It might just be me, but sometimes, when I'm reading a book, I feel like reaching through the pages and throttling the author. Or, perhaps something less violent, like shouting my arguments and wrestling in a debate akin to one of the many sports talk shows I frequently watch. Such is how I feel when I read books like Viral.
It may be simply that Sweet comes across as arrogant by insisting to use words that cost significantly more than necessary. Or perhaps it's less personal. Perhaps my angst is driven by the faulty premise I see over and over, one that is also derived from arrogance, in a sense. It seems the thesis of Viral rests on the foundation of believing that modern society has surpassed all of history's previous generations in splendor and sophistication. It is the belief that our modern technology has advanced the human race is finally positioned to take its rightful place as sons and daughters of God. In truth, we've always been there.
Sweet posits that the current tools of the digital age have unlocked the power to spark a revival among the next generation, dubbed Googlers. Unfortunately, (rather, what was particularly bothersome to me) this belief leads Sweet to villainize Gutenbergers and ignore the faults of Googlers. Though Sweet offers some interesting potentials for Twitter, Facebook, and the like, he fails to fully address motives, intentions, and practicalities.
It's a rather one-sided glimpse at what the future may hold. And, though it also seems short-sighted, it's a provocative read, one that spurs on an inner debate dialogue, if you're into that sort of thing.
I found this a unique approach to ministry. I must admit I have found it difficult to wade through the book,"Viral"
It is probably because I am as he puts it,"a Gutenberger".For me the book was wordy and not up to what I had hoped I would find in reading the book. I am being hard on the author,but I found that it was not that applicable to me. Oh there were some good points and undoubtedly will be "great for the googlers of this age."
You will have to read it and make your own decison.
I have been reading Leonard Sweet's new book Viral which talks about the developing world of Googlers (technology natives) over and against the Gutenbergers (print natives). I've had the privilege of hearing Sweet speak at the inauguration of my colleges last president and found him compelling and engaging then, so I was excited to read this book. In Viral he highlights the differences of Googlers and Gutenbergers and offers a compelling reason for Googlers to embrace who they are and for Gutenburgers to adopt Googler practices. While never explicitly saying so, his dividing seems to also be in line with the philosophical shift from modernity to post-modernity. He highlights the way truth is perceived and communicated by each group and offers solutions for moving forward in the world.
Sweet clearly seems to be writing more for the Gutenberg audience, trying to persuade them to join a Google revolution in ministry and cultural engagement. For anyone wondering, he offers a helpful questionnaire at the beginning of the book so you know which camp to place yourself.
Sweet's main points revolve around the acronym TGIF, which stands for Twitter, Google, iPhone and Facebook. He examines each one and shows how it has played a part in the sharing, distribution and perception of truth. He highlights things like community, openness and shared knowledge as the way the Googler culture works. It is defined not primarily because I (or anyone) is an expert but because we have access to knowledge and information.
As a Google native I felt it a bit hard to keep reading. It was, in a very real sense, a book written about me. It is a book that is going to be more helpful to those that identify themselves as a child of Gutenberg in helping them transition into a Google world.
His most helpful analogy in the book was his examination of the apple and the orange and how each relates to either a Gutenberger or a Googler. The observation is that an Apple is holistic in the way we eat it. You can get a little bit of every part of the apple. Googlers approach the world in the same mindset. They, at their center of their very identity, long to be an integrated and whole person. Oranges on the other hand (Gutenbergers) are segmented. You peel an orange and eat individual segments. Each part of the fruit is broken up and taken individually. He looks at things like the segmentation of the Bible (the introduction of chapters and verses) as an example. You don't get a PhD in Bible, you get a PhD in Pauline eschatology for example. This is a segmentation of the entire whole of the Bible. Googlers are seeking to reconnect what Gutenbergers have segmented and broken.
It should also not go without note that each chapter concludes with a few group questions for discussions. This sets it up quite easily to be a good book for a small group to study, particularly a middle-aged (or slightly younger) group of people that are Gutenbergers but have Google children. It will explain some of the differences that each group has and ways to move forward.
Quickly, a shorter review (my own categories):
Level of readability: Easy (Sweet avoids overly complicated terms and ideas)
Understanding of Arguments and Thesis: Easy (You can quickly pick up where he is going)
Level of engagement: High (This is a book you want to keep reading)
Overall: 3 1/2 or 4 stars out of 5. While it won't be on my list of must reads, it is a strong and enormously helpful book for those wondering where the future of ministry is heading in a technologically driven age.
Disclaimer: I reviewed a free copy of this book through the BloggingForBooks program offered by WaterBrook Multnomah publishing. I was in no way compensated for this review and all views are expressly and entirely my own. I was not required to offer a positive review.
Leonard Sweet's book Viral was a real help to me. I am a middle-aged pastor and much of communicating the gospel to this generation who sees Church as either unimportant or evil is quite mind-boggling to me. Sweet's breakdown between Gutenbergers (me) and Googlers (everyone younger than me) helped illuminate some of the fundamental differences in how differently the generations receive and process information and truth. I think this book would be equally helpful to a young person who is mystified by the older generation's attachment to things such as organizations and committee meetings.
"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."
The author brings forth a unique and definitely relevant view of social media. His comparison between what he calls the Gutenbergers and the Googlers is spot on, especially of the difficulty of each group trying to relate to the other. But that is about it. He tries to explain how social media has the potential to stimulate revival. He is definitely a Gutenberger, because ironically he calls himself a Googler and yet takes so much time to say virtually nothing, or at least very little of interest to me. It took me six months to read the first half of the book, and I cringed at the thought of having to finish it. There is no doubt about the author's intent. He wants to share the gospel and get others to do so. Social media is definitely an avenue to be open and honest about our lives. But more than anything else, social media also has the potential to make everything superficial and impersonal.
I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of a book review bloggers program. Clearly I was not under any obligation to write a positive review. Regardless of my feeble thoughts, I pray that this book will bring others to Christ.