Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Book Review: An Army of Davids

An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government and other Goliaths by Glenn Reynolds (Nelson Current, 2006, 289 pages; $24.99, hardcover;

Glenn Reynolds is popularly known on the internet as Instapundit, the über-blogger who has a do-it-yourself vocational history including such titles as “beer brewer” and “independent music label producer.” Mr. Reynolds is also a Presbyterian.

The premise of the book is stated pretty clearly in the lengthy subtitle. I’m not sure that David can be equated with the “ordinary,” but that’s an argument best reserved for another day. What I can tell you is this: Mr. Reynolds has done readers a wonderful service by noticing an important phenomenon: that “big” no longer guarantees success. Small is the new big, and the reason is that being small is now easier than ever before thanks to the explosion of cheap, out-of-the-box technology. Opinionmaking is no longer the reserve of big house newspapers like The New York Times or news organs like the Presbyterian News Service. Blogging is now a normative way of obtaining news and opinion, frequently from individuals with specific expertise in their area of interest. One no longer needs to sign with a big label in order to distribute music – products like Garageband make music making easy, and the web makes independently produced music easy to distribute. Today, successful big companies are the ones that help others keep things small. Reynolds cites eBay an example of this strategy - a big company that helps thousands of small sellers make their living using the eBay platform.

Given the biblical title and Reynolds’ Presbyterianism, I was a bit surprised that his thesis didn’t carry over into the rapid decline of “big” mainline denominations and the rise of one-off, nondenominational mega churches. The new “big” also means that individual members, deacons, elders, and Ministers of Word and Sacrament can now be their own opinionmakers. Mark D. Roberts is one of the most prominent Presbyterian pastors blogging today and has opined at length on theological matters ranging from The Davinci Code to the infamous “gospel” of Judas. Presbybloggers have also taken on big denominational issues. Individuals in the Presbyblogger circuit opined extensively about Louisville’s 2004 attempt to promote a divestment strategy that many felt unfairly singled out the nation of Israel. The blogosphere also weighed in heavily on the Peace, Unity, and Purity report. The effects of these opinion makers have, I’m sure, been felt at this year’s 217th General Assembly.

Glenn Reynolds has identified one of the big trends of contemporary American society, and Presbyterian readers will appreciate his insights and ideas.

Copyright © 2006 by Christopher D. Drew.
Originally published in the November 2006 edition of Presbyterians Today.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I Voted

I Voted
Originally uploaded by outdoor_type.
You're turn!

Frederica Mathewes-Green...

... closes her commentary on Haggard this way:
So it is a mistake to present Christianity the way some churches do, as if it is the haven of seamlessly well-adjusted, proper people. That results in a desperate artificial sheen. It results in treating worship as a consumer product, which must deliver better intellectual or emotional gratification than the competition. And that sends suffering people home again, still lonely, in their separate metal capsules.
Read the whole thing.

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