The first image is the site of Dura Europos from June 28 2012 and the second image is from April 2 2014 (notice how many looting holes there are now):

  

Dura Europos is located right near the border of Syria and Iraq on the Euphrates and is an archaeological record of the strife this area has faced for millenia. The little fort town only existed as a functioning place for about 500 years, but was controlled by the Macedonians, Persians, Parthians, and Romans before finally being destroyed and left for us to recover by the Sassanians around 256 CE. We’ve discovered incredible records of our shared human culture such as the earliest depictions of Jesus, a full Mithraeum, a rather intact Roman citadel, and a “painted” Jewish synagogue complete with depictions of Hebrew Bible / Old Testament narratives that still cause wonderment from scholars.

It’s sad that we’re not hearing more about this cultural loss.

From the US State Department regarding looting at Dura Europos and many similar (very important) archaeological sites in Syria…

This unique Classical-period site, founded in the 3rd century BC and occupied until the 3rd century AD, demonstrates the diversity of the ancient Middle East. One of the world’s earliest churches was discovered here, as was one of the oldest preserved synagogues and numerous temples devoted to polytheistic deities. This important site of approximately 150 acres (60 hectares) is now covered by looters’ pits.

via Imagery of Archaeological Site Looting | Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The “holes” in the inset picture are looting holes from the area near the main agora at Dura Europos. Sadly, we haven’t properly excavated much of that area.

This literally breaks my heart given that we’ve properly excavated such a small amount of Dura Europos and we’ve learned so much about Judaism, early Christianity, and a plethora of other 3rd century religions flourishing under Roman rule in Syria…

We need to act rapidly against a situation that is becoming noticeably worse. In fact we are faced by a volcano in permanent eruption with a mixture of hate and horror. It is breaking down Syrian society and its values through the violent and systematic destruction of its heritage. The situation is comparable to a boiling crater of lava. Around this volcano, archaeological heritage is suffering eruptive blasts, with the population hovering between expectation, anguish and hope.

via Syrian Archaeology, ‘Scale of the Scandal’ | The ASOR Blog.

History and our cultural heritage matters.

I had a friend who changed his home’s wifi password every night at bedtime to make sure their teen wasn’t “vamping.” Turns out the teen realized the power of turning your phone into a mobile hotspot (water flows down hill).

“Sometimes I look up and it’s 3 a.m. and I’m watching a video of a giraffe eating a steak,” he said. “And I wonder, ‘How did I get here?’ ”

via Vamping Teenagers Are Up All Night Texting – NYTimes.com.

For Email Newsletters, a Death Greatly Exaggerated - NYTimes.com

Email newsletters seem like such a quaint and out-of-date form of marketing, but they are incredibly effective because 1) people still rely on email more than most anything else for relevant info and 2) email has a personal connection in the same way our phones once did.

That doesn’t mean that blasting out emails with no relevancy or context is a successful strategy. Like anything else in the world of marketing, connection matters most.

The NY Times agrees…

With an email, there is a presumption of connection, of something personal, that makes it a good platform for publishers. Newer email newsletter outfits like TinyLetter, which MailChimp owns, are simple, free and easy to use. TinyLetter has over 100,000 users who reach 9.3 million subscribers, and it has had an increase of 15 percent in the number of newsletters sent in the last year.

via For Email Newsletters, a Death Greatly Exaggerated – NYTimes.com.

We’re big fans of MailChimp at Harrelson Agency and use their services for a number of our clients. If you want to get your start with email newsletters, they are a good place to start (and understand the power of mobile!).

 

My friend Stacy with an amazing, and completely self-giving, post…

So I remind myself, I am not a “that.” I am a woman. I am a child of God. I am a friend. I am a sister. I am a caregiver. I am an advocate. I am a daughter. I am a preacher. I am a confidant. I am a dog mom. I am a geek. I am an auntie. I am a teacher. I am an author. I am a disciple. I am a badass. I am a scholar. I am a chaplain. I am an ally. I am a feminist. I am a peacemaker. I am brave, I am resilient, and yes, I am sexy — on my own terms. I am no one’s object. I am so much more. I am me.

via I Am Not a “That” | chaplainjesuslady.

I celebrate the type of religion and Christianity that does not objectify people but instead points them to the wrestling that is found in places such as Romans 7:15-25.

If only we had more clergy willing to make such brave posts and statements.

Thank you, Stacy.

Building an email newsletter is a fantastic thing for your business. In fact, it’s a must. Email is still a very active and viable channel for marketing and with free/cheap tools such as MailChimp, Constant Contact or Awebber, it’s easier than ever to organize and send email newsletters.

Whether your list size is 50 or 5,000, you need to be segmenting your list. That means splitting it up into various sub-lists based on relevance and groupings.

Even with small business lists of only 50 addresses, we commonly segment those into “leads,” “potential leads,” and “previous customers” with each segment receiving their own variation of the newsletter.

It works.

And here’s some data to back me up…

When I conducted a survey about email marketing, I asked respondents to tell me, in a free-form text field, why they chose to subscribe to emails from some companies. One of the most common responses I received was that they expected the emails were going to be relevant to their interests. 38% of respondents specifically referenced the word “relevance,” and one especially well-worded response indicated that content should be “particularly and specifically” relevant to them.

via New Data Proves Why You Need to Segment Your Email Marketing.

Vine is Twitter’s 6 second short video sharing social network that allows users to capture short videos that loop when viewed. Like Instagram, Vine is an app and the main experience is via mobile rather than the traditional desktop web. Accordingly, Vine is insanely popular with certain demographics (predominately teens – 24 year olds). It’s rather addicting and companies have caught on. Agencies have even been set up around the idea of “microcontent” marketing.

However, one of the stumbling blocks we’ve hit with client work has been the lack of sharing the number of views (or “loops”) that a particular Vine accumulates. One of the reasons Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram etc all share the number of views and shares particular content has over time is because it adds to the social “virality” of that content. These companies have done a great deal of research on how viewing numbers help to increase additional and long term viewing.

Looks like Vine is finally adding this feature too:

With this update, there’s now a new way for you to quickly get a sense of how popular and interesting a Vine may be –– based on how many times people watch a Vine loop. The number, which you can see in our mobile apps and on vine.co, updates in real time, so as you watch a video, you’ll know you’re watching with others at the same time.

via Vine blog – Introducing Loop Counts.

Vine isn’t right for every company, small business, or community group out there. However, if you can find your niche and aren’t afraid to “try new things,” then definitely give Vine a shot in your marketing plan.

There’s no formal announcement of “Twitter Shopping” yet, but Twitter has been making some strategic moves that would allow users to purchase items directly from tweets (such as a partnership with Amazon).

If so, this could be an interesting play for small businesses that sell niche products. Twitter is a level playing field (well, relatively) compared to other social networks in that most everything is public. This could be very interesting for both Twitter and e-commerce…

So did Fancy accidentally make public another Twitter Commerce experiment? Is Twitter starting to facilitate in-tweet purchases?

The companies aren’t saying. Twitter spokesman Jim Prosser declined to comment, and Fancy execs didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

via “Buy Now” Buttons Start Appearing in Tweets. Is Twitter Shopping Here? | Re/code.

Get Paid | Anytime, Anywhere, Anyhow - GoDaddy

We’re big fans and users of Freshbooks for our online accounting, invoicing, and payment software.

It’s interesting to see GoDaddy teaming up with PayPal, Stripe, and Dwolla to offer their own “Get Paid” solution for people and businesses as a small monthly fee starting at $3.99

GET PAID

Everything you need to get paid

Get paid on any device—mobile phone, laptop, tablet

Accept credit cards, checks, PayPal, bank payments

Create and send invoices online and on your mobile phone

via Get Paid | Anytime, Anywhere, Anyhow – GoDaddy.

I suspect this will attract small businesses and folks who want a quick solution without all the hassle that setting up online payment options can cause for those who are less tech literate or strapped for time (and cash).

I also wonder how much this will impact the growing area of online invoicing that our beloved Freshbooks, Stripe, banks etc are already inhabiting after inheriting the space from the ancient Quickbooks ancestor.