A few years ago I was visiting with my friend Chris Walker, the worship leader at Covenant Life Church in Grand Haven, MI, when he dropped the term “tech ninja” on me.
I laughed and thought of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I imagined a green shell-clad sound guy with an assortment of weapon stashed in his belt. (Not to mention the shell would be nice to be able to hide in when something goes awry.)
Chris went on to give this definition of a tech ninja: the unseen, completely unnoticed, highly trained tactical team of secretive, slightly mysterious warriors that lurk in the booths, catwalks, and backstage areas without anyone knowing who they are or what they’re doing.
I laughed again. But as I reflected on his humorous definition, I saw some real truth that’s both positive and negative.
As we all know, the best tech team is the one you never realize is there. No cues missed, no feedback, and smooth transitions are the mantra of any good technical team. For that matter, the technology is transparent.
The result is an experience where the focus is on the message - not the method.
Marshall McLuhan famously said, “the medium is the message.” While I agree that the medium does shape the context and impact the cultural element, I disagree that it is the message.
The message is the message. The medium just delivers the message, and the more transparent the medium, the clearer the message is received.
So the job of the tech ninja is to use and exploit the medium in a way that allows the message to come thru unfiltered.