Mark Driscoll responds to Bill Hybels criticism

What happens when public criticism around a theological hot-button issue involving two well known Christian leaders meets blogs and YouTube? This.

There are many interesting things to observe here like the number of blogs that will speak to this in the coming days or whether Bill Hybels will issue any kind of response to Mark Driscoll. There will be blogs vehemently for and against each of these guys with another share of people taking the middle ground stating they respect both of these guys and don't want to take sides. Few if any people will change their views on the topic and some people will become emboldened and others will be dismayed. But here's what I'll be watching: the views.

I'm going to be watching the view count on the YouTube video over the next few weeks. There are currently 3,820 views as of 12am CST on Monday, April 30. Could this break the 100,000 view mark over the next few weeks? Are there enough people who care about this issue? Will they watch just to see what got Bill Hybels upset? I don't know exactly what we'll find, but the pace of growth may tell us more about the perceived importance around this discussion in Christianity than any of the bloggers will.


Video of the Week: Subway singers

I saw this video a while back and was torn. I was torn between feeling like this was kind of lame or very inventive. The more I watched it the more I thought it was pretty cool that they could sound this good a cappella on a subway (besides, it's a great song too). This is another strong example of a good (and cheap) viral video. With over 600,000 views these guys have probably found a broader audience than they would have otherwise had, particularly in the U.S.

Link for feed readers.


Second Life's unbelievable growth

A few weeks ago I was completing my article for OutreachMagazine.com about the ministry opportunities within Second Life. It had been a while since I checked the growth and what I found were some unbelievable stats. Last July I wrote about Second Life and at that time they had about 200,000 "residents" so when I was doing the research for this article I thought the number was probably up around a million or so residents. Instead here's what I found:

October, 2006 - Second Life reached 1 million registered accounts
December, 2006 - 2 million registered accounts
January, 2007 - 3 million registered accounts
February, 2007 - 4 million registered accounts
March, 2007 - 5 million registered accounts
April 25 , 2007 - 5,858,000 registered accounts

Let me begin by apologizing. I really felt bad when I saw these numbers because I should have been paying closer attention over the last six months. I'd written about Second Life several times in the last few months but hadn't been tracking the amazing growth. So, I'm sorry to all seven of the MicroExplosion readers. Please forgive me.

Ok, now that that's behind us, let's look at this growth. It's truly astounding. They've been growing by one million registered accounts per month since October. At this rate they'll have 14 million registered accounts by January 2008.

And let's not fool ourselves into thinking that Second Life is the only virtual world out there either. There are two active virtual worlds/games for children ages 5 to 12. The first, Club Penguin has an average of 1.6 million children playing each month. Another virtual world for children, Webkinz, has an average of 870,000 children playing each month. In both cases, the numbers are growing: Webkinz had almost 2 million children playing in December, 2006 and Club Penguin had almost 3 million players in January, 2007.

So what does all of this mean? Well, at the very least virtual worlds are becoming quite the reality for an increasing number of the population. For businesses, this means there are literally new worlds to tap for growth (remember, Second Life has it's own form or currency). For churches and ministries, there are new places to connect with people for the message of the Gospel. This may very well be the beginning of new missions strategies, new outreach tools, and new methods of discipleship. I've heard it said many times that the message of the Gospel will never change but the methods for communicating it always will. Somehow I don't think the author of that statement had virtual worlds in mind...but I'm sure he would agree it applies here as much as anywhere.


New Life in Second Life via LifeChurch

I wrote recently about LifeChurch's venture into Second Life with the development and launch of a virtual campus. A few days ago Bobby wrote on the Swerve blog that they've seen a conversion for Christ in Second Life. How great is this? What a way to be used by God with the new technology available!

Undoubtedly there will be people saying, "Ok, now that the guy's converted how are they going to follow up and disciple him?" My response is this: I don't know, but if there's one thing I'm learning from my observations of LifeChurch it's that they're probably already working on it if they don't have an answer already. Just rejoice in the new brother in Christ and trust LifeChurch to take care of him. They've seen a bunch of people come to know Christ over the years so I think it's safe to say they know a few things about follow up.


Tech Review: Joost - online video's next step?

Many months ago there were rumors that the guys behind Skype were working on an online video project. We later came to find out that the name of the project was called Joost and that their intent is to reshape the television experience the same way Skype did with voice communications.

About a month ago I downloaded Joost and was interested to see what all the talk was about. I already knew that Joost wasn't going the user generated content route like YouTube, but was instead pursuing mainstream programming like you find on television today and repositioning it for the online world.

What I found in Joost was pretty much what I expected. There were several channels like one from Warner music featuring various music videos and one from Comedy Central playing old programs. Over the last couple weeks I've seen several channels get added but the amount of content is still fairly slim. There didn't appear to be any x-rated content in Joost (hopefully there never will) but there were some risque programs that had a "must be 16 or older to view" tag, so be aware of that and check out the safer stuff.

The Joost experience was everything you'd expect in the melding of television and the Internet: you can fast forward and rewind in every program and chat with other users watching the same program. There are several widgets that display on the screen while you watch your program like a news feed reader, clock, and notice board for updates.

All in all, Joost was interesting to see but the content will be what makes it. I understand from a reliable source that Christian content is coming to Joost in the near future. Whether it's of the TBN variety or not, I'm not totally sure but Joost will provide more niche programming than digital cable ever could.

When Joost can be viewed on my television as easy as my computer we'll have really gotten somewhere. The future is going that direction and Apple TV is one of the leaders in that push. All the pieces are there for this to come together so you know it's just around the corner. How long it takes the population to adopt it, however, may be quite another story.


Video of the Week: Glimpse of the future?

This week's video is a test. It's a test of your techno-geekiness. I have to admit I thought this was pretty stinking cool, not just because of how all this technology comes together and not just because it is applicable to everyday life, but because it is much closer to reality than we may realize. This week Microsoft announced the introduction of Silverlight, which when combined with Vista, makes much of the stuff you see here a near reality from some of the things I've read.

So, if you find this at all exciting, congratulations, you're a techno-geek. Can we change the name to something more palatable? Technoisseur perhaps?

Link for feed readers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_FS2TiK3AI


Tech Review: Jott - voice transcription for free!

There is so much new technology popping up these days it's hard to keep up, much less test it and see if it's worth your time. I've gotten pretty particular about what I'll even try out but I discovered Jott recently and it's pretty sweet and certainly worth the couple minutes it takes to set up (and it's free too).

Here's what Jott does in a nutshell...call the 800 number and tell Jott who you want to send a message to. So far I've only been sending messages to myself so when it asks, "who do you want to Jott?" I simply say, "myself" and it says "okay." Then I leave a message for myself like a reminder to send someone an email or to schedule a meeting. Jott then says "got it" and I'm done. In about five minutes I get an email with both a text transcription and an audio file of the message I left.

It's been really handy. The other day I was getting a phone number from a guy and we didn't have pen and paper handy so I called Jott (I have it set to speed dial from my cell phone), and said the name and number there. When I got home a few hours later I had it waiting for me in my inbox.

Jott also lets you send messages to individuals or groups. This would be very handy to send a single message to an entire team with just one phone call. Each Jott has about 30 seconds of recording time but you can say a lot in that time. Also, I was cautious about the transcription quality and so far I've been pretty impressed at how well it's done but you get the audio file to listen to if needed.

Like I said above, a lot of new technology is coming along these days that may or may not help you, but for me Jott is already making my life a little easier.


Video of the Week: Funny Moments in Churches

This one doesn't need much explanation. Just enjoy!

Link for the feed readers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZKq49eO_u8


Digg Gets Church Website Design

My friend Christopher sent me a link to a recent story that made the front page of Digg. It turns out a web design blog discovered some of the best websites for solid design and web standards were for churches. Enough people agreed with the blogger and Dugg the story right up to the front page. Here is the top 10 list:


Cadbury gets creme egg on its face

Just last week I wrote an article that included these lines:

Here's the thing about blogging, it's a great medium that facilitates conversation and understanding, but if you're not telling the whole truth, you're going to wish you never said anything at all. Whether you get busted in your own blog's comments or on someone else's blog, I can almost guarantee you'll be caught (probably by another blogger) if you give half truths, misleading statements or outright lies.

These same principles of truth and the Internet apply to video as much (if not more) than in blogging. Tonight I discovered this case in point from the video below:

When you visit the Cadbury FAQ page you find this:

In the grand scheme of things who really cares about the size of chocolate and creme eggs? The bigger lesson here is that truth has always been the best (and I would suggest only) option. Now, with the Internet it's just going to be more obvious when you've decided not to do it.


Video(s) of the Week: Bad Pitch

The mayor of Cincinnati recently threw out the first pitch before a Reds baseball game. It was...shall we say...not good. The mayor later went on Jimmy Kimmel Live to discuss this but, alas, the damage was done. Kimmel's staff put a hilarious attack ad together and also gave the mayor a chance for redemption. The do-over pitch was...well...you'll have to watch.

Bad Pitch

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Interview with Jimmy Kimmel

The Do-Over

Links for feed readers:
Bad pitch:

Interview with Jimmy Kimmel:

The do-over:


Free Pi for new readers!

There are several new people checking out MicroExplosion right now due to my post on ChurchMarketingSucks.com yesterday. As a way of thanking you for checking out this blog, I'd like to give you a free slice of Pi from mysliceofPi.com. So here's the deal, the first ten new MicroExplosion readers to email me (fourthbill@gmail.com) with a Pi request will get a code for a free slice of Pi.

If you've been a faithful reader for a while I don't want to leave you out either, so the first five regulars to email me will get a free code also.

Everyone be sure to note if you're a new reader or a regular. Also, if anyone includes a really good Pidea we'll post it to the list and I'll give you another free Pi code.


How to change a YouTube video size

Every so often I get asked by new bloggers how to change the size of the YouTube video when they want to embed a particular video into their blog. It's actually very simple and takes less than 10 seconds once you know what to do. Here's all you need to do:

1. Find the "embed" code on the video you are choosing. It's just to the right of the video.
2. Click the embed link once and the whole line will highlight.
3. Copy it (Ctrl+C) and paste (Ctrl+V) into your blog post. Your code will look like this:

4. Change the size within the code to adjust the width and height and make it fit your specifications. For this blog I change the width to 400 and height to 325 so my code looks like this before I post any videos here:

5. Note: The video width and height appear twice in the code so make sure you change them in both places.
6. Post and done.

See, wasn't that easy? I should note that this basic premise works with most embeddable links at other video sites so this should help you out with just about any of them.