Tag Archives: mobile in development

Mobile Ministry 2013 Notables

At the end of the calendar year, its customary to have all kinds of lists going about where you summarize important things, or make notes towards what should be coming in the new year. To a degree, we’ll keep with that – we’ve got some resolutions to report on – but I do want to note a few folks who came to mind as having some kind of neat positive and disruptive effect towards moving #mobmin forward this year. We’ll just note them by their Twitter handles:

  • @jrgifford
  • @tck2g
  • @joelsam
  • @brettq
  • @heidiacampbell
  • @renewoutreach
  • @indigitous
  • @issacharsummit
  • @mobmin

Like with the Mobile Ministry Recommendations article, we’ll append this one as we think of a few more.

Security and Comms, Your Mobile Concerns

As I’m sure that if you are reading MMM, you are aware of much of what’s happening in and around the NSA/Snowden topic and its effects. In an article read recently at The Atlantic, something stuck out that made me wonder a bit:

One senior collection manager, speaking on the condition of anonymity but with permission from the NSA, said “we are getting vast volumes” of location data from around the world by tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally and that serve U.S. cellphones as well as foreign ones. Additionally, data are often collected from the tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad with their cellphones every year.

I just wonder, and maybe its just me more than things that are already spoken – do folks who work in IT/IS for organizations who do travel and need secure communications understand this? Are they putting together security plans which are easy to follow and clearly lay out why “mobile as normal” isn’t the lingua franca anymore?

In a conversation with the CEO of GSMK Cryptophone some months back, amongst the security topics we talked about, the way that mobile is perceived as an area of concern – or not – for faith-based orgs/NGOs came up in one of the questions, here’s a quote from my notes:

What would be some recommendations that you’d have for religious organization who have a need for secure mobile communications, but aren’t sure where to start?

  • think hard about what your threat scenarios are; what are the potential problems
  • what areas/people that need to be protected
  • think of the entirety of communications
  • lots of problems can be solved with open source software
  • pay attention to the range of suppliers and the range of solutions out there
  • understand that mobile devices might not be usable at all

Are these concerns that you hear in your planning sessions for mobile ministry efforts? Or, do you only think about security, political, or other implications only after they have happened? How do you address mobile concerns, if at all?

Additional Note: After investigating several mobile security solutions, GSMK seemed to have the best overall solution. I was very convinced after conversing with them that not only would it be a tech solution, but a behavioral one. Plus, for those who like those modern devices, their security-hardened version of Android is hard to beat. Check them out for your personal or organizational needs.

Mobile, Privacy, and Considerations

Its easy to continue down the consumer line that the holiday brings – talking new devices, apps, and services, and leaving weighter concerns to the opt-ed pieces which might hit a magazine or two. And then there’s that sense of responsibility. A condition of mobile in ministry is to understand the landscape and the challenges of just being in this space. In light of what we do, own, or promote, it our responsibility to pay attention to what might negate this landscape as well.

…Thanks to smartphones or Google Glass, we can now be pinged whenever we are about to do something stupid, unhealthy, or unsound. We wouldn’t necessarily need to know why the action would be wrong: the system’s algorithms do the moral calculus on their own. Citizens take on the role of information machines that feed the techno-bureaucratic complex with our data. And why wouldn’t we, if we are promised slimmer waistlines, cleaner air, or longer (and safer) lives in return?

This logic of preëmption is not different from that of the NSA in its fight against terror: let’s prevent problems rather than deal with their consequences. Even if we tie the hands of the NSA—by some combination of better oversight, stricter rules on data access, or stronger and friendlier encryption technologies—the data hunger of other state institutions would remain. They will justify it. On issues like obesity or climate change—where the policy makers are quick to add that we are facing a ticking-bomb scenario—they will say a little deficit of democracy can go a long way…

That segment is from an article that’s stayed open in a tab for me for a number of weeks now. The Real Privacy Problem at MIT Technology Review is a must-read, must-bookmark, and must share.

And yet, that’s not the end of things. We understand that its not just what we do which is being exposed, but what others are gathering about our actions which present very real challenges – if not outright defining characteristics – to what it means to have mobile ministry practices.

…The NSA has no reason to suspect that the movements of the overwhelming majority of cellphone users would be relevant to national security. Rather, it collects locations in bulk because its most powerful analytic tools — known collectively as CO-TRAVELER — allow it to look for unknown associates of known intelligence targets by tracking people whose movements intersect.

Still, location data, especially when aggregated over time, are widely regarded among privacy advocates as uniquely sensitive. Sophisticated mathematical tech­niques enable NSA analysts to map cellphone owners’ relationships by correlating their patterns of movement over time with thousands or millions of other phone users who cross their paths. Cellphones broadcast their locations even when they are not being used to place a call or send a text message…

Read the rest of NSA tracking Cellphone Locations Worldwide, Snowden Documents Show at the Washington Post.

The Washington Post and others have been very brazen in publishing items like this. Whether or not one can get around that kind of monitoring is one thing, understanding what that monitoring means is another. And the truth also exposed here has to be understood – if countries are advanced enough to pursue these complicated and powerful means of using data to make connections, countries/governments/organizations/individuals which don’t have that skill, or have the controls in place that might be present legally/ethically here, not only have that ability, but have been working in similar manners.

Don’t just be so naive to dismiss the dangers when running towards the opportunities.
Don’t be so paralyzed by the dangers that you neglect running towards the opportunities.

The Bible App for Kids

Was really good to see this earlier in November that it was coming, and now its here. YouVersion has released The Bible App for Kids – an animated and achievement-oriented Bible application for Apple iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire devices.

It something that I’ve already given a headsup to my God children and niece. Will be neat to see how/if The Bible App for Kids morphs into other languages and cultures – not only speaking the Word in a language kids can hear, but also offering kids an opportunity to see how other kids look and interact with the Bible.

Visit The Bible App for Kids website to learn more and download.

Using Mobile, The Skeleton of Twitter

A simple question came to mind while reading an article at Bloomberg Businessweek talking about the technology behind Twitter. Here’s the part which poked at that question:

…Another of Twitter’s discoveries was that mobile phones could work as a broadcast platform. This was something of a miracle of timing: A massive proportion of its traffic today comes from mobile devices. The short length of the tweet was perfect for celebrities in limousines to communicate with thousands, and later millions, of followers. The tiny payload of tweets could be easily jammed into narrow mobile phone data streams, giving people a real-time flow of information…

The article is really clear and simple about what’s going on behind Twitter in terms of how its technically designed. And here comes the question – specifically for those building mobile ministry projects?

Do you understand the depth of interactions that happen on mobile? Does your mobile ministry solution build on the basic behavior, or on top of another’s technology that does?

Post your comments here or on Twitter (@mobileminmag or use #mobmin in your response)

Geek Fest Presentation

A bit late, but definitely as interactive as it gets from these parts. The presentation from Thursday’s Geek Fest is now viewable by all:

What Mobile Experiences Are Left?
A lot of what we think about mobile has been shaped by the entertainment industry’s imaginations, manufacturer’s designs and marketing, and the wonderment of of friends and family. In light of that, it almost seems like there’s nothing else left for mobile to unveil. I think mobile has a bit left to unveil. This talk will explore what’s happened and what’s to come, and why its not so far away from your fingertips.

A Bit More About this Presentation

There’s a bit more that’s gone into presentations as MMM has evolved. Some years ago, we started experimenting with the idea of taking the focus of the presentation off of the presenter and the projector and putting it into the hands of those attending. A further evolution from there was to reinvent the slide deck along our mobile-first mindset and develop interaction decks which looked and acted betted on mobiles than they would on 100+in screens. This presentation goes a few steps further in terms of the plumbing and connectivity involved.

First, the outline of the presentation was created using Dave Winer’s Fargo.io Outliner. As a starting point for thoughts, as well as a logical means to organize resources, Fargo will continue to be the backbone to presentations – or at least having an output in XML of what’s happening there.

Secondly, we used a lot of video in this presentation. That’s not normal, therefore YouTube was leveraged before their abilities to organize into a playlist the collection of videos, and allow those who produced those videos the space to be heard for their work. I liked how the videos were integrated into the storyline this time around, and will explore in future talks how to leverage some of the same (probably with other video or audio services, just to see what happens).

The slide deck is HTML5-driven. Technically, it uses a feature called AppCache in order to be saved to the viewer’s device/machine, so they can look at it later. Now, if they clear their browser cache, then they will not see the deck. There are linked assets in the deck which need a web connect too (the XML and videos) – and so it will not be completely viewable offline. It is interactive, and displays the points that needed to be conveyed. The UI is purposeful in directing attention – there are few ways to go backwards depending on the screen. Much like the Choose Your Own Adventure books of our past, its designed to let the story unfold as you read, instead of all at once.

If you have comments or questions about the content or tech used in this, please do not hesitate to ask. To view previous presentations and other assets created at MMM, see this page.

In the meanwhile, do take shots… you never know where they might end up.

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.

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.

Writing Your Own NFC Tags

NFC tags with phone

For those folks looking at person-to-person (p2p) transmission methods, NFC has held a lot of potential, especially when you get past the payments processing end of the conversation. NFC – near-field communications – is something that some feature and smartphones have which enables them to transfer, read, and even write data to tags, which can be read by other devices. What is read/written can be as simple as contact information, or as complicated as a means to shutting on/off functionality.

Over at All About Symbian, there’s a detailed guide on the subject of writing NFC tags, with some good points about what works and doesn’t work from the perspective of Windows Phone devices.

However, one of the lowest-tech and simplest uses for NFC though is in a phone picking up information from a ‘tag’, usually embedded in a poster/sticker, in a business card or badge. The tag is indicated with a logo or arrow or other instruction and you tap the appropriate bit of your NFC-equipped phone to the tag.

And, as you’ll have seen from the idea picking up steam in the Android world from manufacturers like Sony and Samsung, this information doesn’t have to be a URL or contact data, it can also be (admittedly platform specific) shortcut to an application or setting. The other really important thing to note is that any NFC-equipped smartphone can not only read from NFC tags, it can also program them, at least it can when equipped with the right application.

Check out this guide, and even look into using NFC tags for various items in personal and organizational use. Just looking at the image attached to this post, it might make sense to do some “swag” which has writable NFC tags built-in that folks can overwrite and explore other usages with. A scenario that comes to mind is the NFC bracelet – have a branded bracelet for the upcoming MMF Consultation, but then a writable NFC tag enclosed that allows participants to either put a link to their presentation materials, contact information, or something else which might be worth the quick connect.

What might you do with NFC tags and their devices? The limits are your imagination.