My Tweets, Links, Music, and Books

Tweets, Links, Music, and Books - Sam Harrelson

I’ve put together a page here on my blog to aggregate all of my updates, music listening patterns, bookmarks on the web, and books I’m reading:

Twitter: updates etc

Music: iTunes / Spotify / Google Play Music / Pandora / Last.FM

Bookmarks: Pocket and Pinboard

Reading and Books: Goodreads

I was pretty proud of myself. I like having all of my consumption in one spot. I’m working on Instagram now, but they don’t have RSS feeds and clearly aren’t fans of users pulling their own pics out of their silo.

Tweets, Links, Music, and Books – Sam Harrelson.

Dura Europos as a “Moonscape of Craters”

More sadness regarding ISIS and looting at Dura Europos in Syria…

“I am fearful that there will be mass looting as in Syria,” said Katharyn Hanson, a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Cultural Heritage Centre and a specialist in Mesopotamian archaeology, who is visiting Erbil. She says that Nineveh, Nimrud and other cities of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, which once stretched from the Gulf to the Mediterranean, will “become like Dura-Europos on the Euphrates, a moonscape of craters [from looters pits].” Dura-Europos is a Hellenistic city whose site used to be known as “the Pompeii of the Syrian desert”.

via Iraq: Isis militants pledge to destroy remaining archaeological treasures in Nimrud – Middle East – World – The Independent.

Playing Checkers At a Chess Match

llamadress

We had the “viral singluarlity” happen on the internet last night and you can be sure that across newsrooms and marketing meetings this morning, there are discussions of dresses and llamas happening right this moment as the East Coast crowd goes to work and looks at all those sharing numbers and metrics.

However, only BuzzFeed is BuzzFeed.

Be yourself. Attract a different crowd with authenticity. Don’t listen to shallow marketers (hey, we’re not all shallow) telling you to “be viral” at all costs. There’s money and value in being different.

In this game, BuzzFeed is winning. It must boggle the mind at traditional publishers that seemingly the entire Internet is talking about content that was created not by a seasoned reporter but a “community growth manager.” These so-called premium publishing brands will inevitably lose their pricing power in the ad market as they continue to copy BuzzFeed. What’s more they’re playing catch-up in offering high-priced agency services that are fueling the models of BuzzFeed and Vice. There used to be an axiom in the tech market: It’s a bad idea to try to out-Google Google. Too many people tried that — Google “Accoona” sometime — and totally failed. These days, in viral publishing, it’s a bad idea for premium brands to try to out-BuzzFeed BuzzFeed. Soon, Time, Esquire, GQ and the like will become indistinguishable from BuzzFeed. And the problem with that is simple: BuzzFeed is better at being BuzzFeed than Time.

via The dress is white and gold. Or, why BuzzFeed won – Digiday.

Google Starts Ranking Your Site Based on Mobile Friendliness

We’ve known for a few months that Google was going to start ranking websites based on their ability to be displayed on mobile devices such as phones and tablets as well as traditional laptops and desktops. Looks like April 21 is the big day to have made the switch to a mobile-friendly site:

Big news from Google today: beginning April 21, the company will increase the ranking of sites that are mobile-friendly.

via Google Will Rank Your Site Higher If It’s Mobile Friendly.

Why is this important for non-profits, churches, religious groups, and community orgs in addition to startups and small businesses (most of our clients)?

Because even though search has had to share the limelight with social networks in terms of being “found” and “discovered” on the web, it’s still incredibly important to rank as well as you can in Google as search is still dominant.

You simply can’t afford to have a website that doesn’t display properly on an iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone etc after April 2015.

Why We Should Care About Archaeological Destruction

This is terrible…

The Islamic State group released a video on Thursday showing militants using sledgehammers to smash ancient artifacts in Iraq’s northern city of Mosul, describing them as idols that must be removed, according to the Associated Press.

The destructions are part of a campaign by Islamic State, who have destroyed a number of shrines — including Muslim holy sites — in order to eliminate what they view as heresy.

via Islamic State Video Shows Militants Destroying Museum Artifacts in Iraq – Dispatch – WSJ.

While the world was watching the Academy Awards ceremony, the people of Mosul were watching a different show. They were horrified to see ISIS members burn the Mosul public library. Among the many thousands of books it housed, more than 8,000 rare old books and manuscripts were burned.

via ISIS Burns 8000 Rare Books and Manuscripts in Mosul – Yahoo! Finance

Let’s not forget that people of many faiths (ancient and modern) have used the defacement or destruction of art or cultural items as a way to “wipe the slate clean” of previous heresies. From Hatsheput to Josiah pulling down the high places in Israel to the burning of books, these tactics are power plays designed to show that the deity or deities are on one’s side in a presumed theo-political battle.

Lost in the fear that ISIS / ISIL / IS is imminently planning to attack the US is the cultural damage this collection of people are doing to museums and sites in Syria (Damascus, Antioch, Palmyra, Dura Europos) and northern Iraq (Mosul / Nineveh).

Specifically for the stories linked above, the modern city of Mosul sites very near Nineveh, the historical capital of the Assyrian Empire, at its height in the 9th-7th centuries BCE. Believe it or not, Assyrian artifacts caused quite a rage in the late 1800’s after Sir Henry Austen Layard’s discovery of Assyrian palaces in the 1850’s.

These artifacts directly impacted the development of the missionary movement as northeastern universities used these impressive pieces of art as proof of God’s providence (as the folks in Jerusalem were saved from Sennacherib’s invasion by God’s hand according to the book of Kings… the folks in the Northern Kingdom of Israel as well as Lachish were less fortunate).

While doing graduate studies at Yale, I somehow lucked into a dream job at the Yale Art Gallery. I was so fascinated by the Assyrian antiquities there and the story of why Yale, Harvard, Amherst, Williams etc were so passionate about securing Assyrian pieces for their own collections in the 1800’s that I wrote a book about it:

This accompanying text to the Yale University Art Gallery’s famed Assyrian reliefs details the 19th-century American frenzy for reliefs taken from Assurnasirpal II’s magnificent palace in Kalhu near the Tigris River. The discovery of the palace by the British in 1845 captured the Victorian public’s imagination, leading to the discovery of other architectural sites and the deciphering of the Assyrian language. Soon, American missionaries sought to procure artifacts for their alma maters, most often coveting reliefs that were religious in content. William Frederic Williams was one such missionary and former Yale faculty member. He, along with Yale Medical School graduate Henry Lobel, secured six slabs from Assurnasirpal’s palace, which were divided up between Yale, Amherst, and Union Seminary in Utica. Harrelson analyzes at length the two reliefs obtained by Yale. He touches on the technical aspects of the materials as well as the reliefs’ religious iconography, situating them within the palace as a whole.

via Asia Has Claims Upon New England by Sam Harrelson, Yale University Art Gallery

Along with the atrocities being done by groups such as IS to other humans, we should care about the destruction of irreplaceable pieces of world history whenever it happens. For those of us with a more jingoist mindset, we should especially care when these cultural pieces are directly tied to our own history and majority religion.

William F. Williams wrote back to his benefactors at Yale from the city of Mosul in the 1850’s that, “Asia has claims upon New England.” Perhaps that has never been more true in the modern context.

Thomas and I will definitely discuss this on the next Thinking Religion, so give that a listen if you’re interested.

I pray for peace.

You Don’t Need A Mediator to Blog

It’s very easy to blog. You should do it on your own domain. You don’t need a venture capital funded company to help you.

If you need help, let me know. The future is independence from these sorts of silos.

Medium is introducing a host of features aimed at encouraging users to post shorter, less polished pieces.

via Medium adds new features to encourage shorter posts.