Goodbye Television, Hello Videostream


Is television passe’; an old medium that’s outlived its usefulness? Are web pages a thing of the past? Is traditional marketing being surpassed by word-of-mouth, “viral” marketing? Is there a place for marketing of any kind within religious communities? Can traditional religious institutions survive in a new digital culture that bypasses traditional gatekeepers and empowers people to act in direct ways, immediately?

These
and a host of other intriguing questions were the subject of a series of
conversations I was involved in the last couple of days. The conversations
result from the struggle of some forward-looking people of Christian faith to
envision what the faith community will look like in the future and how it
adjusts to the realities of the digital era in which the world finds itself
today.

I’m still forming my own
take on these conversations but among the thoughts they inspire are
these:

No people in the world are
beyond the influence of digital media and their impact. The Internet,
cellphones and satellite dishes bring information to people with immediacy and
visual impact that was unknown to earlier generations.

A global consumerist culture has
developed that is neither friendly to religious values, nor understands the
language of faith. Of course this culture takes different forms in different
regions and it is lived out in unique ways, but, never the less, it is pervasive
and it’s changing how people around the world live and what they expect from
life.

This culture is about
information. It’s about images and how to convey messages in a compelling and
effective way given competition for mindspace. It’s about knowing how to use
media to inform, inspire and engage. It’s about being in the stream of the
information flow and not standing on the shore watching it move by, and, in
effect, being bypassed, or worse, being left
behind.

These media impose upon
organizations transparency and responsiveness in ways that have not been so
demanding as before.

Loyalty, if it
exists at all, is much more tenuous in this environment. Because of the
Internet, people have multiple choices for information and for action, if they
want to act. Certainly, traditional organizations cannot take loyalty for
granted among those who have grown up in the digital
age.

The Digital Divide is less
about affordability and more about how the different generations engage digital
media.

The digital environment is an
interactive environment. It’s about relationships built on trust and
responsiveness to individual needs, desires and
expectations.

The demand for
information is immediate. Expectations are ratcheted up. If you’re not in the
information stream, you’re out of
mind.

These are just a few of the
reflections these conversations started me on. I will be writing about more as
I wrap my own thoughts around this new environment and how I am adjusting, or
not adjusting, to it.

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