Social media seems nearly ubiquitous today. Even NPR, so often ridiculed by Saturday Night Live, has multiple Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, and even a location in Second Life. Thanks to such media there is an unprecedented opportunity for people to interact with one another and with organizations, even to the point of breaking news to the newsroom.
Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff have named this phenomenon The Groundswell. With such a descriptive name they have captured the effect of social media on the communications landscape. As more and more people interact with their world and reveal their ideas, insights, concerns or even just a picture, the ground seems to swell with new information. It’s a bottom up phenomenon to say the least. No longer are creative or news worthy events being filtered through a hierarchy of production. The vox populi has the technology to contribute to the wider culture.
Though Bernoff and Li have the larger commercial landscape in view as they present their findings about social media, it is important for us as leaders in the Church of the Brethren to understand the possibilities and limitations of social media. With that in mind, I invite you to a structured, online discussion of the book. Though we will not agree with everything and will raise theological concerns, we can use their findings and case studies to think strategically about the impact of the internet on traditional ministries such as evangelism, outreach, and spiritual formation.
I propose that we stretch our conversation over 6 weeks by tackling 2 chapters a week. I will offer a short summary and pose an initial question at the beginning of the week, to which we each can respond and add our own questions. As we move through the book we can discern if a video conversation would be helpful. But for now, asynchronous conversation seems the easiest.