Before I begin… I just want to say that I realize I may be “preaching to the choir” with this post, many of you have already had some of the same thoughts, many of you already imagine the same possibilities. I pray that this post might give voice to those same sentiments. Especially as the church moves into the dangerous era that is the 21st century.
And so…I’ll start with a riddle…
You need me…You use me…You trust me…Sometimes too much…I am at the core of the simplest conversation…I am at in the spark of even the simplest idea in your brain. I can be like clean burning fuel, hot enough to burn away any obstacle. I can also be toxic. The smallest dose of me can kill thousands at one time. I am powerful…In Fact…Some people even worship me. My name itself is not very exciting, Yet I wash over everything. I flood the universe…More of me is wasted than anything else in the world…I am forgotten more than I am remembered. I cry out to be sifted by wisdom. But few people take the time. Watch out for me…I am in every truth and in every lie. Be careful what you see in me. I started out as an idea by God. But I can be twisted, I can be misused, I can hurt, I can even kill. So care for me; for I can appear as a gift or a curse.
What am I…
Of course the…the easy answer to this riddle is…Information…
As anticlimactic as it sounds, the universe is really flooded by it. Our senses are constantly overwhelmed by information.
- The 100 billion neurons in our brains constantly process information at an estimated rate of up to 100 million, million instructions per second. By contrast Intel’s Dual core extreme only processes 57063 Million Instruction Per Second.
- Radio galaxies in space like
quasars, which are millions of lights years from earth can generate radio information at up to 1038 in watts at between 10 MHz and 100 GHz in frequency. Seeing as many of us are still amazed at what a 1 watt motorola radio can do. Quasars broadcast quite a bit of information about themselves a very long way in comparison.
Now add computer technology and in the same way that oxygen dramatically accelerates the intensity of fire. Technology causes explosive results with regard to the processing of information. Processing tasks that at one time required warehouses full of machinery and people can now be completed with transistors that fit on the head of pin.
For example I already mentioned that Intel’s processors are handling 57063 MIPS. But 30 million of the 45 nanometer sized transistors that make up these processors can fit on the head of a pin. It can switch on and off approx 300 billion times a second.
With this acceleration in mind…we again look at the 2003 Berkley study.
- Telephone calls worldwide � on both landlines and mobile phones � contained 17.3 exabytes of new information if stored in digital form; this represented 98% of the total of all information transmitted in electronic information flows, most of it person to person.
- Most radio and TV broadcast content is not new information. About 70 million hours (3,500 terabytes) of the 320 million hours of radio broadcasting is original programming a year. TV worldwide produces about 31 million hours of original programming (70,000 terabytes) out of 123 million total hours of broadcasting.
- According the study…The World Wide Web contained about 170 terabytes of information on its surface in 2002; in volume this is seventeen times the size of the Library of Congress print collections.
- Instant messaging generated five billion messages a day (750GB), or 274 Terabytes a year.
Email generates about 400,000 terabytes of new information each year worldwide.
Some more recent data I found from various studies indicate that somewhere around 113.6 million webservers around the world serve up anywhere between 3 and 11 billion pages of content, depending on which internet index reports you believe, to over 1.1 billion internet users around the world.
Even with all the technical acceleration. The Berkley study added that, “The amount of information printed on paper is still increasing, but the vast majority of original information on paper is produced by individuals in office documents and postal mail, not in formally published titles such as books, newspapers and journals. Following this theme of information produced by individuals in this, to use an overused term…web 2.0 world…
Buzz words and phrases like blog, wiki and Information Worker have come and gone and concepts like Social Networking, Social Technology, Viral marketing and User generated content are already past novelty having become formidable expressions in the communication arsenals of social and political organizations. Many churches here today have also already moved far down this path.
- ComScore.com Reported that YouTube.com served up an average of 100 Million Worldwide Daily Video Streams in July 2006.
- Comscore.com also reported that as of November, 2006, MySpace.com recorded 38.7 billion page views over it’s 12.5. billion page views in November, 2005.
Readwriteweb.com summarized other comscore.com reports in May 2006, they posted that MySpace surpassed 50 million unique visitors, YouTube.com reached 12.6 million, classmates.com reached 14.7 million unique visits and facebook reached just over 14 million visits.
In addition to all of this. New Social Technology experiments seem to launch daily. Sites like Virb.com that boasts a slick “Mac” like user interface to social networking or vlip.com that hopes to be a video version of the old standard threaded discussion groups or Mozes.com that promotes free community text messaging are just a few of the examples of the constantly morphing and changing information and technology landscape in the Social Technology fascination we live in.
In short, as I close this post, I think the point has been made. Information does flood our lives. And the world we live in isn’t changing. It has gone and already changed. With all of the information that flows chaotically in the universe and at the rate at which it continues to accelerate via technology. I agree with Mark Mattlock, the creator of planetwisdom.com when he says that, “technology is no longer just a set of tools in Western Culture, it has become a cultural expression.” And this has implications for the church.
I firmly believe that as the church of the 21st century seeks to multiply her impact on this world for Christ, we must think radically different with regard to how we leverage information and technology. It won’t be enough to just have collaborative friendly relationships and partnerships. While the need for sound biblical teaching and innovative ”hands-on” ministry will never go away. I believe that we must fundamentally take practical steps to change the way we operate.
As the body of Christ, if technology has become a cultural expression then, on the foundation of theological purity and worldview, pastoral thinkers who think sociologically must become more like technogists and technologists must think more like sociologists. I believe that it will take this level of combined effort in order for all of us to understand the social and cultural networks of our day; especially if we are going to lead and navigate our churches through the dangerous landscapes of the Post Modern world views of Information and Technology that so deeply influence the everyday lives of people all over the world, Finally, as our world increasingly relies on technology for everyday life, as church leaders…our relationship with Christ, our Knowledge of God’s word and our integrity of character is more important than ever.