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Augmented Reality Bowie via The New York Times

I’m a big David Bowie fan so, of course, this is amazing to me… but even if you’re not into superb music you can still appreciate the technology and work that makes this sort of experience possible.

No, we don’t have flying cars and jetpacks but this feels a lot like the future…

You can access the new Bowie feature via The New York Times app, projecting life-size versions of the rock star’s iconic costumes into your own space. As with other AR experiences, you can explore the outfits as if they were really there, walking around to see the back, for example, or getting up close to see details you might miss in a photo. The pieces were scanned at the Brooklyn Museum just before the “David Bowie is” exhibition opened.

Source: The New York Times brings Bowie exhibit to your phone with AR

Podcast on Church Marketing

Thomas and I recorded a new episode of Thinking Religion last night that covers many of my thoughts about how churches and nonprofits use (and should use) social media, email services, web apps etc in their marketing efforts. My basic point is that “social” media is reaching the same point that “broadcast” media did years ago. Rather than having one or three TV channels for news and shows and 2 main newspapers for the country or one radio commentator that we all listen to, broadcast media as we knew it broke up into many small islands that Netflix and Hulu etc descended from. The same is happening with social media today. Instead of a person having to be on Facebook because that’s where everyone else is, there are many little islands forming off the backs of interests. Don’t build your island on Facebook’s coral reef and expect it to last forever.

You can listen here:

Dr. Thomas Whitley and The Rev. Samuel Harrelson discuss The Great Social Media Reckoning of 2018, broadcast media vs social media, why you need a website (and why your church needs a GOOD website), and the importance of bringing it all back home.

Source: Thinking Religion Episode 144: Should Your Church Delete Its Facebook Page?

Reaping Data

Not to mention how companies and governments so haphazardly use this data for causes and purposes…

The unchecked power of companies that harvest our data is a great problem—but it’s hard to get angry about an idea that’s so nebulous. Like climate change, the reaping of our data is a problem of psychology as much as business. We know that the accumulation of massive power in so few hands is bad, but it’s impossible to anticipate what terrible result might come of it. And if we could envision them, these consequences are imaginary: abstract and in the future. It feels so oppressively intractable it’s hard to summon the will to act.

Source: Cambridge Analytica Is Finally Under Fire Because of Whistleblowers | WIRED

Facebook is facing an existential crisis

Zuckerberg really needs to make a statement. This is going thermonuclear and Facebook’s sole commodity is trust via relationship.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal has done immense damage to the brand, sources across the company believe. It will now take a Herculean effort to restore public trust in Facebook’s commitment to privacy and data protection, they said. Outside observers think regulation has suddenly become more likely, and yet CEO Mark Zuckerberg appears missing in action.

Source: Facebook facing an existential crisis over privacy and data – Mar. 19, 2018

What Facebook knows about you and me and what I can do about it

Cambridge Analytica harvested personal information from a huge swath of the electorate to develop techniques that were later used in the Trump campaign.

Source: How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions – The New York Times

I often have consultations with clients involving data sources. Marketing has always been closely tied to the acquisition and analysis of data related to potential target audiences or desired demographics. A large part of what I do every day is staring at spreadsheets and trying to derive direction or wisdom out of data that Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Snap or Google has gathered from their (often overlapping) groups of products users for our clients’ campaigns.

I loathe using the term “campaign” to refer to anything marketing related… it’s not a battle and we’re not at war. Even worse is the dehumanization that often occurs in marketing conversations we all have about the data generated by real people on the web. Both are related in that our gathering and use of this data combined with our resulting conclusions and “targeting” (again with the militaristic violent language) makes actual people into abstract data points.

It’s little talked about in our industry, but data ethics are something we really need to take more seriously in all aspects of our marketing efforts, whether you’re working with a Fortune 500 company or a small country church.

I know that I personally feel a twitch of regret mixed with reservation when I click on a radio buttons to specify that I’d like to target women above the age of 40 who have relationship issues but live in this affluent ZIP code and enjoy looking at pictures of wine and spirits on Instagram. It’s terrifying. But, it’s relatively cheap and incredibly effective. Our church and nonprofit clients on shoestring budgets can’t get enough of the reach and response from this kind of data marketing (“like shooting fish in a barrel” is a common saying for a reason).

I did a good deal of work on ethics in Divinity School. I’m taking a course in the coming weeks on Data Science Ethics. Now, I need to do a better job of thinking through these types of marketing efforts and explaining the ethical implications of using this data given that most people have NO IDEA how much is known about them (yes, because of Facebook and social media but also because of the relative ease of connecting someone’s phone number or address or email with their browsing history, activity on location tracking services, voter records etc). I need to do a better job of helping clients think through the humanization and dehumanization involved with marketing and advertising and their own goals (especially for churches and nonprofits). I need to do a better job of providing real alternatives to the types of data usage that resulted in situations like our current political climate. I need to provide shoestring budget options for marketing that emphasizes humanity and relatedness rather than victory.

Otherwise, I’m just hanging out in Omelas.

Is there space for “ethical marketing” in a crowded environment of agencies driving the cost of “targeting” and “campaigning” and “development” to the lowest common denominator in terms of price and friction? I’m not sure. But I’m just crazy enough to start giving it a try.

“to queer the prophetic body”

Rather, she is interested in how queerness, in all of its polysemy, “works” in the prophetic texts. Her aim is to “trace the prophetic body as a queer object and to queer the prophetic body” (p. 7)—a project that is both queer and feminist. The result is an imaginative, illuminating investigation into the bodies of various Hebrew Bible prophets.

Source: Book Note | Are We Not Men? Unstable Masculinity in the Hebrew Prophets — ANCIENT JEW REVIEW

Interesting… will definitely read!

Spotify in 2018

I bought a lot of CD’s when I was a teenager. I frequently made use of the Columbia House style deals where you could order 10 CD’s for free while paying for just 1 and then canceling after a few obligatory months. The 90’s were a beautiful time for music-on-media and I adored the books and books of CD sleeves that I’d collected in a short time span. I loved displaying all the CD cases on a wood rack in my bedroom and then dorm room. One of my friends made a wall hanging of his collected CD booklets and I thought it was the greatest thing in the world.

My college didn’t get high-speed internet until my Junior year, but once it did we were rapid adopters of Napster. The campus (at least those of us who collected music) changed almost overnight. Gone were the random runs to Best Buy, Circuit City, the mall or even Wal-Mart to pick up a new album and all night downloading sessions of mp3’s on Napster quickly replaced those adventures.

My friends and I felt like we were on the precipice of something new… for the first time music was “freely” available at our fingertips and just required enough bandwidth and patience to find what you were looking for at any particular moment. We would have conversations about the future of music and how that future would include music at our fingertips via our bulky desktop PC Clone computers, ZIP drives, and 3.5-inch floppies. Little did we know we were just a few years from the iPod and ultimately the iPhone and the promise of that vision was just a decade or so away. Little did we realize we wouldn’t have to carry a desktop tower halfway across campus to get our playlists going at the Fraternity house.

Even in 2010, it seemed like something as audacious as Spotify was futuristic. I’m an early adopter. I bought way too much music on the iTunes Store, via Rhapsody, have a Pandora account going back to 2004… I was ready for on-demand streaming of any song or album I wanted. At least I thought so.

Just checked the receipts… I’ve been a paying member of Spotify since July 2011 (shortly after this post was published evidently… and Klout?? Ha! Forgot about that abomination):

To join Spotify, you’ll need an invite (the first batch are being dished out by online influence tracker Klout). You can skip this tedious step, though, using that old fashioned universal lubricant – money. Sign up for either the monthly Premium or Unlimited plans and you can walk straight in the door. Premium, priced at $5 per month, gives you as much ad-free music as you like. Unlimited ($10) adds offline storage of tracks and lets you use the Spotify client on your mobile device (the Spotify iPhone app is now available in the U.S App Store).

Source: Spotify Launches in the U.S at Last | WIRED

Little did I realize how much the paradox of choice would really impact my passion for music. There was a time I had to think deliberately about whether I wanted to spend that $12-15 on a Thelonious Monk or Wilco or U2 album or if I wanted to try out another genre. Now, that’s just a literal tap of my finger. It has taken me almost 7 years to wrap my head around that paradigm of choice and my music intake has suffered as a result.

I wrapped myself up in the cozy arms of “Dad Rock” and Bowie and The Beatles as I approach 40. I listen less to new artists and I have no idea what is even happening at the Grammy’s anymore. There was a time when I’d pour over the Billboard rankings or Rolling Stone reviews to determine what my next CD purchase would be. Now, I just click play on my Spotify playlist for the day and am made comfortably numb by Pink Floyd or Ryan Adams without much thought as to what I’m missing.

Maybe that’s one of the side effects of getting old. You stop wondering what else is out there and you relish in the sounds that rocked your 20-year-old head. You celebrate the bridges and riffs of “You Never Give Me Your Money” and stop trying to stay on top of the latest Kendrick Lamar album or what might be happening with post-rock.

The 30’s are a time to grow into your jeans and start becoming comfortable with yourself, right?

Screw that. I’m using Spotify to listen to what else is out there as I grow into my 40’s. It’s time.

Here’s to the next ten years of whatever delivery mechanism we make for music we love and music that challenges us.

“Worlds colliding, Jerry!”

This is interesting… Dropbox and Google Drive have always been competitors (in my mind and usage), but it seems like Dropbox is taking on the “internet scale storage system” that Dave Winer mentioned on Twitter… more like competition with Evernote?

Dropbox users will be able to create, open, edit, save, and share Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides directly from Dropbox. And when you’re working in Dropbox, you’ll be able to save Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides to your Dropbox account.

Source: Working with Google Cloud to bring all your work together | | Dropbox Blog

How to use Evernote

We all need another brain to remember things and even remind us later. Evernote basically accomplishes that for me.

I’ve been a fan and user of Evernote for (over?) 10 years now. Here’s a nifty guide for using the app in ways that even I found valuable:

You’re just getting started with Evernote, and you’re asked to create your first note. What do you do with it? Make a shopping list? Write a poem? Plan your life? A blank page offers endless possibilities. Here are some cool ideas you can use to make that first note—and all the notes to follow—matter.

Source: 38 Things You Should Save in Evernote