by Dan Balow
As you read this, I am in the bustling city of Accra, Ghana in West Africa taking part in four days of training for Ghanaian publishers, August 20-23, conducted by Media Associates International (www.littworld.org). International publishing guru Ramon Rocha and I are participating in seminars on a wide range of topics. My little secret is that I learn and am blessed far beyond what I carry from home in the U.S. We would appreciate your prayers that our presentations are well received and they we rely on God’s wisdom rather than our own.
Last fall, I had the privilege to present material at the tri-annual LittWorld conference in Nairobi, Kenya…hosting 200 people from 50 countries. (Even Mongolia was represented)
On the flight over, one of the in-flight movies was The Social Network, a drama that traced the beginnings of Facebook from 2003. What started as a college website with less than honorable intentions now has 1.1 billion (that’s a “b”) registered users worldwide…about one in six humans on the earth.
During the Nairobi LittWorld, every publisher acknowledged the importance of Facebook to their marketing efforts. A writer from a Muslim country spoke about how it is the pivotal communication mechanism for Christians in difficult areas. There are significant social media ministries into areas that are otherwise closed to the Gospel. Years ago we had short-wave radio for Christian messages to closed or difficult areas, now we have that and have added Facebook and Twitter.
We are currently in the middle of the most significant revolution in publishing since the invention of the printing press. Digital distribution of written content has wiped away country borders and made materials available in areas where there is no bookstore or library. Authors must communicate with their readers.
If global ministry is part of your DNA, bring that to your writing…you never know where your words will end up. There is little or nothing stopping a message from going viral globally, which is a bit of a problem for publishers who have limited territorial rights. This is why there are so many legal issues in publishing these days. Contracts (especially older ones) are struggling to catch up with technological advances.
Certainly, there are less-than-good uses of the web and social networking structures, but it is also wide open to be used for the Good News. Let’s take advantage of it.