"Blue Like Jazz" Trailer -- like it?

Posted by tom | Jun 8, 2011

Thoughts on the "Blue Like Jazz" trailer's portrayal of Reed College (& possibly higher ed) or "Blue Like Jazz" (the book)?

For those unfamiliar with "Blue Like Jazz" (book by Donald Miller, http://donmilleris.com/books/), you may have interest in Theresa's brief book review/summary. Personally I'm interested in trying to watch the film 'on a clean slate.' I think that Steve Taylor/Donald Miller's creation of the cultural artifact of a film will be difficult for me to appreciate if I try to compare it with how I 'stepped into the narrative of the book.' I wonder how I'd respond to a 'second reading of the book,' especially if it were to be more analytical in nature. Although I enjoyed some of the bold storytelling, I found it hard to finish. The press of a book discussion or writing a book review would have helped :)

PS. You may have interest in Micheal Hickerson's critique of Donald Miller's "Who Should Lead the Church?" (Relevant) for the ESN Blog, Jesus Didn’t Choose Scholars… 

PPS. Material also posted on the Emerging Scholars Network Facebook page.

Friendships and Friending II

Posted by tom | May 6, 2011

Friending. Lynne M. Baab. InterVarsity Press. 2011.

Yesterday I posted on Friendships and 'Friending'? This morning I came across a series by Lynne M. Baab on Christine Sine's blog. Just keeps confirming that Christine and I have similiar interests ;-) Click here to read what Lynne has written for Christine.* Now I really have to get a copy of the new InterVarsity Press release. Anyone interested in an on-line book discussion this summer?

*Note: earlier material on Sabbath can be found as you scroll down the list.

 

Friendships and 'Friending'?

Posted by tom | May 5, 2011

Over a month ago a friend asked me,

How do you see today the problem of real connections not only across generational lines, but even within same generation?  Where might these connections take place and what is preventing these connections today?  I'm assuming that Facebook is a weak attempt at connections?  Why?

I still haven't really responded well, but today I noticed a new InterVarsity Press book and passed the information along.  If you're interested in the topic, Friending: Real Relationships in a Virtual World (Lynne M. Baab) may be worth a read.

Friending. Lynne M. Baab. InterVarsity Press. 2011.

I'll not be able to give "Friending" attention until the summer ... If you have thoughts on the topic, please share them.

Understanding Social Media (Douglas Groothuis)

Posted by tom | Feb 7, 2011

Came across "Understanding Social Media" (Douglas Groothuis) on a twitter post the other day. I encourage you to take a few minutes to prayerful consider the 7 page article which first appeared in the "Christian Research Journal," volume 33, number 3(2010).

SYNOPSIS
Social media are growing explosively and are changing the way people around the globe think of friendship and community. While media such as Facebook offer us unique opportunities, they also present real dangers. Christians should realize that not all forms of culture are advantageous to human flourishing and that every medium has it limitations. We are shaped in profound ways by every medium of communication. Yet, for all its immediacy and possibilities, the computer world of social media cannot replace the significance of embodied interactions. Friendship, fellowship, and community cannot be duplicated at the deepest levels in social media. Nevertheless, if we resist gossip and gullibility, and are careful not to overexpose ourselves in these media, we can engage these forms of communication wisely and usefully. The following principles can help guide our involvement with social media: (1) Monitor yourself for unhealthy behavior. (2) Restrict late evening and early morning for other activities. (3) Avoid narcissism and present one’s true self. (4) Pay special attention to specific Facebook friends each month. (5) Be skeptical of how others present themselves on Facebook. (6) Periodically abstain from Facebook. (7) Develop a philosophy of what a Facebook friend should mean to you. For me, this means presenting thoughtful material to as many people as possible, which includes apologetic engagement.

Who am I? What do the ads & search engines know?

Posted by tom | Jan 20, 2011

Wondering who you are or what direction you're going?  Maybe you should check the ads which are being generated as you explore the internet or maybe not. Any unique experiences to share? -- Me & My Algorithm (Seth Freeman. NY Times Opinion. 1/18/2011).

Tron cometh again

Posted by tom | Jul 27, 2010

How about PR and making "must attend" movie openings, e.g., Marketing ‘Tron: Legacy’ Brings the Hardest Sell Yet (Brooks Barnes, NY Times. 7/26/2010). http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/26/business/media/26tron.html).

“If this thing isn’t a hit,” said John Juarez, a Comic-Con attendee, “somebody at Disney is going to have a lot of explaining to do.”

Yes, it's a business with the importance of getting material on screen which will sell and being sure to lock-down advance ads (Brooks Barnes. "Screenvision to Revamp Preshow Ads at Cinemas." NY Times. 7/26/2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/26/business/media/26screenvision.html).  Some complementary thoughts shared in yesterday's post: "A fan of a critic ...," http://groshlink.net/archives/2010/07/26/a-fan-of-a-critic-...

One of several trailers emphasizing a variety of threads:  http://www.youtube.com/v/L9szn1QQfas

Do you remember in 1982 when we heard, "In the future video game battles will be a matter of life or death"?  I think that I liked Jeff Bridges more "back in the day."

Trailer: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084827/

A fan of a critic ...

Posted by tom | Jul 26, 2010

I really appreciated A. O. Scott's "Everybody’s a Critic of the Critics’ Rabid Critics," (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/25/movies/25scott.html, NY Times, 7/21/2010), generated by the reviews of "Inception."  Below's his "conclusion," opening up further reflection/conversation.  

Film culture on the Internet does not only speed up the story of a movie’s absorption of a movie into the cultural bloodstream but also reverses the sequence. Maybe my memory is fuzzy, or maybe I’m dreaming, but I think it used to be that “masterpiece” was the last word, the end of the discussion, rather than the starting point.

But in this case we end up with where we should have started, wondering what the movie is about, what it means, puzzling over symbols and plot points. It’s almost as if we’re all in a movie that’s running backward, like “Memento.” Which was totally overrated. Unless it was a masterpiece. I’m going to have to see it again.

When I shared Scott's article with Theresa, she mentioned her agreement with the over-rated nature of the current review structure (in both positive/negative directions).  With regard to the question of when a "piece" becomes a "masterpiece," she used the illustration of the Beatles, i.e., when did the Beatles become such a monumental band ("a masterpiece" or those which churned out "masterpiece" albums and/or songs)?  

So, we find "masterpiece" too much for a new release (let alone use in a "pre-release" commentary).  Maybe in the larger culture, on-line critics provide the much needed yes/no filter to sift through the overwhelming stream of new media options.  It seems that some "take it all in" (or as much as they can) despite how bad it is, whereas others prioritize based on what is supposedly a "must see" by those they consider "well-informed."  I guess for us, other concerns set the stage (Note:  Earlier post related to "Inception," What do you dream about? Who is in your dream world? -- http://groshlink.net/archives/2010/07/20/what-do-you-dream-about).

As for "Inception," I'm afraid that at present I can envision/dream enough of it for myself.

Confession 1:  Scott's typically the first film review I read on new releases.  As such, I've read his review (http://movies.nytimes.com/2010/07/16/movies/16inception.html), along with some others (e.g., Steven D. Greydanus. Christianity Today. 7/16/2010. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/movies/reviews/2010/inception.html), and watched some trailers.  Result:  "Inception" has been wait listed for so we can enjoy the summer with our family (and extended family).  Nothing like the "masterpiece" of God's creation, God's story, family, friendships, the Body of Christ. ... which reminds me of a post which I wrote about "Inception" on July 20, What do you dream about? Who is in your dream world? (http://groshlink.net/archives/2010/07/20/what-do-you-dream-about).

Confession 2:  I don't want to come across as "holier" than the silverscreen and leave the impression that movies (and the media in general) have been taken out of our family's mix this summer.  So to come clean, in addition to the reading frenzy (some below, more coming a future post on this topic), recently ...  

  • The twins enjoyed "Toy Story 3" with one of their Aunts.  Afterwards they 
    • turned in reading lists to Barnes & Nobles and Borders
    • secured a new pile of books and one more video to add to our family's crowded shelves
  • Theresa and I rewatched "Amazing Grace."  Wow.  To God be the glory!  Note:  earlier post of related interest, http://groshlink.net/archives/2007/09/15/human-trafficking-and-enslavement-symposium.
  • Harry Potter has received a lot of attention in text and film from others in the family.  Still not of interest to me. ... A post for another day.

Still trusting google?

Posted by tom | Jul 24, 2010
How do you search for material on-line? Do you place absolute trust in The Google Algorithm (NY Tmes Op-Ed, 7/14/2010)?  If not, what is your preferred search engine and why?  Just wondering ... I'm still using google for searches.  I appreciate their "library," blog reader, and email.  Sometimes I use their maps.  But I've not gotten into it as a social networking or business recommendation tool.

Tweet Less, Kiss More ... Amen!

Posted by tom | Jul 21, 2010

Came across a NY Times Op-Ed entitled, Tweet Less, Kiss More (Bob Herbert. NY Times Op-Ed. 7/16/2010). Below's the conclusion. Enjoy today. This summer. Into the fall, i.e., the new academic year :-)

We need to reduce the speed limits of our lives. We need to savor the trip. Leave the cellphone at home every once in awhile. Try kissing more and tweeting less. And stop talking so much.

Listen.

Other people have something to say, too. And when they don’t, that glorious silence that you hear will have more to say to you than you ever imagined. That is when you will begin to hear your song. That’s when your best thoughts take hold, and you become really you -- Tweet Less, Kiss More (Bob Herbert. NY Times Op-Ed. 7/16/2010).

What do you dream about? Who is in your dream world?

Posted by tom | Jul 20, 2010

When I was younger, I watched, dreamed, and imagined films like Inception (2010).  Furthermore, I wondered why everyone else wasn't generating similar dreams and desiring to jump into them (and their media creations) with me. 

Over the past couple years real life has become too gritty to regularly watch, dream, and imagine these type of realities. As such, I long for, dream, and strive toward much different realities:

  • directed by the creation and the God's call as one stamped with the image of God, to "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." (Genesis 1:28)
  • responding to the Fall and it's destructive nature (Genesis 3)
  • traveling in exile/back again (again and again)
  • prophetic word to our culture and cultural religious exercises
  • sitting on the hills hearing the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
  • living out the Kingdom of God as salt, light, leaven
  • partaking/blossoming the fruit of the Spirit through the freedom in Christ (vs. the bondage of the sinful acts of this present darkness/world) -- Galatians 5
  • stepping into the New Creation with family, friends, neighbors, and many more in local communities ... beyond local communities spanning not only geography/ethnicity, but time (Hebrews 11-12, Revelation 21-22)
Time by the Word, Spirit, witness (word/life) and Body of Christ to sow these seeds of transformation which rest upon the foundation of acknowledging the brokenness of human beings (individual, corporate) and offering ourselves up to the One who alone offers redemption/next steps for the future. That is the seed to plant.

To conclude, at present, This Time the Dream’s on Me (A.O. Scott. NY Times Movie Review. 7/15/2010), ‘Inception’ Exceeds Box-Office Dreams (Brooks Barnes. NY Times. 7/18/2010), and Inception's Official Website are all I need regarding the film.  But if you were one of the many to see the film (who helped make Inception #1 in North American theaters, so much so to give Leonardo DiCaprio his biggest opening ever), feel free to share your thoughts on it and lure me to the theater .... Otherwise, I'll wait until DVD ... or fill the gaps between the clips/trailers for myself :-0

Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 11/Epilogue

Posted by tom | May 2, 2010

Cover of Carl Shirky. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing
Without Organizations. NY, NY: Penguin Press, 2008.What is Clay Shirky's* formula for success?  The "fusion of a plausible promise, an effective tool, and an acceptable bargain with the users.  The promise is the basic 'why' for anyone to join or contribute to a group.  The tool helps with the 'how' -- how will the difficulties of coordination be overcome, or at least be held to manageable levels?   And the bargain sets the rules of the road:  if you are interested in the promise and adopt the tool, what can you expect, and what will be expected of you?" (p.260, bold added)  And be sure to have the components in that order!

Simple?  No.  Why?  "[B]ecause the interactions among the different components is too complex" (p.261).  I particularly appreciated Clay Shirky pointing out that social media isn't selling a product, but calling people to come together to make a product.  I have found that to be the rub, sometimes leading a blog such as this to have more of the appearance of website.  Is it a failure?  No.  I'm not only feeding Groshlink into Facebook, but also I'm using it more and more as a resource for those interested in learning more about our ministry.  With regard to Facebook's move from 'fan' pages to 'like' pages, my gut reaction is that more 'members' decreases the potential for these groups to move toward direct 'real world' action.  The proposal of local clustering makes a lot of sense to me, one which I've thinking about for Emerging Scholars Network and Faculty MinistryClay Shirky's two questions regarding tools are quite good:  'Does the group need to be small or large?' and 'Does it need to be short-lived or long-lived?'" (p.266)

What do we do with all the group forming, e.g., Facebook's 'like' feature?  How long until the young are displaced and find themselves in the midst of a culture in which they did not grow up?  Hope to have another post which draws together my overall response to the book.  I don't have the time to do such at present :-(  Maybe it's good to hang open in order to let the ideas flow, as long as I get back them.

*Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organization (Clay Shirky. NY, NY: Penguin Press, 2008).

Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 1
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 2
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 3
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 4
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 5
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 6
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 7-8
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 9-10

Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 9-10

Posted by tom | May 1, 2010

Cover of Carl Shirky. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing
Without Organizations. NY, NY: Penguin Press, 2008. Clay Shirky's* exploration of the Six Degrees of Separation provided helpful clues on homophily (i.e., the grouping of like with like), developing dense and sparse connections at the same time, and how "bonding capital tends to be more exclusive and bridging capital more inclusive" (p.224).  "In Small World networks bonding tends to happen within the clusters, while bridging happens between clusters. ... Perhaps the most significant effect of our new tools, though, lies in the increased leverage they give the most connected people.  The tightness of a large social network comes less from increasing the number of connections that the average member of the network can support than from increasing the number of connections that the most connected people can support" (p.224).

The material at the end of chapter, drawn from Ronald Burt's "The Social Origins of Good Ideas" resonated with me.

"First, most good ideas came from people who were bridging 'structural holes,' which is to say people whose immediate social network included employees outside their department. Second, bridging these structural holes was valuable even when other variables, such as rank and age (both of which correlate for higher degrees of social connection), were controlled for. ... In Burt's analysis, a dense social network of people in the same department (and who were therefore likely to be personally connect to one another) seemed to create an echo-chamber effect. ... Burt found that bridging capital puts people at greater risk of having good ideas (his phrase) than do any individual traits. ... Even when the judicious use of social connections increases the proportion of good ideas, most ideas are still bad. It's not enough to find some way to increase the successful ideas. Some way needs to found to tolerate the failures too" (p.229-232).

Chapter 10:  Failure for Free seeks to address how social tools enable the volume produced by the publish-then-filter of websites such as Meetup which are successful because of the failures.  Linux and Wikipedia both illustrate the desire to work alongside a bigger project instead of doing something on one's own.  Meetup, like Flickr and Facebook, is an enabling platform.  "What the open source movement teaches us is that the communal can be at least as durable as the commercial.  For any given piece of software, the question, "Do the people who like it take care of each other?" turns out to be a better prediction of success than "What's the business model?"  As the rest of the world gets access to the tools once reserved for the techies, that pattern is appearing everywhere, and it is changing society as it does" (p.238-9).

Does Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organization leave the reader with a formula for success?  Turning to Chapter 11 to find out.

*Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organization (Clay Shirky. NY, NY: Penguin Press, 2008).

Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 1
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 2
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 3
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 4
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 5
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 6
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 7-8

Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 7-8

Posted by tom | Apr 30, 2010

Cover of Carl Shirky. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing
Without Organizations. NY, NY: Penguin Press, 2008.Does Faster and faster, title of Chapter 7,* summarize your experience of speed of on-line communication?  Have you at times gotten run over by the volume of the communication or by groups coordinated via good communication (some version of a flash mob)?  I loved Clay Shirky's illustrations of the fall of the German Democratic Republic (1989), protests in Belarus (2006), German communication in Blitzkrieg (1940), the suprise punch of the Falun Gong (1999), dealing with flight delays, changes in loan stipulations, and Egyptain political activists.  Wanting to know more about Solving Social Dilemmas, I charged into Chapter 8.

Of course, Clay Shirky doesn't actually claim social tools can solve social dilmmas, instead he offers various ways in which social tools can amplify our ability to address them.  As a follower of Christ, I differ with his Tit-for-Tat approach to the extraordinary and daily use of the Prisoners' Dilemma.  We are to always confess and share the truth as part of our loving relationship with God.  Such a way of life supercedes our love of neighbor and self.  But I found his remedy to the concerns expressed by Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone (2000), quite on the mark.  Meetup is a great illustration of how affinity and proximity make a great match, particularly for those on the outside, seeking social opportunities. Due to Theresa's connections with MOPS, I'm not surprised that the most popular current group is Stay at Home Moms (SAHM).  But I would guess that Facebook's surge among SAHM has been taking a big chunk out of this audience. Can anyone give me insight on this topic?

Clay Shirky raises three issues regarding the new freedoms of on-line connection/assembly:

  1. loss of jobs to specialists who are displaced by mass amateurism
  2. loss of governmental (and journalistic) ability to control media output
  3. "Networked organizations are more resilient as a result of better commuication tools and more flexible soical structures, but this is as true of terrorist netwroks or criminal gangs as of Wikipedians or student protestors.  This third loss, where the harms are not merely transition, leads to a hard question:  What are we going to do about the neagive effects of freedom. ... It used to be hard to get people to assemble and easy for existing groups to fall apart.  Now asembling latent groups is simple, and the groups, once assemble, can be quite robust in the face of indifference or deven direct opposition from the larger society.  (In some cases, that very opposition can strengthen the group's cohesion, as with the Pro-Ana[rexic] girls.)  When it is hard to form groups, both potentially good and bad groups are prevented from forming; when in becomes simple to form groups, we get both the good and the bad ones.  This is going to force society to shift from simply preventing groups from forming to actively deciding which existing ones to try to oppose, a shift that parallels the publish-then-filter pattern generally. -- p.210-211.

*Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organization (Clay Shirky. NY, NY: Penguin Press, 2008).

Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 1
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 2
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 3
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 4
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 5
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 6

Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 6

Posted by tom | Apr 29, 2010

Cover of Carl Shirky. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing
Without Organizations. NY, NY: Penguin Press, 2008.My reference to the Body of Christ in Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 5, may have been looking for more of what we find in Chapter 6:  Collective Action and Institutional Challenges.*  Let's explore what "new tools give life to new forms of action" which "in turn challenge existing institutions, by eroding the institutional monopoly on large-scale coordination" (p.109, from Chapter 6 Abstract, italics in original).

Chapter 6:  Collective Action and Institutional Challenges is actually focused upon the church, i.e., the Roman Catholic Church.  In what manner?  Clay Shirky devotes significant attention to how on-line lay coordination (Voice of the Faithful, i.e., VOTF) in 2002 led to sexual scandal reforms/resignations which failed to occur even ten years previously when the issues were raised by the media in 1992. What enabled strong lay mobilization?  The ease of sharing information (versus expending the energy to collect/mail newspaper clippings and find out the the stories of others) along with the coordination of response through on-line resources and arranging public meetings.  

Later in the chapter, Clay Shirky also refers to the challenges of parish authority by the Episcopalian Church in Virigina when they brokeaway from the U.S. denomination, in protest to the ordination of the openly gay bishop Gene Robinson, to go under the Nigerian Anglican Church. 

What powerful tool do we find now in regular use, email.  The ability to go viral

social tools don't create collective action -- they merely remove the obstacles to it.  Those obstacles have been so significant and pervasive, however, that as they are being removed, the world is becoming a different place.  This is why many of the significant changes are based not on the fanciest, newest bits of technology but on simple, easty-to-use tools like e-mail, mobile phones, and websites, because those are the tools most people have access to and, critically, are comfortable using in their daily lives.  Revolution doesn't happen when society adopts new behaviors. -- p.159-160.

Clay Shirky's stringing me along as I anticipate Chapter 7:  Faster and faster is going to provide intense illustrations regarding Collective Action and Institutional Challenges.

*Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organization (Clay Shirky. NY, NY: Penguin Press, 2008).

Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 1
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 2
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 3
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 4
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 5

Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 5

Posted by tom | Apr 28, 2010

Cover of Carl Shirky. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing
Without Organizations. NY, NY: Penguin Press, 2008.Personal Motivation Meets Collaborative Production.  Tell me more!  As many of you know, collaborative production rests in the soul of my understanding of being part of the Body of Christ. Let's dig in to find out what we can learn from Chapter 5 of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Oranizing Without Organization (Clay Shirky. NY, NY: Penguin Press, 2008):

Collaborative production, where people have to coordinate with one another to get anything done, is considerably harder than simple sharing, but the results can be more profound.  New tools allow large groups to collaborate, by taking advantage of nonfinancial motivations and by allowing for wildly differing levels of communication (p.109, Chapter Abstract, italics in original).

Yes, collaboration's harder than simply sharing.  Shirky focuses upon the history of and the continuing development of Wikipedia as a coordinating resource via the spontaneous division of a community of love (!).  He points out two (actually three) surprising lessons learned about collaborative web projects:

1.  the imbalance is the same shape across a huge number of different kinds of behaviors. ... The general form of a power law distribution appears in social settings when some set of items -- users, pictures, tags -- is ranked by frequency of occurrence.  You can rank a group of Flickr users by the number of pictures they submit.  You can rank a collection of pictures by the number of viewers.  You can rank tags by the number of pictures they are applied to.  All of these graphs will be in the rough shape of a power law distribution. ...

2.  the imbalance drives large social systems rather than damaging them.  Fewer than two percent of Wikipedia users ever contribute, yet that is enough to create profound value for millions of users. ... Though the word "ecosystem" is overused as a way to make simple situations seem more complex, it is merited here, because large social systems cannot be understood as a simple aggregation of the behavior of some nonexistent "average" user. ... Any system described by a power law, where mean, median, and mode are so different, has several curious effects.  The first is that by definition, most participants are below average.  This sounds strange to many ears, as we are used to a world where average means middle, which is to say where average is the same as the median.  You can see this "below average" phenomenon at work in the economist's joke:  Bill Gates walks into a bar, and suddenly everyone inside becomes a millionaire, on average.  The corollary is that everyone else in the bar also acquires a below-average income.  The other surpirse of such systems it that as they get larger, the imbalance between the few and the many gets larger, not smaller.  As you get more weblogs, or more MySpace pages, or more YouTube videos, the gap between the material that gets the most attention and merely average attention wil grow, as wil the gap beween average and median (p.124-125, 127).

Comment:  You can see where this is going with regard to the readership of most blogs, of which Groshlink fits the category.  But the comparatively low readership of the various pages with which Theresa and I are involved in provides the opportunity for concentrated, deeper connections.  The larger our friendship circles (such as on Facebook) and the number of groups we find ourselves managing, the lower our personal interaction.  How does one choose proper size and work toward those ends with a project such as the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN) blog?  Any proposals on an open project for InterVarsity's Graduate & Faculty Ministry related to ESN?  Is it best for us to turn attention to pilot campuses or through the door open for campuses to tap into a national open project?  Clarity in direction and fluidity in structure is important for growth/development.  Turning to Chapter 6:  Collective Action and Institutional Challenges.  Maybe that's more of what I was referring to at the beginning of this post.

Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 1
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 2
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 3
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 4

Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 4

Posted by tom | Apr 26, 2010

Cover of Carl Shirky. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing
Without Organizations. NY, NY: Penguin Press, 2008.Publish, Then Filter aptly titles Chapter 4 of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organization (Clay Shirky. NY, NY: Penguin Press, 2008).  Shirky begins with some samples of amateur internet writing.  Does my writing spill forth with a popular American conversational tone?  I hope not, but it is true that my writing for Groshlink has friends, ministry partners, and family in mind.  In many ways, I'm writing and you're reading something closer to an on-line family/ministry journal than a media source broadcasting to the whole world (although posted for/available to all with access). 

As the number of my on-line connections with family, friends, networks, blogs, and communities of practice/discussion grow, Shirky's observation that the web falls short in connecting an individual with a large grouping of people comes too close to home.  Even though I desire it not to be the case, a difference exists between conversing and broadcasting (p.95).

"The Web makes interactivity technologically possible, but what technology giveth, social factors taketh away.  In the case of the famous, any potential interactivity is squashed, because fame isn't an attitude, and it isn't technological artifact.  Fame is simply an imbalance between inbound and outbound attention, more arrows pointing in than out.  Two things have to happen for someone to be famous, neither of them related to technology.  The first is scale:  he or she has to have some minimum amount of attention, an audience in the thousands or more. (This why the internet version of the Warhol quote -- "In the furture everyone will be famous to fifteen people" -- is appealing but wrong.)  Second, he or she has to be unable to reciprocate. ... Though the possibility of two-way links is profoundly good, it is not a cure-all.  On the Web interactivity has no technological limits, but it does still have strong cognitive limits:  no matter who you are, you can only read so many weblogs, can trade e-mail with only so many people, and so on.  Oprah has e-mail, but her address would become useless the minute it became public." ... Egalitarianism is possible only in small social systems.  Once a medium gets past a certain size, fame is a forced move.  Early reports of the death of traditional media portrayed the Web as a kind of anti-TV -- two-way where TV is one-way, interactive where TV is passive, and (implicitly) good where TV is bad.  Now we know that the Web is not a perfect antidote to the problems of mass media, because some of those problems are human and are not amenable to technological fixes (p.91, 93-94).

Question:  Not just fame, but responsibility eats up time.  What do you think?  Is it old school to be a home-maker such as Theresa, network across campuses/involvement with the Emerging Scholars Network such I do, or lead a team of over a half-dozen staff such as myself while interacting with the larger structure of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.  

Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 1
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 2
Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 3

Texting is for teens ;-)

Posted by tom | Apr 22, 2010

Teens, Cell Phones and Texting: Text Messaging Becomes Centerpiece Communication (Amanda Lenhart, Senior Research Specialist, Pew Internet & American Life Project, 4/20/2010). Has texting grown as a form of communication for you? It definately has for me. A great way to answer questions and handle tasks when I don't have WiFi or a good way to take/give a cell phone call.

Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 2

Posted by tom | Apr 22, 2010

Cover of Carl Shirky. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. NY, NY: Penguin Press, 2008. I confess Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organization (Clay Shirky. NY, NY: Penguin Press, 2008) was hard to put down.  But was there anything of value in Chapter 2:  Sharing Anchors Community?  Glad you asked ;-)  The chapter begins with the assertion:

Groups of people are complex, in ways that make those groups hard to form and hard to sustain; much of the shape of traditional institutions is a response to those difficulties.  New social tools relieve some of those burdens, allowing for new kinds of group-forming, like using simple sharing to anchor the creation of new groups. -- p.25, original in italics.

1.  The Birthday Paradox.  Chemistry is not just applied physics.  Sociology is not just applied psychology.  The danger of adding employees to a late project (Fred Brooks, The Mythical Man-Month)The Nature of the Firm (Ronald Coase, 1937).

2.  On-line photo (Flickr) and info (blogging) sharing in unique situations ('95 Underground bombings, '04 tsunami, '06 Thai Military Coup). [Comment:  The lack of illustrations using Facebook stems from the book's release in 2008, before the widespread use of Facebook.  Waiting to see if Facebook will receive some mention later in the book.]

3.  Smaller organizations can run in a more ad hoc fashion.  But larger organizations demand the flow chart, developed by railroads in mid-19th century, which layers information and decision making. As a matter of fact, "not only does managing resources take resources, but management challenges grow faster than organizational size" (p.41). [Comment: I enjoy pioneering and seeing a small community/organization birthed.  The management of a larger community/organization can be difficult and demands checks to be sure it aligns with its purpose/vision which come more easily/naturally in a small, 'home grown' community/organization where everyone knows what everyone else is doing.]

4.  "An organization will tend to grow only when the advantages that can be gotten from directing the work of additional employees are less than the transaction costs of managing them" (p.43).

5  "Social tools [e.g., Flickr] provide a third alternative:  action by loosely structured groups, operating without managerial direction and outside the profit margin" (p.47). .... the ease of assembling, experimentation, and sharing with collaborative groups (p.48-49).  Hierarchy of information sharing, cooperating in collaborative production, collective action (p.49-54). [Question: How about parachurch ministries in which staff members raise their own support?]

Onto Chapter 3:  Everyone is a Media Outlet

Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 1

Here Comes Everybody: Chapter 1

Posted by tom | Apr 21, 2010

Cover of Carl Shirky. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. NY, NY: Penguin Press, 2008.I enjoy soaking in and wrestling with material in a book.  If a book is not worth soaking in, it's hard for me to pick up and skim.  But after renewing Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organization (Clay Shirky. NY, NY: Penguin Press, 2008) twice and reminding myself that I should read over it in prep for an upcoming workshop on Social Media,* I bit the bullet.  

Clay Shirky, adjunct professor in NYU's graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), draws the reader into Chapter 1:  It Takes a Village to Find a Phone via a complex story of the creation of and response of an activistic virtual community to a lost/stolen cell phone.  Below are some quotes I spent time considering and pass along for you.

  • Sociability is one of our core capabilities [as human beings] -- p.14.
  • Society is not just the product of its individual members; it is also the product of constituent groups. The aggregate relationships lead to networks of astonishing complexity. ... and the ability to accomplish amazing feats (p.14-16).
  • New technology enables new kinds of group-forming. ... When we change the way we communicate, we change society (p.17). ... forming groups has gotten a lot easier.  To put it in economic terms, the costs incurred by creating a new group or joining an existing one have fallen in recent years, and not just by a little bit.  They have collapsed.  ("Cost" here is used in the economist's sense of anything expended -- money, but also time, effort, or attention.) (p.18).
  • Without a plausible promise, all the technology in the world would be nothing more than all the technology in the world (p.18).
  • The difference between an ad hoc group and a company like Microsoft is management. ... If you want to organize the work of even dozens of individuals, you have to manage them (p.19). ... We are living in the middle of a remarkable increase in our ability to share, to cooperate with one another, and to take collective action, all outside the framework of traditional institutions and organizations (p.20-21). ... the difficulties that kept self-assembled groups from working together are shrinking, meaning that the number and kinds of things groups can get done without financial motivation or managerial oversight are growing.  The current change, in one sentence, is this:  most of the barriers to group action have collapsed, we are free to explore new ways of gathering together and getting things done (p.22).

Question: Are you exploring new ways of gathering together and getting things done on-line OR is that a too idealistic?  Where technology is prevalent, does there exist a generational divide between those who embrace communities formed/supported through the new technology and those who do not?

*Query: Social Media, Community Development, Campus Ministry