Monday, May 5, 2014

Chrome OS Church

The last few weeks, I've been playing with a necessary acquisition.  Our home, always cross-platform between Mac and PC, has now added in a Chromebook.  Meaning, it runs neither a MacOs or any flavor of Windows, instead opting for a Google-created operating system that's little more than a dandified version of their browser.  We're tri-platform now, I guess.

I needed a laptop that was mine and mine alone, as the family Macbook Air is now my wife's primary computer for her consulting work.  When I thought about price, and thought about what I actually use mobile computing to do, going with one of the waaay-cheap Chromebooks seemed a no-brainer.  Here was a robust, virus-free, and remarkably simple operating system, one that does every single thing I ever do when I'm out and about.

Plus, it was priced well for our budget, the kind of thing that you can purchase with amassed bonus points from a credit card.

And so the little Acer arrived on our doorstep from Amazon.  It fires right up, battery life exceeds a full workday, as advertised, and it seems completely able to do all of the writing and social media tasks I ask of it.

The machine itself is remarkably bare-bones.  Marginal RAM.  Only 32 gigs worth of solid state drive space, barely more than a modest flash drive.

Most of what it does is access the cloud, and that it seems to do perfectly well.  When I have to work offline, I can write in GoogleDocs, and access an archived version of my stuff.  Not much, but it worked just fine for all my needs on an 11 hour train ride.

As I've played around with the Chromebook, I got to thinking about it in terms of church metaphor. I do this more than is healthy.  It's some sort of pathology, I think.

What I like about this OS is just how uncluttered it is.  Oh, there's a whole bunch it can't do.  You can't install huge programs and play graphics-intensive games on it.  Neither can you edit a professional-quality motion picture.  But I don't do those things with a laptop.  I work.  I write.  Period.

And so far, this little device accomplishes the most necessary tasks, and does so well.

In the lives of congregations as organizations, it's really easy to mess up the easy things.  We get lost in the weeds or the aether, creating more and more layers of complexity to meet expectations that then require more layers of complexity, until the basic and most necessary things get lost in the mess of it all.

There's something to be said for keeping our expectations of things simple, straightforward, and easy.