Archive for the culture Category

An Hour and Twenty-Two Minutes of My Thoughts on Digital Publishing

Posted in culture, publishing, video with tags , on November 11, 2008 by Aaron

I somehow totally missed talking about this on my blog.

A few months ago, I was invited to speak at the ECPA’s PUBu event.  The ECPA is the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.  The Publishing University event is strictly for a publishing audience, with workshops designed to instruct and share ideas of what’s going on in the publishing space.  I was asked to lead two workshops:

1) Consumer Interaction with Digital Devices and the Creative Commons

2) Moderate a teen panel on their habits and use of technology

In putting together the Digital Devices/Creative Commons presentation, I was given two goals: introduce the attendees to a variety of devices and introduce them to Creative Commons (so please note, my techno-savvy friends: much of the content here will be introductory to you.  You can skip to the end where I briefly get to talk about the future of publishing.  Maybe a full presentation on publishing futures next year?).  Digital devices and the Creative Commons are two very disparate goals.  As I was putting it together, however, I think I was able to meld the two into a fairly informative presentation.

It is, to be honest, quite the lengthy presentation (and one that I had to rush towards the end as we were running out of time).  I’ve gotten permission from the ECPA to post the presentation, in it’s entirety, here on the blog.  Feel free to watch some of it (or the whole thing, if you think I’m awesome).  You can download the actual PowerPoint presentation here.


The Microsoft Question: Supporting a ‘Cesspool of Evil’?

Posted in culture, life of linne, of the spiritual with tags on July 28, 2008 by Aaron

A while back I added some contact information to my blog page so people could easily get ahold of me.  It’s my personal opinion that, with the kind of blog I write, to be as transparent as comfortably possible.  If people want to get ahold of me, I’d love for them to.  I’m open to conversation and I love meeting new people.  Through people coming to this blog and through me reading other blogs, I’ve already gotten to meet some pretty amazing people.  Tonight, I got my first random phone call.

I did not get a chance to ask if I could talk about him on the blog, so I’ll call him Bruce (not his real name).

Bruce called and quickly introduced himself to me over the phone before launching into his reason for calling: Bruce wanted to know how I, as a Christian, could support Microsoft.

Now, let me first put a bit of context around my response.  The most important disclaimer is that, during this conversation and, as such on this bog, I made it very clear that is a personal blog and I do not speak in any way, shape or form as a representative of any Southern Baptist entity on this blog.  While I have the freedom to occasionally talk about my work or make note of the digital products LifeWay has released, the context of this blog is as digital media practitioner, who happens to be a LifeWay enthusiast, a gaming enthusiast, a comic book enthusiast and, of course, a spiritual matters enthusiast.

Bruce’s concern is that he sees a Microsoft as, and I quote, a “cesspool of evil.”  According to Bruce, Microsoft is the number one proponent of abortion and “gays” in the world.  He later clarified that it was actually the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that was the number one proponent, but – according to Bruce – Microsoft and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are the same thing.

Instead of supporting the evil that is Microsoft, Bruce – a Linux enthusiast – I, as a Christian, have a moral obligation to use an alternative operating system (specifically, Ubuntu Linux).

My Technical Response

Bruce was quite concerned that I own a Zune, that I attended a Vista launch party, and that I like the Xbox.  In his mind, there were alternative MP3 players, that Ubuntu is better than Vista in EVERY way (literally), and that gaming is, well, evil.

When it comes to computing I am, for the most part, platform-agnostic.  I choose the best technology for the job, the best software for the tool.  I like Final Cut for editing, but use Microsoft Expression Encoder for any encoding.  I like Motion for simple lower thirds, but love After Effects for the complex stuff.  I like Photoshop and Illustrator for image design, but Like Microsoft Expression Web for webpages.  I used OpenOffice in college, but like the advances Office 2007 has made.  I’ll only code in Microsoft’s programming tools because they are so darned perfect for beginners like me.

From a purely technical standpoint, if you a creating content to be utilized by the widest possible range of people, you MUST have a Windows box.  At the very least, to test on.  It’s a must.  To ignore at least doing some quality assurance on a Windows box is equivalent to not testing your content for 95% of your audience.  It’s content-suicide to ignore Windows users.

I thought it was interesting the Bruce suggested that I just run Windows as a virtual machine on a Linux box.  Doesn’t that defeat the point of “not supporting evil Microsoft” by… well… supporting them?

I appreciate the fanboy support for alternative systems.  Like I’ve previously said on the blog, I used to be quite the Apple fanboy.  But there comes a time when you’re in the actual business of producing content that you realize that every system has it’s strengths and weaknesses.  You may not see them in your daily work, but other people use systems differently.  Is Vista perfect?  No.  Is OSX?  No.  Is Linux?  Yes (according to Bruce).  Sorry, but that narrow-mindedness just doesn’t work in a true business situation.

Linux machines are great for hosting webpages.  Unix machines are great for databases.  Macs are great for creative productivity and home usage.  Windows machines are great for office productivity, gaming and home usage.  I appreciate your passion, Bruce… but as someone who currently has a Mac G5, two Vista machines and two PCs with linux distros installed on them (that haven’t needed to be turned on since we moved to the new house)… I know how to use the best tool for the job.

My Spiritual Response

So the question remains (even though the majority of our conversation was Bruce explaining to me how/why I should use Linux): what is the moral and spiritual ramifications of using Microsoft tools and – thus – supporting them and their supposed support of immoral activity.

Let me just be upfront and be transparent in my ignorance: I simply do not know how Microsoft invests its money nor how it is they may support immoral activity.  When pressed for examples, Bruce said he had articles about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supporting planned parenthood in Africa (a quick Google search pulls up this article on the topic).  Here’s my problem with Bruce’s line of thought on this particular issue: Microsoft is a separate entity to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

As I tried to seperate the two in the conversation, Bruce adamantly said that “we all know that Microsoft is Bill Gates and Bill Gates is Microsoft.”  I find this a troubling perspective on an organization, the undermines the lives (and opinions, families, morals and souls) of any organization’s employees.  I also think that the nearly 90,000 Microsoft employees would disagree with Bruce and suggest that Microsoft is made up of more than just a retired founder.

Irregardless, we’re still left with the lingering question: is it morally ok to purchase products or content produced by a company who we’ve been told support immoral activities (whatever you define as immoral)?

I’m not 100% sure what my opinion on this topic is.  In Acts, Paul uses a statue of an unknown god to tell the story of Christ.  He doesn’t chastise theme for creating the sculpture, but instead utilizes the ways of their culture to tell the story.  Are we not allowed to do the same with today’s story-telling mediums, of the digital kind?  Where this breaks down, of course, is that Paul did not pay the sculptor to chisel out the statue.

I don’t know that I have an answer for this particular question.  I think that it’s ok to have some tension in our spiritual decisions.  On the specific topic of Microsoft, I’m as of yet unaware of any intentional “immoral activity.”  Which leads to another spiritual question: if I’m ignorant of a corporation’s wrongdoings, does it absolve me from any personal wrongs in supporting their questionable activity?  And, of course, this leads into one more question: what makes a corporation’s activities “immoral?”  In my MBA courses we would talk extensively about social responsibility of corporations and there are some definitive wrongdoings (breaking the law, killing people, etc etc)… but a corporation’s culture can never match all of the opinions of all of its customers (and non-customers who want to critique said company).  This will continue to be a topic for me to think about and explore.


In our conversation, I told Bruce that he sounded more like he was angry with me than he was concernedabout me.  He agreed: he told me that he was angry at the sin and that we are supposed to hate evil.  That Microsoft was evil and that my support of them is evil.  At this, my heart broke.

I don’t really know what Bruce’s intentions were.  I found some of his comments on other blogs on the topics of politics, fundamentalism and, of course, linux.  Bruce does seem to be passionate and have strong opinions.  But so much of his language and posts (and our conversation) seemed fueled by anger, hatred and pride.  There is no question to me that he deems himself a better person, more “holy,” and wiser than me because he uses the Ubuntu and I use Vista.

Ultimately, in the end, I’m not sure Christ is going to judge me based on what operating system I used to mesh my physical and digital lives.  I’m not sure Christ is going to care whether I used Final Cut or Adobe Premiere to edit video to tell His story, the story of LifeWay, or the snippets of my life on YouTube.

What concerns me is how things like this must look to people outside the church.  If Christian fight over the morality of operating systems… where is the love there?  Where is the grace?  If a brother in Christ prayed before calling me and approached me in anger – and he admitted he did both – where does that bring in the holiness and morality Bruce was seeking in choosing the “right” operating system?

Bruce: I appreciate your sincerity in calling me and sharing your passions with me.  If you have found a company to be of immoral repute and feel the need to educate and question people’s support thereof, I encourage you to do so in a mature, loving manner.  But next time let us talk about the spiritual matters and cultural ramifications.  Here’s to hoping this post did not offend you, nor is of immoral substinance.  It was, after all, written using Internet Explorer running on WIndows Vista.

i will buy this, and welcome our new musical robot overlords

Posted in culture, life of linne on June 20, 2008 by Aaron

Sega and Hasbro just announced a robot that follows you around playing music.  Oh joyous triumph of science!  I look forward to my ways of walking around the office with a robot following me through the halls playing my theme music, Also Sprach Zathura.

Article here.

Videos here.

example of a new media culture

Posted in culture, life of linne with tags on June 16, 2008 by Aaron

just when I think we’re going in the right direction and making breakthroughs… i find an example of a new media culture that defies all sense of progress I have. gets it. I mean, really gets it. Why/how? Their employees are all pretty much given the freedom to love their job and talk about it. Since many of their employees are young adults, this kind of stuff in simply inherent in their work/life style.

Stumbling around YouTube brought up a bunch of zappos-related users:

insidezappos, zappos, zapposlv

i mean… this video right here shows the genius of their new media marketing scheme:

Why is this so genius? It has nothing at all to do with the products they sell, it doesn’t direct you to their website, it does NOTHING traditional. But what it does do is give you a sense of a great work environment with characters for employees. Which means they’re going to get the best creative talent, and their mundane tasks will be done by people who love that kind of work environment. Who loves that kind of environment? Young adults.

I couldn’t imagine the ease of working in a new media culture that comes naturally, instead of trying to lead the development of one…

You can check out the place they aggregate all this content at their blog, here.

Macromarketing vs Micromarketing

Posted in business, culture, intent to interact, life of linne, video with tags , on June 10, 2008 by Aaron

It’s an ugly word that’s surrounded by controversy into today’s hyper-transparency culture: marketing.  But is there a difference between macromarketing with one consistent message, and micromarketing and targeting the real needs and interests of individuals?  Is there a place for marketing ideas in the Church?  And, if so, what are the macro and micro messages we are sending?

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Digital Media Marketing Stats

Posted in business, culture, freelance, podcast, video on June 5, 2008 by Aaron

Here’s the video I created for our marketing team’s internal presentation on moving towards digital media for marketing:

What’s Really Happening with Rob Bell

Posted in culture, life of linne, of the spiritual with tags , on May 8, 2008 by Aaron

Rob Bell seems to be a touchy subject for a lot of Christians.  So I’m not going to touch any of that… I just wanted to explore about with what’s actually happening with Rob Bell.

Last weekend, we got to have dinner with our good friend, Finn, and his family to celebrate his graduation from Belmont University.  We sat across from this grandparents, and we talked about ministry and churches all night long.  It was wonderful to have the ears and attention of solid, devout Christians who were older, more mature, and knew more than us.  One of the topics that we talked about was this:

Preaching is becoming an archaic, specialized form of communication.  We could only come up with two things in life that are similar in the approach and methods of most sermons: university lectures and formal presentations at work.  As such, it seldom matters how good a communicator is or what their topic is… most people nowadays simply don’t know how to process a sermon.  It’s either too much information or not presented correctly (for me, it’s too slow… I take in much more information in a much shorter time period every day at work).

Now then, if this is a problem for Christ-followers… what must it be like for a new Christian or someone who is just exploring faith and life?  To never have been exposed to a “worship service” before and to walk in and have to follow the lead of the crowd around them and listen in a way that they simply have never done before… is that a good perception ofwhat it means to be learning?  What, then is the point of preaching if not to teach… and if the point is to teach, then what are our churches learning?

So why is Rob Bell being so successful with preaching?  If you don’t think he is, that’s ok.  But there are few people who have as many DVDs of their teaching as Rob does, and less that have gone on tour with their sermons (and then sold them as successful DVDs).

Rob’s teachings are like songs.  They crescendo and repeat and become famliar.  He teaches in a way that introduces you to ideas and concepts like you already knew them.  He’s turning teaching into art.

I don’t want to talk about whether his content is good or not; this isn’t the place for that and – quite humbly – I’m not enough of a Biblical scholar to tell you a valid opinion to your arguments.  But what amazes me is how he turns delivering a message into an art.  Just check out one of his nooma videos; one glance will tell you that he’s got skilled people working to make a short film and they are passionate about doing so.

Rob isn’t alone.  He has a team that put together the message into an artform for those videos – I know, because their names are on the credits.  And in his sermons at his church, he often tag-teams with other speakers, to get the message just right.  Regulary, he turns into a character on the stage, turning to the theatrical.

I’m not sure what’s happening with sermons across the expanse of the church in the United States… but what’s happening with Rob is he’s turning it into an artform.  And I will listen and learn and recall a song long before I can recall a sermon…