Last Sunday I have a presentation to Haddonfield (N.J.) Meeting’s adult First-day school class about “Sharing the Good News with Social Media.” As I prepared I found I was less and less interested in the techniques of Facebook, etc., than I was in how outreach has historically worked for Friends.
For an early, short, period Quakers were so in-your-face and notorious that they could draw a crowd just by walking a few miles up the road to the next town. More recently, we’ve attracted newcomers as much by the example of our lives than by any outreach campaign. When I talk to adult newcomers, they often cite some Quaker example in their lives–a favorite teacher or delightfully eccentric aunt.
People can sense when there’s something of greater life in the way we approach our work, friendships, and families. Let me be the first in line to say I’m horribly imperfect. But there are Quaker techniques and values and folkways that are guides to genuinely good ways to live in the world. There’s nothing exclusively Quaker about them (indeed, most come from careful reading of the Gospels and Paul’s letters), but they are tools our religious community has emphasized and into which we’ve helped each other live more fully.
In the last fifteen years, the ways Friends are known has undergone a radical transformation. The Internet has made us incredibly easy to find and research. This is a mixed blessing as it means others are defining who we are. Careful corporate discernment conducted through long-developed techniques of Quaker process are no match for the “edit” button in Wikipedia or some commercial site with good page rank.
That said, I think people still are discovering Friends through personal examples. George Fox told us to be patterns and examples in the world and to answer that of God in everyone. A lot of our exampling and answering today is going to be on the threaded comments of Facebook and Twitter. What will they find? Do we use Facebook like everyone else, trolling, spamming, engaging in flame wars, focusing on ourselves? Or do Quaker folkways still apply. Here are some questions that I regularly wrestle with:
- When I use social media, am I being open, public, and transparent?
- Am I careful to share that which is good and eternal rather than titillating for its own sake?
- Do I remember that the Good News is simply something we borrow to share and that the Inward Christ needs to do the final delivery into hearts?
- Do I pray for those I disagree with? Do I practice holding my tongue when my motivation is anger or jealousy?
What struggles do others face? What might be our online folkways?
Yesterday Friends Journal asked its Facebook and Twitter followers to finish the sentence “Testimonies are important because they are ___.” Here’s a word cloud of their answers. This survey comes from Eric Moon’s article, “Categorically Not the Testimonies,” in the June/July issue.
When I first started blogging fifteen years ago, the process was simple. I’d open up a file, hand-edit the HTML code and upload it to a webserver–those were the days! Now every social web service is like a blog unto itself. The way I have them interact is occasionally dizzying even to me. Recently a friend asked on Facebook what people used Tumblr for, and I thought it might be a good time to survey my current web services. These shift and change constantly but perhaps others will find it an interesting snapshot of hooked-together media circa 2012.
The glue services you don’t see:
- Google Reader. I still try to keep up with about a hundred blogs, mostly spiritual in nature. The old tried-and-true Google Reader still organizes it all, though I often read it through the Android app NewsRob.
- Diigo. This took the place of the classic social bookmarking site Delicious when it had a near-death experience a few years ago (it’s never come back in a form that would make me reconsider it). Whenever I see something interesting I want to share, I post it here, where it gets cross-posted to my Twitter and Tumblr sites. I’ve bookmarked over 4500 sites over the last seven-plus years. It’s an essential archive that I use for remembering sites I’ve liked in the past. Diigo bookmarks that are tagged “Quaker” get sucked into an alternate route where they become editor features for QuakerQuaker.org.
- Pocket (formerly Read it Later). I’m in the enviable position that many of my personal interests overlap with my professional work. While working, I’ll often find some interesting Quaker article that I want to read later. Hence Pocket, a service that will instantly bookmark the site and make it available for later reading.
- Flipboard is a great mobile app that lets you read articles on topics you like. Combine it with Twitter lists and you have a personalized reading list. I use this every day, mostly for blogs and news sites I like to read but don’t consider so essential that I need to catch everything they publish.
- Ifttt.com. A handy service named after the logical construct “IF This, Then That,” Ifttt will take one social feed and cross-post it to another under various conditions. For example, I have Diigo posts cross-post to Twitter and Flickr posts crosspost to Facebook. Some of the Ifttt “recipies” are behind the scenes, like the one that takes every post on WordPress and adds it to my private Evernote account for archival purposes.
The Public-Facing Me:
- WordPress (Quakerranter.org). The blog you’re reading. It originally started as a Moveable Type-powered blog when that was the hip blogging platform (I’m old). A few years ago I went through a painstaking process to bring it over to WordPress in such a way that its Disqus-powered comments would be preserved.
- Twitter. I’ve long loved Twitter, though like many techies I’m worried about the direction it’s headed. They’ve recently locked most of the services that read Twitter feeds and reprocess it. If this weren’t happening, I’d use it as a default channel for just about everything. In the meantime, only about half of my tweets are direct from the service–the remainder are auto-imports from Diigo, Instagram, etc.
- Tumblr (QuackQuack.org). I like Tumblr although my site there (quackquack.org) gets very few direct visits. I mostly use it as a “links blog” of interesting things I find in my internet wanderings. Most items come in via Diigo, though if I have time I’ll supplement things with my own thoughts or pictures. Most people probably see this via the sidebar of the QuakerRanter site.
- Facebook. It may seem I post a lot on Facebook, but 95 percent of what goes up there is imported from some other service. But, because more people are on Facebook than anywhere else, it’s the place I get the most comments. I generally use it to reply to comments and see what friends are up to. I don’t like Facebook per se because of its paternalist controls on what can be seen and its recent moves to force content providers to pay for visibility for their own fan pages.
- Flickr. Once the darling of photo sites, Flickr’s been the heartbreak of the hipster set more times than I can remember. It has a terrible mobile app and always lags behind every other service but I have over 4000 pictures going back to 2005. This is my photo archive (much more so than the failing disk drives on a succession of laptops).
- I use Foursquare all the time but I don’t think many people notice it.
- Right now, most of my photos start off with the mobile app Instagram, handy despite the now-tired conceit of its square format (cute when it was the artsy underdog, cloying now that it’s the billion-dollar mainstream service).
- Like most of the planet I use Youtube for videos. I like Vimeo but Youtube is particularly convenient when shooting from a Google-based phone and it’s where the viewers are.
- I gave up my old custom site at MartinKelley.com for a Flavors.me account. Its flexibility lets me easily link to the services I use.
When I write all this out it seems so complicated. But the aim is convenience: a simple few keystrokes that feed into services disseminate information across a series of web presences.
This is just so depressing: the Facebook gorilla has bought its second mobile photo sharing app in recent weeks. Lightbox was a great app. It auto-posted to everything I cared about (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Foursquare, Flickr) but also had its own beautiful website that kept it above the fray. Lightbox (my account is/was at http://martinkelley.lightbox.com/) was what Flickr should have and could have become and it let me enjoy the fantasy while also dual-posting to Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/martin_kelley), which has stored my photos since Mark Zuckerberg was in training diapers. For more on the Flickr that never was, see today’s piece in Gizmodo, “How Yahoo Killed Flickr and Lost the Internet.”
Lightbox is joining Facebook!
We started Lightbox because we were excited about creating new services built primarily for mobile, especially for the Android and HTML5 platforms, and we’re honored that millions of you have…
View post on Google+
I’m part of a discussion at the Pendle Hill conference center outside Philadelphia next month. Everyone’s invited. It’s a rare chance to really bring a lot of different readers and media producers (official and DIY) together into the same room to map out where Quaker media is headed. If you’re a passionate reader or think that Quaker publications are vital to our spiritual movement, then do try to make it out.
Youtube, Twitter, podcasts, blogs, books. Where’s it all going and who’s doing it? How does it tie back to Quakerism? What does it mean for Friends and our institutions? Join panelists Charles Martin, Gabriel Ehri and Martin Kelley, along with Quaker publishers and writers from around the world, and readers and media enthusiasts, for a wide-ranging discussion about the future of Quaker media.
We will begin with some worship at 7.00pm If you’d like a delicious Pendle Hill dinner beforehand please reply to the Facebook event wall (see http://on.fb.me/quakermedia). Dinner is at 6.00pm and will cost $12.50
This is part of this year’s Quakers Uniting in Publications conference. QUIP has been having to re-imagine its role over the last ten years as so many of its anchor publishers and bookstores have closed. I have a big concern that a lot of online Quaker material is being produced by non-Quakers and/or in ways that aren’t really rooted in typical Quaker processes. Maybe we can talk about that some at Pendle Hill.
My long-running blog over at http://quakerranter.org has been out of the loop for awhile. I don’t often have the time for long-form blogging. The style of classic blogging feels less immediate nowadays: Facebook, Google Plus, Tumblr, etc. are easier to post to and get more responses. The immediacy of the social networks provides mini ego boosts. The staff at the hospital where my daughter Laura was born last week invited me to bring my camera phone into the operating room to take pictures of the new one. The hospital had public wifi so it was just a click of a button to share it to Facebook. I was receiving my first rounds of aww’s and congratulations before my wife has even been stitched up.
But being an early blogger (starting nearly a decade before Facebook became an open network), I know that the most influential posts took months and even years to make a difference. It’s not very revolutionary to find out your friends are your friends, which is 90% of Facebook commentary. Personal change happena when you meet someone new; cultural change happens when you’re exposed to people whose ideas are new to you. On the internet that happens at two in the morning when you wonder whether anyone has made a connection between two ideas obsessing you–the unexpected results in a Google search can change how you understand the world. It can starts you down the path of a new self-identity. It doesn’t matter if the post is a couple of years old: what matters is that it’s speaking to the spiritual condition of that searcher.
I know this (and I’ve written about it before) but I still tend toward short social media posts. So I’m going to integrate my Google Plus account with my WordPress-powered blog at Quakerranter.org. I’m picking Google Plus because it’s where I’ve found myself writing the more thoughtful bits and pieces. A neat WordPress plug in called Google Plus Blog (link below) will help the integration.
The Google+ musings of Daniel Treadwell
Google+ Blog Concept — Daniel Treadwell. View your Google+ Posts in the form of a clean and simple blog. Also home of the Google+Blog WordPress plugin.
As I’ve used G+ more the last week, I’ve realized the service that feels the most redundant is my Tumblr account (on the custom domain http://www.quackquack.org). I started the Tumblr because I wanted something more “mine” than Facebook, a place where my photos and links would live independently. But how silly–Tumblr is just a hosted service that I ultimately have no control over.
So what’s different with G+ and Facebook? I think it’s the sense that Google will archive things. It feels like everything disappears after it ages off of the FB feed. #blog
Miscellanea from Martin Kelley
Google+: View post on Google+