The New Media Frontier

Yesterday I read a fascinating book set to release on September 30:

John Mark Reynolds and Roger Overton, eds. The New Media Frontier: Blogging, Vlogging, and Podcasting for Christ. With a foreword by Hugh Hewitt. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008. 254 pp.

More info (the content online, endosements, etc.) are likely forthcoming on the Crossway site. In the mean time, here are a few highlights:

1. Summary

The introduction by Roger Overton summarizes the book (pp. 16–17):

We’d like to offer some direction for how Christians can use the new media with discernment and grace. Part One of the book will further explain new media in general. Dr. John Mark Reynolds begins with a chapter examining the history of human communication in order to provide a fresh perspective on what new media really means. In the second chapter John Mark looks to the future of new media and stresses the urgency for Christian involvement before the opportunities vanish.

Matthew Anderson contributes our third chapter by looking at what dangers new media pose for those who uncritically dive into it. His chapter advocates the careful use of wisdom in consuming and creating digital content. With the foundation laid by these first three chapters, the next two chapters spell out exactly how consumers can become creators in the new media. Joe Carter explains how to blog in Chapter 4, and in Chapter 5 Matthew Eppinette and Terence Armentano explain how to podcast and vlog.

Part Two of the book looks to specific areas in which Christians can utilize new media more thoroughly and specifically. These areas include theology (David Wayne), community (Tod Bolsinger), pastoral ministry (Mark D. Roberts), youth ministry (Rhett Smith), evangelism and apologetics (Roger Overton), academics (Fred Sanders), education (Jason D. Baker), politics (Scott Ott), bioethics (Joe Carter and Matthew Eppinette), and social justice (Stephen Shields).

2. A Few Noteworthy Quotations

Roger Overton, “Introduction,” p. 14:

One such consequence is that frequent readers of blogs become accustomed to brief, cursory thoughts and lose their appetite for longer, deeper commentaries. We might expect, then, that in the long run people will generally have a lower tolerance for complex lines of argument and will only give ear to pithy sound bites.

John Mark Reynolds, “The Future of the Media,” p. 51:

The good thing about the new media is we will get more, but the bad thing about the new media is that we will get more. Most of the “more” will be bad (just as it was in the old media).

Joe Carter, “Beginner’s Toolbox: Blogging,” p. 79:

Almost every blog has an archive listed by date and category. Yet the average blog reader will never take advantage of this resource. Why? Because we assume that anything that was written in the past (i.e., last month) will be of little relevance today. We accept the absurd notion that the latest news is more necessary for understanding our times than the past. But, to paraphrase the historian Arnold Toynbee, the blogger trying to understand the present is like the man with his nose pressed against the mirror trying to see his whole body.

Fred Sanders, “Professors with a New Public: Academics and New Media,” p. 167 (The parenthetical statement at the end made me laugh!):

The same system of peer review is in place for books from academic presses, where the situation is further complicated by the even smaller number of copies printed. For the average academic book, the potential readership is so small that only the smallest print runs are justified. The market is exclusively university libraries, so a few hundred copies will suffice. In order for this kind of micro-publishing to be profitable or even supportable, the price of the volumes has to be disproportionately high. It is now common for a scholarly hardcover of about three hundred pages to cost well over a hundred dollars. This high price, in turn, guarantees that individual professors will not consider purchasing it but will instead ask their university libraries to purchase it. This has the advantage of making the book available to the whole university community, but there is some unintentional comedy involved in the fact that the only person on campus qualified to read the book has the same access to it as everybody else (“Who checked out Volume 3 of Hypothetical Vocalizations of the Late Sanskrit Subjunctive Mood?”).

Ibid., 172 (Logos Bible Software to the rescue!):

The coming crisis in academic publishing is centered on the expense of printing and distributing scholarly works with an extremely narrow focus. Electronic publishing is the obvious source of a solution to this problem. The current editorial systems could stay in place just as they are, with the cost of production dropping to a fraction of the current system. It may be a long time before paperless publication is desirable for all users, but in academia it seems like an obvious need. The current system, enmeshed in the ambiguities of inadequate peer review and the blurred line between subvention and vanity publishing, must find a way out of its deadlock.

3. My Favorite Chapters

The authors generally write with a solid historical and theological perspective (see the introduction and chap. 1).

My favorite chapters:

  • 1. John Mark Reynolds, “The New Media: First Thoughts”
  • 2. John Mark Reynolds, “The Future of New Media”
  • 11. Fred Sanders, “Professors with a New Public: Academics and New Media”
  • 13. Scott Ott, “Politics and Journalism”


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