Last week, ministries gathered in the Netherlands for the 2013 iteration of the ICCM Europe Conference. While we were invited, finances and scheduling kept us from being able to attend. Nevertheless, there was a very healthy slate of presentations and conversations covering topics related to mobile ministry, missions/evangelism tech, internet evangelism, non-English language content, and security in tech.
Last week, we were also passed a note of two of the presentations from the 2012 MMF Consultation, here links to those:
If we get a notification of additional topics, we’ll update this post with the links to those presentations. In the meanwhile, check out Mobile Advance and GEM eDOT for more info about those presentation topics and to collaborate/contract their services for getting setup.
Earlier this week, Tomi Ahonen announced the 2012 version of his comprehensive Phone Book Almanac. The Phone Book is a compliation of stats, fugures, and forecasts of the mobile industry and is wel regarded as one of the better public sources for this kind of content (you can find it elsewhere, but its in a lot of places or behind paywalls).
One of the questions that I have entertained in the past year has been what comes after mobile. Not that everyone is getting in deep with mobile, but because some feel they have missed the boat and want to make sure that for the next thing, they are ahead of the curve. Well, I will give you one hint as to what will come next:
AR (Augmented Reality)
Those people who study media and communications have determined that there are 7 iterations of mass media communications which has occurred already in the course of human history. The 7th of these is mobile, the 8th was discovered not too long ago, and Tomi Ahonen describes it nicely.
AR is something that is coming. You can be forgiven in part for holding off on it before looking at getting into it with products such as Layar, Vuforia, and Aurasma. Or, you could be on the list for Google’s Project Glass, just waiting for it to get into your hands before you figure out what exactly it is that you can do with it in order to point people to some aspect of the Gospel that you expressly engage this world.
But, if you wait until it gets here, how do you react to a situation such as the one proposed in the concept video Sight. If social situations could be attended to like a game, or intuition and social savvy reduced to how much someone is willing to share or dig up from a database, or that life’s art and decoration are nothing more than something in our singular eyes alone… could you stand to wait until it gets here before you begin addressing the core components of its implications?
Always a delight seeing the weekly Carnival of the Mobilists, a collection of mobile-focused writings around the web usually including insight, interviews, and perspectives that sometimes are missed in more mainstream conversations. This week, the 273rd CoM is being hosted at Tego Interactive, and probably is a bit more the mosaic of mobile than in times past. Having already dug into a few of these, I can say that you will definitely be challenged to think more holistically about mobile, and perhaps add your perspective to the voices.
One of the complaints that I have with church bulletins is that they are passive. There’s just text, maybe a few pieces of off-centered clip art, and more text. Its to the point that I can only get impressed when I see that a church has actually used a quality stock of paper and ink. And of course, those bulletins don’t last in my possession very long. I snap a picture of what’s important, and hope to be able to hand back to a member/usher/greeter the item so they can give it to someone who might keep it. That sounds horrible to some, but if Layar has anything to say about it, things just might change for the better for print bulletins and other static media efforts.
Some days ago, I read (at Engadget, Reuters) that Layar Creator is now available as an web-based augmented reality (AR) media enhancement platform. It works very simply, after creating an account, you upload a PDF, PNG, or JPG of a page or screen element (think: business card, letter, flyer, etc.), and then append to it a button, URL, or social media connector. Then save and that’s it. After that, when a person looks at that print media item with the Layar browser, they are able to see the digital content that you’ve “embedded” into that print page.
When seeing this, I immediately though of the QR-enabled business card that I’d been using until recently. To be able to do something additional such as add a AR snippet of the MMM Twitter feed, or an embedded YouTube video of one of our presentations would not just add to the information that a simple business card carries, but also endears people who interact with MMM to think in these mixed reality/mixed media intersections.
The second thought that came to mind was that of Bibles. I’ve many times said that if a mobile could be turned into a magnifying glass, that a print Bible would find renewed interest. Using Layar, a person could create an AR layer of their own notes on top of a print bible they own. Or, a publisher could encode pages or passages of a print Bible with videos, maps, commentaries, or even links to conversations happening around a part of the text (a modern day Tallmud). In this light, its more than simply having a QR code on each page that points to the content, but you don’t have anything at all, just the marker of the Layar icon on the page, or on the cover of the book noting that each page has augmented features.
This is the kind of engagement that mobile devices can open. And as soon as I get in front of a browser that’s able to do Layar Creator, I plan on adding this layer to as many relevant moments as possible. I’d recommend that you and your ministry seek to do the same; especially since Layar Creator is free only until August 1 (then its the normal costs for publishing layers). This could be some reality-redefining stuff. Visit the Layar website learn more and start your AR campaigns with Layar Creator.
Chetan Sharma, a long-time and well respected voice in mobile, has recently published a report which paints a global picture of what’s happening in mobile not just in relation to itself, but also in relation to other large-scale trends and appliances which seem normal to many of us. The big picture summary of this report paints an interesting picture not just for mobile and connected spaces, but how economic factors will play a part in mobile as an avenue for ministry:
The global mobile industry is the most vibrant and fastest growing industry. We expect the total revenue in the industry to touch approximately $1.5 Trillion in 2012 with mobile data representing 28% of the mix. Mobile data services revenue stood at 33%. Global Mobile Data revenues eclipsed $300 Billion for the first time in 2011. It is also the first year in which non-messaging data revenues will make up the majority of the overall global data revenues at 53%.
By the end of 2011, the global subscriptions exceeded 6 Billion. The first 1 billion took over 20 years and this last one took only 15 months. The primary growth drivers are India and China which are cumulatively adding 75M new subs every quarter. China became the first country to eclipse the 1 billion mark in March 2012. India is likely to arrive at the milestone by early 2013.
Smartphones are driving tremendous growth around the globe. Amongst the major markets, US leads with 69% sales. The global figure stands at approximately 32%. Some operators expect 90-95% of their device sales to be smartphones in 2012. In terms of the actual smartphone penetration, we expect the US market to eclipse the 50% mark in 2012.
China leads in the number of subs but US dominates in both total and data revenue. A number of emerging nations are now in top 10 – Brazil, India, Russia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Mexico while once dominant – Korea, UK, Italy, Germany have dropped off or slipped in rankings.
A few of the facts highlighted in this report include
Total Global Subscriptions to exceed 7 Billion in early 2013
– China exceeds 1 Billion, India 950 Million. Subscriber growth is in Asia, Revenue growth is in Asia+North America
China and India represent 27% of subscriptions but only 12% of the global service revenues
– US represents only 6% of the subscriptions but 21% of the global service revenues, 26% of the data revenues, and 27% of the global CAPEX
Mobile Devices are now exceeding traditional computers in unit sales + revenue
– 70% of the device sales in the US are now smartphones. Device Replacement cycle is shrinking
Samsung and Apple now account for 50% of the smartphone unit share and 90% of the profit share
– Difficult environment for other OEMs esp. when ZTE and Huawei are coming strong from the bottom. It will be difficult for pure play device OEMs to survive long-term
Tablets (iPads) has created a new computing paradigm that is having a significant impact on commerce, content consumption, and developer investments
– Apple will continue to dominate the segment and iOS will be the leading OS for the segment. Amazon, ZTE, Huawei, to chip away at the sub-$200 tier.
Woke up this morning to see many in the mobile tech world talking about this set of survey results (metrics and stats) from the folks at TNS Global.
What's best to note about this data is the size and depth of it. There's not just the usual "how many people could or do" but there's some inspection into some of the trends of usage that can lead to some future applications. I like how Tomi Ahonen broke this down across some of the major trends, and where the financial opportunities lie for some of the lesser explored areas of mobile. In the near future, its those spaces in which the best prospects for disruptive growth will happen.
Now, I know that for some, it might be a bit far reaching to go beyond the present mobile/connected tech as a means to move the needle forward, but that's just what we have to do. As I commented on this piece at Church Relevance, mobile apps isn't the future for how engagement happens, its the now. What you do in the future is going to be in part determined to how you look at the now.
If you want our opinions towards how you should take data like this from TNS and build towards the future, it would simply look like this:
create the spaces where people want to engage their faith as if they were a craftsman: build the tools, create the sandboxes, and lessen the control grips.
There's nothing too difficult about that. But, identifying the opportunity is why this data is needed.
A few weeks ago, I was in the lineup as one of the speakers for Ignite Charlotte 4. The experience was pretty cool (5min, 20 auto-slides, talk about something you are passionate about), and afterwards, I received a ton of kudos for my talk and this branded, USB bracelet (picture). I thought that was a cool gift, as I’d been looking at acquiring a similar-functioning RoadID band for sometime. Yet, as I thought about it some more, I realized that something as simple as a branded bracelet that has some memory storage could be a very effective (passive) mobile ministry tool.
Remember back when we gave the definition of mobile ministry, there’s a piece of that definition that plays part here – technology and behaviors that forward the key ideals and traditions of (a) faith. What we have in this bracelet is a 1GB, computer connected, digital archive – with (!) branding and attention to livability (waterproof, shock resistant). Instead of simply handing me a pen with your church’s name on it, how much more powerful would a bracelet, that has a small archive of sermons, possibly a bible reader, and perhaps the contact information of the church (vCard or hCard format)?
There’s already the context of using microSD cards with materials on them as part of one’s mobile ministry strategy. But, what if we take out the expectation that a mobile device, or even a computer that’s owned, is the destination? What if we assume that someone might only want to engage with their faith-based software in the security of removable storage? Or better, what if it makes sense to those in our community whom are not as quick to think about what to do with a memory key or memory card, but could easily see the benefit (and fashion sense) of something like this bracelet which has unobtrusive branding, but underneath shows (by what’s included within) the attention to that person’s continued spiritual growth?
Was speaking with my friend about an post that I’d done on my personal blog at the beginning of the year, and to contextualize things, I used the following Scripture (Mark 11:12-26):
…And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, “No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever.” And his disciples heard it.
And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, “Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.” And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.
And when even was come, he went out of the city. And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
And Jesus answering saith unto them, “Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
When I was a member of a particular church community in PA, they would use this Scripture often as a jumping off point to the power that a believer has to activate their fatih my speaking, believing, and acting. While I’ve got my own quibbles about the doctrines of “word-faith” approaches, I can appreciate the attention to the creative and instigative ability that God Himself used when taking objects that had no form, and after speaking, they became all that we know of as the earth and all that’s wihtin it (Genesis 1).
That article on my personal blog was about a similar approach to computing being taken on by Alvaro Cassinelli and Alexis Zerroug called invoked computing. You can think of this simply as invoking a specific context of computing to an object that might not by its nature have any computing ability. Invoked computing comes from taking the characteristics of a multi-modal, spatial augmented reality, and grafting it into a system which changes objects into (computational) communication devices. Here’s a snippet of their interview at The Guardian:
…In the invoked computing scenario, the object itself works as an “invocation” trigger and supports interactivity. We naturally looked for trigger-objects that are more or less pervasive in the real world, hence food-related items (the banana and pizza box). As triggers, they operate in ways similar to icons in a computer operating system: these are not the applications themselves, but keys to open them, to invoke them. On the other hand, real physical objects become the support for the interaction, provide surfaces on which to project images or sound.
So, in effect, you’re turning everyday objects into touchscreens?
Not exactly. The invoked computing project proposes systems to project “function” on real objects, but without making the interactive space resemble a screen with icons. Indeed, we are not trying to project icons or conventional representations of computer applications into the real world that when touched will launch a particular computing routine. Instead, affordances in the physical world itself should suggest and trigger function – even new, improvised functions….
This idea of invoked computing goes a good bit beyond mobile, and even further than simply “a computer for everyone and everyone with the ability to access whatever a computer terminal offers.” Inovked computing is about literally speaking and utilizing the activity of computers (linking, computation, creation, and communication) on objects which would not be normally associated with computing.
We can see this in part today with some of the USB items that you’d catch in a swag bag (USB bracelets that also tell time, or a rock that’s also a memory key). This goes a good bit further though. Invoked computing asks us to consider a reality where what we need from a computer is as close as what we speak out of our mouth. With such a reality, would we speak life and death as Jesus did with the fig tree, or would we move a mountain out of the way of someone else’s life so that they could see the path they were intended to travel a bit clearer?
What we do in mobile with Siri, Google Voice Commands, Vriingo, and such is going down this road. What kind of faith are we teaching people to have for their lives when more than just a question can be answered or a text sent is the result? What happens when we provoke a different kind of reallity into objects than what was originally designed?
…After 244 years, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is going out of print.
Those coolly authoritative, gold-lettered reference books that were once sold door-to-door by a fleet of traveling salesmen and displayed as proud fixtures in American homes will be discontinued, company executives said.
In an acknowledgment of the realities of the digital age — and of competition from the Web site Wikipedia — Encyclopaedia Britannica will focus primarily on its online encyclopedias and educational curriculum for schools. The last print version is the 32-volume 2010 edition, which weighs 129 pounds and includes new entries on global warming and the Human Genome Project…
Well, maybe we should talk some about how to help you or your publishing team/group transition to more/full digital approaches?
Going Digital But Not Losing Impression
Maybe its something easier for us to say since MMM started as a mostly-digital artifact. But, we get it. Some people don’t forsee changing, and are throughly offended if the emotional connection and appeal to this idea that bits and bytes can replace the acquisition and internalization of material via text. It takes massive cultural movements to consider and change to a different approach – and in some cases, you have to be throughly compelled.
That’s where you start thinking about it now though. What are the core characteristics of your content, of your relationship to your consumer audiences and your advertiser audiences? What does going digital (whether that’s mobile, social, or distribution methods) enable or hinder? Do you sense a loss of control to that core message, or the attachment to those audiences if you go digital? Are those fears grounded in reality (statistics, case reports, etc.) or on perceptions gleaned from your contexts (media, conversations, etc.)?
When we stopped creating a downloadable magazine, it was in part because of the time, energy, and resources that were essentially wasted for too small a return. Going digital distribution only we had to make some decisions on control (what if people could subscribe via email, RSS, SMS) and frequency (multiple times a day to once a day) alongside other considerations. In the end, this move works for us based on the needs of our audience. We’ve got more to do, and digital affords that in part without totally upending agreements, contracts… those logistical concerns. At the same time, we had to be firmer in what we wanted to do with this channel.
Britannica is making those same decisions. Logos (who’s cited in our previously linked 2011 report) has made and continues to make thesse changes. You’ve got to move forward, while keeping a clear sense of what made you valuable. Its not the smell of the paper, its what was on those pages that you offered that no one else could. Capture that in your digital transformation and watch digital be the ripe and fertile ground you’ve been looking for.