When sitting with a friend (and fan of MMM) earlier this year, she remarked that one of the hardest things to deal with in terms of this magazine is the pace at which content comes out. It’s not so much that it comes out at a (normally) regular pace, but that the kind of content that it is and it’s depth leaves you at an intersection of your own when you skip out a few days: do you just pick up where you left off, or scan the past to see what might have come that you missed that would be of value. It was an interesting chew, and was one of the reasons that the summer had a slower pace than the rest of the year. With the last third of 2012 coming upon us, the pace is picking up here, and so this topic felt like a good one to hit on.
In an article titled Everything in its Right Pace at A List Apart, the question of pace was looked at from the lens of what technology has afforded and what we have allowed because of tech:
Some time ago I realized, with mild panic, that our always-on, real-time communication channels weren’t going away. As I was gulping down the day’s feeds along with my morning coffee, it occurred to me that even if I wanted to, I couldn’t really opt out. My refresh twitch is so habitual now it’s almost hard to remember just how experimental things like the early days of Twitter felt.
Of course it once was, like all new things. The real-time web started as something we did because we could. Technological advancements like more efficient ways to retrieve large amounts of data, the cloud, and the little computers we now carry around in our pockets made it just a really sexy problem to solve. Successful experiments turned into trends, and those trends are now becoming unquestioned convention.
But is real time always the right choice? Do we even want everything we consume to move at this pace?
Going back to that illustration at the start of this article about the pace of publishing at MMM, one fan of the magazine subscribes to updates via email and has a filter set to put items into a folder. This allows the reader to keep up with the pace of when things are updated, but also throws in a filter by which they can scan the titles of the posts for what might be most interesting and then read those and archive/ditch the rest. Another person mentioned that they only subscribe to the feed for a few specific tags instead of the entire magazine (instructions on how to do this at bottom of this article). In both cases, they are allowing web structures (email, RSS) to be be the lens at which they keep up with the perspectives seeded here.
You might have heard of the term the slow movement, but I want to speak away from that end a bit (in contrast to a response to the ALA article). I want to talk more about pace in respect to how we design it into our interactions with data and with each other. For example, one of the things that I have noticed since using All Books as my primary digital bible is that I read a lot slower and with a more open ear in community settings. Part of that is because of the performance of the web app (slooooow). But, another reason for that is I am much more engaged into the text because this is something I built, rather than something that was built for me.
We design pace into our meetings with one another. For example, in meetings we make a pause to pray, shake hands and offer peace, or pause for remembrance of those lost or serving. We design pace into our applications when we display confirmation dialogs (ok, cancel. Etc.) or transition dialogs (loading, email sent, tweet sent, etc). We also have this design in our prayers (“…forgive us our debts as we forgive those who sinned against us…”). These moments to pause and then move are designed to keep us from overloading ourselves, others, or the moment with too much information. Our senses can only take so much; our intentions can only take so much. As James said, we “let patience have its perfect work, that we might be perfect and whole, lacking nothing.” As such, paying attention to what takes our attention, and what we do with it is very important to the framing of digital behaviors within faith spaces.
Now, I indeed recognize that not everyone has the ability to make their own Bible app or create a filter to handle a series of articles from various websites (the folks who make bible readers and such do an amazing service to us all) But, I do think that we frequently find ourselves disturbed at the pace of life because we don’t take on that onus to subdue/manage the stat reams around us. What would our connected networks look like if we did take on that aspect of control and filtering? Would we see more explorations of design like Different Tack/twheel for social networks and information browsers? Would services like Google Now or ifttt become normal to how we pipe the web around our needs? Or, would we simply find that there really isn’t that much information happening around us that we need to be concerned with – leaving the extra stuff to search engines and demonstrative lessons when needed?
Pace can be designed. You should design yours.
How to Subscribe to Specific Categories/Tags
After mentioning that some people use filters and the categories here to keep up with articles, I thought it good to list the steps on how you can do similar:
- Go to the Categories/Tags page
- Click on the category/tag that you wish to follow
- In your address (URL) bar, add “/feed” (without to quotes) to the end of the address (for ex. http://mobileministrymagazine.com/tagname/feed)
- Copy that new URL into your favorite RSS reader, or use that URL with a service like ifttt to automatically get updates sent to you via email, SMS, you social network stream, or even have article automatically sent to Dropbox, Evernote, Box, or other services
How you do this might look different than someone else. The key is that all of the content here is designed such that you don’t have to get it as soon as it comes out for it to be valuable. Yes, there are some pieces that will relate to specific contexts which can only be understood then, but you now have the ability to take MMM (any any other website with an RSS feed) and create your own newspaper/resource library. How you then proceed is up to your steps and the push you get from the Spirit.