An Hour and Twenty-Two Minutes of My Thoughts on Digital Publishing

I somehow totally missed talking about this on my blog. A few months ago, I was invited to speak at the ECPA's PUBu event.  The ECPA is the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.  The Publishing University event is strictly for a publishing audience, with workshops designed to instruct and share ideas of what's going on in the publishing space.  I was asked to lead two workshops: 1) Consumer Interaction with Digital Devices and the Creative Commons 2) Moderate a teen panel on their habits and use of technology In putting together the Digital Devices/Creative Commons presentation, I was given two goals: introduce the attendees to a variety of devices and introduce them to Creative Commons (so please note, my techno-savvy friends: much of the content here will be introductory to you.  You can skip to the end where I briefly get to talk about the future of publishing.  Maybe a full presentation on publishing futures next year?).  Digital devices and the Creative Commons are two very disparate goals.  As I was putting it together, however, I think I was able to meld the two into a fairly informative presentation. It is, to be honest, quite the lengthy presentation (and one that I had to rush towards the end as we were running out of time).  I've gotten permission from the ECPA to post the presentation, in it's entirety, here on the blog.  Feel free to watch some of it (or the whole thing, if you think I'm awesome).  You can download the actual PowerPoint presentation here. [vimeo vimeo.com/2215728]
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The Microsoft Question: Supporting a 'Cesspool of Evil'?

A while back I added some contact information to my blog page so people could easily get ahold of me.  It's my personal opinion that, with the kind of blog I write, to be as transparent as comfortably possible.  If people want to get ahold of me, I'd love for them to.  I'm open to conversation and I love meeting new people.  Through people coming to this blog and through me reading other blogs, I've already gotten to meet some pretty amazing people.  Tonight, I got my first random phone call. I did not get a chance to ask if I could talk about him on the blog, so I'll call him Bruce (not his real name). Bruce called and quickly introduced himself to me over the phone before launching into his reason for calling: Bruce wanted to know how I, as a Christian, could support Microsoft. Now, let me first put a bit of context around my response.  The most important disclaimer is that, during this conversation and, as such on this bog, I made it very clear that aaronlinne.com is a personal blog and I do not speak in any way, shape or form as a representative of any Southern Baptist entity on this blog.  While I have the freedom to occasionally talk about my work or make note of the digital products LifeWay has released, the context of this blog is as digital media practitioner, who happens to be a LifeWay enthusiast, a gaming enthusiast, a comic book enthusiast and, of course, a spiritual matters enthusiast. Bruce's concern is that he sees a Microsoft as, and I quote, a "cesspool of evil."  According to Bruce, Microsoft is the number one proponent of abortion and "gays" in the world.  He later clarified that it was actually the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that was the number one proponent, but - according to Bruce - Microsoft and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are the same thing. Instead of supporting the evil that is Microsoft, Bruce - a Linux enthusiast - I, as a Christian, have a moral obligation to use an alternative operating system (specifically, Ubuntu Linux). My Technical Response Bruce was quite concerned that I own a Zune, that I attended a Vista launch party, and that I like the Xbox.  In his mind, there were alternative MP3 players, that Ubuntu is better than Vista in EVERY way (literally), and that gaming is, well, evil. When it comes to computing I am, for the most part, platform-agnostic.  I choose the best technology for the job, the best software for the tool.  I like Final Cut for editing, but use Microsoft Expression Encoder for any encoding.  I like Motion for simple lower thirds, but love After Effects for the complex stuff.  I like Photoshop and Illustrator for image design, but Like Microsoft Expression Web for webpages.  I used OpenOffice in college, but like the advances Office 2007 has made.  I'll only code in Microsoft's programming tools because they are so darned perfect for beginners like me. From a purely technical standpoint, if you a creating content to be utilized by the widest possible range of people, you MUST have a Windows box.  At the very least, to test on.  It's a must.  To ignore at least doing some quality assurance on a Windows box is equivalent to not testing your content for 95% of your audience.  It's content-suicide to ignore Windows users. I thought it was interesting the Bruce suggested that I just run Windows as a virtual machine on a Linux box.  Doesn't that defeat the point of "not supporting evil Microsoft" by... well... supporting them? I appreciate the fanboy support for alternative systems.  Like I've previously said on the blog, I used to be quite the Apple fanboy.  But there comes a time when you're in the actual business of producing content that you realize that every system has it's strengths and weaknesses.  You may not see them in your daily work, but other people use systems differently.  Is Vista perfect?  No.  Is OSX?  No.  Is Linux?  Yes (according to Bruce).  Sorry, but that narrow-mindedness just doesn't work in a true business situation. Linux machines are great for hosting webpages.  Unix machines are great for databases.  Macs are great for creative productivity and home usage.  Windows machines are great for office productivity, gaming and home usage.  I appreciate your passion, Bruce... but as someone who currently has a Mac G5, two Vista machines and two PCs with linux distros installed on them (that haven't needed to be turned on since we moved to the new house)... I know how to use the best tool for the job. My Spiritual Response So the question remains (even though the majority of our conversation was Bruce explaining to me how/why I should use Linux): what is the moral and spiritual ramifications of using Microsoft tools and - thus - supporting them and their supposed support of immoral activity. Let me just be upfront and be transparent in my ignorance: I simply do not know how Microsoft invests its money nor how it is they may support immoral activity.  When pressed for examples, Bruce said he had articles about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supporting planned parenthood in Africa (a quick Google search pulls up this article on the topic).  Here's my problem with Bruce's line of thought on this particular issue: Microsoft is a separate entity to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As I tried to seperate the two in the conversation, Bruce adamantly said that "we all know that Microsoft is Bill Gates and Bill Gates is Microsoft."  I find this a troubling perspective on an organization, the undermines the lives (and opinions, families, morals and souls) of any organization's employees.  I also think that the nearly 90,000 Microsoft employees would disagree with Bruce and suggest that Microsoft is made up of more than just a retired founder. Irregardless, we're still left with the lingering question: is it morally ok to purchase products or content produced by a company who we've been told support immoral activities (whatever you define as immoral)? I'm not 100% sure what my opinion on this topic is.  In Acts, Paul uses a statue of an unknown god to tell the story of Christ.  He doesn't chastise theme for creating the sculpture, but instead utilizes the ways of their culture to tell the story.  Are we not allowed to do the same with today's story-telling mediums, of the digital kind?  Where this breaks down, of course, is that Paul did not pay the sculptor to chisel out the statue. I don't know that I have an answer for this particular question.  I think that it's ok to have some tension in our spiritual decisions.  On the specific topic of Microsoft, I'm as of yet unaware of any intentional "immoral activity."  Which leads to another spiritual question: if I'm ignorant of a corporation's wrongdoings, does it absolve me from any personal wrongs in supporting their questionable activity?  And, of course, this leads into one more question: what makes a corporation's activities "immoral?"  In my MBA courses we would talk extensively about social responsibility of corporations and there are some definitive wrongdoings (breaking the law, killing people, etc etc)... but a corporation's culture can never match all of the opinions of all of its customers (and non-customers who want to critique said company).  This will continue to be a topic for me to think about and explore. Epilogue In our conversation, I told Bruce that he sounded more like he was angry with me than he was concernedabout me.  He agreed: he told me that he was angry at the sin and that we are supposed to hate evil.  That Microsoft was evil and that my support of them is evil.  At this, my heart broke. I don't really know what Bruce's intentions were.  I found some of his comments on other blogs on the topics of politics, fundamentalism and, of course, linux.  Bruce does seem to be passionate and have strong opinions.  But so much of his language and posts (and our conversation) seemed fueled by anger, hatred and pride.  There is no question to me that he deems himself a better person, more "holy," and wiser than me because he uses the Ubuntu and I use Vista. Ultimately, in the end, I'm not sure Christ is going to judge me based on what operating system I used to mesh my physical and digital lives.  I'm not sure Christ is going to care whether I used Final Cut or Adobe Premiere to edit video to tell His story, the story of LifeWay, or the snippets of my life on YouTube. What concerns me is how things like this must look to people outside the church.  If Christian fight over the morality of operating systems... where is the love there?  Where is the grace?  If a brother in Christ prayed before calling me and approached me in anger - and he admitted he did both - where does that bring in the holiness and morality Bruce was seeking in choosing the "right" operating system? Bruce: I appreciate your sincerity in calling me and sharing your passions with me.  If you have found a company to be of immoral repute and feel the need to educate and question people's support thereof, I encourage you to do so in a mature, loving manner.  But next time let us talk about the spiritual matters and cultural ramifications.  Here's to hoping this post did not offend you, nor is of immoral substinance.  It was, after all, written using Internet Explorer running on WIndows Vista.
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example of a new media culture

just when I think we're going in the right direction and making breakthroughs... i find an example of a new media culture that defies all sense of progress I have. Zappos.com gets it. I mean, really gets it. Why/how? Their employees are all pretty much given the freedom to love their job and talk about it. Since many of their employees are young adults, this kind of stuff in simply inherent in their work/life style. Stumbling around YouTube brought up a bunch of zappos-related users: insidezappos, zappos, zapposlv... i mean... this video right here shows the genius of their new media marketing scheme: [youtube = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmPqYrUJy4w] Why is this so genius? It has nothing at all to do with the products they sell, it doesn't direct you to their website, it does NOTHING traditional. But what it does do is give you a sense of a great work environment with characters for employees. Which means they're going to get the best creative talent, and their mundane tasks will be done by people who love that kind of work environment. Who loves that kind of environment? Young adults. I couldn't imagine the ease of working in a new media culture that comes naturally, instead of trying to lead the development of one... You can check out the place they aggregate all this content at their blog, here.
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Macromarketing vs Micromarketing

It's an ugly word that's surrounded by controversy into today's hyper-transparency culture: marketing.  But is there a difference between macromarketing with one consistent message, and micromarketing and targeting the real needs and interests of individuals?  Is there a place for marketing ideas in the Church?  And, if so, what are the macro and micro messages we are sending? [kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&embedId=32464978&uri=channels/30223/149163]
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What's Really Happening with Rob Bell

Rob Bell seems to be a touchy subject for a lot of Christians.  So I'm not going to touch any of that... I just wanted to explore about with what's actually happening with Rob Bell. Last weekend, we got to have dinner with our good friend, Finn, and his family to celebrate his graduation from Belmont University.  We sat across from this grandparents, and we talked about ministry and churches all night long.  It was wonderful to have the ears and attention of solid, devout Christians who were older, more mature, and knew more than us.  One of the topics that we talked about was this: Preaching is becoming an archaic, specialized form of communication.  We could only come up with two things in life that are similar in the approach and methods of most sermons: university lectures and formal presentations at work.  As such, it seldom matters how good a communicator is or what their topic is... most people nowadays simply don't know how to process a sermon.  It's either too much information or not presented correctly (for me, it's too slow... I take in much more information in a much shorter time period every day at work). Now then, if this is a problem for Christ-followers... what must it be like for a new Christian or someone who is just exploring faith and life?  To never have been exposed to a "worship service" before and to walk in and have to follow the lead of the crowd around them and listen in a way that they simply have never done before... is that a good perception ofwhat it means to be learning?  What, then is the point of preaching if not to teach... and if the point is to teach, then what are our churches learning? So why is Rob Bell being so successful with preaching?  If you don't think he is, that's ok.  But there are few people who have as many DVDs of their teaching as Rob does, and less that have gone on tour with their sermons (and then sold them as successful DVDs). Rob's teachings are like songs.  They crescendo and repeat and become famliar.  He teaches in a way that introduces you to ideas and concepts like you already knew them.  He's turning teaching into art. I don't want to talk about whether his content is good or not; this isn't the place for that and - quite humbly - I'm not enough of a Biblical scholar to tell you a valid opinion to your arguments.  But what amazes me is how he turns delivering a message into an art.  Just check out one of his nooma videos; one glance will tell you that he's got skilled people working to make a short film and they are passionate about doing so. Rob isn't alone.  He has a team that put together the message into an artform for those videos - I know, because their names are on the credits.  And in his sermons at his church, he often tag-teams with other speakers, to get the message just right.  Regulary, he turns into a character on the stage, turning to the theatrical. I'm not sure what's happening with sermons across the expanse of the church in the United States... but what's happening with Rob is he's turning it into an artform.  And I will listen and learn and recall a song long before I can recall a sermon...
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What's Really Happening with the Zune

I bought a zune because I saw the vision Microsoft had for the XBox 360, and I fully understood the direction they were going to take the zune.  and now, with the software version 2.5, they are oh so close to being there. Zune, when it first launched, used the tagline of "Join the Social."  The product was pretty much made fun of for using that tagline out of the gate; the Zune wasn't quite a full fledge social device right away.  The only real social aspects was the ability to share songs from one device to another, but even that had (and has) very limited restrictions. 2.5 has introduced a slew of new features that bring the Zune into the real social arena. First off is a  much better implementation of the Zune Card (the equivalent of an XBox 360 GamerTag).  You can view my actual profile page here (it's flash, and WordPress doesn't like flash objects.  Shame on you, WordPress!).  There's also a Facebook App that plugs the Zune Card into your profile there. But, none of that is the innovative stuff.  Anyone can have a webpage and put content on it and that are third-party iTunes plug-ins that do the same stuff. Send me music About two weeks ago, however, I go a message from one of my Zune friends, Ceaserisok.  Ceaser is a big fan of Tokyo Police Club, as you should be too because they're awesome (my fav song being "Nature of the Experiment"), and when they're new album came out he sent a message to everyone on his friends list that included the album. Since I have a Zune pass, from the message I just clicked a button and *POOF* my computer downloaded the new album and I started listening to it right away.  Music just got a touch more social... I don't have to just tell you how good something is, I can message you the album. Show me music As life, work, our social lives and our dreams all continue to collide and entertwine, Microsoft did something else very smart: they hired people who love music.  Select members of the Zune team are now considered Zune DJs; when you create a Zune profile these special six are automatically your friends.  What does that matter? Just like the 360 GamerTags, when you're using the Zune you get to see what your friends are doing.  In the case of Zune, you get to see exactly what your friends are listening to, in real time.  If you see something you've never heard before you might get to discover things. I know, you can do similar things with Last.FM (which I'm also a big fan of).  But this is integrated, out of the box.  And, it's tied to your 360 account... suddenly your GamerTag has a dual nature to it... and I'm all for aggregating my information.  With Zune there are just so many ways to discover music.  I still play with iTunes because I upload media to idea at work, and I get so confused with the limitations on their software.  I feel like I'm just looking at a datbase.  I'm not sure how to place my finger on it... but the Zune software makes me feel like I'm in a record store.  I don't know if they planned that or not, but it's what happens.  Invariably if I sit down to download a new album, I discover 4 or 5 more to grab along with it. Sync me music Now we're getting to the really cool stuff. Once I friend you, if I have a Zune pass, I can sync your music to my system.  I can sync another Zune Card with my Zune device and, as such, Zune will automatically pull in any playlists associated with that Zune Card.  Can I repeat how cool that is?  It's a social experiment in sharing music. No, this isn't an ad for the Zune Enough about what I think about the Zune itself.  What this post is really about what is happening with the Zune.  The software/device is allowing just one more thing become social and intertwined.  Where the Zune is innovating is that they have figured out a way to connect something as varied and complex as the music we like and listen to into the cloud of the internet, to be able to be pulled back down wherever. iTunes is for people who like certain musicians.  Zune is for people like music. WIth iTunes you go in, you look for the band you like, you part with your money, and you talk about how cool band so-and-so is.  WIth the Zune (if you have a Zune pass), you go in, look for the band you like, and find bands you've never heard of or forgotten long ago and download 5 albums.  And you don't have to tell people how cool a band is because they can SEE how much you like them.  Better yet, if they have a Zune as well... they can HEAR how much you like them. Zune is going to let the small bands win.  Being the underdog has allowed Microsoft to innovate, and with the Zune they have.  The only question is how long it will take people to realize that being an Apple fanboy isn't the best choice for people who truly want to hear new and good music.
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What's Really Happening with Twitter

in a meeting for a new project at LifeWay yesterday, we discussed the idea of using twitter during the project experience.  at first, the team thought I was joking.  they laughed about how twitter is just for people to do constant life-updates, like "i'm going to the bathroom now."  there's a distinct seperation between those who have not used twitter, those who use twitter, and those who embrace twitter. twitter has become an asynchronous, world-wide chat room. i remember when i was younger logging into AOL chat rooms and trying to find neat people to talk with.  it was a desperate attempt at entertainment and hopes of new friendships... but it was all with random strangers and now lating ties. with twitter I'm able to, instead, engage in conversation with people I know whether they are online at that time or not.  and any of my friends get to see what i'm talking about and chime in too.  and - here's the kicker... I get to see the conversations and thoughts (and maybe even talk to) people that I have no business talking to.  as work and life continue to become more social and networked, things like twitter allows us to peek into the lives of people/topics/politics/companies that we want to be associated with. twitter turns our sphere of influence into an open hall for the world to hear and for us to hear others.  one giant conversation piece. i believe that work is becoming more and more intertwined with entertainment, with our social lives, our identities, and our dreams.  how many times have you heard "i'd love to work at..." or seen pictures or cool offices or thought about how to improve your own work place? I know that there are many people who would love to work for LifeWay, and I am blessed to be a part of the talent that's employed there.  I know our competitors would love to know how we work.  I know there are people who will do everything they can to find out what our VBS themes are going to be early so they can be the one to break the news.  I know that people want all the details about the next Beth Moore or Priscilla Schrier study and will follow any blog (or twitter account) that might drop some hint about it. And that's a good thing.  It means that people are finding people, places, jobs and products to get passionate about.  It means that we don't have to accept the spoon-fed media of network television and ClearChannel music.  it means there are people out there talking about the alternatives... and that people are listening. and this new/secret project I'm working on at LifeWay that will (tenatively) launch at the very end of this month? we're going to use twitter. UPDATE: my personal twitter account is here.
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New Media for Ministries: Interactive Metafiction

One of the best examples of things that are distinctly "new media" is interactive metaficition. Traditionally, metafiction would be a story that is aware of itself being a story; self-referential, if you would. Interactive metafiction takes that a few steps further where the reader/viewer/engager can interact with the characters and influence the actual story. [kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&uri=channels/30223/132712&embedId=20374448] It's hard to apply this concept to ministry, because we seem to often take a very serious tone to our evangelism and seek truth more so than crafting a story. Perhaps there are opportunities for the church to develop new parables and ways to engage a more creative mind instead of always focusing on the establishing our spiritual truths as entirely literal.
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New Media for Ministries: 101 - What is New Media?

This video is as simple as I could break it down: new media is about the intent to interact. I do some basic defining and examples in this video. Nothing too out there, just an opening conversation. Basically, I filmed thise because I ran into several people who were asking the same thing: what is new media? Does it have a place in ministry? This is my first attempt to answer that, on the most basic level. If I get the chance (after vacation), I'll probably do several more of these, brainstorming on how ARGs, creative commons, and other less obvious new media stuffs. [kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&uri=channels/30223/127403&embedId=10131020]
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Successful Meetings: Dress Up a Little

First, read this.  Penelope Trunk has a way of getting right at the heart of matters and always provides excellent research on anything that might seem unorthodox or controversial.  And, in my own career, I've found her advice to almost always be spot on. Did you read it? One of my friends would get upset, almost to the point of quitting, because the job he was in had a dress code.  Many of us in our 20s are concerned with things like identity and wearing jeans to work and getting visible tattoos.  I, personally, would love to grow a big, long massive beard.  But more important is the knowledge that appearance can make or break perceptions and attitudes.  Those perceptions and attitudes that are formulated will continue to stick with you. I have worked for the same company for six years now.  When I first started I was fresh out of college and was not, how might you say... "kempt."  Sure, I wore dress pants (kind of), but they also had holes in them.  I didn't own an ironing board.  I didn't own a real razor (just an electric one). When I got a promotion here in 2005, I started wearing suits once a week, to help change some perceptions abot how serious I was about my career.  Earlier this week, I ran into one of the guys I worked with back in my first role here.  I didn't have a suit on, just regular casual dress clothes.  As I got off the elevator, he mentioned that I looked very dressed up. His image of me, the one imprinted from working with me every day for two years, is still an unkempt, out-of-college guy.  What is now a dress-down day for me stood out in his mind as me being dressed up.  I'll likely never be able to change his perception of my attire, and all the stigma that comes from that. So what does this have to do with meetings?  Everything. Every day before I leave work, I check my schedule for tomorrow's meetings.  I scan the attendees and am looking for two things: 1) Anyone I don't know 2) Anyone in a higher position than me, who I don't normally interact with/have a working relationship with If either of those are true, I plan on wearing a suit coat the next day.  It's that simple.  It doesn't matter if the person I don't know is an entry-level, new employee or a peer by all accounts; if it's the first time I'm meeting them I do what I can to make the best impression.  If it's someone of a higher position, you always want to make a great impression - you never know who you'll be working for/with someday. What if dressing up isn't your style?  Get over it. What if you can't afford nice clothes?  Go to Goodwill.  Half of my suit coats are from there.  The majority of the other half are from Target.  I don't make a ton of money, but that doesn't mean I should look like I don't know what business casual means. So dress it up a little and - if you have to - find your own way of adding a little more identity to the "costume" of dressing up.  One of my favorite belts to wear with a suit is a little studded belt I have.  I save ties for only the super-important meetings (once or twice a year).  My formal brown shows are actually RocketDog shoes. There are plenty of ways to make it work for you, but just be sure to make it work.
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What is New Media?

I was recently asked by a respected peer a very open ended question: "What is New Media?" It's a hard question to nail down, because there are so many possible answers. The definition of "New Media" is a hard one to come by because of the continual change of its use, new technologies, and marketing speak. So here I was, on the spot, known as an expert in the field to the people at the table; how do you define new media to someone who purposefully does not have a home computer? After some thought, I defined it something like this: "New Media is broadly-accessible content that is intended to receive a response from the person who engages it." cont'd
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The 1,000 Foot View of a Fickle Public? (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blog)

Scott McCellan recently posted a reader's response to the very idea of a magazine like Collide.  To pull from the posted quote:  You don’t seem to be interested in the 1,000-foot view. You take a myopic look at things like Facebook, etc. that will fade away and be replaced by something else in a year or two by a fickle public. In doing so, it seems like you promote the methods over the message. Any church that follows fads like that will always be chasing after the next thing in the never-ending quest to be “relevant.” Christ wasn’t interested in cool. He was interested in loving people, and in doing that, he redefined cool.  I'm posting my response on my blog instead of the Collide blog because I don't want anyone to be confused with my opinion on this matter with any kind of official Collide response (since I've written for them). First, I have to say how awesome it is that Scott would be transparent and post such a quote and response that's diametrically opposed to the very nature of the magazine, and open it up for discussion on his blog.  Second, I think that the respondent who wrote the quote is completely wrong on the idea of culture more-so than any kind of question about Christ being "cool" or about chasing something "relevant." The respondent appears (to me) to be frustrated with methods or the "fickle public"'s desires changing every two years or so.  The problem, to me, is that he thinks that churches interested in things like Facebook or some cutting edge technology or underground cultural shift is an attempt to be somethinig that the church is not. For me, acknowledging that I am, in fact, a part of mass culture and am influencing and partake in it, I see a very different side of this arguement.  It is not that the church is struggling to keep up with culture and "fads" but that the entire concept of "fad" has radically changed in the past few years. A "fad" is no longer a "fad" - it is culture.  Innovation follows innovation in today's world and, as such, the mass media and culture is always shifting and changing.  By the time any cultural shift hits mass/old media, the culture leaders have moved on to something else. The New York times recently produced an article on how the fast-paced world of blogging-for-pay creates additional stress and has negative health effects on the bloggers.  This may be true for most of us.  However, today's young adults have been blogging for years; today's children are used to blogging being a part of their lives.  Blogging wasn't a new thing to many people several years ago, and it's certainly not a "new thing" today.  But people still treat it as a fad. There are still many spiritual leaders who don't understand that blogging or Facebook groups or church web sites aren't some attempt by the church to catch up to culture.  I, instead, proclaim that it is the exact opposite. The freedom that technology brings to broadcasting a message means that, for the first time in church history, lay people can share their faith journey with the church - and world - at large.  No longer must the strongest, most Spirit-driven message come from the pulpit.  Instead it can come from a teenager's blog or a media guy's video cam. Magazines like Collide and sites like digital.leadnet.org exist not so the church can chase after cultural shifts, but so that leadership can understand the changes their membership is goign through.  I fear a pastor who doesn't have a blog because it tells me that he won't be able to connect with where I am in life.  I fear a church that doesn't have a website because it means that they think people will find out their address by looking it up in the phone book (you know, that big yellow thing you throw away when they keep delivering it to you). My biggest fear, however, is that those of us who have embraced the new tools at our disposal won't be mentored and loved by our forefathers who have not embraced the technology.  That they will think it's all a fad and that we don't understand the 1,000 foot view and, as such, aren't worth investing in.  And all their knowledge and passion that could be broadcast to the world will simply die with them. So please, don't judge me and my kind as being fickle or not understanding of Christ's love just because we have the ability to flow with the changes in culture and understand that "fads" are either dead or the norm, depending on your point of view.  I'd rather learn from you.  I'd rather sit at your feet and discover what your heart is about and how your passions can still impact humanity on a person-by-person basis.  I want to know what has you so caught up that you want things to stay the way they always were... because I've never lived in a slow-enough-paced world to even know what that means. And, in truth, I can't wait to see what replaces blogs and what's after social networks and how videos change our worship services.  I can't wait until music ministers can embrace the internet and use tools like LifeWay Worship to gain access to hundreds of songs to find the right one to compliment the worship experience.  I can't wait until the seminaries provide completely online degrees so the pastors who can't take the time to leave their congregration can be better educated.  I can't wait until we get past this bubble of growth in the digital world and have a new common denominator where people are connected all the time and have been used to it so that it isn't so stressful on our bodies. And maybe then I can feel loved by the people who judge me and my tools of communication as worthless. 
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Considering the Whiteboard Sessions

For the past few months, I've been considering attending the White Board Sessions. Last year, I attended the Q Conference, and it was simply amazing.  I'm not going this year because it's in New York, and I simply cannot afford it.  "Affording it" is my same quandry with attending the White Board Sessions. Though the White Board Sessions is a much cheaper endeavor... it still costs me money.  It would cost me gas and miles on my car.  And, just as important, it would cost me time. Now then, I'd LOVE to go for the connections and the experience of being there... and it really seems that Ben Arment is really making a conference worth attending.  But I don't know how big the conference is, versus something like the Connect Conferences* where I know there's only going to be 75 attendees (thus making connections and networking the top reason to go, imho). But then, the reality of the fact that there are conferences all over (DJ Chaung, leader of the digital.leadnet.org blog, is attending six in April alone) and that some speakers are recycling their talks... it makes me wonder if there isn't a better way to do this. Q got it right last year: they filmed the talks and offered for viewing online for a fee.  Even though I attended, I subscribed to the service.  I don't know what Whiteboard's post-conference plans are, but I do hope they're able to post the videos out to the rest of the world who doesn't show up. That being said, if I had to pick one Christian conference to go to this year, it probably would the Whiteboard Sessions.  I know Ed Stetzer will have something stellar lined up, and I've come to expect great things from Mark Batterson.  But still, I find it hard to commit to such a journey (a day of driving, the actual conference, a day of siteseeing(?), a day of driving back). Perhaps I've been to spoiled with online video and webcasts of major keynotes in the past for non-Christian related things.  Perhaps I want an easier way to hear these messages, whether they be world-changing, life-altering, or niche-filling.  Or, perhaps, I should just find solace in knowing that there are great ideas being shared and I can let them trickle down to me and I don't always have to be at the forefront of ideation. *DISCLAIMER:  Yes, I work for LifeWay.  Yes, LifeWay is putting on the Connect Conferences.  But seriously... the Threads team is putting a lot into these conferences... I know, because I've been in some of the meetings.  The Connect Conferences are going to be an amazing oppertunity for anyone interested in young adult culture and ministries.  They've got some great stuff lined up, and the oppertunity to connect with other leaders and experts is going to be unlike anything else I've seen coming up.
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Student Ministry Strategy: Scott Stevens and Jeff Pratt

I'll be honest; the point of this interview, from my end, was to promote the upcoming KNOWN resource coming from the student department here at LifeWay.  But these guys - even though they're in charge of that launch - didn't care about getting that message out.  They wanted to get the message of what they are passionate about (student ministry strategy) out.  And so, that's what we talked about. This was also a learning experience as an interviewer, because I was determined to get at least a mention of the product in at the end, and tried to force a segue and, being the honest guy he is, Jeff called me out on it.  He knew what I was doing and was trying to get at, but he did not like the implications of my segue, so he argued about what I had actually said. It was awesome to interview two people with so much knowledge in their field, and the evident passion they have for equipping the local church with the best possible knowledge, strategies and resources for understanding youth today.  This is a must-watch if you are involved in youth ministry. [kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&uri=channels/30228/111031&embedId=10085325]
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FUGE Creative Directors: Neil Hoppe and Darrel Girardier

One of my first real friends here at LifeWay was Darrel Giradier.  He was working for Fuge when I started working in the Fuge offices in 2002.  I found a peer that I could talk with, brainstorm with, learn from, and look up to. I first met Neil back then, too, when he came in to help write some of the creative elements for portions of the camp experience. Now, they're both full-time employees of LifeWay, heading up the creative direction of the kids camps and student camps.  These two are both so completely on target with the current trends in culture and marketplace needs for their respective demographics that, if you have any interest in the culture of student from grades 4-12, I highly recommend watching this video.  These two are genuine experts in their field that don't get nearly enough time to share their knowledge. (Seriously, guys - why aren't you speaking at conferences and such?) [kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&uri=channels/30228/100794&embedId=10063178]
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David Webb and Christian Fiction

A while back, I got to meet with David Webb about the B&H pitching process.  Our conversation back then really turned into a "get-to-know-you" meeting, and we talked a lot about the Christian Fiction market, what his job was, who some of the new authors were, etc etc.  The information he was sharing - as well as his passion for Christian Fiction - seemed to me to be something that anyone interested in Christian fiction might want to know.  How often do you get a chance to sit down with one of the top guys in the business? The video is also a lot of fun because you get a peek into David's mind as to how the whole process works, and how involved an editor might be in a story (David talks about how one time a story really needed a character to die...).  David also talks a bit about upcoming books by authors Jamie Carie, Leanna Ellis, and Rebecca Seitz. So, without further ado, here's a video conversation with David Webb.  [kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&embedId=10054074&uri=channels/30228/96816] 
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A Lesson for the Church: Data Portability

It has seemed that many of the driving forces behind culture in recent years have dug deep roots into the online world. It's hard to pinpoint exact examples because culture and the internet have become ubiquitous, feeding one another for the general population. Geeky and technosavvy words enter our lexicon daily. Social networks are still being discovered for use by churches, while he pioneers of such tools are anticipating the next big thing... continued
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