This is a conversation I want to engage. And Vince Marotte has fired the first shot. It won’t be the last. The church has a big glaring communication problem and Vince calls it out with his first eBook, Context and Voice: Communication Design in our New Media Culture.
Vince describes the problem this way in Chapter 2:
Something is broken in the way that the Church communicates. There is a serious disconnect between how the culture communicates and how the Church does. This is in stark contrast to the church of a hundred and fifty years ago which was the catalyst of cutting edge communication technology and strategies. Starting with the Hebrew culture of story telling and the passing down of scriptures, history, genealogy and arts through simple spoken word.
My remarks here will be a book impression. Not a book review. Not a critique. Not a summary. Not an overview. More of a book reaction. I was very eager to read the book and finished it in a day.
I liked the book’s idea, not just because I’m an ideas guy. I like the author. I just had a nagging feeling that something was missing.
Maybe I’ve hung out with Vince too many times during this year; one too many. *grin* The book didn’t have the shock value for me that it will have for average joe church leader. And if you’ve been a follower of @m_vince or subscriber to nikao.ws like me, you would have heard these ideas before too: on a webinar and/or in a presentation slide deck.
Maybe I read it too fast. The book is written in a stream-of-consciousness conversational-style and the reader is warned right in the introduction. This did make the book easy to read. Did I mention I read it in a day, actually, under a day?
Maybe the typos bothered me. Did Vince talk into his MacBook and run a voice-recognition software like Dragon Naturally Speaking, and out came this eBook? Again, I love what he said but what was written (typed) made for a bumpy ride.
One thing missing from the book was pictures, or diagrams, or charts. That didn’t reflect new media very well. In other words, words alone don’t do the book justice. Or was this a restriction of the eBook format? I needed a picture, a framework to unpack the big ideas. And I’m an ideas guy.
Vince uses key words in a new way and with fresh nuances: designing communication. context. voice. culture. distribution. content creators. What does it all mean? It wasn’t mapped out. (And that’s okay by me.) Vince does like to skateboard, and there are no paths in a skate park, so he takes us on quite a ride. Doesn’t give us answers. He does get our adrenaline going and I know for me I want more. Here’s the 1 diagram that can help you get the lay of the land, the skate park, of the eBook:
Maybe it was the form factor. The eBook read like a series of blog posts, but more than blog posts. On almost every page, I was itching to click something to add a comment, but I couldn’t! I was reading the eBook in ePub format on iBook. The book’s begging for a conversation, but without a way for me to immediately respond on the spot, it felt like a monologue. Ugh. I know this is not the author’s intent. He does want to cultivate conversation, a lot of it at that. And it’s hard to find conversation partners on this topic. He’s asked me, in person, and indeed they are hard to find. The business of church is too consuming, of both our time and money. Maybe that’s an underlying issue, too, for why we don’t have more front door content that can connect in the context of our new media culture today. Maybe the whole economic engine and business model of sustaining the church as we know it is broken.
The hope I have in this eBook is that it is The Conversation Starter. Where the eBook form factor does work is this: you, the reader, can take it in 1 piece with you. Reflect and digest. Then come back and engage and join the conversation. I’ve seen Vince do online “coffee talk” sessions at his Gateway Church Internet Campus, so he’s definitely accessible and conversational. The eBook speed-to-publish reiterates the urgency and need for “front door content” to be created and distributed via new media. Traditional publishing takes 12-18 months, that’s too slow for ideas about new media that’s running on network technology that goes obsolete in 6 months.
In the end, I felt the book left me hanging. I finished chapter 10 and tried to turn the page and it wouldn’t go anywhere. That’s it?! No conclusion? Screeched to a halt. To be continued? No web link to continue the conversation? Abrupt ending. Did I get an incomplete download? Help?! The suspense is killing me! Great job, Vince, you’ve left me wanting more!