Sunday, March 9, 2008

The world's a-changin....get a grip and hang on.

I've been marveling at the way the internet is morphing the way "official" information is passed on to people. It's changed our personal communication for a while now - e-mail, IM, Socal networks, and blogs are just the tip of that particular ice burgh - but now "offical" news outlets are changing the way they handle a story and I find it fascinating.

It actually started a while ago when TV news stations like CNN started posting articles (really, they're pretty much properly formatted on-line copy) on their web-site. Sure, videos were there too, but 10 years ago on-line video was clunky at best (in reality, it just sucked). To compensate for their restricted ability to share video news they became what amounted to an on-line newspaper of sorts. After all, they had to get that information out there, somehow.

Now, it's the print-media that is morphing thanks to the internet. Many newspapers realized long ago that they had to have their content on-line because people weren't reading their printed papers as much any more (and that number continues to drop). They tried porting their subscription model over to the web but that was an utter failure for most sites - so they did what CNN had done before them, their articles were out there on the 'net, no subscriptions needed. Then things got interesting. Local news stations started putting their copy on the 'net as well, only because they were on a TV News cycle the content was updated more frequently than on the newspaper sites. Also, in the last two years video on the web has been a pleasant experience (rather than the root-canal it was 10 years ago) - so video new-feeds began to go with the printed copy. With their faster cycle, and video - newspapers were feeling the crunch.

In the last six months or so I've been noticing something on newspaper sites like philly.com - videos. Rather than copying the TV news sites, however, and simply post the video that matches the "print copy" on the page, the newspapers have taken an different track - their videos are almost exclusively supporting content. That is, their print stories have remained the same, but now one or two videos will be shown alongside the article. Sometimes this is just a fuller version of a sources comments, but more and more (especially in the sports section) I'm beginning to see original content. It appears that newspapers as we knew them, no longer exist.

What's this mean for the Church? Well, it means we'd better learn to understand really quick that information doesn't wait to be passed around any more. It's flying out there, and "we'll discuss that next meeting" doesn't cut it any more. Sadly, too many church communities are woefully ill-equipped to function in this context - but we need to try. Heck, if newspapers can post videos, churches ought to be able to get used to a short information-cycle!

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