Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Flickering Pixels gets a review

We've written about Shane Hipps more than once on this blog, so I was interested to hear what his new book, Flickering Pixels: how technology shapes your faith, was like. The reviews on seemed pretty positive, and then, in my email box this morning, the latest Next-Wave Ezine arrived - with a review of the book by John La Grou. I hadn't even realised La Grou was a Christian when I wrote about him on one of my other blogs a day or so ago, so it was interesting to see his bio at the bottom of the review:

A husband, father, and lifelong technology enthusiast, John built crystal radios at 7 years old and by the end of high school had created most of the electronics for a professional audio recording studio. In his 20’s he helped start what is today the world’s third largest computer company. His Silicon Valley offices added virtual networking in 1986 and never looked back. John and his bride Cynthia also helped establish the first Silicon Valley Vineyard community and are currently developing Compathos, a non-profit, on-line philanthropic resource. John co-edited volume one the award-winning Wikiklesia Project and gave a 2009 TEDTalk on a new life-saving technology developed by one of the companies he co-founded. John also chairs a software consortium whose licensed algorithms are used on over 100 million audio CDs produced each year, while his audio hardware is found throughout the world in leading recording studios and concert halls. He currently serves on college and university technical advisory boards and is a student of life, energy, and sustainability (JL at JPS dot NET, Twitter @johnlagrou).

After all that, you'd expect him to know something about technology. And of course he does, which makes him an apt person to review Hipps' book. Regrettably, he finds the book wanting in many ways. "As a thoughtful work of practical theology, Flickering Pixels is a treasure and worth the price of admission alone. But where Pixels shines in a generous spirituality, I believe it suffers in objectivity and balance towards technology. ....does the author have sufficient technology experience to make an authoritative analysis? More importantly, does Pixels offer a balanced analysis of the way technology can negatively and positively shape faith and spiritual community? On both counts, I feel that Pixels misses its target. "

He goes on to quote a number of examples of Hipps' 'grand conclusions' on technology, which are offered without qualification: “Our digital diet sedates the left brain, leaving it in a state of hypnotic stupor”or “The technology of writing, regardless of context, weakens and destroys tribal bonds and profoundly amplifies the value of the individual” to mention only two.

After this review, I don't think I'll be putting Flickering Pixels on the top of my reading list. Which is a pity; it could have been great.

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