Your Tech Is Showing

Post a Comment » Written on December 16th, 2013     
Filed under: Technical Arts











by Geoff Twigg

I remember struggling for weeks in the mid 90s with a small network of computers, both IBM and Mac, trying to get them each to talk to the one laser printer we had in the church office. I’d been concentrating deeply and trying not to explode with frustration when a helpful (but somewhat Luddite) colleague made the comment that has since become so familiar; “Aren’t computers supposed to save time and make our lives easier?”

Time ‘saved’

I suppose time has been saved, and lives made easier, in some places. Certainly things have changed and work is done differently, on a different timescale and to different standards of presentation. Do you feel the pressure to reply quickly to an email or text? It wasn’t the same when the only similar communication was by mail. The very fact that I can now send you my request by an instant form of message, and in all likelihood, you’ll see it within the hour, makes me wonder why you won’t reply until the ‘next business day’ or – at least – the next time your schedule has a spot allocated for servicing electronic communication.

Making your life easier

This would be the other selling point. We readily adopt technologies that promise ease of use, a way achieving our purpose with a higher standard, more rapidly and needing less ‘busy’ work. However, this feature of technology is not without a subtext, either.

All technology carries an agenda

No, I’m not scaremongering, I promise. Sometimes the agenda is as innocent as giving one user an advantage over another; for instance, timed exams taken on computers are biased towards those who can type more quickly. It may not be a sinister agenda, either. Communication in some families and between some married couples has been enhanced by the introduction of cell phones, potentially keeping them together. But I repeat, technology carries an agenda – and if you don’t recognize what it implies, you may (unconsciously) endorse it.

Detect and assess

I’ve used the example of in-ear monitors before in this regard, and some people have disagreed; but in building the new Sanctuary for my church in 2005, I installed wireless in-ear monitors for the entire team. After a few weeks we kept them for the band, but reverted to speakers for the leaders, because my fellow-worship leaders and I needed to be in the same ‘acoustic space’ as the congregation. You see, the in-ear monitors were designed for use in performances, where the musicians and singers needed to hear one another clearly and stay together, often also receiving a click-track or some other production channel audio.

iMag has an agenda, too; the image magnification that comes naturally when you have cameras and large screens in the room. If your preacher is practiced in addressing a crowd of 150 or more, a head and shoulders close-up may make them appear angry or agitated. The fact is, most similar people we see on TV are seated, maybe in a chair or behind a desk; they’re acting calmly and talking as if they’re in a small venue with us. So, you may need to decide – am I going to be the ‘Armchair Theater’ preacher, the News Anchor, the ‘sitting-on-a-stool, holding the book’ preacher, or the ‘long shots only, I’m pacing’ type, or the ‘don’t ever put my image on the screen’ guy?

Technology is distracting

For me, technology is fascinating and distracting; and in church I often feel the need to make the technology invisible. When I have a new toy, I find it impressive and fun to play with, and I will spend extra time playing with it. Time that should be spent doing my job more thoroughly… I may even change the way I do something, so that I get to use my new toy. But that wouldn’t save time, would it?

Geoff Twigg is Adjunct Professor at North Park University in Chicago. Geoff is a pastor, singer/songwriter, worship leader and ministry consultant, and serves the ECC as a member of the denomination’s Commission on Worship.

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