Category Archives: Technology

On Boredom (and Church)

I had the pleasure of hearing Genevieve Bell speak at the Design Extravaganza in Austin a week ago, and her talk blew me away. She wove together a narrative about the history of our Terminator-style “machines will kill us!” fear. Along the way, she revealed the value of an anthropological approach in upending the cultural assumptions we bring to addressing problems and identified several changes that lead to socio-technological anxiety. (I’ll post a link when the video comes online.)

Anyway, with her talk still poking around in my brain, I went to watch her TEDx Sydney talk from a year ago. In that presentation, Bell lifts up the value of boredom.

Sidebar: I must say, her speech was particularly convicting as I watched it on my laptop…while eating dinner…and attempting to ignore the nagging thoughts about a couple freelance projects, two final presentations, and a diagram that I need to create before the first quarter at AC4D wraps up on Saturday. (Oh, and I’m also working with my team to frame up next quarter’s research projects so we can submit proposals to get access to some area schools…)

Near the end, she offers an example of a church in Korea and suggests that church can offer a place where people have a different relationship to time and space. I’d suggest watching the talk in full, and I’d love to hear your take on her proposition.

What I Learned From a Banana…

This is a banana:

It was the outcome of my first foray into Adobe Illustrator CS6. The still image likely betrays the angst and frustration that went into figuring out how to form a pretty basic shape. Managing the pen tool to create curves. Figuring out how to manipulate anchor points and handles. Learning a few basic keyboard shortcuts so I didn’t have to keep clicking back and forth between the vector image and the application’s panels and palettes. Cursing at my trackpad because I didn’t think to bring my mouse to class.

The next day, I tried again, this time with the help of a mouse, an external monitor, and a bit more confidence than in my first exploration.

Starting from scratch was much easier, and I discovered little tricks (through lots of Google searches) that led to this version:

Throughout the rest of the week, Adobe has made me feel like I’m in 8th grade again, full of drama and angst. My classmates and I have celebrated our accomplishments and discoveries, only to groan when we hit the next roadblock approximately four clicks later and resort to a series of Command-Z keystrokes.

Today, though, as I closed out an Illustrator file filled with a cluster of grapes, I realized I’ve only been working in Illustrator for a week. I’m surprised how quickly I’ve been able to move from complete novice to feeling comfortable creating objects in Illustrator.

And my surprise isn’t only about semi-successfully hacking my way through a complicated software program.

Matt and Pat, the instructors for our Studio class who are putting us through this emotional bootcamp, explained that these projects aren’t about fruit in vector format. They’re not about learning to use clipping masks or gradient meshes. They’re not even about Adobe Illustrator, really. Instead, Matt and Pat are challenging us with tools that will enable us to communicate and document ideas.

Jon Kolko’s words struck me in class the other day. When we’re creating a product or service–or even a presentation, there are lots of reasons not to do something. But it shouldn’t be because we can’t use the tools to pull off what we envision.

I’m definitely trying to embrace the messy, inefficient discovery process. Through the challenges, our class has started to bond and collaborate more deeply, and we’re discovering how scrappy and resourceful we can be–even working on tight schedules with minimal prior knowledge.

And I learned all of this thanks to a silly little banana.

(Also posted on the AC4D blog.)

Friday Fun: Chase No Face

This video blew me away and got me thinking about the future of interacting with technology. Check it out.

Chase No Face / BELL from zach lieberman on Vimeo.

And if you’re intrigued and have a few minutes, I highly suggest reading Steve Clayton’s compelling story about what his two-year-old daughter has taught him about technology and the closing digital/physical divide.

(via swiss-miss and psfk)

Blogging on the iPad

I’m not necessarily an early adopter when it comes to technology…at least when it comes to hardware. I’d rather let others work out the kinks and then take advantage of the second (or later) iteration. (Trying out low-commitment software and apps is another story.)

I finally jumped in and ordered my early birthday present–the iPad 2. So far, no shocker, I’m really liking it. In fact, I’ve even gotten over my fear that the glass keyboard wouldn’t work as well as a tactile bluetooth keyboard and typed this post in landscape mode using the free PlainText app.

I still have a lot to learn when it comes to gestures and what this new toy/tool will mean for my daily workflows, but I think I may be blogging on the iPad more than I expected. For starters, it’s much harder to get distracted from the “page” in front of me and jump over to Twitter, Facebook, or Gmail/Google+. I need to actively take myself off task instead of bump a hot corner that brings open all the other tempting windows I’ve got open on my laptop.

And who knows, maybe I’ll take a note from Adam Walker Cleaveland and start presenting from my iPad.

All I know is that this little tablet is big. It’s going to change the way education happens, and in turn, the ways our ministries work.

– –

Ok, so I found a hiccup. I wrote this post on my iPad, but had trouble with the WordPress app when I tried to convert this into a draft. Also couldn’t figure out how to add links. So technically, this post was written on the iPad, saved to Dropbox, and published from a laptop. 
(photo via connorsmac)

The power of YouTube

I finally took time to watch this TED Talk featuring Eric Whitacre, a composer who conducted a virtual choir through YouTube. He recently released a new work (on YouTube, of course!) called Sleep, which features over 2,000 voices and is definitely worth watching.

As much as the works of music, I love how this virtual choir project demonstrates the power of social technology to create beauty and community.

If you don’t have time to watch the full TED Talk, at least check out “Lux Aurumque” and “Sleep“.

(ht Greg Bolt)

Gadgets & Apps

A friend of mine recently posted a link to a NY Times article about which gadgets to ditch now that so many of our machines have multiple functions. The author suggested keeping books with one exception:

But there is one area where printed matter is going to give way to digital content: cookbooks. Martha Stewart Makes Cookies a $5 app for the iPad, is the wave of the future. Every recipe has a photo of the dish (something far too expensive for many printed cookbooks).

Complicated procedures can be explained by an embedded video. When something needs to be timed, there’s a digital timer built right into the recipe. You can e-mail yourself the ingredients list to take to the grocery store. The app does what cookbooks cannot, providing a better version of everything that came before it.

I checked out the app store, and it looks pretty cool. This new “cookbook” look beautiful, and it takes advantage of the iPad’s features to create an experience that improves upon what’s available in a printed book.

So as someone who lives in both ministry and publishing worlds, I’ve been thinking about what this means for the church. Sure, there are Bibles apps and the like, but often they seems to be just digitized versions of printed materials. What would it look like to take advantage of the features available on these integrated devices?

Your thoughts?

Newsflash: We Have Poor Cell Phone Etiquette

Here’s a shocker: People who responded to an Intel survey said our mobile device etiquette is getting worse. The top three pet peeves are:

  1. using mobile devices while driving (73 percent)
  2. talking on a device loudly in public places (65 percent)
  3. using a mobile device while walking on the street (28 percent)*

Not too surprising. Neither is a line in the report that said 92 percent of the adults surveyed wish people practiced better mobile manners in public, but only 19 percent admitted to their own poor etiquette.

Confession: Sometimes I’m a mobile “slob.” In fact, while I really like my Samsung Epic smartphone, I have noticed my own Pavlovian response each time it buzzes. (And sometimes even when it doesn’t.) It kind of frightens me to consider how dependent I’ve become on a small device that contains my contact lists, Twitter and Facebook feeds, applications, news, camera, entertainment, and more.

So I try to set boundaries. (Or more accurately, my husband, Brent, tries to set boundaries.) Like keeping my phone in my purse when I go out to eat. And no texting while driving. I also try to enforce a put-it-away policy for youth and myself during confirmation large group time at church.

But I’ve been guilty of passenger seat phone calls with family members while Brent drives to the grocery store. And checking emails or Facebook updates at workshops. And many worse offenses, I’m sure.

What about you? How frequently do you check your mobile device(s)? What “public displays of technology” do you conduct? Do you have any boundaries on your personal tech-etiquette? What about expectations for others around you?

*While I also find walking under the influence of technology annoying, watching someone fall into a mall fountain because of mobile-induced blinders is kind of funny!

John Cleese & Cultivating Creativity

I’m notorious for being too connected to my laptop (running multiple applications and bouncing between at least 5 tabs in my browser). But this often means that I get drawn in by emails, alerts, and checklists and don’t take time to process what I’m encountering, consider my own perspective, or actually make something.

So I’m scheduling out some “unplugged” time each day when I shut down my laptop and block out time to think, synthesize, reflect, and create something original.

And if I need a little more support breaking my addiction, maybe I should invest $10 for some Freedom.

So a question for you: how do you cultivate creative space?

(via Neuronarrative)

Linkabout: February 19 Edition

Links to five things that have been inspiring me this week.

In no particular order:

  1. Innovation/LeadershipFast Company Design lifts up Apple and IKEA and offers an argument for why designers–not users–should drive innovation.
  2. reports that youth in a Naperville, Illinois, high school who participated in physical activity just before classes improved reading and math scores. What if we had fitness classes before
  3. EducationRSA Animate offers a video illustration of one of Sir Ken Robinson’s talks on how our education systems are killing creativity.
  4. Technology/Youth Ministry: danah boyd writes about teens, Twitter, and managing privacy in public. A favorite line from the article: “Access to content is not the same as access to interpretation.”
  5. Ministry: Rachel Held Evans reflects on the Epic Fail Pastors’ Conference and encourages pastors to tell the truth and be more transparent with their own struggles.