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How Digital Media is Changing the Church

By: Ronald Jordan
Apostle and Team Leader, AMI South Africa

Ever since Adam set foot outside the garden of Eden, we have been trying to find a way to make this world of ours better. The Lord promised that as long as the earth remained, that seed and harvesting times would remain. However, He didn’t say anything about how hard or easy that process had to be.

If you look throughout history, you see that every generation of people have used what was at their disposal to improve their lives.

When the Gutenberg printing press was invented, it was welcomed with mass adoption and fanfare. The result? The prices of books became lower. More people learned to read. The Word of God was spread further than ever before.

When the steam engine was invented, the industrial revolution took off with a bang. The result? More goods were put into the hands of more people than ever before. Also, people could travel further than ever before and so more people heard the Word of the Lord.

There is a new wave of innovation that has crested, and it is already changing your life. That wave is digital media. What is digital media exactly? Quite simply, digital media means information that is stored on a computer or some form of storage device like a hard drive or a memory stick.

No longer do you have to carry around a stack of heavy books, but the average smartphone can store thousands of ebooks and hundreds of hours of audio. In addition, some ebooks can even be printed out, enabling die-hard, paper-copy book lovers to have the best of both worlds.

In every technological breakthrough that mankind makes, two things happen. More people are able to access goods, and those goods become much more affordable. As a side effect of this, more ways to spread the Word of God spring into being.

Of course, everyone knows that it takes money to print books. But, it is all of the hidden costs in the exisiting system that push prices up for the end user. In addition to regular printing costs, shipping from the printer to the warehouse costs money. Shipping from a warehouse from one country to another, adds extra expense due to import duties and currency conversion fluctuations. When you add it all up, there are a lot of inefficiencies in the way that physical products are distrubted around the world.

However, modern digital media is changing all of that. With no product to transport through the postal system, there are no delays due to weather or strikes. There are no import duties to pay or borders to be crossed. In essence, digital media shatters every inefficiency in the current book distrubtion model. The result? Content producers are able to offer their goods cheaper, faster, and more reliably.

Over the past 40 years, the computer industry has witnessed the power of technological innovation through a phenomon called Moore’s law. Simply put, it says that every 18 months the number of transistors that you can put on a CPU will double.

Amazingly, this law has held true, and this has driven the adoption of personal computers over the last 40 years. This is why over time, computers have been able to get faster and cheaper. Where once a personal computer cost thousands of dollars, the price has been driven down to as low as a few hundred.

In the same way, as innovation drove down the price and broadened the access to personal computers, there is a similar wave of technological innovation taking place in the digital media space. In the year 2000, if you wanted to get an Audio CD, you had to go to the store and pick one out. A decent CD would set you back anywhere from 15 to 20 USD.

However, that is if you could get that CD. Sometimes they were sold out. Sometimes due to sanctions in a country, a particular CD couldn't be found at all.

Today, things are much different. Not only has the price of storing and distrubtion digital media fallen to historic lows, you don't have to go to the store anymore to buy a CD. The infrastructure for the digital economy is here. Anyone can take advantage of this trend.

This wave of innovation in sweeping the world. It’s changing how we read our books, how we listen to music, and even how we interact with our computers. Gone are the days of going and purchasing a DVD with the latest version of your operating system. Everything today is done over the wire.

In view of this long-term economic trend, people are doing what they have always done in the past: adapt.

The truly liberating thing about this current advancement in technology, is that it is removing barriers and is bringing more people into the digital media marketplace. In Africa, today it is estimated that the rate of adoption of smartphones is upwards of 7% a year. That means millions of people, many of them first time technology users, are getting access to the internet and to digital media.

This trend is not only for the global middle class. Top tier manufacturers are lowering the price of good smart phones. For example, Mozilla is set to release a game changing smart phone for as little as $35 USD. All of this means, is that virtually everyone will be able to take part in the digital media revolution.

Whatever your interest is, be it music or preaching, fiction or training materials for your ministry, you cannot afford to miss this revolution. To be sure, the industrial revolution didn't do away with the gutenberg style printing presses. They just made them better. In the same way, printed books are never going to away, but even amongst traditional publishing houses, the consensus is that digital media and digital publication needs to be the core focus, not just printed books.

In closing, the cost of data is falling. Internet providers are putting out more fiber and are building out their capacity. Not to mention that there are more ways to access digitial media than simply through the internet. Take the memory stick for example.

On a single 8 gigabyte memory stick, you could have hundreds of ebooks or audio messages stored on there. If you like video, you could have dozens of hour-long videos on a single memory stick. You can have an entire library collection, in your pocket.

The point is, that the the trends are enabling everyone to have access to information. The only question remains, are you ready to ride this wave?

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