Daily Bread

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

– Matthew 6:31-34

Awhile back, I was worrying about finances. So on Sunday I rose early and took my worries to my heavenly Father. I realized that I needed to choose to trust (to have faith) in God’s promises in dealing with worry. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7 Then God reminded me of Matthew 6:33.

Through the years I have had to make choices about whether to put God first or to try to pursue meeting my needs. When I first decided to follow Christ, I travelled around the country after college pursuing my desires, but had a hard time finding a good job. God told me to go back to Rhode Island and get back involved with the people who had introduced me to Christ so I could grow deeper in my relationship with God. I had been looking for a job for months and had never had trouble finding work before, but had no success finding work. As soon as I moved back to Rhode Island, I had two job offers in two weeks.

Years later when Lynn and I got married, we choose to put our children first by having Lynn stay home and not work. We understood that loving our children and raising them in a caring, stable family environment was very important to God. A month after we made that decision God gave me a new job increasing my salary 50%. Lynn has been able to stay home with the children for the last ten years.

When we followed God’s calling for me to quit my full time job and move to Canada to get my Master’s of Divinity, we had enough from the sale of our house to buy a house in Canada and pay for half of the cost of going to seminary. But when we finished seminary, the house we bought went up 40% in three years and we were able to clear all debts and had almost as much in the bank as we had when we went to seminary.

When I talked to God about my worries, God spoke to me through Matthew 6:34. Do not focus on tomorrow, but focus on helping the people around you today. I spend much of my time trying to figure out what I am going to be doing in the future or how I am going to get work in the future. But God wants me to focus on what He is doing through me today to help other people. When I am focused on trying to figure things out and what I want, I miss out of what God is doing in other people’s lives and the opportunities to help them.

When we focus on serving others and doing God’s will one day at a time, He will take care of providing what we need tomorrow. When we know God will take care of what we need, it frees us up to give ourselves away to others to meet their needs. Each day we do God’s will and he gives us our daily bread (what we need for that day).

Be Christlike or Comfortable?

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

A few years ago, I toke a Spiritual Leadership class with Richard Blackaby and he made the following observation. Success often develops pride in our lives whereas failure and trials drive us to our knees and humble us. If God wants to keep us walking closely with him, which would he send into our lives?

We want God to do great things in our lives and take us to the next level, yet whenever God brings a cross of adversity into our lives the first thing we cry out is, “God take this out of my life!” We have to decide if we want to be more like Christ or be comfortable.

Richards comment was that it is not safe to follow Jesus. The world needs courageous men and women, who are willing to die to do what is right, not legions of complacent followers asking for God to bless them and keep them safe. When followers of Jesus actively do things that establish justice (or righteousness; making things right), peace, and joy in our world … many self-serving agendas will be threatened. People who pursue their own desires for power, pleasure, and riches often do so at the expense of those they oppress, abuse, and steal from. People who are on fire with God’s passion for justice will be attacked in order to protect the status quo. Consider Martin Luther King, Jr. as one of the most recent martyrs for opposing the status quo of racial oppression and injustice.

This brings me to my reflections on Romans 5. Paul starts out saying Jesus Christ brought us peace with God. I did a study on the Hebrew term for peace; shalom. It’s meaning is far deeper than simply an absence of conflict or some inner tranquility. It has the meaning of completeness of life, experiencing the fullness of life, or wholeness (like a stone that never has been marred or cut… it is perfectly whole). This is God’s desire for us. We have lost the full and abundant life He originally intended for us. Sin has entered our experience and now we experience pain and suffering as people oppress, steal, deceive, abuse, use, hurt and attack each other. Jesus came as a King to reestablish a world order where selfish living is overthrown and people begin to obey God’s commands to love others and do what’s right. As people follow Jesus Christ as their King, obeying his commands and doing his work will bring them in to conflict with the established social order. Suffering is inevitable even for those committed to peaceful reform.

Affliction and suffering produces the opportunity to either give up or turn to God to call out for help. God has a long documented track record of delivering people who call on him for help. When people persevere into doing what is right when the pressure of affliction comes, it develops a strong character. A weak character gives up when pain comes because all that person wants is personal comfort and gratification. So they retreat from the suffering until the pain goes away. But the person of conviction will endure pain and loss to stand for what is right. They will also call on God in the midst of suffering and trust that God will help them to have strength to get through the suffering or to deliver them from the suffering.

I have noticed in my own life that when persistent afflictions come, it often initially causes me to be angry at God because he does not seem to be answering my initial prayers. My initial prayers are often for God to fix the suffering (make it go away). But then I remember the faithfulness of God through the past twenty three years and all that I know of Gods love and desire for our good. So I do not stay angry, instead the fire of my anger moves me to seek God with a fiercer sense of urgency. It is in those times that I meet with God in a deeper way than I would have in times of comfort and ease.

Freedom

So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:11

God opened my eyes to this in a way that I never understood before. For awhile now I have been understanding that there is incredible potential for the Christian to do anything because of who God made us to be. To be a Christian is to be indwelt by the Spirit of the God (John 14:17, Rom. 8:9). Literally that means that God is living in the Christian and the Christian’s body becomes the temple of the Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16). If God has taken up resident in our lives as Christians then God can do through us anything that He did through Jesus and greater things (John 14:12).

I have been learning that to walk in the Spirit is simply a choice by faith to allow the Spirit to fill us and lead us. When we are lead by the Spirit, we will not gratify the desires of the old sinful life (Gal. 5:16). I have been realizing that the Christian life is impossible to live by our own effort, it must be the life and living presence of God flowing and working through our life. This is what I believe Jesus meant when he talked about our need to abide in him (John 15:5).

But it hit me in a way today that I had never grasped before. If Jesus is living in me by the Spirit and his life is at work in me, then I am dead to sin when I am walking in the Spirit. It has no hold on me. There is nothing that can hinder Jesus living in me. He is greater than everything, nothing can hold him back. I am completely free from sins hold… it has no power to control me or influence me unless I choose to give it the opportunity. This is what Paul was trying to say in Romans 6.

The mistake we often make is to interpret scripture based on our experience and reduce it to what we experience. We think that it is impossible to be completely free from sins grip in this life because we have never experienced life without the war of conflicting inner desires. But Paul was saying that we can be completely free because Jesus is living in us with all his power. It is no longer me living but Christ living in me (Gal 2:20).

This is the path to revival. Understanding who lives in us and all that He is able to do. When we choose not to hinder His working through us by choosing to sin, then He can begin to move in power through our lives and do anything He wants. Do not believe the lies of the enemy who will say that this cannot be so. Do not reduce the power of God to the limits of your previous experiences. Do not choose to love the pleasures and comforts of this life and quench the working of Gods mighty power through your life. Cast off the sins and things that so easily entangle us, and release your life to be used by God to accomplish incredible things for eternity in the years ahead. Reckon yourself dead to sin. Jesus has freed you by coming to live in you. Choose now to surrender all to him and let him guide you.

For more insight into how to practically release your life; www.transferableconcepts.com.

Not letting God’s Word fall to the ground

And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.  1 Sam 3:19 ESV

I am learning not to let God’€™s words fall to the ground (like Samuel).

God is showing me what it took for Evan Roberts to impact a 100,000 people. I watched a video about the Welsh Revival in 1904-5. When you watch the video, you begin to realize that Evan Roberts was seeking God with such intensity that people thought he was losing his mind. He was up long hours in the night and everything else was being neglected as he cried out after God; even his studying to prepare for the ministry. There was a hunger for God that would not be distracted by anything. Once he had a word from God about what to do, he went to his hometown, had a special service, and began to help others understand how to be filled with the Spirit. It was not enough to have a great meeting, and then go back to business as usual until next week’s meeting. No! Night after night he kept calling people to drop everything to meet with the Lord. This continued week in and week out until 100,000 people were saved in six months time.

There was the same kind of hunger that led Jesus into the desert. The Spirit brought Jesus to a place where there were no distractions and busyness. There Jesus and the Father settled on the front end of his ministry that he would obey the Father’s will. Satan tempted Jesus with everything he had to offer, but Jesus resolved to obey the Fathers will. Jesus would not be distracted by anything the world had to offer.

This is the kind of desire for God we need.  Revival in our lives is wholehearted love for God and being undistracted. Praying, reading God’s Word earnestly to hear a word from God and not getting distracted in following through with doing what God says. I see in our lives that often when we get a glimpse of God’s leading and working, we start to do what God says but then usually let it fall to the ground as we get distracted by other things. God’s word does not come to fruition because what God said does not get acted upon. Personal revival will soon come when we turn from sin, put aside all distractions that consume our time and keep us from prayer and doing God’s will, obey the Spirit promptly in everything he says to us in the Word of God, and boldly bear witness to Jesus.

This is what Jesus spoke of in the Parable of the Sower…

And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and  bear fruit with patience. Luke 8:14-15 ESV

What will help us be undistracted?

  1. Scheduling an unhurried time with God everyday.
  2. Reading a chapter of the Bible a day to hear what God wants to say to us
  3. Writing down the insights and convictions of what we should do as we hear God’s word (a Spiritual Journal)
  4. Doing what God reveals to us in our daily time with Him
  5. Setting aside a couple of hours every few months to review our spiritual journal to make sure we are following through with what God has said to us
  6. Being part of a discipleship group or small group that will encourage us and keep us accountable to follow through

Seeing God

I went on a mission trip to South Africa and Mozambique in August of 2007. On that trip God taught me a significant lesson about seeing Him at work around me everyday. It was my desire to see what God was doing and I was frustrated by the realization that I was not seeing God at work everyday. I expressed this struggle to God.

Then God spoke to me from Matthew 6:22-23. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” That entire day I had been focusing on and thinking about things that I wanted or that I thought would make me happy. Because I was focusing on myself, I was blind to and missing the things that God was doing.

I was also looking for God to do big miraculous things and God reminded me of 1 Corinthians 12 and 13. The Corinthian church was caught up in wanting God to do spectacular things. But in 1 Cor. 12:31 Paul says I will show you the most excellent way… and he proceeds to talk about loving others as being even more important than speaking in tongues of angels, having all knowledge, being able to move mountains, and dying as a martyr. 1 John 4:12 says “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” So whenever we see the Spirit of God moving his people to love and serve others, we are seeing God at work around us.

This is how God most often works in the world, through His people. God is not concerned about doing lots of splashy miracles to impress and amaze people. He is concerned as a Father patiently teaching His children to love each other. Where ever we see the Spirit of God working in peoples lives, He will be moving people to love and serve others with their lives.

With that word from God, I realized I was seeing God working around me everyday as I saw members of the mission team loving the children of Mozambique through Bible clubs and making meals for the poor. Through encouraging a poor pastor by helping him build his house. I saw God working powerfully through a missionary woman, Sally, who had dedicated her life to organizing an entire town to help five thousand orphans of AIDS grow up with hope.

But we can miss all that God is doing when we focus on our selfish desires and then we are in darkness. When our hearts love the things of this world that darkness is very dark indeed. God desires that we focus each day first on enjoying walking with Him. As we walk with Him, He will show us opportunities to help and serve people. Then we will be the light of the World and people will see God through us.

Social Networking

Social networking is transforming how people connect and advertising as an industry.

Two primary sites that have made social networks a part of daily lifestyle of millions of people is Twitter and Facebook. Twitter was a variation of the weblogging medium that catapulted blogging into a wide spread usage because it was a microblog. Limited to posting only 140 characters at a time, twitter encouraged people to share brief thoughts or a quick update on what they were doing in a sentence. Because this was very easy to do, many people would do it. 200 million people are using Twitter.

Facebook has taken the Internet social experience into new territory with a reported 750 million users worldwide. If the numbers are to be believed, one out of ten people in the world is on Facebook. There have been other social networks before Facebook, but none have grown to the size and usability that Facebook has. Half of all Facebook users are reported to visit the site every day.

Social networks are increasing the rate at which change can happen. As noted before, the printing press greatly accelerated the sharing of knowledge and the rate of change in society. Koch in his book, Superconnect: Harnessing the Power of Networks and the Strength of Weak Links, talks about how the printing press accelerated the rate of change.

Johannes Guttenberg and his co-inventors changed all that. The demand for, and supply of, knowledge increased faster than ever before – the renaissance transformed ideas, art, medicine and science. There was a tremendous outpouring of new writing and knowledge: as the Scottish anthropologist James Frazer (1854-1941) noted in The Golden Bough, the pace of innovation speeds up enormously with written books: ‘For literature accelerates the advance of thought at a rate which leaves the slow progress of opinion by word of mouth at an immeasurable distance behind. Two or three generations of literature may do more to change thought than two or three thousand years of traditional life.’ (Koch 99)

If the printing press had a dramatic effect on society, how much more will the Internet speed up the sharing of ideas and increase cooperation towards change. A book must be printed, distributed with expenses incurred, and people must read it often after word of mouth recommendation. But consider how much quicker knowledge can spread when someone shares a blog or video by informing everyone in their online social network. If others are moved by or like what you share, they also can instantly share that with their network. The right material can go viral and spread to thousands and millions very quickly. The right information shared with the right group of people can tear down people’s feelings of helplessness and move large groups of people to action.

It is a sociological reality that people influence each other emotionally. “Most of us are already aware of the direct effect we have on our friends and family; our actions can make them happy or sad, healthy or sick, even rich or poor. But we rarely consider that everything we think, feel, do, or say can spread far beyond the people we know.” (Christakis 30) “We can be deeply affected by events we do not even witness that happen to people we do know” in a social chain reaction. (30) Christakis cites several examples of crowds of people being swept along in fear of a mob mentality, not knowing why everyone was afraid, but simply imitating what they saw other people doing.

Christakis documents the spread of depression, obesity, STD, financial panic, violence and even suicide through real life networks of relationships. (31) He documents cases of wide spread psychosomatic illnesses, called mass psychogenic illness, where large groups of people believe they have been afflicted with an imaginary illness. One recent example occurred at the Warren County High School in McMinnville, Tennessee which had 1825 students and 140 staff. On November 12, 1998 believed she smelled gasoline and complained of headache, dizziness and nausea. Students seeing her reactions also began to develop similar symptoms. The school was cleared out and a hundred people went to the hospital that day. The school was thoroughly inspected by various agencies and no problems were found. (40-42)

How is it that whole groups of people can be influenced by other people? Christakis calls this emotional contagion, where emotions of all sorts, joy or fear, can spread between groups of people. “How you feel depends on how those whom you are closely and distantly connected feel.” (35) Anxiety spreads from person to person to person and people quickly lose the ability to be reassured. (47) Christakis explains the mass psychogenic illness as a fundamental nonpathological process in humans, that people have a tendency to mimic the emotional state of others. (48)

People tend to imitate and be influenced by the emotional state of the people around them. People tend to conform. People want to fit in and be accepted. People tend to fall into groupthink where “thinking when concurrence seeking becomes so dominant in a cohesive ingroup that it overrides realistic appraisal of alternate courses of action.” (Aronson 15) If everyone else agrees, most people will conform. But if just one other person disagrees with the group, others are far more likely to disagree as well.(19)

In parts of the world today, fear of punishment or reprisal has been used by dictators and criminal groups to keep people in a state of fearful compliance. (29) When people feel isolated and powerless, they accept and conform to the status quo. Dictators and oppressors understand this and usually control the normal media channels like newspapers, radio and television to keep people from information and truth that would encourage or empower them to change things. But with the introduction of social networking, the world is witnessing mass demonstrations where people are uniting to reject the status quo and overthrow oppressive governments.

Oscar Morales was fed up. It was holiday time in his hometown of Barranquilla, Colombia, just after the 2008 New Year. The gentle-spirited civil engineer with a gift for computers was spending his days at the bucolic nearby beaches with his extended family. But despite the holidays, like much of the country his thoughts were dark, and occupied with the suffering of a little boy named Emmanuel. Emmanuel was the four-year-old son of Clara Rojas, who had been a hostage in the jungles of Colombia for six years. Her son had been born while she was held by the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish initials, FARC. FARC held a total of seven hundred hostages, including Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, kidnapped along with Rojas during the 2002 campaign.

Sympathy and sadness about the plight of FARC’s hostages was an ever-present fact in contemporary Colombia, as was fear about what the powerful and murderous revolutionary army might do next to disrupt the country. But the case of Emmanuel had lately acquired out-sized prominence in the popular press. For some time President Hugo Chavez of neighboring Venezuela had been attempting to negotiate with FARC about releasing Betancourt and others. Then abruptly in late December the guerrillas announced that they would soon turn over Rojas, her son Emmanuel, and another hostage to Chavez. In a nation exhausted from a decades-long battle with the violent guerrillas, this was a rare piece of good news. “People were longing for a gift, for a miracle,” says Morales, thirty-two. “And Emmanuel was a symbol. The whole country was feeling the promise: ‘Please let Emmanuel get his freedom. We would like that as a Christmas present from FARC.'”
But as the New Year arrived, Emmanuel still hadn’t been freed. Then, in the first days of January, Colombian president Alvaro Uribe went on national television to deliver the shocking news that it appeared that Emmanuel was not even in the possession of FARC! It turned out Emmanuel had become seriously ill some time earlier, and FARC had taken him away from his mother, Clara, and dumped him with a peasant family. He was now, unexpectedly, in the government’s hands.
Morales wanted desperately to do something. So he turned to Facebook. Though the service wasn’t yet even translated into Spanish, Morales spoke fluent English, as do many educated Colombians, and had been maintaining a profile there for over a year, posting his own information in Spanish and connecting with old college and high school friends. Spending time on Facebook was already a daily ritual for him.
In Facebook’s search box he typed the four letters “FARC” and hit enter. There were no results. No groups. No activism. No outrage. Groups devoted to almost everything under the sun were common on Facebook. But when it came to FARC, the citizens of Colombia had become used to being angry but cowed. In effect, the entire country had been taken hostage, and this had been going on for decades.
Morales spent a day asking himself if he was willing to go public on Facebook. He decided to take the plunge, and on the 4th created a group against FARC. “It was like a therapy,” he says. “I had to express my anger.” He wrote a short description of the group’s simple purpose—to stand up against FARC. A self-confessed “computer addict,” Morales was skilled at graphics tools, so he designed a logo in the form of a vertical version of the Colombian flag. He overlaid it with four simple pleas in capitals running down the page, each one slightly larger than the last— NO MORE KIDNAPPINGS, NO MORE LIES, NO MORE KILLINGS, NO MORE FARC. “I was trying to scream like if I was in a crowd,” he explains. “The time had come to fight FARC. What had happened was unbearable.”
But what should he call his group? On Facebook it’s conventional to give groups names like “I bet I can find one million people who hate George Bush.” But Morales didn’t like such titles. They were juvenile. This was not a contest. This was serious. Yet he liked the idea of a million. A famous Spanish song is called “One Million Friends.” One million people against FARC? The word voices sounded more literary. One million voices against FARC—Un Millon de Voces Contra Las FARC. That was it.

After midnight on January 4, Morales created the group. He made it public so that any Facebook member could join. His personal network included about one hundred friends, and he invited them all. He was tired. At 3 a.m. he went to bed.

At 9 a.m. the next morning he checked his group. Fifteen hundred people had joined already! “Woooooooo!!!” Morales howled in delight. This was an even better response than he had expected! That day at the beach he told his extended family about the group and asked them to invite their own Facebook friends to join. Most of them were avid Facebook users as well, and they hated FARC, too. By the time Morales returned home in the late afternoon, his group had four thousand members.

“That’s when I said to myself, ‘Okay, no more beach, no more going out.'” He was ready to get serious. “I felt, ‘Oh my God! This is what I want! A committed community around the message.'”

A Facebook group has a “wall,” where members can post thoughts, as well as discussion forums that allow organized, long-lasting conversations among many members. Morales soon bonded with several people who were posting there with special vigor. They exchanged instant messaging and Skype addresses and cell-phone numbers so they could continue their conversations offline.

As more and more Colombians joined the group, members started talking not only about how mad they were about FARC, but what they ought to do about it. On January 6, just the second full day, a consensus on the page was emerging that the burgeoning group should go public. By the time it hit eight thousand members, people were posting on the discussion board, over and over, “Let’s DO something.”

Late on the afternoon of the 6th, his newfound Facebook friends, especially two he was speaking to by phone, convinced Morales that he should propose a demonstration. When he did, the idea was received on the wall and discussion board by acclamation. By the end of the day the group, still operating only out of Morales’s upstairs bedroom, had decided to stage a national march against FARC. It would be February 4, one month after the formation of the group. Morales, who was used to being left out of things since he lived in a provincial city, insisted the march take place not only in Bogota, the capital, but also many other places throughout the country, including of course his hometown of Barranquilla.

So Morales created an event called the National March against FARC. He and his co-organizers, several of them already as consumed by the project as he was, immediately got pushback from unexpected quarters. Members in Miami, Buenos Aires, adi id, Los Angeles, Paris, and elsewhere argued that it should be a global demonstration. Morales didn’t even realize people living outside Colombia had joined the group. These Colombian émigrés were on Facebook partly to stay in touch with things back at home. They wanted to be involved in this movement, too. So it became a global march.

What ensued was one of the most extraordinary examples of digitally fuelled activism the world has ever seen. On February 4, about 10 million people marched against FARC in hundreds of cities in Colombia according to Colombian press estimates. As many as 2 million more marched in cities around the world. The movement that began with an impassioned midnight Facebook post in one frustrated young man’s bedroom led to one of the largest demonstrations ever, anywhere in the world. (Kirkpatrick 1-4)

This event in Columbia is one of several recent events where young people have rallied using Facebook as a social networking communication tool to overcome oppression. The press covered plans for the upcoming demonstration because Facebook was a new thing in Columbia and this helped Morale’s gain attention. “Though Morales and his co-organizers were mostly in their early thirties, the country was also captivated by the possibility that younger people were not cowed by FARC.” (Kirkpatrick 5) The Colombian president saw this Facebook uprising and  he did everything he could to make it successful. The army provided Morales with bodyguards and a car. Mayors and city governments worked with demonstration volunteers to grant march permits. “By the day of the march there were 350,000. Despite decades of fear and intimidation, Facebook gave Colombia’s young people an easy, digital way to feel comfort in numbers to declare their disgust.” (6)  On the Saturday before the march the guerillas announced that they would release three hostages, all former Colombian congressmen.

The Columbian march is a great demonstration of how Facebook enabled one man to communicate and overcome the sense of powerlessness that many felt. That fear had kept people in conformity and helpless. But when one man spoke out from the relative safety of a Facebook web page, millions of people united to publically march and demonstrate that they would no longer accept the fearful status quo. The sheer numbers of people coming together gave people courage. Social networks connected people and helped them to unite and overcome their fear.

This is not the only example of this happening. This same phenomena has been turning the Arab world upside down as young Arab citizens have been uniting and rallying in large peaceful demonstrations of civil disobedience. The Egyptian government was overthrown in January of this year through peaceful protest. “It was sparked on social-networking sites, and inspired by a revolution in Tunisia. In 18 days, it grew into something astounding – a leaderless people’s movement that at every turn outsmarted a government with an almost unblemished 30-year record of suppressing dissent.” Washington Post (Fadel)

Wael Ghonim is an Egyptian young man and a Google executive but like many of his generation had lost hope that things could change in a society permeated for decades with a culture of fear.  Wael spent several years helping his generation understand that they could affect real change. “He quickly grasped that social media, notably Facebook, were emerging as the most powerful communication tools to mobilize and develop ideas.” (Elbaradei) Wael helped his people understand that the regime would only listen when citizens exercised their right of peaceful demonstration and civil disobedience. Wael was instrumental in initiating a call for a peaceful revolution. “The response was miraculous: a movement that started with thousands on Jan. 25 ended with 12 million Egyptians removing Hosni Mubarak and his regime. What Wael and the young Egyptians did spread like wildfire across the Arab world.”  Time (Elbaradei)

Both Wael and Oscar have demonstrated that social networking can mobilize millions and even overthrow oppressive governments. “The Columbian thing,” says Mark Zuckerberg (the founder of Facebook), “is a very early indicator that governance is changing and of how powerful political organizations can form.” (Kirkpatrick 6) Social networking is changing governments and it is also changing advertising.

The old days of pushing ads into people’s faces who aren’t particularly interested is being changed by the social networking approach.  Advertising on social networks targets people who have expressed an interest already in the topic, genre, or product. Because they have listed their interests or joined a group, advertising and information can be delivered to people who are more receptive.  This is the principle on which the Columbian march exploded to 10 million people in months. People joined and were interested, so influencing people to act on their interest was much easier.

Ben and Jerry’s ice cream created a Facebook group and asked people for their input on new flavors. This is a glimpse of the future of advertising. Creating a conversation between the business and the consumer based on interest. This kind of advertising and connecting will yield greater results because the interest is already there. And those who are interested will pass along information they like to their friends who they think will also be interested. These are just some of the ways governing, advertising and education are being changed by social networking.

Recommended Reading:

Aronson, E. (2004). The Social Animal

Christakis, N. A., & Fowler, J. H. (2009). Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives.

Kirkpatrick, D. (2010). The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World.

Koch, R., & Lockwood, G. (2010). Superconnect: Harnessing the Power of Networks and the Strength of Weak Links.

The Gift Economy

The gift economy is an interesting current trend for large companies who are attracting the most users and advertising dollars on the Internet. Companies like YouTube, Google and Facebook provide a software platform that costs millions of dollars in man hours and hardware to provide. Then they give it away for free. The users create the content on these massive websites that draws other people to these web sites. Publishing and expressing yourself is free and available to many, but only a few profit from it. Those that provide the Internet services have the right to sell advertising to businesses who want to connect with the millions of users on these social networks. Google and Facebook are billion dollar companies off the advertising revenue generated.

Facebook and Google are showing us a glimpse of what the future of the Internet and computing looks like. Companies that are building Internet Software Services run by massive computing centers serving millions of people. The goal is to become a utility like electric companies where people get their processing power and software over a broadband internet connection. People will get all the processing power and the latest software on demand as they need it. Bill Gates told the top Microsoft managers in 2005 where things were headed. Because of the Internet, the computing business was moving away from software installed on personal computers to “Internet Software Services.”

In the book The Big Switch, Carr shares this quote. “Software”, Gates told his troops, “was no longer something people had to install on their computers. It was turning into a utility service supplied over the Internet.” Both Google and Facebook are examples of Internet Software Services people use through their web browsers. “The broad and rich foundation of the Internet will unleash a ‘services wave’ of applications and experiences available instantly.” Services designed to scale to tens and hundreds of millions of people will dramatically change the nature and the cost of solutions delivered to enterprises and small businesses. In the future people will not need more and more powerful computers and to keep upgrading their software, they will simply use software services provided through their high speed internet connection.

Their goal is to eventually make computing power and software cheaper for users to use over a broadband connection than to maintain and upgrade personal computer hardware and software. In his book, The Big Switch. Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google, Carr describes how a similar strategy was used to consolidate electricity as a commodity provided by large utility companies.

People are increasingly using portable devices where they are always connected to the Internet with iPhones, iPads, Android smart phones and tablets. In September, Amazon announced a new full color and multimedia capable tablet that was half the price of the wildly successful iPad. People are now accessing the Internet anytime and anywhere. Because phones and tablets are easier to carry around than personal computers, society is entering an era of constant connectedness.

The challenge for businesses and educators in the 21st century will be shifting their web presence stay in the mainstream of where the Internet users are spending their time. With 800 million users on Facebook and half of all Facebook users spending more time on Facebook than watching TV, businesses and educational organizations need to have a Facebook presence. With  54% of all mobile phone sales being smart phones this year and over 100 million smart phones being sold each quarter, organizations and businesses need a website or smartphone app designed for the small screen. And with tablets becoming the preferred digital media viewing device for ebooks and videos, development for that platform will be increasingly important in the coming years.

Recommended reading:

The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, From Edison to Google by Nicholas Carr