The Rise of Digital Technologies and the Decline of Reading

It seems we’ve come to a time in history when there’s no problem we won’t blame on technology. Digital technology is ruining our attention spans and social skills, it’s destroying our memories and displacing our hobbies, it’s demolishing the way we see the world and downgrading the way we interact with one another. We are slaves to our screens, to our ever-present glowing rectangles. They threaten everything that’s precious to us. Or that’s the narrative we hear again and again. …

Eliminating the Human

Musician David Byrne recently advanced an interesting theory about humanity and technology. The overarching agenda of technology, he believes, is intended to eliminate human interaction. The displacement of human beings by modern technology has become so obvious and so widespread that he has been forced to conclude it is more than an unintentional byproduct of increased automation. “What much of this technology seems to have in common is that it removes the need to deal with humans directly. The tech …

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Peaceful Polemics Online

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. This wonderfully pessimistic French phrase roughly translates to “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” It points us to one of the undeniable facts about life in this world: that though times and contexts change, humanity remains the same. Today, we find ourselves at a fascinating point in history, a point when we are witnessing a radical shift in the way we communicate. We are transitioning from old media to new …

Why I Don’t Use an Ad Blocker

Let’s just get it out there: Online advertising is a mess. We understand that it is a necessity, but we despair at how ugly it has become. Like you, I hate visiting a website and having to deal with flashing, flickering, or inappropriate banner ads designed to distract me from what I am attempting to watch or read. Even more than that, I hate autoplaying videos that interrupt and annoy, and I utterly loathe pop-under ads that open secretly and …

Chili’s, Guacamole, and @JohnPiper

A few years ago I was at a conference to lead a breakout session and perhaps to do some writing about the event. There were a couple of keynote speakers there, John Piper among them, and they were carrying a much heavier load. If I remember correctly, the first day ended with an informal Q&A session held in the lobby rather than the main auditorium. Hundreds of us crowded into that lobby to eat dessert and to hear answers to …

We’re More Honest With Our Phones Than With Our Pastors

A recent article from the New York Times says, rightly I’m sure, that We’re More Honest With Our Phones Than With Our Doctors. Writing from the confluence of medicine and technology, Jenna Wortham explains that “in recent years, mobile technology has granted me and countless others the ability to collect an unprecedented amount of information about our habits and well-being. Our phones don’t just keep us in touch with the world; they’re also diaries, confessional booths, repositories for our deepest …

Can I Ask a Dumb Question?

Have you ever said something dumb—something really, really dumb? Have you ever said something so dumb that you cringe to even allow the memory to crawl back into your mind? We all have at one time or another, haven’t we? Few things are more painful than realizing we’ve displayed ignorance or arrogance through dumb statements or dumb questions. Really, the only thing more painful is having our dumbness met with anger, outrage, or mockery. Such responses only compound the pain …

Here at the Dawn of the Revolution

As Christians, we look with ultimate hope to our ultimate future—the sure hope that we will be with God forever in a world free of sin and all its ugly effects. Christ will return, and what He has prepared for us will be more glorious than all we can ask or even imagine. It’s the immediate future that causes us anxiety, though. Our future and the futures of our children and grandchildren—these trouble us and cause us to fear. We live …

7 Rules for Online Engagement

Christians have had their share of social media successes in over the past few years, many of them related to identifying theological error and defending theological truth. This work has been carried on through blogs, of course, but also through Facebook and YouTube and other forms of digital communication. But for all of the success, there have also been a lot of failures. Many of the most egregious failures have been in discussing or debating controversial topics. As we learn …

Tools I Use to Get Things Done

I love tools. I especially love good tools. I love to explore different tools, to try them, and to choose the ones that do the job the best. In my case, the tools I use tend to be related to writing and publishing and they come in both hardware and software varieties. I outlined my preferred productivity tools in Do More Better and if you read that book you will find some detail on Evernote, Todoist, and Google Calendar. Today …