Thursday, June 28, 2007

iPhone: Why Phone? Postman

If anyone in the vast and venerable audience of this blog has purchased (for $600) the newly-released iPhone (about which so many are agog and aroused), I'd like you to watch the Neil Postman video (from the previous post) and tell our watching ocean of souls these things:

1. What problems do the features of the iPhone solve?
2. Who are the winners that benefit from the iPhone and who are the losers?
3. Where is your consciousness when you use the iPhone?

And let me add a query of my own:

4. How does the Kingdom of God benefit from your use of the iPhone, if at all? See Matthew 6:33.

12 comments:

Sam said...

Pertinent questions. I am most interested in #4.

QNormal said...

I can understand your qualms about the iPhone. The Neil Postman interview you linked to yesterday was excellent. My question is, and I mean this without any irony or derision, where does jazz music fit into the Kingdom? How do any of the conveniences and luxuries, whatever each of us considers a luxury, fit into the Kingdom? This is a serious question, as I have ruminated over it for years.

MJ said...

qnormal, maybe this helps:

WSC Q#1: What is the chief end of man?

A: The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.

Since God is not the author of confusion, but rather teleological greatness through His creating the world with order, the enjoyment of complexity (I argue) is on a plane with enjoying His creation, and glorifies Him. Of course complex things (such as jazz, classical music, fine arts, et al) and even (more esasily) technology can all be used with sinful and skewed purposes, but on its face and absence evil intent, the enjoyment of creation and complexity pleases God.

MJ said...

Just so I am not accused of misquoting, here is the more traditional version:

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

John Stockwell said...

First of all, I don't believe that Neil Postman was an anti-modernist nor was he
anti-technology. I would say that it is a mistake to view Postman's taped interview, or anything that he wrote as being a manifesto against modernity and technological innovation.



1. What problems do the features of the iPhone solve?


The iPhone, as with any other technological innovation, is an experiment in the application of human imagination to a subject, and in this case this application is to multi-media communication. The idea of the iPhone is to take a bunch of functions and put them in one device, while simultaneously attempting to make a new human-to-device interface that is supposed to be more human friendly.



2. Who are the winners that benefit from the iPhone and who are the losers?


As with any invention, if it is a success then we will measure that success by the number of inspired products and functionalities that are coopted by other developers.

If it is a failure, in this sense, then the folks at Apple and their shareholders will have lost money and credibility. But, even then, we would still have a notion of stuff that doesn't work. So, every experiment is a "success" in some way, if conducted properly.


3. Where is your consciousness when you use the iPhone?


I don't believe in consciousness. I think that Postman's discussion of questions of "where your consciousness is" when you use the internet, or read a book, or what have you, reveals that the concept is an "ad hoc machine" that can almost be anything you want it to be.

What we call "I" under more careful examination seems to be the average of processes that organic operations in my
head. When I think about the Moon, I am not on the Moon. My mental processes are gathering together a bunch of disjoint stuff that is somehow filed under Moon, however, relevant or irrelevant.


And let me add a query of my own:

4. How does the Kingdom of God benefit from your use of the iPhone, if at all? See Matthew 6:33.


The iPhone is an information storage, retrieval, and communication device (in other words a "computer") not unlike the
thing on your desk. What information you put on it is your business.

The iPhone is a "tabula rasa". If you pack it full of religious apologetics, Bible commentaries, inspirational materials, and only call people who believe in what you do, then it would fit right in your view of the "kingdom of God".

Of course, if you think that the notion of "kindom of God" is an obsolete anacronism that is not proper for free thinking citizens of secular republics governed by representative government, then you could use the iPhone for that too.

Dave said...

God believes in excellence, and anything that Apple creates is far superior to the evil and sinful world of Windows.

Okay, humor aside, I cringe at your implications. There is nothing wrong with having nice things and making a hobby of having things that interest you. Technology is a hobby. It would not be a sin for me to purchase an iPhone assuming that the resources were present to do so.

Your implications are, I fear, closed minded and, dare I say, legalistic.

Douglas Groothuis said...

Dave:

No, it's called cultural discernment and is vital to Christian existence. Otherwise, we just sleep walk (or run) through life. Have you even read any Neil Postman or watched the ten minute video?

We all too easily become "tools of our tools" (Thoreau) and make them idols, which is a sin.

Steve said...

How does the Kingdom of God benefit from your use of the iPhone, if at all? See Matthew 6:33.


None at all. But what does it matter? Is God needy?

Jeff S. said...

I guarantee by next week someone in my office will have the new iPhone. I look forward to asking them the questions that Postman put forth.

John: How can someone who doesn't believe in consciousness have an opinion on the existence of consciousness? And why do you refer to yourself using first-person grammar?

John Stockwell said...


Jeff wrote:


John: How can someone who doesn't believe in consciousness have an opinion on the existence of consciousness?


A person comment on a myth without believing in it.


And why do you refer to yourself using first-person grammar?


Its a convenient allusion. Why do you refer to the Sun rising, when we know that it is actually the Earth rotating?

Fletcher said...

You know me Doug, I advocate electronics insomuch as they offer assistance without hinderance, but there lies the question: when do they help, and when do they hinder?

I listen to sermons, messages, talks, etc. much more often than I listen to music on my iPod. My phone is a necessary evil in my life, primarily due to my career, so why not combine both devices into one? Makes sense to me.... but the cost is crazy. Maybe if my company wanted to buy me one?

George P. Burdell said...

Jesus was right. When I opened my Bible this morning, there was an iPhone inside.