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It certainly seems we’re awash in new media or social media options. And we are. There’s more than any one person could productively engage. But trust the free enterprise system. The invisible hand of quality, work ethic, self-interest, and consumer choice will eventually clear away lesser competitors.

Remember Atari and Commodore? They came along about the same time as Apple. Where are they now? Remember VHS vs Betamax. What person under 30 years of age knows what Betamax is? Remember MySpace vs Facebook? Both are still around, but Facebook is fast conquering the world.

Remember YouTube vs Vimeo? Both are active. Both have their avid supporters divided in camps like Republicans and Democrats. YouTube reaches a vast audience. Vimeo is available to all as well, if they sign up, but Vimeo prides itself in offering “higher quality” service for a “certain kind of people.” YouTube is blue collar. Vimeo is blue blood. Both might survive and thrive, like PC and Apple, but then again, one might go bye the bye.

Then there’re umpteen more social media sites where you can blog or vlog, “tweet,” post pictures or text friends, fans, or followers worldwide, all for free. Amazing.

I find this all quite fascinating because it’s about more than technological tools and toys. It’s about personal space and a sense of validation. It’s about authenticity and immediacy, social interaction yet social independence. It’s about freedom in the most individual yet communal way. It’s about freedom at its most expansive.

And integration propels the march of progress. Communications, computers, cellphones, cameras, and cyberspace are converging. And throw in social media and television, actually all video and audio, along with them.

Social media is a culture-changing phenomenon, and I get to both witness and participate in it. So where am I in all this? I hope, I plan, right in the middle of it.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

I’ve been on a binge learning curve, trying to jettison my video-illiteracy and catch up with the young-uns. I’ve got more to learn, of course, but I’ve come a long way. Very cool.

Today I sat at my son-in-law’s (Joe Drouillard) side as he tutored me in video and audio posting to websites, YouTubing, MP3 and MP4, burning DVDs, and more. Since he’s a web designer (J D Web Design Studio) he also created the video box in the right column of my rexmrogers.com homepage. I can now rotate a new video, most likely from the ministry with which I serve, SAT-7, whenever I want. This is a useful skill that will allow me to add a video blog or vlog feature to the website. Very cool.

Here I’ve learned to “embed,” as opposed to just link, a video from YouTube. This will allow me from time to time to highlight a video with relevant content re my blog. Very cool.

Short videos or films are called, guess what, “shorts.” These days, given the abbreviated attention span of virtually everyone, especially under 40 years of age, a short is all you get. Like the “Making a Difference” radio programs I used to do: you get in, try to say something meaningful, and get out, all in about 90 seconds. Video shorts are generally anything under 10 minutes, but the shorter the better, as in under 2 minutes…kind of like television commercials.

One reason to climb this learning curve is to experience the sheer joy of learning. I know, some people write me off at that one. But I’m an old educator with a lifelong passion for lifelong learning. In fact, I’ll do you one better. I think one of the things we’re going to be doing in heaven for eternity is learning from the omniscient, infinitely interesting, Sovereign God. Very cool.

Another reason to learn is to be able to speak to the current generation. If we want youth to know about Christianity or international missions, for example, we have to go where they are, where they live. Youth and young adults live in cyberspace, online, plugged-in, and tuned-in. They speak through interactive new social media via smart phones. I want to speak their language, so I have to learn. So I am and I have. Very cool.

What this video short phenomenon says about our ability to communicate, much less our culture, I’ll save for another time. For now, I’m happy to catch up, a little, with Generation Y, the Millenials. Very cool.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at http://www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at http://www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

I’ve wanted to learn more about video—recording, importing, editing in iMovie, posting on YouTube, Vimeo, and websites, you name it.

For awhile now, I’ve also wanted to learn how ebooks and audiobooks were made, what’s an MP3 and an MP4, and how to post audio online.

In a manner of speaking I wanted to understand the technological revolution that had happened “behind me.” By this I mean that at 58 years of age, I didn’t grow up with so-called “new media,” which includes social media. Actually, I didn’t grow up with computers of any kind.

I find my way around Facebook pretty well. I even “tweet” on Twitter at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers. I’ve used RSS feeds, sent text messages, and blogged. I know what Flickr is but haven’t used it much, nor have I accessed many podcasts—but I plan to record and distribute audio podcasts shortly. I can navigate the Internet with relative ease. But I hadn’t until this weekend caught up with and climbed the learning curve of video and audio media.

Long story short, over the weekend I took advantage of the infinite number of tutorials available online, on Apple and YouTube in particular. I must have watched more than 50 videos. A lot of viewing, but now I can import a video into iMovie, edit it, and export it to YouTube, iDVD, or some other final resting place (and I have).

I finally understand the general process by which audio or video content becomes accessible, including how it is compressed, which is to say I now know the difference between an MP3 and an MP4. I can post audio and video to my website. And oh yes, I “get” keywords or meta tags, understand embedding videos, and can come pretty close to creating my own ebook. Audiobooks are much more challenging, and maybe as yet less useful. But ebooks are here to stay and increasing in popularity thanks to Kindle, iPad, and the Nook.

I now understand enough new media lingo and functionality to be dangerous. I can’t do everything, but now I can at least talk to more sophisticated techies to get done what I need done. Things have come a long way.

I remember first using a Digital VAX mainframe computer when I was in graduate school at the University of Akron. Some students were learning BASIC, COBOL, and other early programming languages. But I was fortunate enough to come along when packaged programs were being marketed as user-friendly ways for non-techies to use computers. To compute our regression analyses as political science graduate students we used SPSS, Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, or SAS, Statistical Analysis Software, still being marketed today. At UA I sat at IMB punch card machines and typed/punched IBM cards to form the “Job” we’d submit to the computer center, then wait, holding our breath. That was 1978-79.

A few years later while pursuing my doctorate, 1980-82, at the University of Cincinnati I worked at the Behavioral Sciences Laboratory (later known as the Institute for Public Policy Research). Here we used SPSS and SAS too, but now we’d moved up the ladder to remote terminals. No more punch cards, no more waiting at the computer center. Here we got feedback on the screen. Here also I saw my first “PC.”

During my first two university assignments I used a PC. Eventually I had to learn about websites, blogs, and emerging social media. Before that, I had to learn how to switch from overhead projectors to PowerPoint slides and video projectors. I did. I even learned to craft my own Ppt presentations so I could model this frontier thinking for faculty members and so I wouldn’t have to depend upon administrative assistants, thus could build my own Ppts the night before if I wished.

Learning is about investment. That’s all. It takes some time and effort, but the dividends can be huge. This I enjoy.

A couple of months ago I talked to a middle-aged pastor and said I’d email him if he gave me his address. He told me his wife did his email and that he wasn’t on computers. I didn’t say anything to him, but I was nearly stunned. How can a person, much less a leader, function well today if he or she remains willingly unconnected and unconcerned to boot?

So, when it came to video and audio I had to climb the learning curve. Or if you prefer, I had to catch the wave. I think I’ve caught it, even if I’m not yet riding it. Surfing that wave is the next thing to learn.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Twitter is an interesting and still relatively new social media tool. Great fun and useful. I enjoy it and there’s much about Twitter that’s worthwhile. It’s amazing what you can say in 140 characters. And I find it fascinating how quickly you can detect what makes people tick, what they’re personality is like and what values they hold, just in a few tweets. It’s also truly social media, meaning you can connect, possibly directly interact, with famous, powerful, distant people you wouldn’t typically engage in any other way.

But if you use Twitter for a while you’re bound to develop a few pet peeves, or “Tweet Peeves.” Here are ten of mine:

    · Following a promising bio and it turns out it's a front for ads.

    · Following a notable individual, then reading a tweet "from him/her" written in third person, i.e., a ghost-tweeteer.

    · Following a theme but getting spammed.

    · Answering people’s direct message questions and never hearing from them again.

    · Tweeters who never offer original thoughts or material, just compilations of what others have done. This material may be intriguing, but you wonder after awhile what the tweeter thinks.

    · Following a person or organization hashtagging a theme of interest to you, then discovering the hashtag is being used by the tweeter to assure his or her message, which has nothing to do with the hashtag, appears in hashtag searches.

    · Multiple tweets listing nothing but wall-to-wall thanks for RTs. Give it a rest or thank them via direct mail.

    · Spam-a-palooza. If this keeps happening, I un-follow.

    · Vulgarity. I can take it if it seems to fit a given context, but if it becomes a pattern I un-follow.

    · Tweeters who want to be followed but never follow. In other words, they’re enamored of the sound of their own voice.

Twitter culture is still in its infancy, so it will be interesting to see how it evolves moving into adolescence and beyond. Tweet on tweeple.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow Dr. Rogers at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

I'm into social media, Facebook, Twitter, so this is not a Luddite rant. But along with others I've mused about what the social media juggernaut seems to mean or imply for thinking, writing, and civility:

  • People say things in print they often won't say in person.
  • The quantity of online expression may be inversely related to its quality.
  • Because something is posted doesn't make it so.
  • Road rage has given way to cyber rage with neither one amounting to much.
  • It's easier to misrepresent, even lie, with more extensive, longer-lasting negative impact than it used to be.
  • No leader(s) can any longer stay ahead of or respond in a timely fashion to real-time events because people are communicating about the event as they participate in them and as they happen.
  • It's possible to say something profound in 140 characters, but this won't often happen.The number of followers or fans one counts is more a measure of celebrity than significance.
  • Christians should be active via social media like they should be active via anything else that doesn't violate the moral will of God.
  • Both the noble and the ignoble show up in social media because people are involved.
  • Tweeting what one had for breakfast says more about the tweeter's need for affirmation than the tweetee's need to know.
  • Relationships can be developed via social media, but the same character criteria should be applied as in any other relationship.
  • Social media is no longer limited to youth.
  • If international Christian ministries want young people to learn about, care about, and engage with missions, the ministries had better increase their online presence because youth live in cyberspace and if a ministry isn't there it doesn't exist.
  • Static websites, i.e. limited changes in content over time, attract one-time visitors.
  • Websites still form a foundation but they're almost passe in favor of more dynamic, rapidly changing real-time interaction available via new media.
  • Personality and character show up in social media expression, print or audio or video.
  • You are what you post?
  • Almost no one, let alone a notable leader or celebrity or otherwise recognizable person, is ever now in a truly private circumstance beyond the reach of cell phone video or still shot cameras, voice recorders, and of course, the emails, text messages, or other communications of people nearby.
  • The more we're plugged in, the more we live on the grid, the less we're unplugged and live life off the grid...what are we missing our Grandparents understood?
  • Ashton Kutcher and Britney Spears are easy to envision working in social media, not so much Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Mother Teresa.
  • In the movie "Gladiator" the Maximus character said, "What we do in life echoes in eternity." True, in the hands of Providence, but now what we post echoes for all our life in Google.
  • Wonder what the next Twitter du jour will be?
  • © Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2010

    This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part but must include a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

    For children, and for that matter, for teenagers, the Internet is not a harmless toy. In fact, like many other features of modern life, people need to exercise a degree of spiritual discernment and maturity when the access the Net. Since all children, most teenagers, and many adults do not possess the requisite maturity, the Internet can become a pathway to trouble.

    Gambling is the number one cash transfer business on the Internet, out-pacing pornography by about two and one-half to one. Both gambling and pornography can seduce people to ever higher levels of involvement to the point of addiction and to the point of emotional, financial, and other forms of harm.

    Young people are particularly susceptible to new youth websites like MySpace.com or Facebook.com. Not that there is anything especially wrong with these sites in themselves. But young people often naively post personal details that attract pedophiles, perverts, and pornographers.

    Sometimes the danger is a relational one. This week, a 16 year old Saginaw, Michigan girl lied to her Mother about why she needed a passport, then ran away from home, caught a flight to the Middle East, and finally was detained in Amman, Jordan. She was on her way to meet a 25 year old man she met through her MySpace.com account. Thanks to U.S. government customs officials, she is apparently well and will be returned to her home in the States.

    Young people have posted nude pictures of their friends, not realizing they could be committing a crime. Youth have been accosted by sexual deviants because of what the adult learned from the teen’s website. Students at a Michigan high school posted party pictures of friends involved in underage drinking and were later suspended from high school and barred from attending the senior prom.

    Unfortunately, we are probably going to hear more of this. Access to the Internet is too extensive and too easy to think otherwise. At the very least if we are responsible for young people we need to warn them about the danger of unfettered expression on the Internet. We should not teach them to “live scared,” but we do need to make our youth aware of the evil that lurks within and around any human endeavor. Learning this and learning to identify it when they see it is one step toward maturity.

     

    © Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

    *This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.