up to a big old steeple ELCA congregation--First Lutheran Church in Ballard. As I walked up to Smokin' Pete BBQ (across the street from the church) for a tweetup, I thought about old ways and new ways of connecting with God and one another. I saw children at the church daycare playing outside, realizing that sharing God's grace through serving the neighbor in a daycare still matters. This is still the declared end in mind: to connect with God and others. The means are changing, faster than sometimes I care to admit, yet I don't lament the changes like I thought I might. I'm glad God would still care to use me in an era of rapidly changing means to achieve the ends.

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