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Last winter I began to feel like I was behind the curve on some things that seemed to me to be important to what I am supposed to do professionally. So since that time I've tried to learn a few "new media" and "social media" skills, among them how to:

--shoot and edit video in iMovie, then post it on YouTube,

--develop a YouTube or Vimeo channel,

--post audio and video files on websites or in emails,

--develop video blogs - "vlogs,"

--use website content management systems,

--burn CD or DVDs, including construct menus – yep, I'd never done this, but I have now,

--use Twitter, HootSuite or TweetDeck etc, iTunes, or construct/launch cause-related Facebook pages,

--use QR codes,

--use eReaders like Nook or Kindle, or use ebook software like iBooks, Kindle, Adobe Digital Editions,

--construct and use e-applications of audiobooks,

--acquire ISBN numbers for books and ebooks,

--construct ebooks, and then post, market, and sell them on Amazon Kindle.

I write this not to brag but to say it's been fun and productive. And more importantly, to suggest that I believe all of us should keep learning as much as we can about new/social media. Why? The more we know the better and more knowledgeably we can interact with our children, grandchildren, and culture.

I'm not a pro on any of this. But like learning PowerPoint a few years back, learning how to do basics gives me more freedom in my work and helps me talk to people who know more, so I can ask them to create what I need.

In addition, in the past couple of months I've gotten close-in looks at a couple of other ministry organizations. And frankly, I was amazed to discover how uninformed, unprepared, "behind," and thus unable most of the staff were in terms of new or social media. They didn't know how to do or use much of anything, and I thought then that our staff at SAT-7 USA could run circles around them. But of course we all need to keep learning.

So I write this piece not with an action plan or a to-do list but to encourage you to keep looking for ways to learn to do "new things." The learning curve might sometimes be taxing, but the end result will almost always enrich your professional experience, benefit you personally, and certainly benefit the ministry.

BTW, the old educator in me thinks that one of the things we're going to be doing for eternity in heaven is…learning. Think about it: we're going to hang out with the Omniscient Sovereign God who is never going to run out of cool things to teach us. We're going to learn, which is to say we’re going to go to school forever. Sounds good to me.

 

© 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.

Mainline and online news agencies are still enamored of social media. For example, articles reporting the death of singer Amy Winehouse gave as much space to reporting how many Tweets were posted worldwide as they did discussing the woman’s passing.

This has happened before.  During Japan’s earthquake and tsunami tragedy, as well as Haiti’s earthquake months earlier, Twitter trending and Facebook posts garnered ample shares of the coverage. When the Obama Administration makes an announcement social media action is part of the news report. So too with sports: during the Women’s World Cup we were regularly treated to breathless reports about how many Twitter followers Hope Solo or Abby Wambach had gained that day. Social media, it seems, are part of the news, at least for now.

This isn’t going to last. Remember when motels used to advertise “Color TV”?  Now it’s “Free WiFi,” whatever is the latest and greatest draw. The same will happen for social media. The shine will wear off the rose.

There’s some sign this is already happening, at least in terms of people becoming stressed by how many social media are available, how many accounts they establish, and how often they post or check the stream. One article recommended, among several other things, these ways to avoid social media burnout:

- “Identify different and specific uses for your various social networks. Many use Facebook just for friends or family, Twitter as a public persona and LinkedIn for work relationships. Figure out what your priorities are, and stick to them.

- Use software or Web apps for monitoring multiple social networks simultaneously.

- Set specific times to use (or to stay away from) social networks. Take a day off and go get some sun.

- Don't get obsessed with how many Facebook friends or Twitter or Google+ followers you have. Who cares?

- Don't get stressed out about the content you are missing. You do not have to read every tweet or update. Treat your social-media stream like a river - dip in and get out as your time permits.

- Pick your social networks wisely. Some aren't worth your time. If a social network isn't providing value and relevance, ditch it.”

One could argue that articles reporting how Amy Winehouse’s death trended in social media are offering a legitimate comment about her popularity. Maybe. But it still seemed to me to be superfluous and mundane. A young and highly talented woman had died tragically. By comparison, who cares what’s happening in social media?

 

© 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.

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.