Tag Archives: Electronics

Digital Selection

Sometimes I feel young at heart even though I’m getting older. When it comes to modern technology I usually feel ancient. Although working with modern computer systems and knowing more about the systems than most people I meet I’m still like a dinosaur when it comes to using these devices in the modern social media inundated digital age. I’m into Facebook (to keep tabs on my children and grandchildren), email (a dinosaur), texting (formerly SMS), cloud storage, and a host of modern technological marvels which attempt to improve my life. I think I’ve got it figured out until I start interacting with the next generation’s immersive lifestyle of technology.

My wife coined a great phrase, “Digital Selection.” It started when some young upstart commented that finding such and such on the ministry’s home page was simple and intuitive. It was then we decided their definition of simple and intuitive was different than ours. I figured with my extensive background in computers, web page design, and the like, I could find what we were looking for. No success. I’ve become a victim of Digital Selection.

What is Digital Selection you might ask? It isn’t using a search engine to find the cheapest price for a new tablet or notebook or to decide the proper resolution for your new high definition television. It’s when the ability to easily wade through modern technology to the desired destination is hampered by an aging understanding of how things work in the digital world. We’ve been Digitally Selected to be out of touch with the younger generation. Beth says, “They’re going to put us on an iceberg and float us out to sea.”

Originally electronics and computers were purely logical. That I can understand. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of social media infecting the mental growth and processes of the next generation what used to follow rules has been reprogrammed to follow the circuitous pathway of the younger mind in a media saturated generation. Pure computer logic has given way to what can appear as random chaos similar to a planned life-giving way to going with the flow. In my mind, the algorithm of the program isn’t easily discovered, almost like the perfect security cypher.

For those raised in such an environment it makes perfect sense. All the pieces fit together smoothly in their concept of the digital age. Unfortunately, it leaves the older generation confused trying to put the square pegs into the round holes. Sometimes we just don’t see the connection. We are therefore Digital Selected to be relegated to the outer circle of fellowship and communication. While I poke fun at this the centuries have demonstrated the division of one generation from another almost proportionally related to the advancement in technology.

When I was young the use of electric guitars, electronic pianos and electronic organs started insinuating themselves into the fabric of modern rock and roll music as well as creeping into bastion of the classic orchestra and even, gasp, into church music. This confused parents who were familiar with the smooth tones of classical wind and string instruments, pianos and pipe organs. It was a new sound and while some parents embraced the changes many of their generation relegated it to the deepest depths of degradation and evil. There’s was an error of Electronic Selection threatening to drive a wedge between two generations.

Other things have separated the ages. Changes in cultural beliefs and activities, the redirection of skills from rural to urban work spaces, and any technological advancement from the steam engine to the multicore processor have created segments of selection. Often the selective nature of these advances isn’t perceived as a change by the generation in which they develop but as the norm. The concept that the older generation might not comprehend this shift doesn’t seem to motivate the new generation to understand the change and work towards an effective stitching together of the two worlds. So, it falls on the ousted to decipher the recent technology and introduce it to their lives in a way which will once again connect them with the new generation.

Things move forward. I’m sure there is more ahead of me to learn than I dealt with in the past. I just hope I have the where-with-all to comprehend and make use of the advances which become so ingrained in our lives. I don’t want to be Digitally Selected forever. In the church, we must be careful not to Digitally Select (exclude) those interested in helping because we have some new high-tech sign up site which appeals to the young and confounds the less young.

As a Christian, I’m glad God doesn’t use a Digital Selection scale for eternity. I’m looking forward to simplifying things and reducing my digital footprint. I figure if I’m in the presence of God I don’t think there’s a need for a Facebook status for Him to know what I’m doing. But for now, . . . I guess this is the season of the tablet, phablet, smartphone, social media and whatchamacallit and I better keep up with my skills to avoid Digital Selection.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 WEB)

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Dictionary Death

However in the assembly I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I might instruct others also, than ten thousand words in another language. (1 Corinthians 14:19 WEB)

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In my life, I’ve been heavily involved in electronics and communications media. From suitcase powered radios to rotary operator assisted car phones which filled the trunk with electronics and tubes to cell phones that fit into the palm of my hand to smart phones, suitcase computers, laptops, notebooks and tablets. In each case one of the objectives of the device was to carry information from one place to another. In most cases, it was to allow two or more people the ethereal ability to communicate across long distances without physical connections.

As we moved from verbal loquaciousness to SMS the bandwidth allowed to communicate our message was reduced from limitless expressions of proper grammar and vocabulary to 240 characters or less. What might be expressed, discussed and clarified in several minutes of verbal banter has been redacted to basic simplistic monosyllabic abbreviated gobbledygook. I used to carefully consult a dictionary while composing even a simple letter to insure my spelling, word choices, and grammar were succinctly carrying the precise entirety of my message to the recipient. It was a combination of both form and content which carried a clear thought or concept.

For centuries mankind carefully crafted its many languages to insure one person understood what the other person was communicating. In some cultures, the dogged inflexibility of the language and its resident grammar police have stifled the etymological progression necessary to encompass the radical changes in modern life brought about by modern technological developments. In other cultures, the adaptability of the language, inclusion of any workable word from any background for clarity, made the language highly flexible in a cross cultural interaction. Thus, some languages are preferred over others for international encounters and business.

Then along comes the modern, highly technological generation, not well versed in their own language much less any other, who thrive around the convenience of instant messaging. To accommodate this new limited bandwidth, they develop their own micro language distilled from the few roots of the mother tongue they remember and peppered with regional dialectical expressions. To the generation which preceded them it seems disrespectful to the nuances of their historical language. To the generation following them it’s a stepping stone to further distill an expansive and often cumbersome language into even smaller packages.

What can be done? Not much of anything. This sort of dictionary death has developed around the world from generation to generation. As a missionary, I’ve dealt with language barriers over and over. Sometimes I’ve been successful in discerning the Rosetta stone aspects of different tongues to communicate on a fundamental level. Other times . . . not so much. Some think we’re moving toward a global tongue. Some think social media has provided a platform for language to morph into an abbreviated conglomeration of multiple cultural languages and dialects understood at least at a fundamental level by all.

I’m not a linguist and apparently neither was the apostle Paul. I agree with his assessment of tongues and languages. It’s better to find those fundamental few words which express God’s love and the propitiation for our salvation than to expound fluently filling tome after tome. Which dictionary can we consult to share God’s grace today?

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Father and Son(s)

And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:18 ESV)

Since I was able to crawl I made my way through the cables, cabinets and equipment of radio and television stations. I probably knew more about electricity before I started Kindergarten than most people ever learned in their life. Granted, this was not a particularly useful skill in elementary school but it kept me from biting the electrical cord and those shocking results.

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Joel and Me running Sound

Needless to say some of my children acquired an interest in electronics and especially audio. Joel was the first to discover the wonder of mixing audio in the church for a good sound. Working with Dad, aka me, he discovered what he could and could not do with the available equipment.

It didn’t take him long to notice the sheepish singers and boost their microphone a little more than the accompaniment. Getting the right mixture so instrument and voice could be heard was always a challenge.

On the other end of the spectrum was the confident, loud singer. They always wanted the monitors and speakers blaring as loud as possible to help insure permanent hearing loss for themselves and the audience. Floor monitors directed at the singer are wonderful devices. Lowering the volume to the congregation while boosting the floor monitor would give the singer a sense that they were blasting away at their captive audience while the audience was spared hearing damage and could enjoy the music without pain.

Working with a group was even more fun. Joel learned quickly to turn down, and sometimes off, the microphone of that one individual who was swaying back and forth in spiritual sync while singing in another world and another key. Their voice would fade in and out as their mouth passed across the microphone in time with the music.

For years we worked together. Joel was always behind the mixing board. I was sometimes helping him. Sometimes I was providing the music and became the victim of his mixing decisions. Either way it was an exercise in making peace between the musician, the preacher, the choir and those listening in the congregation.

There was also a time of peace when we worked together on special audio projects. More than once we worked the sound board together for church or special programs at the boy’s school in Austria. For several years Joel helped our church in Vienna mix the sound in our small and noisy meeting hall.

When Joel went off the college James stepped in and picked up the ministry. It was fun watching him keep the peace between the musicians and the congregation. One time he turned off his Mom’s microphone. When she asked why he said, “Trust me. It was better off not letting people hear what you were singing.”

OK, so maybe there wasn’t always peace at home. I have the sneaking suspicion he often turned my microphone off but just didn’t say anything. There was that one Sunday when I had a stuffy nose, and sounded like a walrus with his head buried in the sand.

It’s times like these, working with my children that I remember and cherish. God allowed us to work together, to be at peace with one another, usually. As Father and son we carefully sculptured audio to help others worship and praise God through song.

What events remind you of God’s peace working in your life? Mine are with family and friends. God’s calm hand helps us work together.

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