Church Planting and the Gospel of Gentrification

D.L. Mayfield for Sojourners writes:

Writer Nate J. Lee, responding to a video put out by Hillsong church to announce their intention to plant a church in San Francisco (including the phrases “God has great plans for this city” and “San Fran, the best is yet to come!”), wrote this: “Any kind of language that implies that God’s work or God’s plan starts when we arrive … is indicative not only of terrible theology, but of white Christian exceptionalism, the oppressive belief that the correct kind salvation and healing can only be facilitated through us, on our terms with our methods—and us always happens to be white missionaries, white pastors, and white churches.”

The whole article hit home for me. As someone who works for church with a multi-campus model, I'm finding that it's easier to go into an area that is on an economic upward swing and launch a campus, then go into an area that has little economic viability.

This creates a problem by which these new campuses are contributing to an ongoing systemic problem. While I believe these churches are well-resourced and well-intentioned, I think they don't realize the damage they're perpetuating.

When the World Is Led by a Child

David Brooks, writing for The New York Times:

We’ve got this perverse situation in which the vast analytic powers of the entire world are being spent trying to understand a guy whose thoughts are often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar.

Read the entire piece. Just a brutal takedown of Trump.

Unroll.me cofounder’s rant reminds us to be wary of free services

From Ashley Carman, writing for The Verge:

It’s important to understand, however, that the way startups like Slice (which owns Unroll.me) and the giants of Google and Facebook treat your data is extremely different. Google and Facebook analyze information about you gathered through your email, social networking habits, demographics, and location, and use that data to entice third-party companies to advertise with them. In other words, the information they have on you allows them to sell access to your eyeballs for targeted ads in your news feed or sponsored search results.

Startups like Slice, on the other hand, collect information about you and other users and sells it to outside firms. Once it’s handed off, the client can do what it wants with the data. In both cases, however, data is sold in the aggregate, meaning you personally aren’t identified. Although admittedly, compiling a report specifically for Uber feels a little icky in light of recent negative press.

This is good explanation of the the differences between Facebook, Google and other free services. However, the lesson from Unroll.me is that you get what you pay for. If it's free then most likely your data is the product that will be sold.

This is why I'm hesitant to go all in on Facebook as publishing platform. While they do have the audience, I'm not sure I want hand everything over to someone who ultimately is interested in selling my data.

Association of Facebook Use With Compromised Well-Being: A Longitudinal Study

New research from the American Journal of Epidemiology:

Using this rich source of data, we were able to investigate the associations of Facebook use and of real-world social network activity with self-reported physical health, self-reported mental health, self-reported life satisfaction, and BMI. Although there were some variations in the significance of the different measures across outcomes, a clear pattern emerged. Our results showed that although real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being.

I'll be spending next weekend pouring over this data.

Facebook’s algorithm isn’t surfacing one-third of our posts. And it’s getting worse

Kurt Gessler, Deputy Editor for Digital News at The Chicago Tribune writes:

At the Tribune, we have a fairly stable and predictable audience. We had around a half million fans at the end of March and have seen slow but steady growth in the last year. Most Facebook posts fell into the 25,000 to 50,000 reach range — with a few big successes and few spectacular failures each day, usually based on the quality of the content or the quality and creativity of the share.

But starting earlier this year, we started to see far more misses. And not reaches in the low 20,000's but 4,000 reach or 6,000 reach. Digital Editor Randi Shaffer was one of the first to notice.

Interesting post with a lot of data to back up his claim. We haven't seen the same issues with our content, however we've also greatly reduced the number of posts to Facebook that contain outside links.

Source: https://medium.com/@kurtgessler/facebooks-...

The Future of Facebook Instant Articles

Casey Newton, writing for The Verge:

...two years after it launched, a platform that aspired to build a more stable path forward for journalism appears to be declining in relevance. At the same time that Instant Articles were being designed, Facebook was beginning work on the projects that would ultimately undermine it. Starting in 2015, the company's algorithms began favoring video over other content types, diminishing the reach of Instant Articles in the feed. The following year, Facebook's News Feed deprioritized article links in favor of posts from friends and family. The arrival this month of ephemeral stories on top of the News Feed further de-emphasized the links on which many publishers have come to depend.

I think Instant Articles is good product. However, I've never been comfortable handing over content to Facebook in this manner.

Also, as the article points out, Instant Articles does not seem to fit their long term vision which is heavily based on videos. If Facebook is trying to lure large scale companies to invest in their platform, why not try to go after TV networks and create Facebook TV? This would allow them to go head to with YouTube, Netflix, and all the other players in the video industry.

Why Typography Matters — Especially At The Oscars

Benjamin Bannister writes:

With a modified card, even if the presenters had gotten the wrong one, none of this would’ve happened because the presenters would’ve looked at it and one of two things would’ve happened: their eyes would’ve read “Best Actress,” or, “Emma Stone.” Reading either of those would indicate that this wasn’t the card for Best Picture, and they would’ve asked Jimmy Kimmel or a producer to the stage to get it corrected.

As a creator, the importance of typography is an absolute skill to know, and people — not just designers, should consider learning it. Typography can be immensely helpful when writing a resume that’s well-structured, creating a report that looks exciting, designing a website with an intuitive hierarchy — and definitely for designing award show winner cards.

This article is a fantastic breakdown on how with just a few small tweaks, the whole Oscar catastrophe could've been avoided.

The Death Of Expertise

From Tom Nichols writing in The Federalist:

I fear we are witnessing the “death of expertise”: a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laymen, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers – in other words, between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all. By this, I do not mean the death of actual expertise, the knowledge of specific things that sets some people apart from others in various areas. There will always be doctors, lawyers, engineers, and other specialists in various fields. Rather, what I fear has died is any acknowledgement of expertise as anything that should alter our thoughts or change the way we live.

This is a very bad thing. Yes, it’s true that experts can make mistakes, as disasters from thalidomide to the Challenger explosion tragically remind us. But mostly, experts have a pretty good batting average compared to laymen: doctors, whatever their errors, seem to do better with most illnesses than faith healers or your Aunt Ginny and her special chicken gut poultice. To reject the notion of expertise, and to replace it with a sanctimonious insistence that every person has a right to his or her own opinion, is silly.

Later on in the article he states the following:

This isn’t just about politics, which would be bad enough. No, it’s worse than that: the perverse effect of the death of expertise is that without real experts, everyone is an expert on everything. To take but one horrifying example, we live today in an advanced post-industrial country that is now fighting a resurgence of whooping cough — a scourge nearly eliminated a century ago — merely because otherwise intelligent people have been second-guessing their doctors and refusing to vaccinate their kids after reading stuff written by people who know exactly zip about medicine. (Yes, I mean people like Jenny McCarthy.

I see this problem consistently appear in the Church and with people I know in church communications. It seems we have entered an age where every pastor is an expert on social issues due to the fact they oversee a congregation of people and have a sense of authority in their community.

On the church communications side, I see more people entering the conversation who are either currently not in the midst of working at a church or doling out information that lacks the depth needed to understand the issues at hand (I've been guilty of this).

My fear for the church and my profession is that we're slipping into a soundbite culture that is based on grabbing attention and touting numbers that have no true meaning. (As I write this, we're in the middle of preparing our annual report which more than likely include some of those meaningless numbers.)

106 and Counting

106. That is the number of graphic designers who applied for our open position at my work. I was shooting for at least 70, so I'm happy with that number.

I'm also happy with the quality level of the work that I'm seeing from applicants. I knew there would be few that would stick out, but what I didn't anticipate is that there would be a few that portfolios that I fell in love with.

Here are some thoughts as I go through these portfolios:

  • Some of the best work I'm seeing is coming from some very young designers.

  • I'm seeing some work that is both experimental and effective. It's beautiful combination.

  • If you think that church's have to settle for sub-standard design, they don't. I have the proof in these portfolios.

  • Some artists are leaning too heavy into using Gotham, Futura and Knockout. I don't blame them, but they should show a few more pieces with some strong serif typefaces.

  • Some of these portfolios are from artists and not designers. The question is, do they know that?

Now to get ready for a week of interviews...

French Workers Win Legal Right to Avoid Checking Work Email Out-Of-Hours

From The Guardian:

On 1 January, an employment law will enter into force that obliges organisations with more than 50 workers to start negotiations to define the rights of employees to ignore their smartphones.

Overuse of digital devices has been blamed for everything from burnout to sleeplessness as well as relationship problems, with many employees uncertain of when they can switch off.

The measure is intended to tackle the so-called “always-on” work culture that has led to a surge in usually unpaid overtime – while also giving employees flexibility to work outside the office.

Interesting solution to what has become a problem for most knowledge workers. The more I think about it, I realize that this is one area that most companies don't talk about when bringing on a new employee. Sure, we'll talk about benefits and salary. But rarely do we talk about what is expected of us and our devices after work has ended.