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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Grappling with technology

Communication tools can bear good, bad fruit

Astonishing. Stupefying. Are there words that even begin to capture the technological advances in communication in our lifetime? While my grandmother found no need to have a phone in her home, I carry a cell phone through which I receive text messages from our children, e-mails from colleagues, voice mail from my wife, and can access the Internet, my calendar and, yes, the entire Bible. I panic when I misplace it.

Our son and grandson in Florida could not be with us for Christmas. Through the marvels of Skype, we were able to share the joy of opening gifts together. Some grandparents, separated from grandchildren by hundreds of miles — even oceans — share nightly stories and prayers because Skype erases the miles and joins loving faces and tender voices.

In his book, Here Comes Everybody (Penguin, 2009), Clay Shirky contends: "We are living in the middle of the largest increase in expressive capability in the history of the human race. More people can communicate more things to more people than has ever been possible ... [making] the change unprecedented." The key to change, he says, is not technology, but the adoption of new behaviors.


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December issue

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