Category Archives: Mobile As Infrastructure

November Videocast & Kolo Group Mobile App Video

Two videos this month to profile. The first is our monthly videocast, titled Mobile Experiences:

The second comes from the folks at the Kolo Group talking about the app and the mobile evangelism opportunity with it:

Check them out and if there are other videos we should be profiling, get in touch with us, or share via social networks so that we can promote those along with you.

Stupid Uses of Paper?

Some weeks back, there was an Evernote conference and the CEO Phil Libin said something that’s really stuck out in the discussion of being paperless.

“The goal is to get rid of stupid uses of paper”

Now, he said this in respect to a new partnership that Evernote announced with 3M (see WSJ article). But, I think its a very profound way of looking at how we are treating digitally native experiences versus those behaviors which might have had a better context in print. Evernote’s association with 3M is looking at the use of Post-It Notes and making those small notes digital. I’m thinking similar, and sparked by a conversation with LJ of Urban Scholar, I think we might have some other “stupid uses of paper” to consider.

LJ was telling me about a men’s group that he engages in and they are reading the book Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God and I asked him if he’s making notes in Amazon’s Kindle service or reading in print. His response is that he’s reading the print version for not just that book, but also for other books that the group is reading. I wondered, in the case of a group of men sharing insights and progress if that’s really a smart use of paper. In contexts like this, we usually share items and it would seem that digital is the appropriate place for this part of the interaction.

I guess that I have to make the appropriate statements concerning digital texts: cost of devices and services, access versus ownership, and those folks who would rather have that page turning, ambient lit action. Eh… you know those already if you are reading here.

What matters isn’t so much our comfort, but what we enable as a result of the activities we pursue. If when we are getting together, we spend more time passing out materials and reviewing the instructions on them, than we spend in making sense of what those materials mean.

I don’t mean that there’s not a place for paper. I mean that when we have digital text available, we should probably take advantage of what digital offers instead of constraining it to what we only know from a paper context. If that means displacing the time when text is contemplated from the group meeting, then we make the meeting time profitable for things that digital can’t do as well – like cohesive, corporate prayer. And when we do those things that digital does do well, our experiences through the faith grows past stupid uses into something that more authentic, and viable to living by Christ.

A Disturbing Image, A Passive Reaction

Edward Snowden

With the Halloween season right around the corner, there are enough tales of humor and horror to keep you busy for another 364 days. Yet, this year the most disturbing image given – the acknowledgement of some of the most influential governments in the world have been monitoring digital communications in various clandestine ways – has seemed to illicit more of a yawn and more of the same.

…But what is, in a way, more alarming is how relaxed many of my professional peers seem to be about it. Many of them are people who do understand how the stuff works. To them, Snowden’s revelations probably just confirm what they had kind of suspected all along. And yet the discovery that in less than three decades our societies have achieved Orwellian levels of surveillance provokes, at most, a wry smile or a resigned shrug. And it is this level of passive acceptance that I find really scary.

What’s even more alarming is that the one group of professionals who really ought to be alert to the danger are journalists. After all, these are the people who define news as “something that someone powerful does not want published”, who pride themselves on “holding government to account” or sometimes, when they’ve had a few drinks, on “speaking truth to power”. And yet, in their reactions to the rolling scoops published by the Guardian, the Washington Post, the New York Times and Der Spiegel, many of them seem to have succumbed either to a weird kind of spiteful envy, or to a desire to act as the unpaid stenographers to the security services and their political masters…

The Guardian is right. Publicly, we’ve just not done this part right – and its scary.

I’m guilty too. I’ve not moved as far or as fast as others have towards making more secure communication practices or crafting online spaces which are better secured from prying eyes. I’ve done a few things, but not nearly enough… most of us in #mobmin haven’t. I don’t know that we can continue to be passive about it. Either we play the role that many in the public space have – ignore it while talking about it only in private – or we take ownership of it and do things differently (whatever that looks like).

I’m in a bit of a weird space. I could do something like what’s had to happen with my personal blog and steps I’ve taken with social networking, or there might be something more drastic of a step to take – like really going back to hosting MMM from a mobile phone (really good method here), and only letting verified connections take place to it – then doing secure RSS feeds from there or something else which is mobile, secure, and open – like OpenRepos.

I don’t know… there are methods of ministry on mobile that we should continue to talk about. But, the other side of that tech and truth is that mobile is also a very monitored and monetized communications media whose aim isn’t connecting (first), its making money and keeping vigilance. Can we accept that and be passive about those issues going forward? Or, does #mobmin adapt to that reality too… teaching better methods, understanding even more the incredible opportunity going forward?

Why Hasn’t Digital Publishing Caught Up

bible software

Was pointed to this via Google+ the other day. But to be frank, its the same discussion, just revisited – with another proposal from someone well associated with digital publishing technologically and organizationally.

In August 2010 we posted an article entitled Tired of Buying the Same Books Over and Over Again. In that post, Kevin Purcell proposed an idea that would allow for bible software customers to buy a digital resource once and then make it available via other Bible software at no additional cost. From a ministry perspective the plan was a good idea. Here we are three years later and the situation remains the same. We still must buy multiple copies of books to use in various programs.

Read the rest of The Next Step at Kevin Purcell’s website

Kevin then writes his response in STEP Backwards: A Counterpoint to The Next Step

Here’s where I get frustrated. Since the digital copies made, after copy one, cost nothing. I have a problem with the second Bible software company selling customers a commentary that they already bought for $9,000 from Awesome Bible Software for the same price. If the customer can prove that they own the book, the publisher should wave the royalty fee and the Christians at the second company should sell the book in their software format at a reduced rate to cover costs of the sale and a little extra. It’s in their best interests to do this because the customer will become a return customer if they can use their favorite books in the second software maker’s program. If they can’t they won’t buy more in the future.

Now personally, I think that to solve this issue of using biblical resources across several devices and applications that there needs to be a significant change of thought and practice. Contrary to the marketing messages, bible software is built for pastors, not laypersons; content licenses are built for publishers, not readers. To design and sell software differently is a challenge that some groups can embrace. It won’t be easy, yet it could be very fruitful.

Jump into the discussion at Kevin’s website, here, or via social media.

Updates to Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) Rules

Our partners at Symbiota (@symbiota) have written up an excellent summary of the revised rules under the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act).

Please be informed that a revised rule under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) goes into effect on 10/16/13 that will require “prior express written consent” for text or voice messages sent to phones for solicitation purposes. For informational texts and other non-solicitation texts, the existing “prior express consent” standard will continue to suffice. For example, the new requirement does not apply to purely informational or transactional calls or messages, such as sending a link to a non-solicitation web site, flight updates, surveys, or bank account fraud alerts; however, an informational text that includes an upsell – such as a flight update followed by an offer inviting the consumer to upgrade to first class – would require written consent. There is limited guidance on what constitutes a solicitation, but to paraphrase the FCC, “if the text, notwithstanding its free offer or other information, is intended to offer property, goods, or services for sale in the text, or in the future, that text is an advertisement.”

Read the rest of this summary at Symbiota

Of course, this counts only for those folks in the USA. Other countries have different and similar rules regarding communications. If you are aware of communication law changes which effect mobile for your region, do make us aware and we’ll get those posted also.

From Sketch to Prototype

Some days back, I caught a neat Kickstarter project called AppSeed that’s able to quickly turn a “napkin sketch” into a functional prototype. Its even able to be pushed into Photoshop and from those layers, UX designers/developers can take those designs to their realized glory.

How do you get from idea to sketch to prototype to product?

Your Digital Trail

Among the challenges of dealing with getting organizations and ministries up to speed with mobile, there’s also a upgrade in terms of understanding ethics, law, and other articles related to digital living. NPR has recently set for a series titled Your Digital Trail in which this topic is explored, and gives good information in terms of what’s out there, what’s tracked, and what individuals can do about it.

Start with the video above, and then dig into the rest of the series to learn more.

This all reminds me that we’ve not published the insights gained from an interview with a security company. Lots of things to pay attention to in this space.

Mobile Advance Reviews Portable Speakers

Portable Speakers  Front

We’ve stated many times that mobile has three parts: devices, services, and experiences. And its easy to see that the mobile itself is a device, and pushes some services. But, part of that also includes the accessories that you use alongside those devices to extend the experience of what you do on/with your mobile. Our good friends over at Mobile Advance have recently taken a look at several portable speakers. Here’s a snippet of that review:

When it comes to actually showing mobile media, the weak link is your mobile device’s speaker. Unfortunately, most phone speakers are very weak and far too many tablets have underpowered speakers that, even worse, are positioned facing away from the viewer. When you are showing someone a ministry video with one of these devices and you add in city traffic, crying babies other common distractions the person viewing it oftentimes will have to choose between listening to the audio with the mobile device next to their ear or watching the video without being able to fully hear and understand what is going on.

Read the rest over at Mobile Advance.

Case Study: Vumi Go Redesign

Vumi Go style tile

Part of the opportunity that mobile has allowed has enabled all kinds of people-groups to be empowered to either create or have access to tools that traditionally were not as available. Depending on the motives of the programs though, several services have come and go, leaving both the designer and the consumer at a disadvantage of maintaining a connection to that service offering. Case studies which look then at the redesign of an application or service tend of be quite helpful therefore. You aren’t just reading a technical trope of the issues and opportunities of design or function, but you are also seeing how the consumer’s preferences factor into the planning, design, and final result.

A recent case study read which follows along this line of thinking was posted at Elezea in reference to the product/service Vumi Go. Take a look at it, and consider the entire scope of the problem and opportunity described.

If you have a case study which should be added to our listings, do get in touch so that we can get that added to the listing.

Should Mobile Ministry Be An API Not A Practice

Upon some of that good Sunday reading, I found myself on a website I’d never been on and reading thru their archives. Of the gems found that made its way into my notebook, a piece was just a simple listing of API resources from some larger media companies. It got me thinking of whether mobile ministry (#mobmin) would be better served as an API rather than a set of resources and practices. If you will, #mobmin as the transaction means to an end, and its documentation as nothing more than how to plug it in.

It sounds technical, but think about it.