November 2005 Archives
November 29, 2005
November 24, 2005
Happy Thanksgiving to you all. My Thanksgiving favorites are mashed potatoes, stuffing, and lefse with butter and white sugar. Do like carbs or what? What are your favorites?
November 21, 2005
I am so impressed with what is going on at Presentation Zen, they have earned a spot on my link roll [boy have they made the big time now...] Anyway, hooray for champions of clear communication! By the way, the Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates presentation style comparison that is happening there now is definetely worth checking out.
November 19, 2005
Check the comments in this 43 folders article for some great tips on doing presentations.
November 17, 2005
I came across this really great web comic return to sender. Not only is it a testament to the publishing power of the people on the net, but I also like how it deals with themes of call and moral ambiguity. Plus it's funny and plain old wierd. Heads up though, you may want to check this one out first before you explore it with the kiddies.
November 13, 2005
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Ben Folds show I was at. I've been thinking a lot about his song Jesusland lately, particularly after seeing the video. I really like how Folds addresses wealth disparity in the context of Jesus, National Icon. It reminds me of what Bill McKibben wrote about in his article The Christian Paradox.
Since the days of Constantine, emperors and rich men have sought to co-opt the teachings of Jesus. As in so many areas of our increasingly market-tested lives, the co-opters—the TV men, the politicians, the Christian “interest groups”—have found a way to make each of us complicit in that travesty, too. They have invited us to subvert the church of Jesus even as we celebrate it. With their help we have made golden calves of ourselves—become a nation of terrified, self-obsessed idols. It works, and it may well keep working for a long time to come. When Americans hunger for selfless love and are fed only love of self, they will remain hungry, and too often hungry people just come back for more of the same.
I don't know if Folds is critiquing for the sake of change or just observation but McKibben is hoping to somehow reclaim what it is to be Christian; I am right with him. I am just wondering how it can be done. Some days, reclaiming it seems possible and other days it does not. Today, I'm hopeful.
November 7, 2005
I have discovered one of the advantages of having a blog is that people start sending you really interesting things. Thanks to Jason for the link to the Society of Mutual Autopsy. These folks are amazing. What are they?
SoMA is a magazine devoted to dissecting matters of the soul—the sacred and the profane, the ridiculous and the sublime. We don’t think of religion primarily in terms of churches or institutions. We side with the theologian Paul Tillich who understood faith, and indirectly religion, as “ultimate concern.” He saw faith as a movement toward the unconditional, or God, the “ground of being” that eludes theistic thinking. Thus, religious vitality can be found in things that aren’t overtly religious, such as a “secular” films, art, and literature. Similarly, explicitly religious beliefs, symbols, and systems easily become rigid and lose their meaning, turning idolatrous. As Tillich said, religion itself is paradoxically one of the great threats to the religious life.
This is a group of people with some ideas I can get behind. I have just barely scratched the surface of their archives, but I have already found some really interesting and provocative articles: Betraying Jesus, The SoMA Idolatry Quiz, and The Anti-Purpose-Driven Life. I can see I am going to have a lot of reading to do at this site.
November 4, 2005
A friend recenly sent me a link to Nicholas Carr's article The Amorality of Web 2.0. Carr makes an interesting counterpoint to the hype of Web 2.0 by deconstructing the religious hype language used around the web. His primary concern, however, is one of the economics of the amateur vs. the expert in the world of the web.
The Internet is changing the economics of creative work - or, to put it more broadly, the economics of culture - and it's doing it in a way that may well restrict rather than expand our choices. Wikipedia might be a pale shadow of the Britannica, but because it's created by amateurs rather than professionals, it's free. And free trumps quality all the time. So what happens to those poor saps who write encyclopedias for a living? They wither and die. The same thing happens when blogs and other free on-line content go up against old-fashioned newspapers and magazines. Of course the mainstream media sees the blogosphere as a competitor. It is a competitor. And, given the economics of the competition, it may well turn out to be a superior competitor. The layoffs we've recently seen at major newspapers may just be the beginning, and those layoffs should be cause not for self-satisfied snickering but for despair. Implicit in the ecstatic visions of Web 2.0 is the hegemony of the amateur. I for one can't imagine anything more frightening.
While I think Carr is rightly concerned about the quality of information on the web, I wonder if he is confusing market shifts with the death of good information. True newspapers are going under, but this was happening before the web was nearly the factor that is today. Sure the Wikipedia is free and not the greatest writing, but who really needs 10 linear feet of bound Britanica in their house, especially when it will be out of date before you get your last shipment. Emerging technologies have always challenged existing business. The Model-T was bad for buggy manufacturers, electricity was bad for the lamplighters guild, and I know that as a photographer, the advent of digital photography has ravaged the pro photography business. Such is the way of the world.
Ultimately, bad information is more expensive than good information. In an economy that is driven by market competition, I think the odds are in favor of the continued existence of quality information produced by experts. Where I think Carr's concerns are valid, however, are not in whether or not good information will exist, but will it be affordable for the average Jane or Joe? I guess we'll have to wait and see.