Tag Archives: theology of language and words

Innovation and the Incarnation: A Dialogue on Digital Books

While growing up on a steady diet of children’s books and classics, my mom used to say I was addicted to print. And since the digital advent I’ve had to modify this slightly to feeding an addiction of both print and pixels. I work more with digital ink than print these days, and I believe there’s a respectable art to both mediums.

Digital Ink and the Incarnation

But personally, I still gravitate toward the sacrament of print. I’m still one of those traditionalists who see romance in libraries and print presses and coffee rims on cream pages. I love words. I love the way the Word Incarnate sprouted lungs and limbs to dwell with us, spirit-God taking human, physical form. Digital words, it sometimes seems, regress against this divine unfolding of word becoming embodied.

But then I conducted this interview with NOVOInk which effectively changed my mind. I was intrigued when John Hirst, who formerly worked at NOVOInk and founded Generous Mind, argued that digital reading is a move toward the Incarnation because enhanced, interactive book editions actually bring the content and the author back together.

In the industrial mass-production of the last century, he said, we’ve lost the personal connection with the author, which interactive e-reading is able to resurrect. John explained, “We are not so much in love with the technology of eBooks as we are excited about what eBooks can do to reconnect authors and readers in ways that will lead to life transformation.”

Hidden Costs of Innovation

I applaud NOVOInk’s approach to eReading, but I suppose I can’t expect all business media giants to bend to a theology of language and the Incarnation.

This morning The High Calling pointed me to David Wheeler’s blog, a brick and mortar bookseller, who warns against the costly trade-offs of selling out to Amazon’s digital empire and feels the pressure in his own bookshop of their tactics to dominate the industry. David writes, and this gave me chills,

“It has never been a small irony to me that Amazon chose a Bradburian name like Kindle and Kindle Fire for their e-reader, as they continue to set fire to booksellers, publishers, and writers alike.”

Throughout history, innovation without boundaries has resulted in dire consequences. What boundaries do you think we need to put around our technology, reading and otherwise, so that we make the most of it without it getting out of our control? 

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