Rice is a great story teller, and he uses his skill to make several scientific, psychological, and architectural experiments into fun-to-read vignettes that he eventually uses to illustrate important concepts about how humans connect and think about themselves. In fact, the book never directly addresses “church” or “doing church” on Facebook. Instead the book is primarily about what more basic human concepts like identity, authenticity, connection, intentionality, and feeling at home, and how those are impacted and reinterpreted online.
He does a good job of surfacing some of the concerns about our always-online world – Continuous Partial Attention, information overload, narcissism, etc. – without sounding alarmist or discounting the entire system. Instead of saying, “The new world is bad and scary,” Rice seems to say, “This is the new reality. Now let’s figure out how to be Christian in it.” He acknowledges the problems, but also connects them to our God-given desires and design and suggests some helpful ways to be Christian online.
I think this might be a good book to calm an alarmist parent who can’t quite grasp what’s going on or deepen the thinking of a young adult who grew up with facebook and hasn’t had a chance to think about how it shapes the way he or she relates to other people.
(update: Scot McKnight also posted about the book this morning)