1) One of my pet projects is researching the changes in the academy that will be brought about in the transition to a world populated by Digital Natives (not keen on that term, but let’s set that aside until next Saturday). My proposed paper on the differences in learning styles between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants was accepted to the Canadian Theological Society conference in June. This means I gotta figure some stuff out.
2) We had a professional development seminar at school on publishing and one of the tenured academics warned us against blogging because ”putting half-baked ideas out there” will hurt our careers.
3) My pal and peer, Jesse, who runs the Anglican Church of Canada’s online ministry – The Community – crafted a post on church and technology that caught my attention. I weighed in, challenging something he said, and through Facebook chats he explained (after he wrote back publicly agreeing with me):
it was a rambling thought blog // they work the best anyhow // because they invite the community to think it through together // rather than saying ‘this is how it is. because i said so.’
How about that, eh? There you have it. In two exchanges, that probably weren’t given much thought, the methodological assumptions about academy, theology, church, and technology laid pretty bare. On the one hand, a scholar committed to the idea that publishing is a final act, reserved for the perfected word, a product of careful propositional thinking. On the other hand, a scholar committed to the idea that publishing inaugurates dialogue, reserved for that which is immediate and relevant to your worlds, a product of the imaginative, narrative thinking community.
As a child of both the Digital Age and one who keeps signing up for relationships with the Academy, my sympathies are plural. I can see the merits and underlying methods of both ways of thinking and doing theology. However, I have a hunch there are not too many of us who can understand and move between the worlds of propositional and narrative writing, between peer-reviewed and open-source theology, between polished and unrefined process. What I think will ultimately hurt Digital Natives is not so much our willingness to hit ‘Publish’ on “half-baked” ideas. Rather it will be that those who mistake these acts as meaningless, or carelessness on our part, instead as part of a more profound methodological shift that is a complicated mess of new challenges and fresh hope for the academy and the church we are all so eager to serve.
PS – Yes, I know, the picture doesn’t have much to do with this post. But I kinda like it. It was in the Botanical Gardens at Montreal last year when I went to play with their lantern exhibit, which is totally marvellous and you should meet me there sometime.