Viral - Leonard Sweet

Price: $14.99

Format: Trade Paperback

ISBN: 9780307459152

Release: 3.13.2012

Religion - Christian Life

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Interesting Analysis

by Ethan Longhenry
August 13, 2012
3.5 Stars
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A discussion of current Internet trends and their possible impact on Christianity, the church, and evangelism in the future.

The author seeks to understand the impact of current Internet trends through the prism of the contrast between those whom he calls "Gutenbergers," those who feel at home in the culture sustained by books, modernism, and all that is able to be quantified and analyzed, and the "Googlers," those who feel at home in the culture sustained by social media, postmodernism, and all that is relational. The author considers himself as an ex-"Gutenberger" who has come to appreciate the benefits of "Googler" culture.

The book primarily discusses "TGIF culture," or the impact of Twitter, Google, the iPhone, and Facebook on life, faith, culture, and church. The author thinks quite highly of the value of "TGIF culture" and its emphasis on the relational aspects of things. He wishes they had more appreciation for poetry (a rather long aside in the book), and thinks there is great potential in the holistic, relational, interconnected world of the "Googlers."

The more positive assessment of modern Internet culture is good to see: too many times such books assume the inherent "rightness" and benefits of "Gutenberger" culture, over-emphasize the downsides of Internet culture while seemingly unaware (or unconcerned) about the downsides of their own culture, and prove to be reactionary.

On the whole, though, I struggle with the contrast being made between "Gutenbergers" and "Googlers," mostly because the categories are defined by media and the means of consuming media. Most of the time I can see the generational/cultural contrasts made by authors in books like these, but this one was more difficult, and it's probably because one cannot categorize merely on the basis of prevalent media. Shifts from modernist to postmodernist thinking, the toppling of the Enlightenment paradigm, among other things, shape and inform the contrast between "Gutenbergers" and "Googlers" as much, if not more so, than using books vs. using the Internet. The contrast is useful inasmuch as it helps to inform why there are such differences between the "Gen-X/Buster" and "Gen-Y/Millennial" generations and the "Greatest/Builder" and "Boomer" generations. So yes, the attitude toward the Internet and the re-shaping of thinking, learning, researching, and connecting because of the Internet does have some explanatory power, but ought to be subject to these greater trends and themes for them to be fully appreciated.

I'm concerned that the author might be a bit too rosy regarding the "Googler" culture, but time will tell. If nothing else, the book might encourage "Gutenbergers" and "Googlers" to be better able to appreciate which each brings to the table and to supply what the other lacks. That is far better than for each group to despise each other and to attack each other, and is more consistent with 1 Corinthians 12:12-29.

An interesting analysis, and one that is useful to stimulate thinking.

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