Xeni Jardin, one of the regular bloggers on the site Boing Boing, speaking on CNN after the news of Steve Jobs sudden resignation from Apple was announced, said that it was as if, for many in the tech world, a major spiritual leader had stepped aside. There’s a sudden need among the technorati to take stock, to reflect and to wonder about how the future is going to be different.
Since many of us here on the newsteam at the Café are Apple kit users, we’ve been feeling some of the same emotions as the people mentioned above. We don’t think it’s because of the studies that show people’s feelings about Apple products are similar to religious experiences and beliefs. It’s because Steve Jobs had an effect on the way technology is used in the church, in ways that many of us don’t realize.
For instance, as this article points out, Apple tech has been an incredible boon to missionaries in the field, and particularly those working in areas where Christians are suffering persecution:
Out of the blue came the iPod. It had a $400 price tag and a radical new interface. As Apple is fond of proclaiming, it changed everything. But the significance of the iPod wasn’t its click wheel. The iPod was revolutionary because it made gigabytes the new norm for storage capacities. Surprisingly, this mattered to the Church.
There are many cultures without a written language. Other impoverished countries have high illiteracy rates among the poor. It costs millions of dollars to bring in a team that can create a written language out of spoken words, translate the Bible into that newly created standard, and then teach everyone to read it.
The obvious solution was to translate directly into spoken words and create audio versions of the Scriptures. The problem was that doing so required dozens of CDs and a large playback device.
The iPod made it possible to carry solar-powered audio Bibles in a backpack across the Amazon, the African plains, or the mountains of East Asia. Missionaries could hand a device to any person anywhere in the world, and that person could hear the Word of God.
An even bigger bonus is that while customs agents often confiscate Bibles and CDs, they don’t care about MP3 players.
The essay goes on to report that the iPad and iPhone are having a similar impact. And that Apple’s embracing of open-standards data formats means that information can be digitized with a very high confidence that people will be able to open the files and use them.
It’s no so much that Steve Jobs represents the leader of cult that makes the news of his resignation worth posting, it’s that his resignation is causing all sorts of people to take stock about the changes that have happened in their lives since the beginning of the micro-computer revolution that started with Apple’s first hit product, the Apple ][.
What sorts of effects has technology had on your work in the Church?