GodTube taking social media to a new level

The web 2.0 landscape just got a little more interesting. In December I was talking to a friend who mentioned a project he was working on. That project turned out to be GodTube, the social media/online video/networking site looking to provide Christians and non-Christians alike with Christ-centered video content and the tools to connect with each other.

When I first went to the site my initial impression wasn't very good. I knew it was in beta (and still is) but I couldn't help but think "geez, this seems like just a Christian copy of YouTube." After a little more time seeing the site develop and learning from my friend about some different avenues they would venture down, I saw the emergence of the areas that will distinguish GodTube from everyone else.

The primary difference between GodTube and any other online video site I've seen is the technology to let people connect with each other (for free) via the live video conferencing as well as the implementation of a very cool video email feature. To me, this is where GodTube truly separates itself from the pack (and not just in the "Christian sites" pack but the pack of all online video sites).

Having already played with the video chat feature I can vouch for the fun there. The ministry opportunities are endless too. Got a team going on a mission trip and want to video conference a few families in? Give the GodTube video chat a shot. Or maybe this will be the opportunity for people around the world to connect live for discussions on leadership principles or evangelism strategies. This has all the ingredients needed for a virtual classroom where you could teach or learn about an infinite number of applicable studies.

The video email feature is a great way to send a memorable email that will certainly get anyone's attention. It provides all the benefits of sending a video to someone via email without sending a massive file to someone's inbox. The recipient just clicks on a link to see the video.

I have high hopes for GodTube. I know it's still in development but I think it's off to a very compelling start with some exciting new technology.


Get your iPhone here

Here it is. Some assembly is required (like a color printer, scissors, and tape or glue).



Video of the Week: One Scary Coaster

Link for feed readers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kMARGNfHfU


Tech News: File sharing and iPod content creation

My friend Craig sends me links to new sites from time to time and recently he sent me two interesting new sites. The first is AllPeers, a file sharing site that let's you distribute content with friends and family (essentially any group of people that you designate). The AllPeers tour gives you a great idea of how intuitive the interface is. This would be a great asset to churches that are sharing files with a group of members. I know many worship pastors have to get various audio tracks out to their volunteers on a regular basis and AllPeers looks like it could be a great way to get it in the hands of the people as quickly as possible.

Craig also referred me to Mogopop, a site that lets you create content that can be loaded onto your iPod or grab other people's content for your iPod. There seem to be numerous possibilities for churches and ministries here. With nearly 90 million iPods in the hands of people like us, the opportunity to create iPod content for the people in your church may have never been more relevant. With Mogopop you could allow everything from the weekly announcements to volunteer schedules to be loaded onto iPods so the people at your church will have that information handy when they need it. If you find that a significant percentage of people in your church or ministry are iPod owners, you may need to check out how Mogopop could work for you.


Social networking now for baby boomers?

According to a Newsweek International article, there is an emergence of social networking within the baby boomer generation. According to the article, "only 1 million of the more than 215 million social networkers regularly active today are older than 50. But by the end of the year that number could explode to 20 million, says a new study from global analysts Deloitte." The also article referred to Eons.com, a social networking site for people 50 years old and older.


Social networking outside the U.S. gets a Hi5

In December I was told about a social networking site I was unfamiliar with called Hi5. Hi5, it turns out, isn't familiar to most people in the United States because we're using sites like MySpace and Facebook. What I discovered however is that Hi5 is huge outside the U.S. The pastor who introduced me to Hi5 learned about it from some missionaries in El Salvador. Over the weekend TechCruch posted that Hi5 may be second only to MySpace in social networking usage.

The application here for American churches or ministries is that if you're working with a church plant or mission outside the U.S. and want to create a social networking profile to connect with that people in that country then MySpace will likely not be the best place for you to go. If anything, this reinforces the fact that the opportunities for global ministry networking via the web are plentiful. It also reminds me that just because something can be a useful tool in the U.S. doesn't mean it's the best solution in the rest of the world.


Video of the Week: Portland's Version of Bumper Cars

(Link for the feed readers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPE8vL5hlFA)


Switching to a personalized desktop - my dashboard for life

I've been a Firefox user for about two years now and I love it. I can't even remember what it was like to use MSN's Explorer browser. The default homepage for Firefox is a modified version of the Google homepage and that was all I ever really needed but a while back I got to messing around with Google's personalized homepage to see if I would like it. I didn't. Actually, it wasn't that I didn't like it, I just didn't know if I needed it. I was interested to know how Google's personalized homepage compared to some of the competitors in that market so I also looked at Netvibes and Pageflakes but none of these really seemed to be of significant value to me either for the same reasons. There was anything wrong with any of them, I just wasn't ready to use them. Now, however, things have changed.

In an effort to continue to consolidate information as much as possible I'm officially a Google personalized homepage user and am really liking it. I've got my Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Notebook, Google Reader (do you see a trend here?), and weather widgets all arranged on the page just like I want it. I've got a few other widgets there too like a Wikipedia search bar and a Bible verse of the day. I've created a tab with all the "news" stuff I'm interested in from numerous outlets so I can just jump over there and see the top stories from those areas.

With all the information we have available to us today the issue is no longer content, but filters and context (I got that from The Long Tail). A personalized homepage is serving to be a great filter for me to see a lot of information in a short amount of time with very little effort once it's all set up.

If you find yourself visiting the same blogs and news outlets on a daily basis you might want to do yourself a favor and roll it all up into one location with a personalized page. Since it's a web application so you can have it both at home and the office too. What else could you ask for?


My bookmarks are del.icio.us

When I first heard of the social bookmarking website Del.icio.us (simply pronounced 'Delicious') I didn't really get it. Why on earth would someone need to save their bookmarks to a website rather than just use the bookmarks on their web browser? In time I heard about how other people used Del.icio.us and I finally signed up just to see what all the fuss was about. Then a funny thing happened. I good hooked. What I found with Del.icio.us was an entire world of functions that I didn't know I wanted but now can't live without. Here are the two big ones for me:

  • Tags: The ability to tag every bookmark and even create my own notes and thoughts about that bookmark for future reference. The tags allow me create my own keyword topics around a general idea. For instance, I'm going to be speaking to a PR firm here in Nashville in a few weeks to give them an overview of web 2.0 and how it applies to their work. I've been bookmarking sites and stories recently with the tag "PR" to use for my upcoming presentation. I wouldn't have had that without creating a folder on my browser before which isn't a huge deal, but if a story comes along that I want to tag "PR" and something else then it's no problem for Del.icio.us to let me categorize the link as many ways as I want but where would I put it if I only used folders on my browser?
  • Web access: The fact that my bookmarks are always online has paid off numerous times. A week ago I was meeting with a few people and the discussion brought to mind something I had tagged recently so I was able to just pull it right up whether I had my laptop with me or not. I've gone to my Del.icio.us bookmarks numerous times when I haven't had my own computer with me and it's been great to get what I need for those occasions.
I read somewhere recently that you can learn a lot about what someone is thinking by watching their Del.icio.us tags. Bloggers on Wordpress can even use a widget to post their new Del.icio.us links for the day. I've discovered countless helpful articles and websites through other people's links. Del.icio.us has become one of those tools I use every day for my own link collection and for discovery. If you want to see what I'm tagging, check out Del.icio.us/fourthbill.


Web App: PXN8 - Online Photo Editor

Web applications are one of the six categories of web 2.0. I've become a huge fan of these apps and am always looking for bigger and better ones. In the photo editing world, I've been using Google's Picasa for a while but although it's free it's not a web application nor has it really done everything I need to do when I want to edit pictures. A few days ago I discovered PXN8.com, and online photo editor, and compared to several other online photo editors I've seen, this one is the best. It's got the most intuitive user interface I've seen with a host of editing tools to meet your basic photo editing needs. If you're not sure what a particular control does there's a handy mouseover box to explain what each action does and if you still don't like what you did there's an undo button to remove the previous action. If you thought you needed to buy photo editing software for your general photo editing needs, save the money and give PXN8 a shot.


How Secure is Your Wi-Fi?

Let's just admit this on the front end...most of us don't know how secure our computers are when we're logged onto a public Wi-Fi network. If you're like me you can't help but think it's not really a big deal. That's the same thing David Pogue of the New York Times thought until recently. He decided to meet someone who could tell him just how much (if any) information someone could see when we're connected to public, unsecured Wi-Fi networks. You'll see in his post that he's changed his mind. I think I have too. Like David, I don't know that it's really going to change much about my actual practices but now I'm much more aware than I was prior to this post.


Another video of the week: Boy With Agenda

Video found via Corey Mann's blog. Video link for feed readers:


If some old companies got a web 2.0 makeover...

In November I referenced a website that did a great job explaining the common web design elements in many web 2.0 websites. It's true that there is a web 2.0 "look" especially for the many startup companies. With that in mind I came across (via Digg) one person's take on some old companies getting their web 2.0 makeover.


Video of the week: Who wouldn't work for Google?

(link for feed readers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWdUTUT-Ycc)


Finally, a church in Second Life: LifeChurch.tv developing island

A little over a week ago I mentioned that missions to Second Life is a great idea that hasn't taken off yet. Well, leave it up to the folks at LifeChurch.tv to jump into it. According to Bobby Gruenewald's response to a comment I left at their Swerve blog, Life Church has an island in Second Life they're developing right now and scheduled for completion in several weeks. Good job guys. I guess this is why you're the most innovative church in America.


Tonight there's nothing to talk about besides the iPhone

Ok, so I had some other stuff to talk about tonight but I've been watching the Steve Jobs keynote this evening and I simply cannot focus on anything else. If you haven't heard by now (where have you been today???) Apple Inc. unveiled their iPhone. I must say that the more I've seen of this tonight the more impressed I am. Earlier today I just thought it was cool. Now I'm blown away. Check out the demo on the Apple site or the live demo from the keynote today (which actually shows you a bit more about it).

The iPhone is due out in June through Cingular. I expect the race is on for applications that can work with the iPhone...in fact, this may help push the adoption of web applications like Google documents and spreadsheets or the Zoho family of products because you can use them through the web browser. Should be interesting to see what happens.


Sears joins retailers in Second Life

In a trend we saw at the end of 2006, more retailers have seen the numbers of people jumping into Second Life. Sears has joined the fray by opening a showroom in Second Life. Sears joins Circuit City, Dell, and numerous other retailers looking to use Second Life as a new sales channel. I can't help but wonder if they see this as a true revenue stream for their businesses or if it's more because they know they'll get press coverage right now. Either way the trend continues.


Pew Research: Social Networking and Teens

The Pew Internet and American Life Project released the findings of a recent study of American teenagers and their use of social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. The study found that More than half (55%) of all online American youths ages 12-17 use online social networking sites. The numbers are significantly higher for older (ages 15-17) as 70% have created profiles on a social networking site. Here are some other interesting points from the study:

  • 66% of teens who have created a profile say that their profile is not visible to all internet users. They limit access to their profiles.
  • 48% of teens visit social networking websites daily or more often; 26% visit once a day, 22% visit several times a day.
  • Older girls ages 15-17 are more likely to have used social networking sites and created online profiles; 70% of older girls have used an online social network compared with 54% of older boys, and 70% of older girls have created an online profile, while only 57% of older boys have done so.
  • 91% of all social networking teens say they use the sites to stay in touch with friends they see frequently, while 82% use the sites to stay in touch with friends they rarely see in person.
  • 72% of all social networking teens use the sites to make plans with friends; 49% use the sites to make new friends.
  • Older boys who use social networking sites (ages 15-17) are more likely than girls of the same age to say that they use social networking sites to make new friends (60% vs. 46%).


Internet evangelism

I saw last week that China has the second largest online population in the world, just after the United States. There are currently 132 million people online in China and 52 million of them have broadband access. My first thought after seeing this was "what an opportunity to reach people with the Gospel in a country that can be difficult for missionaries." For years I've heard of missionaries who take trips to undisclosed locations and some of those it turned out were to China. We know that country has been in the heart of so many missionaries through the years going back to the people like Hudson Taylor, Eric Liddell, and Lottie Moon so my question is this: where are the Internet evangelism strategies to reach these people? I see that there's an Internet Evangelism Day coming up this year so is this the answer? It certainly seems like a step in the right direction.