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Gutenbergers and Googlers

Sweet draws a line in 1973, the year the cell phone was invented, and throughout the book refers to those born before 1973 as “Gutenbergers” and those after 1973 as “Googlers.” Gutenbergers are holdovers from the print era while Googlers are “digital natives.” According to Sweet, the differences between Gutenbergers and Googles goes far beyond their familiarity and comfort with the Internet and mobile devices. He writes:

Gutenbergers: It’s necessary to be right.
Googlers: It’s necessary to be in relationship.

Gutenbergers: God is in charge.
Googlers: God chose to be among us.

Gutenbergers: Capital campaign.
Googlers: Homeless campaign

Gutenbergers: Statement of faith.
Googlers: Life of faith.

Gutenbergers: Build something.
Googlers: Meet someone.

Gutenbergers: A culture of words and individualism that has lost its ability to propagate.
Googlers: A culture of images and relationships that breed virility, the petri dish of revival.

In Viral, Sweet is critical of Gutenbergers for being overly left-brained and focused on using words to debate, divide and isolate. Meanwhile he sees the right-brain dominance of Googlers as being more in line with how Jesus lived – telling stories, using metaphors and imagery, accepting mystery and paradoxes, and most of all pursuing relationships.

Sweet characterizes himself as a “digital immigrant,” someone who grew up in Gutenberg culture but has made the transition to the world of Googlers.  Much of Viral seems to be an attempt to help those of his generation who are still holding on to their Gutenberger ways to understand Googlers and immigrate themselves to Googler culture. He also takes time, though, to point out the dangers and pitfalls that Googlers are prone to.

- Paul Steinbrueck, from an online review of Len Sweet's book, Viral (WaterBrook Press, 2012)
Posted 3/15/2011

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