Innovative Technology – it’s a term we use for a lot of the work we do at eDOT. There’s some misunderstanding as people think that “Innovative Technology” has to be the latest and greatest – with all the flash and glitter. The reality is that true innovative technology isn’t about the technology but about how it is used. Paper is a great piece of technology – no doubt about it. When those that used scrolls and animal skins to jot down their shopping lists saw modern day paper, whew, they must have been excited. However was it truly innovative as a technology? I think it became truly innovative when that first person started taking pieces of paper, folding them into different angles until finally, he/she was able to make it sail across through room soaring through the air. The day of the first paper airplane was the day paper became innovative technology. Innovative technology isn’t necessarily about the technology – it’s about how the technology is applied.
Seeing all the possibilities of technology is the innovative part. Looking at what the Internet is doing is one thing – looking at what it CAN do is another. For us in eDOT, exploring the possibilities of what technology can do to help ministries do what God has called them to do more effectively is what innovative technology is all about. You see, every project starts out with trying to figure out a problem – like how does a small body of believers engage their local community? Then we have to look at the cultural cues. Then we can look at what the outcome is. Then we look at the technology and when there’s not technology that does what we want – we look at technology that has potential to do what we want. A lot of times, it’s taking several pieces of technology and meshing them together – each with their particular strengths – to get a product that does what we want. None of them were designed for this but that’s what being innovative is about.
So back to our problem, how does a small body of believers engage their local community (using technology to help them)? It’s dependent on the culture but here’s some ways we’ve seen:
- Using a set of laptops to teach basic computer training where computer skills are becoming more and more a requirement for a job
- Making a stencil out of a QR Code to a church’s website geared for college students and then using chalk to place the QR code all around campus (sidewalks, buildings, etc) right before the school year begins
- Distributing MP3s, PDFs, Videos, and other media at group events straight to oberserver’s mobile phones using a Bluetooth or Wifi push server.
- Interacting via SMS/Text messaging with people who requested some information on a particular subject that they have questions about. They found that they could ask these questions because they had seen a billboard with a QR code and a number with an SMS service that encouraged them to contact them. All being managed through a free SMS management software on a computer and some commercially available CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software.
Now one of the greatest lines I am totally moved by in the video above is the very end where he says “Information is powerful but it is how we use it that will define us.” For eDOT, it is that technology is powerful but it is how we use it that will define us. This is what we do.