We would all agree that digital technology has made life better in many respects. But in what ways do smartphones, email, social media and the Internet in general bring pressures to bear upon us that diminish human dignity and work against us in the free market, our social connectivity, and the interior life? Douglas Rushkoff has been thinking and writing about these very questions for years. He is a media theorist and author of the book, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now. He has produced documentaries for CNN and PBS and is regular contributor to the New York Times. He spoke with Acton’s Paul Edwards for this edition of Radio Free Acton.
We’ve launched a redesigned Acton PowerBlog but there’s more to it than just a visual update. You’ll find the following enhancements:
- A simpler look that seeks to better emphasize important features of the blog
- Convenient tab navigation on the right for frequently used items
- Increased real estate for blog posts like the one you’re reading
- Increased emphasis on social media including:
- New links near the top right and bottom of the page to Acton’s key social pages
- A live Facebook page stream on the right so you can see what’s happening without leaving the blog
- More “Like” and send buttons on front page blog posts (not just the first one)
- A new comment system that preserves all old comments while adding increased functionality
- A better subscribe page with more feed links and information
The new comment system is probably the largest change after the redesign itself. With this system (called Disqus) you no longer have to type your name and email every time you want to comment. Now you can login with an account from a number of websites including Facebook, Twitter, and Disqus itself in order to comment here. You can also give feedback on comments by liking and replying to them. If you have a Disqus account you can build a “commenter reputation” and your comments will carry more social weight with people seeking higher quality insights.
We welcome your feedback in the comments for this post.
After hearing about an established Christian publisher recently launching an official blog for their products, I did some thinking about the relationship between the traditional publication outlets and social media.
I’m sure that traditional publishers have a relatively large budget for print advertising, but it seems that they are very slow to hire professionals to do serious social media work, blogging, and online advertising. This seems true at least in the academic markets and relative to their print marketing outreach. And the blogs that publishers do have are usually not very good, although there are exceptions.
All this is true even though there are a number of reasons why digital advertising is better than traditional print. With digital advertising and outreach you can get real numbers in terms of reactions in real-time, seeing almost immediately what is effective and what isn’t. But you are also engaging people in a place where they are much more likely to buy and doing so is far easier.
If someone sees an ad in a magazine, they have to either stop what they are doing and go to a computer or pick up the phone, or remember to do so later after they’re done reading the magazine. When you reach someone on a website, Twitter feed, or a blog, they already poised to buy in that they are always one click away from Amazon, where they already have an account set up, and so on.
And despite many of the rumors of the death of blogging, I liken the relationship of blogging to social media to the relationship of journalism to blogging. Without blogs and the kinds of content generated on blogs, there’s far less to drive social media, just as without journalistic content there’s far less to drive blogging. So I don’t see blogging going away any time soon, but the turnover rate of blogs will continue to be high because of the variety of competitive voices and sources for news, commentary, and promotion. The kinds of transition over at First Things in recent years, which has really become a full-service complement to the print publication, seems to me to be a good model for established publications looking to broaden their digital footprint.
So even though it may seem odd that an established publisher is just now forming an institutional blog, there are some good reasons why starting a blog now is a good idea.
To keep abreast of some of the things going on with Christians and new media, keep an eye on the Christian Web Conference.
David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, and chairman of HeadHeartHand Media, announces the release of a new video product, God’s Technology, a product about “training our children to use technology to God’s glory.”
I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Murray over lunch one day, and I look forward to seeing his presentation of “a Christian response to the digital revolution.” Dr. Murray blogs here.
You can see the trailer for God’s Technology below.