Our Tools (Tech) Use Us

We’ve gotten to the point where the tools use us as much as we use them. This new reality means we need to re-examine our relationship with our New Tools.

The tools we’re now addicted to have been engineered for a simple purpose: To keep us addicted to them. The service they provide is secondary to the addiction.

The first step towards a solution must be to understand the reality of this new ecosystem.

I’ve been reading and thinking a lot more about the tools I use and the effects they have on me. The fact that I can publish this so simply is incredible. But I am more aware than ever that our tools shape us as much as we shape our world with them. Give it some thought.

Via: Don’t Let Your Tools (Technology) Use You

Reclaiming Attention

It was immediately clear that vigilance was required, some set of rules. And so here are mine:

The internet goes off before bed.

The internet doesn’t return until after lunch.

That’s it. Reasonable rules. I’m too weak to handle the unreasonable.

What would it take to reclaim our own attention? It is so easy to be always-on. It might be a good idea to give some consideration to how and when we use our devices and what healthy parameters would look like.

(via Backchannel)

Smart Phones – Pavlov’s Little Box

The smart phone (so called in honor of the profit-seeking companies who were smart enough to make them) is an optimized, tested and polished call-and-response machine.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I use my devices with screens, especially my phone. I’m not always pleased with when and how and how often I use them, either.

(via Seth’s Blog)

Next Steps for the Open Web

I believe the next step for the open web and Twitter-like services is indie microblogging.

I am super interested in where the open web is headed in light of tools like these. This trajectory is one of the reasons I am putting more focus on my personal blog than on proprietary services. Note his linked Kickstarter for Indie Microblogging.

(via Manton)

Humanity & Digital Life

In an lengthy article for NYMag, Andrew Sullivan speaks to some of the dangers of the technology we hold so closely:

Information soon penetrated every waking moment of our lives. And it did so with staggering swiftness. We almost forget that ten years ago, there were no smartphones, and as recently as 2011, only a third of Americans owned one. Now nearly two-thirds do. That figure reaches 85 percent when you’re only counting young adults. And 46 percent of Americans told Pew surveyors last year a simple but remarkable thing: They could not live without one. The device went from unknown to indispensable in less than a decade. The handful of spaces where it was once impossible to be connected — the airplane, the subway, the wilderness — are dwindling fast. Even hiker backpacks now come fitted with battery power for smartphones. Perhaps the only “safe space” that still exists is the shower.

Note a key point he makes deep in the article:

If the churches came to understand that the greatest threat to faith today is not hedonism but distraction, perhaps they might begin to appeal anew to a frazzled digital generation.

I’ve been reading a lot about the precarious or even dangerous position we are in with our screen-filled digital-first lives. I see it every single day on the college campus – flocks of students who are linked at the palm to their devices. I don’t question the incredible value we get from modern technology, but there are costs associated with it too.

(via NYMag)

Becoming Storytellers

Over the last year BCM has gone from a traditional model of a single staffer, a building as the central meeting place, and a budget funded by the denomination to a multi-staff, decentralized, support-based organization. There is much to share about why this transition happened, growth points, and what we’re learning along the way. I want to do a better job of sharing the things I’m learning and the resources I’m using. 

I’ve written a little about decentralization here, here, and here. Without a single time and place where our ministry “happens,” we have discovered some pain points. It is rare for us all to be on the same page with what is happening in our ministry naturally. We are learning how to be a (somewhat) distributed team. 

Formerly we all attended the same large group gatherings. Now we are all involved in different Gospel Communities spread across the week and across the campus. In a decentralized ministry it can be deceptively easy to lose touch and be out of the loop. The single tool that has helped us the most is Slack. It is our asynchronous communication hub. It’s a group messaging platform. We create “channels” based on the topics we need to address so that our conversations remain unified and (somewhat) coherent. It has eliminated nearly all email and text messaging for us. 

 Each of the words in left sidebar represent the various channels we currently have active. Each staff accesses Slack from their phones and their iPads – they could even log in on the web from any computer. Since we are only in the same room all at the same time once per week at most, we have to work a little harder on communicating consistently and clearly. 

Every month everyone on the BCM team is sending out their own personal newsletters to their supporters. It can be tough to recall what happened over the last month, but I am finding that Slack can be really helpful for this. In Slack you can “star” any message to save it for later. My list of “starred” messages is my list of celebrations and a list of potential topics for future newsletters. We are committed to improving our ministry, but we must be just as committed to telling our stories well. 

How do you communicate with your team, and how do you record things to celebrate as a team and with your supporters?