Chapter 7 is the first of three chapters that begins section 3 on the topic of Google. In it, Sweet demonstrates the ultimate difference between how a Googler and Gutenberger responds to information. The latter has tended to focus on information as facts to be attained with sometimes little practical import. While Googlers, who have instant access to a vast array of information from all over the world, far more than ever before, emphasize not the power of information as an abstract category, but power with purpose. That is, they focus on the usefulness and possibilities that information presents. Their ability to adapt to constant change (“For Googlers, change is life” – pg. 92), coupled with their access to global knowledge, makes them the great hope for the world, as visionaries and agents of change for good. For Googlers, information is doing, and abstraction is being replaced with action. Doesn’t this seem to reflect Jesus’ style and purpose of communicating?
Yet, as important as words are to the TGIF generation (they do, after all, text on an almost constant basis), their methods of communication and learning don’t end with words. Have you ever heard the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? All Googlers may not be familiar with the it, but they certainly do believe and utilize the truth value within it. In fact, text and image hold equal significance. However, rather than viewing images in abstraction, they look for the usefulness within it. They ask questions like – What does this picture communicate? What other images come to mind when you see it? What value does this image have for life? What impact does it elicit?
For example, what does this picture mean to you? What lessons have we learned from it? What stories emerge from it?
So it is with the Googler generation. Pictures, images, sculptures, and paintings all have the power of communication. They can be highly emotive, like the frame above, and bring with it not only a flood of information, but also life lessons that bring positive change. It is a sermon without words.
Googlers are a contemporary version of an ancient picture-language culture like the Mayans. Each image tells a story with meaning, referencing the stories of the past. Here is a picture I took a few weeks ago during a visit to Chichen Itza, a Mayan site in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. Notice the use of image as a means of telling, and re-telling, a story with meaning.
In this way, as Sweet contends, “storytelling links the premodern world with the TGIF culture, and vice versa. Image, metaphor, and paradox carried the day before the arrival of written language, and long before movable type.”
Through story, text and image, Googlers use the information superhighway as a means of communicating ideas that can change the world for good. As Sweet points out, this is not to say that they have “perfected the art,” but they can still be the conduits of positive progression and change.
For the Google generation, knowledge is power, but the power to change.