Well isn’t this the most self-serving thing you’ll read all day? But I’d like you to hear me out. It was just over two years ago that Zondervan published my book The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion. This was a book that came out of my own explorations on the nature and purpose of technology—not only digital technology, but all human technology.
I think you should read it, if you haven’t already. Or you should at least consider it.
It is not only a book for techies, for technophiles, for people who watched Star Trek and who live and breathe computer languages. It is not only a book for people who always need to buy the next great thing. It is a book for all of us since. If you are reading these words, the book necessarily applies to you.
Just a few days ago I took the book down from my shelf for the first time in a while and ran through it. It was interesting to see how much it speaks to today’s challenges and even to today’s current events. Obviously I would not have written the book if hadn’t believed that it was important. Still, it was still comforting to see that it really has made a significant difference in my life and that in many ways I really am thinking differently and living differently because of what I discovered along the way.
Let me give you five reasons I think you should consider reading The Next Story.
Read it to learn why you are surrounded by technology. Our functional understanding of technology is “anything that was invented after I was born.” But in reality, everything around us is technology, something that has been invented to make our lives better or easier or more comfortable or more productive. This is as true of the book and the television and the automobile as it is of the iPhone or the web browser. Because you are surrounded at all times by technology, it would be wise for you to understand what technology is and how it functions in this world.
Read it to learn what God thinks about technology. We tend to understand technology as something that exists in the realm of science or science fiction, but there is a deeply theological component to technology. Our ability to create flows out of the fact that we are created in the image of a creative God; our desire to create flows out of our mandate to subdue this world and exercise dominion over it; our motive to create flows out of our purpose in this world, to glorify and enjoy God. We must learn to think Christianly about our technology.
Read it to learn about the connection between technology and idolatry. Perhaps the most important insight I learned when preparing the book was the deep connection between technology and idolatry. Because our technologies always promise more productivity, more comfort, more wealth, more good things—because they always promise to deliver more of what we like the best—we are never far from idolatry when we embrace technology. This has implications all over life and will transform the way you think about the next great device or idea.
Read it to learn to think well about technology. There are certain things that are always true when it comes to technology, and perhaps the most important one is this: every new technology brings both benefits and drawbacks. The trick is that we tend to see the benefits right away—those are printed on the package and proclaimed from the advertisements. But the drawbacks we tend to see only much later on and after that technology has already worked its way into our lives. If you read The Next Story you’ll better understand the challenge and be better equipped to identify the drawbacks before they effect your life.
Read it to learn about the specific challenges related to digital technology. This book arose from my attempts to live virtuously in this new, digital world that is upon us. I had to grapple with some issues that are as alive today as they were three years ago: Information overload, distraction, protection, and the vast amount of information we leave behind us every time we use our digital devices. While every technology offers some challenges, some drawbacks, we are the guinea pigs learning to live in a digital world and we are only now learning about the consequences of living in the constant presence of screens and Internet-enabled devices. The Next Story will help you live well in this world.