Excerpt from book, "New Media for Ministry"
How Important is Media to the Ministry?
Write the vision, make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. (Habakkuk 2:4)
Ministry is all about fulfilling God’s purposes in our generation. Pastors and ministry leaders daily grapple with many responsibilities related to obeying God, while effectively leading their organizations. Added to this mix is the question, “How important is media to the Ministry?”
The quick answer is, “Very important!” We live in a media-driven culture. Ours is a culture accustomed to viewing screens and listening to sound bites. There is no avoiding this reality. Said another way, media is the way of the world in which we live. The greatest persuasive fact regarding the importance of media is that our most important resource, and the most significant book ever written, the Bible, is a media “product.” Moses’ tablets, David’s Psalms, Habakkuk’s written vision, the scroll handed to Jesus on the day He proclaimed His ministry, Paul’s letters, your personal Bibles (printed and online), and even the Book of Life, are all forms of media.
A better question may be: “How well is your ministry using media and new media in the 21st Century?”
In all of human history, there has never been a time when media creation and sharing tools were more accessible than today.
What are Media and New Media?
There was a time when we carried books for reading, loaded compact discs into portable players, listened to music players like Sony’s Walkman, visited our local Blockbuster to rent a DVD, took out our laptop computers to send an e-mail, and then stopped everything to answer a call on our cell phone.
That “time” was only as recent as the early part of the 21st century. Today, we can read book content, listen to music, watch videos, send an e-mail and take telephone calls, all on the same device, such as an iPhone or other so-called “smart phone.”
This phenomenon is called “convergence.” Media content and modalities for both creating and consuming media no longer require separate devices. Not only has the need for multiple devices been reduced, the media itself has been transformed into a digital form that can be downloaded, transferred, and enjoyed on multiple devices. No longer are printed books the only domain for words. Words can be enjoyed and comprehended on devices such as the Amazon Kindle e-book reader. There are e-book reading applications available for all devices from mobile phones, to laptops, to desktop computers.
Every device and technology, including bound books, has its advantages and devotees. Books continue to be a highly efficient and usable “technology.” They are inexpensive, lightweight (by in large), do not require any power source, and have no learning curve for proper use. Books also have a permanence that is lacking with digital content. Books can- not be easily forged or changed.
Devices such as the Kindle e-book reader and iPad generate debates about the future need of print media. New me- dia embraces all forms of media as elements for communication and interaction solutions among people in their cultural language. Some commentators point to the demise of daily newspapers as evidence of a future without print media. This assumption only considers the lifestyles of Americans and our other prosperous friends around the world.
As a solution for information dissemination and learning, print media such as textbooks will continue to provide a viable option for literate people throughout our world for many years to come.
New Media has emerged from the convergence of traditional media, technological advances in digital media and Internet communications. New media is an organic, growing field. Like a flowing river, the growth of new media has followed the terrain of our social and technological development. No one person or company, not even Apple Computer, is responsible for the current form of new media.
What is the definition of “Media?” How is it Different than “New Media?”
There is no single standard interpretation of terms in the world of media and new media. These terms are defined by the people, professionals and institutions that use media. Over time a consensus emerges on the use of terms. For example, the term Podcast is attributed to Apple Computer because of its iPod device. In fact, the emergence of podcasts, which began as blog posts that included audio, was pioneered by Windows computer users. Steve Jobs and Apple Computer had nothing to do with the creation and initial growth of podcasting.
Three Common Uses of the Term “Media.”
- Grammatically speaking, media is the plural form of the word medium. A medium is an object on which data can be stored. A hard drive is a medium for digital data storage. A cassette tape was a medium for storing recordings using an analog method.
- Media also refers to various means of communication. For example, newspapers, books, television, radio, and compact discs are different types of media.
- The term is also used as a collective noun for the press. We speak of “the media” as news reporting agencies.
Originally, the term new media was used to distinguish between “old” media such as print or analog television and “new” digital forms of media. Another definition of new media: “In general, new media refers to new forms of human and media communication that have been transformed by the creative use of technology to fulfill the same basic social need to interact and transact.” [Faiola, Anthony (2001) New Media Basics: Understanding Message Design Theory in a Post-Information Society. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Son]
New media is also closely associated with the term, “Web 2.0,” which refers to a second generation of Internet-based services, such as web-based applications, social networking websites, blogs, and online collaboration. (More About Web 2.0 in Chapter Four) The “new” of new media refers to the inclusion of the latest technologies, current best practices, and the capability to integrate future innovations.
The term “new media” is considered a buzzword among some. Some prefer to use the term “digital media” or “multi- media” rather than new media. Technically, the term digital media is limited to electronic or binary media that lives on hard drives or other digital storage mediums. Books and flyers could not be classified as digital media, but they could come under the heading of new media when part of a combined solution of media content. New media is a more inclusive concept than digital media.
While traditional or “old” analog media was limited to indelible uses such as print and live broadcast, digital media allows content to be reproduced, repurposed and revised as needed for various uses. Analog tools such as typewriters could impose text on paper, but the text could not be revised without re-typing. A word processing application such as Microsoft Word converts text to digital bits that may be rearranged, copied, pasted and transferred and finally output to an analog medium such as paper.
More than a specific device like an iPad or a specific software application like Adobe Photoshop, new media is a category that defines a set of tools and techniques that can be used to develop communication and interaction solutions.
New media enables:
- Emerging new technologies resulting in enhanced human communication
- Leveraging the Internet and web services (also called “Web 2.0”) for purposeful interaction
- The combining of images, sound, video and text in new ways
- The development of portable media such as optical discs, digital signs and kiosks
- Customization in how users experience and interact with content
- Non-linear access to content. Users can move to any point within digital content, rather than being limited to “turning one page at a time”
- Synchronous (real time) and asynchronous (time shifted) communication and content sharing
- Embracing future technologies and innovations yet un- known
- Project collaboration without regard to time or distance among team members
(Excerpt from book, "New Media for Ministry")