Friday, January 16, 2009

Even More Silly Futurist Quotes about technology

Again - it is great fun to think of what concepts of today that might be getting the cold shoulder from so-called experts, but are going to be reality in the future? Teleportation? Food synthesizers? Time Travel? Climate Change? Designer babies? Human cloning? Self-replicating Nanobytes? Wireless electricity? Hmmm...

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." - Western Union internal memo, 1876

"What use could this company make of an electrical toy?"Western Union president William Orton, rejecting Bell’s offer to sell his struggling telephone company for $100,000.

"The horse is here to stay, but the auto is only a novelty -- a fad." - President of the Michigan Savings Bank, 1903

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." - Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" - David Sarnoff's associates, in response to his urgings for investment in radio in the 1920's

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"- Harry M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927

"TV won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first 6 months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."- Darryl F. Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox, 1946

"Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and perhaps weigh 1-1/2 tons."- Popular Mechanics, 1949

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." - Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. 1977

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible."- A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." - Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction" - Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Future Industry Extinction

I found this article both sad and compelling. What cultural and technological and behavioral trends are expected to kick what have been fixtures of our consumer landscape to the curb?
Last year Kodak stopped making 35mm slide projectors and Polaroid recently made its last camera.
When I first got a home Internet connection in 1995, I figured that newspapers, or at least the classified section, would be dead before 2000. Obviously it didn't happen that fast but now it is starting. The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News recently cut their deliveries to 3 days a week and are asking customers to go to their websites. PC Magazine recently announced that it will be going to an online-only format. Not only is it incredibly cheaper to publish online but it is much more environmentally friendly. As laptops get smaller and more ergonomically friendly and printing and labor costs become higher, along with environmental pressures, will we start to see this with all magazines and more books?
Other than these 10 industries listed in this article, what else could be GONE by 2017? Maybe... the gas station? Quick-lube oil change depots? Libraries? (Imagine the entire Library of Congress online?) The coal industry? If Lester Brown is right... Civilization?
(Hi, Future Steve... I'll bet you're cracking up at this one right now.)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hope for Michigan's Economy... I hope!

"Granholm Signs Bills Advancing Renewable Fuels Production and Use in Michigan"

I saw a presentation as part of Leadership West Michigan that showed that states that have embarked on initiatives such as this have all generated jobs and jumpstarted each state's economy. I'm glad to see this happening here. Along with the Renewable Energy Sources Act, these two pieces of legislation could be the beginning of a green and more sustainable economy in our state; one that could really use some good news right about now.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Richard Cizik Forced to Resign as VP of the NAE

I feel that American Evangelicalism has lost an important, reasonable, and compelling voice in our country with the encouraged resignation of Richard Cizik as the VP of Government Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals. Too bad. I had felt Richard Cizik was one of the more influential Christian voices we had going, and was able to speak to insiders and outsiders about the mission of the church and our roles as caretakers of creation. I'm sorry to see him go, and sorry that the clarifications of his statements on NPR was not enough to allow him to carry on his significant work. Hopefully he will move on to an even greater role representing Christians who are also concerned with Creation Care, and who want to build the Church of Jesus and not merely bring about a "Christian nation". It is even more frustrating seeing that his statements, while perhaps controversial with some of the NEA's constituents, did not neccessarily violate NEA's own broadly defined doctrinal statements. I am a passionate Jesus-follower and I resonated with his positions, as do many younger evangelicals I know.
I am not a fan of slippery slope arguments, period. I cannot disagree more with Tony Perkins who blogged that Cizik is an example of when Christians "become" environmentalists (as if they shouldn't already be one) they can get "blinded by the green light" and start to espouse all sorts of other liberal (and presumably "anti-Christian") positions. Hardly. Creation Care is not a gateway drug into following and believing Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens.
There is a powerful case that Creation Care is biblical, regardless of where you stand on global warming being caused by human activity or not. Christians ought to be concerned about Creation Care if they love God and love their neighbors. Right there alone is a theology of ecology. See earlier posts of mine that unpack this.
Richard, I hope you find another place from which to carry on your work. Don't give up.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Great Quotes from AASHE

Time to give this blog a little pick-me-up. Since I've started Facebook, I've neglected this place. I'd like to simply put down profound quotes I heard at the great AASHE conference this week (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education). Then I'd like to unpack thoughts about each of these in the upcoming weeks. So here goes:

"Socialism may collapse because it does not tell people the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not tell people the ecological truth." VP of Exxon/Mobil-Norway as told to Lester Brown

"Regarding sustainability, this group is great. But we really need to create the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability to save Civilization. Because that is what we're facing." - Lester Brown

"In the USA we have an economy based upon consumption. Our grandparents would whoop our behinds if they saw our credit card statements." - Van Jones

"How can we define Green Economics? How about, 'Don't just waste everything.' I mean, seriously, 'Don't be a fool.'" - Van Jones

"The mark of a Golden Age in a civilization is when its children are its most important citizens." - Peter Senge

"Industry talks about the Triple Bottom Line of "People", "Planet", and "Profit". All of that sounds like "Peacemaking" to me..." - President of Goshen College

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Learning, Retention, and Churches

This graphic comes as no surprise to me; a lot of schools really get this and are changing their curriculums to increase retention and traction. However, this time it hit me in a new way - because for a second, I put on my Church hat. This graphic spells trouble for the typical worship experience in the average evangelical church in North America, of which, according to George Barna, at least 75% are in decline.
Perhaps this learning pyramid relates to that sobering statistic.
I get to experience a lot of worship services in my role as a church architect. I visit many clients a year, and usually take part in worship services along the way. The most common worship experience is often 4-5 gathering songs, announcements, prayer, and a 30 minute sermon, prayer, then dismissal. There is sometimes another song or time for response at the end. In some cases, there is "special music" or a choir anthem. In a few cases, there are original or popular video clips, or a thematic image or over-arching metaphor for the worship experience. In some cases, the sermon is puctuated with images that illustrate the points being made. In very rare instances, there's a "talk-back" time of reflection and discussion, either in groups or in a "stump the pastor" style. In these latter cases, I find I remember far more for significantly longer. There are visual/metaphor-based/multi-sensory worship experiences over 8 years old that I can still remember. In even rarer cases, such as in my previous church, 4 times a year, we gathered on Sunday mornings to serve in the neighborhood instead of conduct a worship service. And apparently our pastor took some heat for that from our denomination's local governing body.
Lets go back to the learning chart. According to the National Training Laboratory, people retain only 5% of what they experience in a lecture setting. What is a sermon?
Add the reading of words on a screen - perhaps song lyrics and scripture. Maybe some sermon bullet points. That doubles retention, to 10%. Plus, the singing is at least participatory and aimed at God and gives us opportunity to reflect and listen.
Add images, pictures, video, props, illustrations, a theme, a metaphor. We're now at 20% retention. Not too great, but still 4 times the talking head.
Add interactive discussion and Q&A. We're now at 50% retained. Ten times the talking head.
Add service projects - either internal or external - hands-on, interactive ministry with concrete results. 75% - 90% retained.
I love worshipping and, yes, I do still enjoy a great sermon. But I've been trained my whole life to be able to sit and listen to a sermon, and I'm immersed in the proprietary language that is invariably used. I listen for God's voice in what I hear and sing and seek to be transformed. What is the experience of a sermon like for an unchurched person, particularly a younger person, when they are not even experiencing a lecture format that much in school anymore? Learning is more hands-on, inquiry-based and lab-format than ever.
How did we the church get to where half of our worship services are sitting and listening to a talking head? Is it because we are still so rooted in enlightenment principles and Reformation propositional truth? Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is the greatest sermon ever given, but 1) it wasn't part of a worship service and 2) it wasn't in the temple.
I am not a theologian - but tend to think very practically and am project and results-oriented. This whole topic has really got me thinking. What if we the church were to try to invert the learning retention pyramid as it applies to church life? What would happen if whole churches got together to serve each other and the community for 2-3 hours every week, and that was the main gathering and act of worship - not as an "advertisement" to get people to come to the real worship service. Our communities would notice, and would likely stand up and cheer. The media would be all over it. We would be transformed and perhaps absorb more of the experience than mere sitting and listening. People would be drawn to a group of people that is effectively making a difference and changing people's lives (look at what happens on Extreme Home Makeover or Oprah's Big Give). Is this not the lifestyle that Jesus expects of us in the parable of the sheep and the goats?
Of course, teaching and song have precedent in the Bible and are to be part of a church's diet. I guess I'm questioning: do we need that weekly, at the exclusion of a more robust church/life experience that has traction in our hearts, minds, and communities? Could we not get the Spirit-inspired, talking head teaching experience (5% retention) better through a directed, group setting (50% retention) elsewhere or at other times? Could we have a big interactive arts/teaching/music event monthly, and, if so, actually do it better and more meaningfully than as part of a diving catch every week?
Does Keeping the Sabbath or "not forsaking the Community of Saints" have anything to do with all of this?
Correct me if I'm wrong...

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Getting published!

Above is a link to an article I've written for Church Solutions magazine. In magazine form, it'll have illustrations, including I think the "stained glass" windows at Monroe Community Church!