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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Too Many Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers

A British scientist named Robin Dunbar looked at the capacity of human beings to maintain relationships. He found that our brains can only maintain about 150 friends at a time. So from the Stone Age on, groups have self-organized around the 150 limit.

What's going on is that your brain is connecting all the pieces of relationship between yourself and the other people in the group. You hold in your head how person one will interact with person 37 and with person 90 and with 148. But if you get beyond 150 your brain can't keep up anymore. This has been proven again and again for groups of people throughout history.

What's been in question though is how social media has affected the equation. Recently a study was performed on Twitter users to examine how many relationships people could maintain. The finding was shocking in its normalcy. The limit for social media: the same as for real-life groups, 150.

What this means in practicality is that, even though you have more than 150 friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter, you can't maintain a relationship with more than 150 of them. You may have contact with hundreds, but the real connection of two-way conversation and interaction only happens between the smaller group of friends. If you look through your friend list or your follower list you'll find that it's true. You may have as many as 200 or a few a 100, but you'll fall somewhere in the 150 range.

So when you're looking at connecting with people through social media, remember that what a friend shares is important. You can only be an important voice to about 150 people in your life. Beyond that your words start to get lumped in with acquaintances, advertisements and news sources.

Really invest in the 150 that you are connected to. Choose them well and cultivate those relationships. You have the ability online to stay connected like never before -- but only with that smaller group. For the larger group, don't try to push the relationship beyond what it will bear. Treat them like acquaintances and expect to be treated the same. Let someone else be that important, friend-voice in their 150. Your brain can't handle it.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ryan's Story

My housemate Ryan Woods found out he has a spinal tumor and he's going in for surgery tomorrow. We'll find out if it's cancerous (about a 10% chance) and what his recovery will look like). You can read more about his story here.

With his usual sense of humor, he's narrowed down the name of the tumor to either Mr. Tumnus or Betty White.

Keep Ryan, his wife and kids in your thoughts and prayers tomorrow as he goes in for surgery. The results could be anywhere from easy-peasy, get back to life as usual, all the way to severed spinal column parapalegic with cancer. So that's a lot of stress and worry to carry.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Leave Room for Spontaneity

Tonight I'm taking my wife to a nice hotel in downtown Portland. Yesterday we had no plans for this weekend. This morning I found a good deal and this afternoon we'll be out the door. Spontaneity is a lot of fun, but it can only happen well in the right environment. I know that she has the day off tomorrow. I know that we have some extra money for this. Otherwise this would be a bad expression of spontaneity.

You can do the same thing in your presentations. If you prepare for spontaneous thoughts they can flow naturally in a way that makes your overall presentation better. But if you don't prepare well things will be awkward and you will end up detracting from the presentation.

Tips for setting yourself up for spontaneity:

  • Don't make your slides too specific. Leave room for different points that you might make. So if you have a picture and a caption, use a general topic rather than a hyper specific illustration.
  • Use slides for your main points, but leave space for the sub-points. Sometimes even blank slides (white or black depending on your projection situation) are good so that the focus comes back to you instead of the slides on the screen. 
  • Speak without notes (or minimal notes) so that you aren't trying to find where you left off if you bring in a spontaneous thought. It takes more time to rehearse your presentation to the point where you don't need notes, but it's going to allow you to connect with your audience better and leave room for you to change things on the fly. 
  • Know you topic. The better you know what you're presenting the more able you'll be to adjust in the midst of presenting. If you don't know things well you'd better stick to the script otherwise the audience will find out that you aren't an expert in what you're sharing.
  • Connect with your audience. Look at people and see how they're reacting to what you are saying. If you see people leaning forward and making eye contact, that's a sign that they're interested in what you're saying. Maybe you need to expand more on that topic. If people are leaning back and not looking at you, they're bored. Move on to the next point sooner than you planned. 
What other tips do you have for being able to be spontaneous when you speak?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Losing Control

Often we're worried about control. We have an idea, a message, a plan and we want to see it happen. So we work, we speak, we plot to see it become a reality. But then other people get connected and hear the idea. They bring their own thoughts, words and plans to the table. If your idea is going to spread you have to give up some control.

Here's the most dangerous point in any endeavor. The point of losing control. If you're driving and you lose control the car can spin off the road and you might be injured or die. If you lose control of your idea, it might go horribly wrong and end up doing harm. If you lose control of your message it might be re-interpreted and spread by people you don't know to say things you didn't mean.


You could be driving and lose control into a skid that slides you around a corner and into a new direction smoothly. In driving it's called drifting. It's the act of losing control, on purpose. The car's tires lose traction and the vehicle slides to the side rather than going in the direction of the wheels. Check out the video below for a better explanation than I can give with words.

The point is that losing control isn't always a bad thing, if you can manage it. If you know what's happening, you can direct the loss of control and let things move in a different direction in a safe way.

How can you lose control well?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Elevator Pitch

Yesterday I was in a conversation (it was at a coffee shop, not in an elevator) about PowerPoint. I had just a few seconds to pass on the most important things that I've learned about using PowerPoint to someone. I wanted to share what it takes to make a good presentation and how to avoid a bad presentation. This short summary of an idea is often called an "elevator pitch" since it's the encapsulation of an idea that can be shared while taking a short elevator ride. Usually an elevator pitch is about 30 seconds and no more than one minute.

My elevator pitch for using PowerPoint was this (and largely based on the work of Guy Kawasaki):
Use one slide per point that you have to make. Make your points between 2 and 5 minutes long. Use images that take up the entire slide. Keep the text on your slides short and in a large font. Never, ever read from your slides or use bullet points. 

What would your elevator pitch be for using PowerPoint?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

SlideFest: Microsoft's Presentation Competition (Update)

The voting ended yesterday. Thanks to all of you who voted for me. I ended the competition with my two presentations in 10th and 11th place out of the 24 that were selected as finalists for the voting. But there were over 1500 submissions to the competition, so I'm happy with the achievement. One other notable thing: I'm the only person who had two presentations in the finals.

I'm happy with the presentations that I put together, but I also feel like there's a lot more that I've learned through the process of creating them. Stay tuned for more.

If you want to catch up you can see my presentations here: "Stage Fright" and "Neural Pathways"

Monday, May 23, 2011


We're taking a break from our regularly scheduled blog to bring you this important announcement. Ok, maybe it's not super important, but it's a big deal to us. We have chickens for the first time. On Saturday we finished building the hen house and then the chickens came home to roost -- so to speak. We still need to put together the chicken run so they can have a place to be outside, but we're making progress.

The hen house and chicken run are all made from recycled materials. We took a trip to the Rebuilding Center in Portland and found a wealth of material. Just because it's been used once doesn't mean that it can't be used again.

When I put together presentations I save the images and keep them organized so that I can find them later. I usually organize them by the title of the presentation all within a PowerPoint images folder on my computer. Then if I need one of the images again I can sort through and find what I'm looking for.

How can you recycle your presentation work for future projects?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Good News - part 2

I started talking about how people can share good news online a couple days ago. The thing about trying to share good news online is that you can often be drowned out by the noise. Really good news connects with us because it comes from someone we like and trust. The personal connection makes the news extra good because we want a friend to be happy. The relationship we have makes it important news.

If your friend calls you and invites you to your regular hang-out spot with some good news, you don't wait. You get there to share the joy with them. It's important because it happens in the context of a relationship.

How can you bring the relational context to Facebook and other online media? In some ways you can't. You just can't duplicate the connection of people sitting face to face when you are separated by computer screens. But you can make your messages more relational with some work.

If you want to share something good that's going on with you, share it in personal terms. Don't link to a news story or a blog post. Tell your friends what's good about it to you, from your perspective. If you need to post a link, add the link in a comment. That way the status will still format like a status update and not like a link sharing update. That looks more personal and gives you the chance to connect with more people. Note: any time you post a link on Facebook, specify in some way that you are posting the link using non-spammy words.

Share your news with just a few people through a personal message. Don't broadcast it out across all of Facebook, send a message to just the friend(s) who need to hear it. The paradox of the internet is that the more people you can reach the less impact you have on each one of them. If you narrow the focus of your news to just one person though, you ratchet up the power of the message.

How else can you share on Facebook in a personal, engaging way?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Facebook Lists

One of the features of Facebook that can help with targeted communication is the use of lists. A Facebook list is just a sub-group of your friends online, but you can use that grouping to target your status update or see only the statuses of people in a certain community.

Create a list by clicking on the "Friends" link under your picture on the left side of the Facebook screen. Then click the "Edit Friends" button at the top of the screen and then click the "Create a List" button. Give the list a name in the top box, then add people to the list. You can search by name, or scroll through all your friends. Once the list is created you can add people easily through a recommendation system and when you add new friends you can assign them to a list.

Now that the list is created, you can put it into practice by clicking back to the feed page. Click the "Facebook" logo in the upper left corner. Now you can click the arrow next to "Most Recent" (click "Most Recent" if you don't see the arrow at first). Choose the title of your new list from the menu that drops down. Now your news feed is only showing the people from the list you just created.

Click in the status update box then click on the padlock icon next to the "Share" button. Select "Customize" then choose "Specify People" from the drop-down menu. Type the name of your list into the box and it will appear like a person in your friend list. Click "Save Settings" and that status update will only go out to the people on your list.

How can you use lists to better communicate online? Do you use this feature?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Good News

Talking about spreading the gospel through the use of technology is really a conversation about speaking good news to people. People want to hear good news. It's instinctive for us to listen to good news and then want to share it. This can make sharing good news online even more difficult.

It might sound counter-intuitive to say that human beings love to share and hear good news so sharing good news will be tough, but it's the medium that affects the message here. Everyone is free to post whatever they want on Facebook or Twitter or Blogs. Because of that there's no shortage of news coming in. A lot of the news will be good. So the amount of noise that can drown out your message is huge. You might have the best news in the world, but it gets lost in the din.

One strategy that people will use online is to post more often. That can work, sometimes and in short spurts, but if you keep doing it people will tune you out, un-follow or de-friend you. Another way that people try to share good news online is through linking and quoting. Posting links to news stories or inspirational quotes from famous people or the bible is thought to lend authority to the claims of good news. The trouble is that most of the time it does the opposite and allows people to doubt the source.

Good news isn't best shared through blasts of information or through quotes and links online. Those tools are more likely to cause people to be numb to your voice on the internet rather than to hear what you have to say.

So, how do you think people can best share good news online?

P.S. I'll talk about this more tomorrow, but I wanted to hear your thoughts first.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Google Images

Over at Google they've made some changes to the way that Google Images handles requests. You can still enter a search request and get the most relevant images returned to you. But now they've added a new way to sort the results you get. Instead of sorting by relevance, you can sort by subject.

Click on the "Sort by Subject" link to the left of the images after you start a search and you will see the different subject for that search. For example, if you search for "Church" you'll get a categories for "Catholic Church" "Baptist Church" and "Inside Church" among others. Then you can click on the subject title to see all the images from that subject. On many of the image searches you can keep following the subject trail down to continue refining your search. If you chose the "Inside Church" subject you could get more subjects underneath that, like "People Inside Church" and "Inside Old Church."

Check out the video below to see more about the new searching features.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Selling Jesus

Seth Godin shares about the difference between selling and inviting people. When you're selling, it's time to convince, cajole and persuade people to think differently. When you're inviting, the convincing has already been done and you're just helping people through the steps of a decision that's already been made.

As I was growing up I learned evangelism through the lens of sales. We should use apologetics to convince people of the truth of Jesus. For every objection that people could bring, we needed to be able to bring a response. Books like A Case for Faith were incredibly popular since they answered all the hairy questions about faith.

But somewhere along the way that process stopped working. Maybe it never worked, I don't know. All I know is that now, if I try to sell someone on Jesus, I'm going to be worse off than I was when I started. They won't be convinced and we won't be friends anymore.

The other option is inviting people. But you can't just invite people to something they don't want to do. So we need to live inviting lives. We need to be the types of people that our friends want to be around and to learn more about. We need to live lives that beg the question: "Where does your hope come from?" (1.Peter 3.15) And then once people are already sold on Jesus by seeing his impact on our lives, we invite them to Jesus. We walk with them through the steps of making a faith decision.

Does selling people on Jesus still work? Did it ever work? What works in your context?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Authenticity Online

Some people think that Facebook is killing authenticity online. Blogger Steve Cheney says:

The problem with tying internet-wide identity to a broadcast network like Facebook is that people don’t want one normalized identity, either in real life, or virtually.

People yearn to be individuals. They want to be authentic. They have numerous different groups of real-life friends. They stylize conversations. They are emotional and have an innate need to connect on different levels with different people. This is because humans are born with an instinctual desire to understand the broader context of their surroundings and build rapport, a social awareness often called emotional intelligence.

To an extent I agree. We don't tend to want the same identity from one social sphere to the next. We'll be one person at work, another at home and still another with our friends. Going online allows us to be whomever we want. We can invent a persona that plays World of Warcraft and is a foul-mouthed tough, online. But then we go to our day-job as a preacher with lots of piety.

Cheney thinks that keeping the boundaries between social spheres allows us to be more authentic. It allows us to share what we really think online when we know that our spheres aren't co-mingling. Here's where I start to disagree. The co-mingling of all our social interactions is actually forcing us to be more authentic. We need to be the same person at work, home, school, church or playing video-games online. Instead of being trapped in shallow identities that define us in one sphere, but don't really have anything to do with the rest of our lives, we can be whole people.

Maybe I can't unleash my snarky comments on a tech website or a string of expletives while gaming, if all of that is connected to social media. What if knowing that my mom is watching me online is actually helping me to be a better person, more authentic and whole? I know that I say things that are offensive or difficult for some people, but I don't say them to be offensive, I say them because they come from me. That's more authentic than a dozen separate profiles and as many separate identities that I have to keep up with. I just get to be a whole person, authentically me.

How do you think Facebook helps or hinders authenticity?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Types of Facebook Users

Stereotypes can be fun sometimes. But only when they aren't intended to offend anyone. I'm not wanting to give offense, just look at some of the ways that people can be stereotyped on Facebook. Just so you know, several of these apply to me, so I'm not trying to be unfair or mean, just observant.

Game-Booker - She only posts about her current needs in FarmCityMafiaVille. Your correspondence is comprised of requests to play the game with her.

Omni-Booker - He tells you everything that he's doing from morning to night. "I woke up with lines on my face." "We were out of cereal for breakfast." "There's bad traffic on the 5 today."

TMI-Booker - She shares way too much information online in public: "I had some runny poo today, I wonder if it's because of all the bran muffins."

LOL-Booker - He thinks that the abbreviation for Laugh Out Loud is a punctuation mark. "The dog is wet and smells LOL" "My hamster just died LOL"

Cause-Booker - She believe strongly in a lot of different causes - and every one of them shows up in the status updates. You don't know where she lives, but you know her top 22 charities.

Spouse-Booker - His updates all center around how much he loves his spouse. They have the added benefit of being an emetic.

Link-Booker - She shares links with you. Every link. All the time. Instead of status updates you get links to videos, websites and Groupons.

Statistical Guilt-Booker - He reposts the status about people who have cancer, diabetes, ugly kittens or excess phlegm then adds the barb that if you don't repost it as your status you're one of the 97% who don't care enough.

Photo-Booker - Rather than status updates, she takes pictures of everything she does and posts them on Facebook. Often she's using her mobile phone so the pictures are coming in as the action is happening.

Food-Booker - Every post he makes is somehow related to food. Food he just ate, food he's about to eat or food he just bought. Extra bonus if this is also the TMI-Booker and you get to hear the final fate of the food.

Quote-Booker - She shares quotes that inspire her. But none of her own words. Or she might share her favorite quotes from TV shows (without regard to the fact that she's watching the show live and ruining it for people with DVR or Hulu).

Baby-Booker - Every status update consists of minute detail about the progress of a baby. "Horatio just had his first poo." "Cyrano is sleeping for 3.783 hours at a stretch now."

Blog-Booker - She only posts statuses that are also links to her blog posts. Who would do such a thing?

Ego-Booker - His posts are all about self-promotion. His new project. His new website. His new album. His new article. It's all about him.

Vague-Booker - Her posts are never quite clear what they mean and usually prompt at least one comment asking what's going on. Vague-Bookers can also be Passive-Aggressive-Bookers.

Twitter-Booker - He posts to Facebook through Twitter so all the status updates are littered with Twitter-bit like hash-tags and at-replies. "Totally just saw @jtw78 at #pbl11 #sweet"

What other stereotypes have you come across?

Special thanks to my friends for helping me to come up with this list (via a status update on Facebook no less): Arwen, Spencer, Rebecca Marie, Morgan, Rich, Ryan, Ben. You guys rock.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dealing with Trolls

If you aren't familiar with the term, 'troll' when it comes to the internet, allow me to enlighten you. A troll is someone who posts annoying, frustrating, abusive or inflammatory comments online. If you've spent any time commenting on any website you've probably come across a troll. They might be the person who argues with every point you make or just says things that are infuriating to you.

Trolls are a symptom of the internet. People can think they're anonymous online and so some of their social inhibitions will drop and they might say things that are offensive. In real life they might never be so abrasive, but being online behind a keyboard allows them the freedom to say more than they otherwise would.

Trolls are not necessarily bad people, but they can certainly elicit some bad response. I know that I've gotten pretty mad at some comments made online and put my foot in my mouth more than once. It's my responsibility to deal with my emotional reactions, not to censure the comments of other people that might offend me. The lack of any body language or tonal queues online makes it very easy to interpret comments in the least positive way possible.

Troll Handling Tips:

  • Don't feed the trolls
    If you find yourself getting angry at what someone says online. Stop. Wait. Don't respond right away. Take time to cool off. Ask yourself if this conversation will help anyone. If the answer is: No. Then stop. Ignoring a troll is the best way to get them to go away. 
  • Don't bait the trolls
    Certain types of status updates and blog posts are perfect troll-bait. If you post something about politics, money or religion be sure you know what you're saying and what you're getting yourself into. Those flavors are especially tempting to trolls. Read your content before posting and look for ways that it might be divisive or offer a platform for offensive comments.
  • Love the trolls
    They might be saying some frustrating things on your Facebook page or blog posts, but trolls are people too. They have reasons for what they say. Take the time to understand them. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. If you read your comment out loud in the most sarcastic tone of voice you can muster, how does it come across. Maybe you started it. Now read their comment in a sweet, nice tone. Changing the tone can make a huge difference. Don't assume that everyone is out to troll you. 
  • Fight the trolls
    As a last resort, you might need to stick your nose out. Don't fight trolls on your behalf. Take any abuse they heap on you. Don't delete them as friends. Don't delete their comments. Those actions would constitute troll baiting. Don't, however, allow trolls to abuse other people. You won't be able to foster good conversations online if people are constantly afraid of being trolled on your site or page. Your weapons are simply these: block, delete and ignore. Don't point out why they're wrong, or try to defend your actions in any way (more troll-bait), just don't allow trolls to abuse other people on sites that you control. 
What tips do you have for dealing with trolls online? 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Google Searches Visualized

I'm always on the lookout for cool ways to show information. What we see is often more important than what we know. Since vision is our primary sense and we filter all the rest of our input through vision, it's important to make things like data visually engaging and appealing.

Google took and showed the volume of searches by language and region on a globe. You can spin it with your mouse and zoom in our out with your scroll wheel. It's captivating and fascinating where a spreadsheet with numbers or even a standard bar graph would be boring.

How can you make the information you share more visually engaging?

Monday, May 09, 2011

SlideFest: Microsoft's Presentation Competition

I submitted a few entries into Microsoft's first annual SlideFest PowerPoint competition. If you like any of these that I've done you can vote for them from May 9th through the 23rd. If I get the most votes then I win an Xbox 360 and a copy of Office 2010.

Mostly I'm excited to share some of my hard work and what I've been learning about presentation design. Putting these together stretched me and helped me to learn some new skills. I'd be pleased to know what you think, and get your votes.

Click on one of the thumbnails to the right (or the links below) to see the slideshows I put together.

Neural Pathways

Stage Fright

Friday, May 06, 2011

Crowd Power

© Dmitry Nikolaev -
For all of the ways that interaction online doesn't quite match up to connecting in real life. There are ways that the internet far outstrips flesh and blood connections. One example is the group coupon sites like Groupon and Living Social. Recently Wired wrote about the phenomenon.

In real life you can't easily organize hundreds of your friends to all purchase the same deal on the same day so that you all get a better price from the vendor. Sure you could work with a few of your friends to get a deal at your local hangout, but you would never have the ability to get so many deals or such good deals.

The magic behind things like Groupon is that they are local enough to target a specific business, but distributed enough to get lots of people involved. The businesses get half of the money Groupon collects up front, so instead of paying for advertising, they're being paid for it. Then they're guaranteed that the people who have the coupon will want to come into their store since they've already paid money for the opportunity. Consumers are thrilled to get prices in the range of 50% (or more) off and to be discovering new, local places.

This one is going to take a little bit more work to apply to what's going on in your church than we've done previously. Developing relationships is the same for you as it is for other people. But you can't start offering Groupons to your church bookstore. That's not the way to apply this bit of learning.

Step back from the monetary side of things and notice that these are local, but distributed. Here's a thought, if you have a large church, and you were already planning on giving some money to a relief fund (like Japan, Haiti, etc.) see about offering a Groupon that will match donations and then throw a fund raising party. So people would buy a $15 voucher good for $30 in donations. If they bring that to the party they can get another $10 donated to the cause. Plus hang out with people who want to do good in the world. Better yet, make it local to your city - help to refurbish a derelict park or start a tool library.

How could you imagine using the power of crowds available online?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Humor Online

Funny stuff is funny. Deep, I know. What we don't want to do is scour all humor from our world. Laughter is healthy and it connects people together. But humor can also be used to hurt people. Bullies use humor as a weapon to destroy.

Scientist, Peter McGraw, think's he's cracked the humor code.

Philosophers had pondered this sort of question for millennia, long before anyone thought to examine it in a lab. Plato, Aristotle, and Thomas Hobbes posited the superiority theory of humor, which states that we find the misfortune of others amusing. Sigmund Freud espoused the relief theory, which states that comedy is a way for people to release suppressed thoughts and emotions safely. Incongruity theory, associated with Immanuel Kant, suggests that jokes happen when people notice the disconnect between their expectations and the actual payoff.
But in the end, none of the theories alone could account for all the types of humor out there (especially Sarah Silverman). McGraw came up with the idea that humor is benign violation. He uses the example of tickling, if you tickle yourself you're not violating anything since you know it's coming. If a stranger in a trench-coat tickles you it's not benign, just creepy. But if your friend tickles you, it's both benign and a violation at the same time.

Making jokes about people have been off limits for most professional ministers. You can't make fun of people because someone might get offended. That's not a bad rule to follow in preaching and public speaking. But when it comes to developing relationship online, eschewing humor is (or would be for me) like cutting off your left arm and replacing it with a jellyfish. It's not helping anyone.

I think we're all pretty clear on the violation part of humor. We need to violate a social norm, an expectation or even the rules of grammar in some unexpected way. What we need to do is create more benign space for humor to happen. Jokes that are racist or sexist are only seen as funny when the teller feels safe and disconnected from the object of the joke. Being vulnerable with people keeps us from feeling safe telling offensive jokes, they stop being funny. But, then as the vulnerability increases and we learn to trust each other more, we can expand our humor palette.

When we've done the work to develop the relationship and the shared vulnerability, then we can really laugh with each other. We know that the jokes are benign rather than just being violations.

How do you create space for humor?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Facebook as a Relational Space

Most of us have a pretty good handle on how relationships work in real life. But the etiquette on Facebook is different. You need to be on Facebook, but you need to do it well.

You need to decide why you're on Facebook, or any social media site. Do you want to promote your project, play games or share what you had for dinner? The option is yours, but you have to know that some approaches are better than others when it comes to building relationships.

Think about how you build relationships in real life - Facebook and the rest of the internet aren't so different. It's a dance of vulnerability. Each person offers a bit of vulnerability and, if they receive kindness in return, then more vulnerability. If, however, the vulnerability meets with rejection, derision or apathy, the relationship will shut down.

If you are rejecting people, making fun of them, ignoring them or doing anything that would be rude in real life, that will destroy vulnerability and kill a relationship online. With tools like Facebook the problem is exacerbated since everyone can see your interactions, so if you make fun of someone for expressing their opinion on something, then everyone who sees that interaction will become slightly less vulnerable to you.

But wait! What about humor? Yes, humor has a place, and a formula. I'll pick up that thread tomorrow.

For now, how are you vulnerable online? How could you foster more vulnerability?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Relational Space Online

© lunamarina -
There are four traditional spaces for relationship. Each space has its own rules that our culture applies to govern the relationships in that space.

  1. Public - Anonymous to surface-level relationships. Large personal bubble. Crowd sized group.
  2. Social - Surface-level to friendship relationships. Smaller personal bubble. Some sharing conversation. 15-50 group
  3. Personal - Friends to good-friends. Smallest personal bubble. Deep conversation. 3-12 group.
  4. Intimate - Closest friends and spouse. No personal bubble. Deep sharing. 1 or 2 people besides you in the group.
Those categories are useful for real life reaction. We know precisely when something is public or personal. For example, Sunday gatherings are usually public space, bible classes and potlucks are social space, small groups are personal space and intimate space is with your spouse or best friend. 

What about interaction online? Posting a status on Facebook can feel very personal since you are typically sitting by yourself at your computer when you type it in. But then every one of your friends gets to see it, and comment on it, not just the ones in your personal sphere, but your social and even public spheres. Conversations can get intimate online (which isn't a bad thing), but when that happens in a public space that can be damaging. 

Here's a bit of practical advice for relational space online. Only post things publicly that you would also announce at a friend's party. Use the groups functions on Facebook to post more personal stuff to just your friends. Have private conversations through the chat or personal message features, not in public on someone's wall. Think of the different areas on Facebook or other social websites as actual physical spaces. The Facebook wall is the outside of the house where everyone can see. What would you put up on the wall of your house? A friend's house? If you're going to have a personal or private conversation, you go inside. 

How do you think relational spaces work online? 

Monday, May 02, 2011

May - Spreading the Gospel with Technology

In August I've been asked to speak at the European Christian Workshop in England. My topic is how to share the gospel with technology. A lot of this blog centers around that topic, but for the month of May I'm going to focus on it. A little bit I'm using the blog as a way to also prepare for the conference, but I'm also wanting to leverage the thoughts of my readers in figuring out this important issue.

What ways do you use technology on a daily basis?

How is technology helpful in spreading the gospel?

How does technology make it more difficult to spread the gospel?

Thanks for your help.