New Definitions of Masculinity

If change is scary, it’s going to be an increasingly scary world out there for us white male cisgender heteronormatives (we did a pretty good job of mucking things up)…

We’ll probably need a new definition of masculinity, too. There are many groups in society who have lost an empire but not yet found a role. Men are the largest of those groups. The traditional masculine ideal isn’t working anymore. It leads to high dropout rates, high incarceration rates, low labor force participation rates. This is an economy that rewards emotional connection and verbal expressiveness. Everywhere you see men imprisoned by the old reticent, stoical ideal.

Source: If Not Trump, What?

Learning From the Current Media Revolution

From Jim VandeHei, who was one of the co-founders of Politico…

In coming years, the revolution will likely demolish much of what we read and watch now. State and local newspapers and TV? Gone. Their models are fatally flawed. General interest magazines such as Time and Newsweek? Gone or unrecognizable shells of their former selves. Traditional TV and cable? Shrinking and scrambling. Clickbait machines such as Gawker, or Ozy, or Mashable? Gone or gobbled up by bigger players.

At the same time, the need for content, especially (but not only) video content, will explode. It will be a mad rush that makes the 1980s’ race to create new cable channels seems like a leisurely stroll.

The pipes for distribution of content are mostly set. Facebook, Amazon, Google and Snapchat will be joined by the savviest traditional media companies such as Comcast and new media players, most notably Netflix, Apple, Vimeo and others.

Source: Escaping the Digital Media ‘Crap Trap’ — The Information

At the end of the article, he posits that we are entering a golden age of content creation and that consumers will happily pay for eclectic and efficiently delivered media as mobile destroys desktop paradigms, and streaming destroys cable.

I’d include podcasting in this conversation as well. It’s not hard to fathom that podcasting, or some iteration of it, really does catch on “in the mainstream” as our mobile devices and autos get smarter and more in tune with our own listening preferences as compared to broadcast NPR or radio.

Just this week, I finally convinced my parents to sign up for Netflix and Hulu. They love it. “Why would we pay for cable now?” Dad asked. I’ve been asking the same since I cut the cord back in 2006 in favor of other ways to find and watch the media that most appealed to me and our family.

It’s easier, cheaper, and (I think) more fun than ever. Apple TV, Roku, Plex etc have made the content game enjoyable again.

Businesses, churches, and nonprofits can learn a great many lessons by observing the current revolution / rebirth that journalism and content industries are currently experiencing. Find faith in the ability to embrace the eclectic. Find your voice and your audience. Stop trying to be all things to all people and broadcast messages (especially on Facebook and social media). You’ll be rewarded by your fans.

 

Sonic’s New #SquareShake is First Milkshake Designed for Instagram

Fast-food restaurant Sonic will debut their new line of milkshakes with a campaign especially designed for Coachella. On April 16, festival-goers will be able to order a #SquareShake exclusively through Instagram and pay by posting a picture to their accounts.

Source: ‘Instagram-Exclusive’ Milkshake Hints At The Future Of Social Commerce

It’s for the Coachella music festival, but it’s not difficult to imagine Sonic or some other major (or regional) brand rolling out a similar promotion.

 

How to Read Your Kindle in the Bathtub

Never forget…

I’ll tell you what I do. I take a one-gallon Ziploc bag, and I put my Kindle in my one-gallon Ziploc bag, and it works beautifully. It’s much better than a physical book, because obviously if you put your physical book in a Ziploc bag you can’t turn the pages. But with Kindle, you can just push the buttons.

Source: Book Learning – The New York Times

What Facebook’s bot developer platform for Messenger means for your church or business

Church Marketing Facebook Messenger Bot

The bot era has officially begun. In a widely expected move, Facebook today announced tools for developers to build bots inside Facebook Messenger, bringing a range of new functions to the popular communication app. Facebook believes Messenger can become a primary channel for businesses to interact with their customers, replacing 1-800 numbers with a mix of artificial intelligence and human intervention. If they are embraced by the general public — which is still far from certain — bots could represent a major new channel for commerce, customer support, and possibly even media.

Source: Facebook launches a bot platform for Messenger | The Verge

Expect to see much more about this in the coming months and get ready to change how you interact with many services and businesses.

If you are a business or church or nonprofit or provide a service, it’s time to start thinking about messaging and bots.

Stephen Hawking is backing a project to send tiny spacecraft to another star system within a generation

The concept is to reduce the size of the spacecraft to about the size of a chip used in electronic devices. The idea is to launch a thousand of these mini-spacecraft into the Earth’s orbit. Each would have a solar sail. This is like a sail on a boat – but it is pushed along by light rather than the wind. A giant laser on Earth would give each one a powerful push, sending them on their way to reaching 20% of the speed of light.

Source: Hawking backs interstellar travel project – BBC News

Fascinating.

 

Share Dropbox files directly from Facebook Messenger

Remember what I said yesterday about messaging bots becoming the main way you interact with tech services?

Now, when you tap the More button in Messenger for iOS or Android, you’ll see Dropbox as an available source. With the Dropbox app installed on your phone, you can share any file in your Dropbox without having to leave the Messenger app.

Source: Share Dropbox files directly from Facebook Messenger | | Dropbox Blog

In honor of #nationalpetday here’s a fun piece on pets from ancient Greece and Rome

roman_dogs

The ancient Greeks and Romans were more lavish than the modern world in their expressed affection for beasts. Theirs was a splendid opportunity to know animal life at first hand, not because there were more animals, but on account of the very close relationship effected by polytheistic principles and religious customs.1 Both literature and art attest that there were but few animals not dedicated to gods or goddesses; since religion penetrated ancient life so deeply, it is understandable that animals were freely admitted into the house, and gradually attempts were made to transform even the fiercer beasts into pets and companions.

Source: Greek and Roman Household Pets — CJ 44:245‑252 and 299‑307 (1949)

Be careful with Emoji on different platforms 😁

emoji

Just seeing the difference in emoji presentations is revelatory in itself. But then it gets even more interesting. GroupLens researchers asked subjects to rate 22 anthropomorphic emoji from five platforms by sentiment, using a scale that ranged from strongly negative (-5) to strongly positive (5). And here’s where you start to see where “grinning face with smiling eyes” goes so very wrong. Apple’s average sentiment ranking was almost -1, while Microsoft, Samsung, LG, and Google all were 3 or above.

Source: That Emoji Does Not Mean What You Think It Means

My wife (and almost all of my close friends that I’d use emoji with) is an iOS user and I’m an Android user… that’s led to a few miscommunications before we realized that the emoji we were sending “cross-platform” didn’t carry the same intended meaning.

Perhaps that’s one of the beautiful aspects of emoji and symbolic language additions… the meanings are left to the receiver to first decrypt and then to import meaning into based on their own background, experiences, culture (and operating system).

Soon, most of what you do on a computer will be done via bots

taxi_chatbot

“Is everything going to become a bot? I don’t think so. There’ll probably still be static apps for professional and authoring tools; Photoshop and CAD and Excel and Evernote aren’t going away; and video games will still be video games. Most of the squishy stuff in the middle, though, will go conversational. Anything that involves collaboration, communications, consumption, organization, etc. will probably become a bot. I think bots will replace 80% of what we use at work and half of what we use at home.”

Source: A Charge of Bots — The Tech World As We Know It Is About To Be Rewritten — Medium

As I’ve said before, it’s time for social organizations (churches, nonprofits, some businesses) to think through what the coming years of tech will bring… and one of the major revisions we’re going to see is the way we interact with tech. Messaging bots will be the driving force behind that.

When I use “messaging” and “bots,” I’m not referring to what we consider tools such as Facebook Messenger or Slack now. I’m also referring to interactions such as the voice driven Amazon Echo (or Siri, Google Now, Microsoft’s Cortana etc). Bots will interact seamlessly with our lives from our music selections to our banking to the status of our HVAC home systems. Here’s a good rundown on bots from Re/Code.

There was a time when we thought software keyboards (such as on the now ubiquitous iPhone) would “never catch on.” The same with laptops. And a computer mouse. And color screens. And computers in your home. And punch cards.

Voice, gesture, and messaging bots will be the norm. Just as if you walk into our home now, the primary way to start playing music involves the salutation “Alexa,” followed by what you’d like to hear, rather than our previous practice just a few short months ago of having to go over to a computer keyboard and type in a search. It happened seamlessly and Amazon’s Echo, along with Siri, is just a sign of what’s to come.

Will everything we do with / on computers be taken over by bots and messaging? Of course not. To paraphrase Steve Jobs, some people need trucks but most everyone can get by with a car. You probably don’t launch Photoshop or complicated accounting software that often. If you do, don’t worry.

The point is, the way we interact with all of this tech we surround ourselves with is about to dramatically change. Think ahead for what that means for your business, church, group, and workflow.

Facebook Drops Branded Content Restrictions

On Friday, Facebook dropped its restriction around how branded content can be distributed on its social network. Anyone who runs a verified Facebook page — a publisher, brand or celebrity, for instance — can now post articles, videos, photos, links or other content to that page that someone else paid for without needing Facebook’s permission or cutting the company in on the proceeds.

Source: Facebook drops branded content restrictions for publishers

Interesting move. Typically on the web, the FTC frowns upon this type of “branded content” without proper alerts for audiences.

Facebook has built in “tagging” to try to offer some disclosure, but I’m not sure that’s going far enough for most FB users:

There’s another catch: any eligible account posting content paid for by a brand to its Facebook page has to tag the brand so that the top of the post carries the line “[Publisher] with [Brand].” That tagging creates a way for marketers to be notified when a publisher posts content that’s paid for by their brand so that they can share it or promote it as an ad.

The ultimate arbiter, of course, is Facebook’s algorithm itself. Shared items that have a promotional “feel” to hear typically get throttled by the algorithm, which limits exposure on users’ newsfeeds, even if they’ve Liked a page.

It’s amazing how rapidly social algorithmic feeds such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc are changing the notions of what is permissible and profitable in the marketing world rather than conforming to tried-and-true tactics or even federal guidelines.

Like it or not, branded content is one of the most successful online marketing strategies over the last few years, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing as brands, publishers, and social networks continue to figure out how to innovate around the concept.

The Rich Live Longer Everywhere. For the Poor, Geography Matters.

Screenshot_041116_114505_AM

The top 1 percent in income among American men live 15 years longer than the poorest 1 percent; for women, the gap is 10 years. These rich Americans have gained three years of longevity just in this century. They live longer almost without regard to where they live. Poor Americans had very little gain as a whole, with big differences among different places.

Source: The Rich Live Longer Everywhere. For the Poor, Geography Matters. – The New York Times

 

Why Your Church or Nonprofit Website Needs Regular Security Updates

hacked

One of the items Harrelson Agency itemizes on invoices when building out a new client website (particularly when using WordPress or Drupal) are maintenance and security updates for the year.

It’s not a major cost, but I often receive questions about the charge and whether or not it’s really necessary. That’s particularly the case when dealing with churches, nonprofits, and small businesses who are on tight budgets and looking to save every penny possible (and understandable). However, it’s necessary and I always counsel our clients (of all sizes) to understand what that cost entails and why it’s beneficial in the long run.

Regardless of the amount of traffic your website receives, if your site is self hosted and using software such as WordPress or Drupal, you have to make sure you or your website manager are doing regular updates of plugins and versions, as well as making sure there is some sort of security software in place to manage firewalls, login attempts, IP attacks etc.

If you accept online donations or payments via your website, this is especially true. If you host any sort of “member directory” or registration information or personal details of your congregants or customers, this is especially true. That’s not depending on the size of your church, nonprofit, or business.

This week, press (and governments) around the world are reeling from the explosive release of the Panama Papers. This is the largest leak of private documents ever, and exposes a number of world leaders and companies and their potentially illegal financial transactions. It happened because of outdated software with known vulnerabilities:

“FORBES discovered the firm ran a three-month old version of WordPress for its main site, known to contain some vulnerabilities, but more worrisome was that, according to Internet records, its portal used by customers to access sensitive data was most likely run on a three-year-old version of Drupal, 7.23. That platform has at least 25 known vulnerabilities at the time of writing, two of which could have been used by a hacker to upload their own code to the server and start hoovering up data. Back in 2014, Drupal warned of a swathe of attacks on websites based on its code, telling users that anyone running anything below version 7.32 within seven hours of its release should have assumed they’d been hacked.

That critical vulnerability may have been open for more than two-and-a-half years on Mossack Fonseca’s site, if it hadn’t been patched at the time without updating website logs. It remains a valid route for hackers to try to get more data from the firm and its customers. On its site, the company claims: “Your information has never been safer than with Mossack Fonseca’s secure Client Portal.” That boast now looks somewhat misguided.”

Source: From Encrypted Drives To Amazon’s Cloud — The Amazing Flight Of The Panama Papers

So yes… in 2016 it certainly matters that you have good passwords and good security on your personal online accounts as well as those of your church or business.

Don’t wait until it’s too late and have to deal with the ramifications.

Digital Colonialism

“Wikimedia and Facebook have given Angolans free access to their websites, but not to the rest of the internet. So, naturally, Angolans have started hiding pirated movies and music in Wikipedia articles and linking to them on closed Facebook groups, creating a totally free and clandestine file sharing network in a country where mobile internet data is extremely expensive…”

Source: Angola’s Wikipedia Pirates Are Exposing the Problems With Digital Colonialism | Motherboard

Fascinating article.

If the developing world wants to use our internet, they must play by our rules, the thinking goes.

Churches and Nonprofits, It’s Time To Start Thinking About Your Messaging App

“In case there was any doubt that messaging apps were the future of communication in the mobile-first era, a new study released this morning puts some solid numbers behind their traction – and their increasing dominance over email, among today’s youngest users. According to a report from App Annie, email is effectively dying among this crowd. Those aged 13 to 24 now spend more than 3.5 times overall usage time in messaging apps than those over 45 years old, while the older users still default to apps that replicate desktop functions, like email and web browsers.

Source: Email is dying among mobile’s youngest users

Forget building out an iPhone or Android app for your group, organization, or church. We’re (re)entering the age of messaging. If you want to remain (or become) relevant, you’re going to have to have a presence there.

Fear not, there are some great services out there such as AppyPie or Chatfuel to help you configure your messaging app (currently only works with Telegram but coming soon to Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Kik, Viber, and Slack).

But yes, messaging is the next iteration of social networking / SMS / email / web communications as we transition rapidly to a mobile-first computing environment… old conventions such as web browsers or email clients aren’t going to be the center of that experience, and neither will traditional “one size fits all” apps. Or as Chatfuel’s site says, “Chatbots are the new apps.”

Silent Movies as the Future of Video Advertising (Thanks, Facebook)

“Here’s a sure sign of spring, and that Facebook is changing the way marketers create ads… The whole idea is in keeping with the idea of silent movies becoming the future, or at least a future, of advertising. Folks who want to stick around and turn on the sound will get to see and hear steak sizzling. DDB San Francisco is the agency.”

Source: Kingsford’s Facebook Ad Will Reward You With BBQ if You Keep Watching – Video – Creativity Online

Brilliant.

All these problems may just be inevitable teething…

All these problems may just be inevitable teething troubles. “We haven’t had this kind of transformation since television came in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s,” says Marc Pritchard, the marketing boss at Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest advertiser. Grappling with these challenges, however, may spur a shift in the industry’s structure. There will always be startups, particularly because technology changes so quickly. But on the whole, power is likely to move to fewer, larger companies.

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21695388-worries-about-fraud-and-fragmentation-may-prompt-shake-out-crowded-online-ad?fsrc=scn/tw/te/pe/ed/invisibleadsphantomreaders

DocStoc is now dead, which I knew was coming. What I didn’t realize is that I had linked to so many pages there (including a few of my own like a paper on Julian of Norwich that had around 3,500 views last time I checked a few months back. I’ve got a plugin configured here to alert me when something I’ve linked to either changes url’s or goes away. I’m getting more and more of these lately. Linkrot / Webrot is real and sad. Thanks, Facebook.

Developed by Microsoft’s research division Tay is a…

Developed by Microsoft’s research division, Tay is a virtual friend with behaviors informed by the web chatter of some 18–24-year-olds and the repartee of a handful of improvisational comedians (Microsoft declined to name them). Her purpose, unlike AI-powered virtual assistants like Facebook’s M, is almost entirely to amuse. And Tay does do that: She is simultaneously entertaining, infuriating, manic, and irreverent.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/alexkantrowitz/microsoft-introduces-tay-an-ai-powered-chatbot-it-hopes-will#.ytYzABj6o