Miller’s compelling thesis is that the church has been located in four different communication cultures over the last 2000 years, and that each one has profoundly influenced the entire fabric of the church – the way it is organized, relates together, and communicates to the outside world. For the first 1500 years until the invention of the printing press, society lived in an ‘oral communication culture’. Then from about 1500 until 1950, ‘print culture’ predominated, with far-reaching effect.
From 1950 onwards however, he proposes that the influence of TV has led to ‘broadcast culture’, bringing in a whole new mindset. And finally, he suggests that we are rapidly moving into ‘digital culture’, with further dramatic changes resulting from the computer revolution. His ‘matrix’ is a table suggesting how these four cultures have impacted the church in different ways.
OK, your inner teenager may ask, “Whatever. But how, exactly, is this meant to affect me?” Because each communication culture functions differently. If we try to use the methods of the previous culture, or the one before that, just because they used to work and have therefore gained an imagined sanctity, we may end up communicating very inadequately.
For another excellent (and shorter) treatment of this topic, see Flickering Pixels.