Seth Godin Nails it On Technology & Communication

I really enjoy reading Seth Godin’s blog. If you don’t read it, you really should go there, read a few posts and consider subscribing via the email box on the left side of his blog. His post Toward resilience in communication (the end of cc) is so good that I want to point you to it and ask you to read it. In this post he explains technology and communication in today’s organizations as well as in social media. I am tempted to put some quotes from the article here but I would basically want to quote the whole thing. Here is one just to tease you into reading the whole thing,

We wait, hesitating, unsure who has received what and what needs to be resent. With this error rate comes an uncertainty where we used to have none (we’re certain of the transmission if you’re actively talking on the phone with us and we know if you got that certified mail.) It’s now hard to imagine the long cc email list as an idea choice for getting much done.

The last ten years have seen an explosion in asynchronous, broadcast messaging. Asynchronous, because unlike a phone call, the sender and the recipient aren’t necessarily interacting in real time. And broadcast, because most of the messaging that’s growing in volume is about one person reaching many, not about the intimacy of one to one. That makes sense, since the internet is at its best with low-resolution mass connection.

It’s like throwing a thousand bottles into the ocean and waiting to see who gets your message.

Amazon, eBay, Twitter, blogs, Pinterest, Facebook–they are all tools designed to make it easier to reach more and more people with a variation of faux intimacy. And this broadcast approach means that communication breaks down all the time… we have mass, but we’ve lost resiliency.

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The Real Agenda of Advertising & God’s Counter-Narrative

The goal of advertising is to convince you that you need something that is non-essential to your survival. 100% of commercials are about non-necessities. Why? Who has to advertise something everyone actually has to buy to survive? Right? So by the very nature of commercials, they are trying to sell you something you can live without, otherwise they wouldn’t need to advertise it because you would have to purchase it eventually anyway. The trick in advertising is to take these non-essentials and make them appear to be essential.

The underlying narrative of some advertising is that we aren’t good enough unless with have X, Y, and Z. They are selling a narrative, often even more than they are selling a product. That narrative is often that you haven’t made it until you dress like this, own this, or drive that. That is how they make these things appear to be essential when they aren’t.

God tells us we have inherent value apart from the products we own. We are made in the image of God. What is more God also tells us that he has already provided everything we actually need! Christian – you are redeemed by the blood of Christ. Nothing is more important than the love God has for you. Bottom line – God is enough. God satisfies. So we find contentment only through Christ…in spite of the messages of discontent the world sends us every minute of every day.

Amazon Has Discovered Millions of Free Tiny Billboards That Are Its Own Packages

Check out amazon’s new found advertising platform…this was a book that came in the mail yesterday. Genius! If the United States Post Office could hire guys who come up with things like this they wouldn’t be on the brink of bankruptcy.

Amazon-spiderman

Am I the Grinch?

I got my annual AFA “Would you boycott non-Christmas stores this holiday season” email today. I took the poll and said, “No” that I would not be willing to boycott stores that don’t use Christmas in their advertising. Turns out there were 22,471 “Yes” votes (98.7%) and 298 “No” votes (1.3%) at the time. Ouch. That made me feel like a Christmas Grinch. Can you believe that I would actually be willing to buy from a retailer that was out to make a profit and run their business in the way that seemed best to them. Obviously I would rather support a Christian organization more than a non-Christian one but it begs the question, “Is a business ‘Christian’ because they put Christmas in their advertising? or are they just marketing to the masses in order to make a buck? It also begs the follow up question of “How appropriate is it of Christian organizations to force pagan businesses to slap Christ on all their merchandise? Doesn’t that actually cheapen our savior to have pagans give lip service to him in order to get Christians off their backs?

In a post from 2006 I mentioned a few points I wanted to bring up again because I think they still apply to this situation today:
1) We don’t boycott stores the other 11 months out of the year when they don’t promote Christ. We waltz in and buy whatever we want without a second thought.
2) Does God want us to use our money to leverage others or twist their arm? I am not saying we should support immorality with our money.
3) I am just not certain why we expect pagan run businesses to act like Christians one month and then go back to business as usual the rest of the year. Are we really just asking them to be phony and hypocritical?
4) Is it a sin not to promote Christmas? Why not boycott stores with employees who steal or executives who abuse their workers, etc. It seems silly to me to limit boycotts to whether or not a company gives lipservice to our religion when they can totally live against God and Christ and we don’t bat an eye.

Regarding Statistics and online polls:
Another question this raised for me is what exactly do these numbers mean? I am sure to get an email in a week or so from the AFA that says “99% of American’s are willing to boycott stores that don’t use the word ‘Christmas.'” To be fair, I haven’t gotten that email and may never see one but it really wouldn’t surprise me at all. Any time you have an online poll asking people to respond you don’t have a random sample. You are most likely to get responses from people who feel strongly about the issue. Out of all their emails, forwards, and spam they have to filter through, click on the poll and take time to answer it. That takes some time. This is not random and appeals to a certain subset of the target population. What is more, who is on the AFA email list? The only way the results = “all Americans” is if the email list is representative of American demographics. I am sure it is not even close. So if I get the “99% of Americans would…” email in a week or two I will be disappointed. They should at least say, “99% of people on the AFA email list who responded to a solicitation to take a poll would…” because that would be accurate.

So who’s the Grinch here? People like me who think there is more to what is going on than whehter or not a business flashes the word “Christmas” around when in their heart they are an atheist…or Christians who arm twist and leverage pagan companies to use a word they don’t believe in anyway and basically force them to do it for the wrong reasons? I will end in saying the AFA does a lot of good things and things I agree with but this is one area they would be better to do without. It just makes Christians looks creepy and manipulative.