Screening

In ancient times culture revolved around the spoken word. The oral skills of memorization, recitation, and rhetoric instilled in oral societies a reverence for the past, the ambiguous, the ornate, and the subjective. We were People of the Word. Then, about 500 years ago, orality was overthrown by technology. Gutenberg’s 1450 invention of metallic movable type elevated writing into a central position in the culture. By the means of cheap and perfect copies, printed text became the engine of change and the foundation of stability. From printing came journalism, science, libraries, and law. Printing instilled in society a reverence for precision (of black ink on white paper), an appreciation for linear logic (in a string of sentences), a passion for objectivity (of printed fact), and an allegiance to authority (via authors), whose truth was as fixed and final as a book.

But today more than 5 billion digital screens illuminate our lives. Digital display manufacturers will crank out 3.8 billion new additional screens per year. That’s nearly one new screen each year for every human on earth. We will start putting watchable screens on any flat surface. Words have migrated from wood pulp to pixels on a glass surface in a rainbowof colors as fast as our eyes can blink. Screens fill our pockets, briefcases, dashboards, living room walls, and the sides of buildings. They sit in front of us when we work – regardless of what we do. We are now People of the Screen.

This has set up the current cultural clash between People of the Book and People of the Screen. The People of the Book today are the good hardworking people who make newspapers, magazines, the doctrines of law, the offices of regulation, and the rules of finance. They live by the book, by the authority derived from authors. The foundation of this culture is ultimately housed in texts. They are all on the same page, so to speak.

But today most of us have become People of the Screen. People of the Screen tend to ignore the classic logic of books or the reverence for copies; they prefer the dynamic flux of pixels. They gravitate toward movie screens, TV screens, computer screens, iPhone screens, VR goggle screens, tablet screens, and in the near future massive Day-Glo megapixel screens plastered on every surface. Screen culture is a world of constant flux, of endless sound bites, quick cuts, and half-baked ideas. It is a flow of tweets, headlines, instagrams, casual texts, and floating first impressions. Notions don’t stand alone but are massively interlinked to everything else; truth is not delivered by authors and authorities but is assembled in real time piece by piece by the audience themselves. People of the Screen make their own content and construct their own truth. Fixed copies don’t matter as much as flowing access. Screen culture is fast, like a 30-second movie trailer, and as liquid as and open-ended as a Wikipedia page.

People of the Book favor solutions by laws, while People of the Screen favor technology as a solution to all problems. Truth is, we are in a transition, and the clash between cultures of books and screens occurs within us as individuals as well. If you are an educated modern person, you are conflicted by these two models.

– from “The Inevitable” by Kevin Kelly

Don’t Worry — You’re Normal (For A Writer, Anyway)

by Kerry Connelly

 

Who’s bright idea was this, anyway?

They should have stopped me. Why didn’t they stop me?

This sucks. Like, it literally sucks any sense of self-esteem I have right out the window, it’s so bad.

Nobody is ever going to want to read this silly drivel.

Who cares about this? I don’t even think I care about this any more. Who’s idea was this, anyway?

Hey, now. That’s not so bad, that part right there…

 

Welcome to my inner dialogue. It happens every single time I write — whether it’s a blog post, a paper for school (I’m pursuing my MDiv) or my book manuscript. It’s almost a given that at any point in time, no matter how excited I am when I start out on a project, about half-way through this nasty little voice of mine will rear its ugly head and start in with its nonsense.

In addition to being a writer, however, I’m also a Certified Life Coach, and so I know a handy little secret: this cycle of mental chatter is totally normal, and knowing that is half the battle. When you understand that this voice has very little to do with your talent and ability and more to do with the way brain chemicals are released and impact your mood and desire to work on a project, you can understand that this is simply a part of the process, and you can lovingly push through the voice and continue to work.

The cycle goes like this:

1) Hey! I’m super excited about this! This is going to be amazing! I can’t wait to get started!

2) Okay, this is moving a little slower than I wanted but that’s ok. I got this.

3) Dear God, what have I done? I’m going to go back to waiting tables. At least I’m good at that.

4) Oh wait. That might be a good sentence, right there. Let’s keep going.

5) Hey! I’m super excited about this! This is going to be amazing! I can’t wait to finish this!

Here’s the breakdown: when we start a project, our brain gets excited and releases feel-good chemicals, but like any high — natural or otherwise — that only lasts for a bit. Once those happy little neuro-transmitters stop surging, so does our confidence. That’s when the voice starts getting chatty. When that happens, it could be a sign that it’s time to take a break, and go find something that will get your brain feeling good again. Then, you can come back and use those happy thoughts to propel your project across the finish line.

And most of all, remember: as much as us writers can be, you’re totally normal.  

 

Trust (part 2)

When copies [of virtually everything can be copied] are free, you need to sell things that cannot be copied. Well, what can’t be copied?

Trust, for instance. Trust cannot be reproduced in bulk. You can’t purchase trust wholesale. You can’t download trust and store it in a database of warehouse it. You can’t simply duplicate someone else’s trust. Trust must be earned, over time.  It cannot be faked. Or counterfeited (at least for long). Since we prefer to deal with someone we can trust, we will often pay a premium for that privilege. We call that branding. Brand companies can command higher prices for similar products and services from companies without brands because they are trusted for what they promise. So trust is an intangible that has increasing value in a copy-saturated world.

 

– Kevin Kelly “The Inevitable”

Flowing

The Internet is the world’s largest copy machine. At its most fundamental level this machine copies every action, every character, every thought we make while we ride upon it. In order to send a message from one corner of the Internet to another, the protocols of communication demand that the whole message be copied dozens of times in an ordinary day as the cycle through memory, cache, server, routers, and back. Tech companies make a lot of money selling equipment that facilitates this ceaseless copying. If something can be copied – a song, a movie, a book – and it touches the Internet, it will be copied.

 

– Kevin Kelly “The Inevitable”

Moving A Blog to A Website

Having a blog is an important element of online success.  Even with the increasing importance of social media, you still need an easily accessible repository of your rich content.  And not every concept can fit into 140 characters, so having a place to point to from Twitter is certainly a nice thing to have.  

 

In the past, a popular way to host a blog was through a blog hosting service. But now that website hosting has become so inexpensive and easy to do, many people are moving away from hosted blogs to their own website.  I won’t go into all the advantages of doing this, but among them are (1) having your own domain name – an important, and portable, branding element, (2) greater flexibility in website functionality, and (3) faster adoption of new technologies, such as those providing a great experience on small-screen devices such as phones and tablets.

 

But is it difficult to make the transition from a hosted blog to a blog on your own website?  If you’ve been using a hosted blog based on WordPress, and you want to move to a WordPress website, you are in luck. You can easily export your blog articles to a file, then upload the file to your new WordPress website.  Depending upon the different themes used for the hosted blog and the new website, you may need to do some tweaking with the look and feel. But your content should be there, safe and sound!

Father James Martin: “A Discussion on Spiritual Writing”

The Rev. James Martin is a Jesuit priest, best-selling author, and editor at large at America, the national Catholic magazine. He is arguably the leading Catholic author.

 This extended interview includes topics such as how he approaches writing, how he selects book themes, how to think of your audience, his writing schedule, social media, view of the publishing landscape, working with editors and agents, his author role models, and more

 62 minutes including Q&A

 To view it click here

An Audience That Can Be Activated – by Mark Schaefer

The key to assembling an audience that can be activated is to patiently build a meaningful and relevant emotional connection with them. This can occur two ways: passively or actively.

A passive emotional connection occurs when people come to know you through your content alone, typically over a long period of time. As people begin to see and enjoy your work, they progress through four phases of an emotional journey:

Awareness: They discover your content and know you exist. Perhaps 98 percent of the people who find you will move on, but a few will stick around to move to the next phase. That’s why it’s important to constantly build awareness and attract potential new fans.

Engagement: The new connections want to see more. They may click on a link, explore your website, comment on your blog, and even share your content with friends. It’s starting to become a two-way connection. They are learning about you and liking what they see.

Stable connection: New fans opt-in. They subscribe to your newsletter or follow you on Facebook, LinkedIn, or another channel. Your content is adding enough value to their lives that they want to follow your work regularly. For the first time, you may know a fan exists because they’re subscribing to you. A subscription means, “I trust you and I want to see more.”

Loyalty: Your fan not only follows you but encourages others to follow you, too. This is the elite group that’s most likely to be activated. They’ll spread your ideas, donate to your charity, or hire you to speak at an event. Your ideas and your content are becoming a part of the fabric of their lives. They can’t get enough of you.

– from “Known”

Finding Your Blue Ocean

In previous articles we’ve discussed the advantage of finding your own unique space in the market, which makes it easier for you to become “known” and build your following.  Today I would like to share insights from another of my favorite business books on this topic – it is called “Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant”.  The idea of the book is that red oceans represent all the industries in existence today, and blue oceans denote all the industries that currently do not exist.  Most companies operate only in red oceans and do not know how to find blue oceans. They simply try to outperform their rivals. As it gets crowded, profits and growth are reduced.

Blue Oceans are defined by untapped market space, demand creation, and opportunity for profitable growth. Competition is irrelevant because the rules of the game are yet to be set. Characteristics of blue oceans include:

  • They define new markets
  • They create a leap in value
  • They are the result of value innovation – when innovation is aligned with utility and price
  • Examples:
    • Cirque du Soleil
    • iTunes
    • iPhone
    • Starbucks

So how can you find your own blue ocean? As a spiritual writer, what leaps in value can you potentially offer? Here are some ideas:

    • Insight
    • Saying what others are thinking (but no one is saying)
    • Dealing with pain
    • Incredible writing
    • Relatability
    • Asking questions that others would ask too
    • Edginess
    • Talent not contained in a book

Where is your “blue ocean”? Feel free to contact us if you would like to work on this further.

Trust

Over the years, the concept of trust and how crucial it is for business success has evolved in my mind and grown in importance. The mental model I’ve chosen to use is that there are two types of trust that matter: (1) trust that someone is competent, and (2) trust that someone will do the right thing. I realize these are somewhat vague and certainly subjective qualities. But their importance cannot be underestimated. If you feel that your employee or business partner is strong in both areas, it makes all the difference in the world. If you feel otherwise, you are best off finding someone else.

More generally speaking, a high degree of trust in a company or in a society is incredibly valuable. Our culture is built on an assumption that most people are trustworthy. When that is the case, everything moves more quickly and costs less. There is less “friction” in the economy. When trust is lacking, a company or individual is forced to spend more money on protecting themselves – through lawyers, technology, physical security, contingency plans, etc.

What are you doing to foster a greater degree of trust?

Strong Is Knowing Your Own Power and Exercising It Humbly

God’s grace sustains us through our beginnings and endings. Losing my mom when I was twenty felt like the end of being a daughter and the beginning of being a mother to my younger siblings—my sister and brother. I grew up very quickly in the four and a half years between my mom’s funeral and my wedding. I became more responsible for myself—and for my father and siblings as well. There is a weightiness to becoming a matriarch. So, I learned to fully embrace that I am a strong woman and a leader.

 

I don’t wear the “strong woman” title as a badge of honor, as if I had a blue leotard with a Superwoman emblem on my chest and a red cape flying in the wind—not anymore, anyway. I used to be the StrongBlackWoman that Chanequa Walker-Barnes describes:

 

[She] is the woman who constantly extends herself on behalf of others. In her intimate and family relationships, on her job, and in her church and community, she is the “go to” woman, the one upon whom others depend when they need assistance, counsel, or comfort. Driven by a deeply ingrained desire to be seen as helpful and caring, she is practically incapable of saying no to others’ requests without experiencing feelings of guilt and worthlessness. As her willingness to help repeatedly reinforces others’ tendencies to ask her for help, her very nature becomes defined by multitasking and over-commitment.

 

I still multitask, but I have learned to say no by establishing boundaries, setting aside the responsibilities that do not belong to me, and asking for help.

 

I have also learned that strong is not always the opposite of weak. Strong is knowing your own power and exercising it humbly. In his book Strong and Weak, Andy Crouch writes, “What we truly admire in human beings is not authority alone or vulnerability alone—we seek both together.” Being a strong black woman is knowing quite deeply that the two—strength and weakness, authority and vulnerability—can coexist. This knowing is often born out of much suffering and sorrow.

 

Strong is knowing your own power and exercising it humbly.

 

*Taken from A Sojourner’s Truth by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson. Copyright (c) 2018 by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

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