On Technology…. Flickering Pixels…



I jumped at the chance to participate in BlogTourSpot’s review of Shane Hipps new book:  Flickering Pixels – How Technology Shapes Your Faith for two reasons. I was at a stage where I thought the clutter of technology was squeezing sense out of my normal life, plus I’d get a copy of the book for free.

The author’s background is in advertising, which has given him a unique insight into the working of media and how it is changing how we think, which ultimately affects how we share and live out our faith. The book sets out in broad strokes the insidious dangers that the changes media brings to our lives can generate, and by sounding out a clarion call, we can be on the lookout for them and avoid them as they arise. Several key points stand out
1. All Faith is based on communication – either from God to us or between us as adherents, and the way we primarily communicate affects our interpretation of our faith.
2. Each more ‘efficient’ means of communication we pick up has a dark side – it increases the propensity to clutter rather than clarify.
3. Media is not neutral – the message we actually get from communicating is both dependent on the message and the medium.
4. Pictures & Images (such as television) hijack our imagination. Words and printed matter however encourage us to generate our own images of the concepts being discussed, as opposed to being fed an image which in reality is one man’s interpretation of the words behind the image.
5. We have slowly become a tribe of individuals – sharing experiences on an unprecedented scale (shared experiences build community, a ‘tribal’ ethos) but yet utilizing the self same tools to build an illusion of closeness whilst in reality, it is only yet another layer of interaction, another screen between the real us and the next person.
6. For Christians, we are both the medium and the message and all other forms of communication should only be to facilitate that primary, face to face communication model, not replace it.

In addition to blogging, I’ve been active in virtual communities for a long time, as well as being the administrator of an online home for my class from undergraduate school. I’ve seen virtual communities both work and not work. The key differences between successful and failing virtual communities seems to be

  • A defined role for the community: A place to vent, a place to collaborate, or even a place to demonstrate your coolness (which sadly is becoming more and more a reason to be in a virtual community these days). Being part of a community just for the sake of it detracts from the usefulness of the community as a whole.
  • Extra – community connections: Virtual community “satiates our immediate hunger but doesn’t provide much in the way of sustainable nutrition”. Often I have found that the communities that succeeded were those in which members were communicating on a more personal level outside the context of the community, or using the interaction at the level of the community to sustain real life connections.
  • A sense of scale: Members of virtual communities have day jobs – things they do in their real lives. Keeping the community going is dependent on being able to keep our interactions at the right scale. Recognizing the potential danger of clutter is key to succeeding. I found that out the hard way when simply reading blogs began to take over three to four hours of my daily time.

I’d like to throw out a few discussion questions

  • How have online communities affected the way you think, act and maintain your relationships in your real life?
  • Why did you start blogging and how would you rate your current state versus your initial expectations.
  • Are there any real life connections you’ve built entirely from an online starting point and are there any you’ve lost as a result?
  • How would you rate our own corner of the Blogosphere on the critical success factors for online communities?

Up for some more stimulating discussions? Join the debate here

24 thoughts on “On Technology…. Flickering Pixels…

  1. I totally agree with you DB…..
    I started blogging actually to raise issues and join in the fight against a lot of the injusticies around me lil did I know that SSD is doing a wonderful job at it…..
    technology has really shaped ma life and made me more confident about ma world with all the info I get and see…..
    Hope to get a feedback post after the book tour……


  2. Those 6 points u mentioned that stand out, they are so on point. Blogging has exposed me to different ways of thinking and different kinds of talents. I think applying it to my personal life, it has improved my relationship with people. I no longer look down on any body cos I dont know what the person has within…


  3. DB you have come again, but you are right though. Blogging has helped me alot. I never knew i could write this well. I learn something new just by reading people's blog. Everyone is like one big family, we share our problems and most of the time they are partly solved. They make you think about important issues we normally don't think about(like the headache you are giving me now…lol) and the list goes on and on..


  4. u ar right..i totally feel you on this..i started blogging to share and interact..and its been fun..it has altered the way i think a bit ..i have made friends even tho i feel i hasn't been free flowing since i became a blogger..and i think we are are doing good in our own corner…really good if i may add


  5. Lovely post, would love to read the book. Your last set of questions really got me thinking (you need to stop doing that). I started blogging to just let off steam at a point in my life when I felt cut off from my comfort zone and now I interact with other people and peek into their lives as well. Quite weird actually.

    My membership of our online community hasn't affected me much, I do now realise that everyone has problems and we just have to soldier on. It's also a place to re-balance my sanity when the 'real' world is driving me nuts.

    I have made one 'real' friend from blogging and it does seem weird that I consider someone an important part of my friendship circle and I haven't met them yet LOL!

    The dark side of blogsville for me is that virtual relationships are built on perceptions we give out and there is the danger that those perceptions are falsely perpetuated and open to abuse.

    PS where can I get the book?


  6. I have realized that the mind is deep. The most timid of people might be the most brazen on blogosphere. Also it affords one an unprecedented opportunity to say what is truly on your mind and participate in a togetherness though not physical, is deeply satisfying nonetheless.


  7. blogsville
    wow i can't believe it has been 4 years almost
    i didn't blog for the first 2 years
    now i am
    now i blog regularly

    it's made mii more real


  8. Online communities (eg. blogger) have done a world of good to me. I have always loved reading, and what's better to read than the true stories of real ppl? Nothing can top that for me.
    Although I feel that technology can distract one, (and as you mentioned, stifle one's creativity a bit) . Too much FaceBook, Twitter, TrulyChristian… (thank God internet connections are slow over here infact. I would have become smthg else!) Yet I am grateful for it. I am much more tolerant, self-aware and hence interesting becuz of blogging in particular.
    I enjoyed reading your post too. Thanks.


  9. So technology is distracting yes, but I find it extremely enpowering and educational. It's all about broadening horizons.

    It's therapeautic, entertaining, horrifying, enlightening…all good brain emotions. Although I have a healthy respect for how people get sucked into something without realising the implications and consequences of the interweb, I feel it has a great power for good if we can use it positively.

    I do need to phone people more often though, by the time I've gotten through my blog reader in a day the whole evening is gone!


  10. come come, werrin dey worry u dis guy? ehn?! I just had a ruff 9 to 5 today and u are making me think again…oooooooooh *Stamping her feet* Fine then! lol

    * I have a more open mind since I started blogging. They don't call it the info highway for nothing.

    * I started blogging to escape my everyday hectic life. Now I see life is just one big circle. It's like running away from ur shadow.

    * Yes, I've built a friendship with a blogger who I'm thankful for.

    * I'd give it a 5 outta 5. u can make it whatever u want. 🙂


  11. Where is everyone? Dem don see geek techy post and don run? LOL
    Aniwoos Danny B, in answer to your questions:

    I too, have been a member of an online community for the longest. For me, e don pass online community sef cos I have met so many of these people, interacted with them. Thanks to this community, job networking don occur, people don meet and marry, and when you're out of town and need a place to stay, some members are so nice as to host you.
    How as it affected the way i think, act and maintain my real life relationships? No difference, maybe cos like I said I have met them so it's not like i'm removed from real life interactions. Dunno if this answers the Q
    No blogger connections yet tho.

    Why did I start blogging? I've always loved to write, I'm a very observant person/huge people watcher…I wanted to get all my thoughts out. I find it very flattering that a # of people read my blog, i thought I was just gonna be in my little corner, blogging.

    I give our blogsville corner a 4. Not bad at all, no complaints. I don't know why it's not a 5 sha…LOL


  12. hmmm..interesting..

    online communities have made me more mature in a sense and like Nefie, more open-minded..I've become more knowledgeable in some areas and I've tried to apply it to my 'real life'..

    I started blogging cos I was cajoled to..I haven't regretted it for a moment..I really didn't have any expectations initially as I didn't start of my own free will..

    oh yes, I've built quite a lot..I've not lost any..good for me, huh? 😀

    I have no idea what the success factors are so I wudn't know how to rate it in relation to the said factors..


  13. This is really exposititory,and enables us to provide honest answers to why we really sign up for online forums,and join internet communities..

    This has made me have a wider view on certin contentious issues..i've been able to express my feelings in a way i never thought made much sense….I like to think i've made friends?,i learn new things everyday….
    I mean the list just goes on…
    Regardless of the many benefits…i do think there is a negative side to this..but as i am yet to experince it i had better keep my mouth shut!!
    Technology in itself is distracting …that's really true..but i guess that's the role self-discipline has to play in all this…
    Dude you never stop do you?? : D


  14. i'm not sure if I can confidently state that blogging has 'improved' me but I guess that may be due to the fact that I don't spend so much time as some do. One thing I can say though is that, blogging had taken too much of my time. I use 'had' because I put a pause on blogging some days ago. It was practically consuming my time, distracting me from much more serious matters. I'm constantly thinking about what posts I can put up on my blog, how to increase my traffic, how to monitor traffic, replying to comments, etc.

    I haven't made any real friends on blogville. I believe friendship is made more attractive and possible where there is openness and sincerity. Where bloggers cherish their anonymity so much (no blames; I did too), I found it hard to be drawn to any real friendship. You could be yoruba and feign niger delta for all I know (I think vera is quite plain). I enjoyed certain blogs – very well but that was it. Writefreak is also open though she holds back a lot of info. I suspect some bloggers know her personally and she has this in mind when putting up her posts.

    I'm still going thru a deblogging mode. this comment is coming from my phone. It's almost as if I can't keep off the blogosphere. I'll still be following some blogs anyway.


  15. HA! I have met incredible people. I met my BFF, 3 sisters and so many friends thanks to blogger. I didnt know I could write poems or could make people laugh or could care so much, but now I know.
    On the other hand, the friendships are so deep and rich that I find myself shying away from friendships in the real world. I am becoming an hermit because all I ever wanted is online. And this is SCARY. I kinda want to stop and check myself and find if I have build a fantasy. Gosh I am rambling. I will be back jooooo!


  16. Blogging is like therapy for me. Some days can be really tough and harsh but somehow I only want to focus on the light side. The thing that I can say blogging /online forums/technology have done for me is to really widen my view on issues and expose me to other people's ideas.


  17. wow..lots of interesting stuff being discussed on here… i'll probably have to do a whole post to do justice to them all. keep the dialogue going peeps!


  18. hmmm…nice 1 DB…I started blogging just 2 reawaken the writer in me…little did I know that blogging opens one up 2 a whole new world…I have seen/met all sorts of people(thru their blogs of cos) and learnt loads and loads of new stuff…I'm learning also that just bcos sum2 has a contrary/sumwot wacked viewpoint doesn't make them "evil"…lemme stop here…b4 I start confusing even myself…but weldone…


  19. I guess everybody has said it all……
    I started following my friend's blog roughly 5 or more years ago…..didn't realize there was a huge community up until last year.
    I love gist period.
    I learn a lot from other people's experiences.
    And what I love the most is the fact I don't have a face to 90% of the bloggers and hopefully they have no idea who I am either.

    I'm hardly the type to be moved by the effects of OLC- online comm.
    They keep my mind constantly open- it's a big world after all- there's a lot to be learned.

    PS: with Caramel D on the fact that there is a dark side.


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