“…things have changed”

On a personal note, I had my Ordination Council meeting yesterday. It was an intensely personal time, but it was something that I’ve been working towards for a long time.

I can’t go into specifics, but one of the themes I addressed is “why” I’d want to go through this if I weren’t necessarily going to participate in something like parish ministry (or “being a preacher” as we call it here in South Carolina).

That has to do with my long time intention of finally launching Hunger Initiative.

Between the terrible disaster that has affected South Carolina and my hometown of Columbia over the past week, and my ordination process (being formally ordained this Sunday) … it feels like “things have changed” (to channel Bob Dylan).

That doesn’t mean like I’m putting Harrelson Agency aside (certainly not), but it does mean that it’s time to get Hunger Initiative off the ground. I first started talking about this during my days in Connecticut back in December 2001. It’s time and I’ve been putting this off for too long.

You can follow along at Hunger Iniative‘s site or @endhunger on Twitter … snagged that one early :)

Poverty Amongst Prosperity

These are great numbers at the macro level, but this is troubling:

“Corporate profits are at record levels; stock prices have more than doubled.”


“The same Census report showed that the number of people living in poverty went up in 2014 to nearly 46.7 million — which is 6.8 million more than in 2008. The official poverty rate — meaning the percentage of the population living below the official poverty line — was 14.8 percent last year, which is 1.6 percentage points higher than in 2008.”

Source: Obama’s Numbers (October 2015 Update) | FactCheck.org

How Much Does Your Local News Website Cost You Each Month?

“We estimated that on an average American cell data plan, each megabyte downloaded over a cell network costs about a penny. Visiting the home page of Boston.com every day for a month would cost the equivalent of about $9.50 in data usage just for the ads.”

Source: The Cost of Mobile Ads on 50 News Websites – The New York Times

I’d venture to say that local TV and news sites have even more ads than boston.com and “cost” you more in data downloads each month. There’s a reason local news stations are eager to promote their content on Facebook and why most engagement and comments happen there rather than on their own sites.

If your business, group, or church site is loaded with plugins, images, and unnecessary animations (especially Flash), you’re already likely being penalized by Google in organic searches as your site is not as mobile friendly as it should be.

Keep that in mind when you open your own site on your mobile device.

Peeple is Going to Upset Lots of People

“A bubbly, no-holds-barred “trendy lady” with a marketing degree and two recruiting companies, Cordray sees no reason you wouldn’t want to “showcase your character” online. Co-founder Nicole McCullough comes at the app from a different angle: As a mother of two in an era when people don’t always know their neighbors, she wanted something to help her decide whom to trust with her kids.”

Source: Everyone you know will be able to rate you on the terrifying ‘Yelp for people’ — whether you want them to or not – The Washington Post

In theory, I love the idea of the “sharing economy.” In practice, it’s turned out to be a blessing and a curse for many reasons.

Peeple was bound to happen, but this is a terrible idea and will result in anxiety, frustration, and bullying (among other things) for many people. Sometimes “it just doesn’t feel right” is a good justification for not walking down a business path.

Marketing Plan Tips

“Without a solid marketing plan, too much is left to chance. When you rely on “hope based marketing” you’re at very high risk of losing money, time, and traction, because nothing is strategic and everything is reactive.”

Source: How to Write a Marketing Plan — Ecommerce Marketing Blog – Ecommerce News, Online Store Tips & More by Shopify

Shopify has a blog that’s always worthwhile read for small business owners (Shopify is a content management system that excels at allowing for the easy setup of a site for selling products). This pretty extensive walk through of some basic marketing plan tips is worth your read if you’re a business owner (or want to be one) and need some guidelines for marketing.

As always, get in touch if you need more help with your marketing plan or next steps!

Introducing the U.S. Web Design Standards

“The U.S. Web Design Standards are the U.S. government’s very own set of common UI components and visual styles for websites. It’s a resource designed to make things easier for government designers and developers, while raising the bar on what the American people can expect from their digital experiences.”

Source: 18F — Introducing the U.S. Web Design Standards

Interesting move by our government, and definitely something that needed to be done. The four goals they worked towards are fairly close to the ones I lay out with clients when we’re working on a new site design or build as well:

  1. Make the best thing, the easiest thing. We believe that making tools that align with the values and needs of digital workers in the federal government will drive adoption.
  2. Be accessible out of the box. We created tools that seamlessly meet the standards of 508 accessibility, from colors to code.
  3. Design for flexibility. We aim to give the American people a sense of familiarity when using government services, while allowing agencies to customize these tools to fit their unique needs.
  4. Reuse, reuse, reuse. We reviewed, tested, evaluated, and repurposed existing patterns, code, and designs from dozens of government and private sector style guides to make use of tried-and-true best practices.

Add “Your tastes are not everyone’s tastes (i.e. the client is not always right)” and that’s pretty much my approach.

Why All Podcasts Sound the Same

One of the things Thomas and I try to do with Thinking Religion, as well as Elisabeth and Merianna on Thinking Out Loud (and all of our Thinking.FM podcasts) is sound different by sounding like ourselves.

“My Wife Quit Her Job podcaster Steve Chou is, like Nick Loper, another savvy online marketer who realizes the algorithm might be his most important audience member. Subscribers are another key piece of landing in the iTunes New & Noteworthy section, and without it, a podcast might fall off the radar.”

Source: Why podcasts have such terrible ads – Vox

I never want to do a podcast where we have to beg for ratings or use the same 5 generic ads that every other podcast uses.

However, I’ll be the first to tell you that’s not a very lucrative way to do podcasting. It’s definitely a losing proposition when you consider time, hosting costs, bandwidth etc. But, I think we’ll stick to our donation model for now (despite its poor performance in terms of actual revenue). As the hosts of No Agenda frequently remind us, “Value for Value” is a much more authentic and enjoyable stream of revenue for a medium such as podcasting.



Joe Maddon doesn’t care and neither should your business, church, or organization.

“Maddon doesn’t care what you think of his lineup. He doesn’t care what you think of where or when he plays his veterans and rookies. He doesn’t care that your uncle was buried having never witnessed a Cubs World Series championship.

It’s a trait we rarely see in Cubs managers.”

Source: Cure for Cubs? Joe Maddon doesn’t care

Stop caring what you think others will think and take your team to the post-season.

The United States’ Poor Record on LTE

“Conversely some of the earliest adopters of LTE — like the U.S., Japan, Sweden and Germany — are starting to fall behind in terms of data performance. In part, these older networks are suffering from their own success. In the U.S., for instance, LTE’s introduction in 2010 resulted in a huge base of LTE subscribers in the country today. Those subscribers are all competing for the same network resources, slowing down average speeds. In comparison, newer networks in South America and Europe are more lightly loaded. But the U.S. has also failed to keep up with the rest world in both spectrum and technology. All of the four major U.S. operators have been expanding into more frequency bands, but none have been able to match the capacity countries like South Korea and Singapore have plowed into their networks. The U.S. has also been much slower in moving to LTE-Advanced.”

Source: The State of LTE September 2015 – OpenSignal

During my first few weeks at Wofford College in the Fall of 1996, I stumped the campus IT team by asking for the TCP / IP details or a way to get an internet connection in my dorm room. “Why do you want to have the internet in your dorm room?” one of the IT team asked me. Two years later, the whole campus had a high speed fiber connection.

We’re undergoing a transition from laptops to mobile devices as a primary mode of computing for many people, young and old. However, as Thomas Whitley and I talked about on Thinking Religion yesterday, the transition is happening quickly on university campuses.

I’ve talked to young people who said that mobile service was a factor in where they wanted or decided to go to college. It wasn’t a primary factor, but it did make into the equation. I hear the same from businesses and clients I work with today when deciding on where to have meetings (“We can’t meet in that part of town…the Verizon coverage is terrible.”).

I wonder when / if we’ll, as a country, insist on investing in more development of LTE and mobile in both urban and rural parts of our country as the mobile revolution continues? Or has our political mood changed so much in twenty years that the government stepping in and working with an industry to improve what is potentially seen as a necessary service an impossibility?

“We’re here to tell you we believe that in rural North Carolina and in rural America, Internet access ought to be just as likely as telephone access…You ought to be able to use it in the fastest possible way…And if you can, it’ll mean more jobs, more businesses, higher incomes and more opportunity.”

President Bill Clinton
Wednesday, April 26, 2000


Sam’s Public Feedly Collections

“Feedly connects you to the information and knowledge you care about. We help you get more out of you work, education, hobbies and interests. The feedly platform lets you discover sources of quality content, follow and read everything those sources publish with ease and organize everything in one place.”

Source: Sam’s public feedly collections

I use Feedly as my RSS reader and go through a good many blog and website stories everyday on topics ranging from art to religion to marketing to tech to science.

Over the years, I’ve had people ask for a way to see what blogs and sites I’m reading… Feedly has made it possible now to share those (along with the standard but nerdier OPML files that did the trick 10 years ago).

So, here’s my public “collection” or groups of sites that I read throughout the day on the topics of Arts & Science, Marketing, and Religion / History / Archaeology.