Fourteen: What Makes a Viral Video?

As I got my stuff ready for a road trip to Winnipeg I was reminded of this TED talk I watched a few weeks ago.

Kevin Allocca is the trends manager at YouTube and gave this compelling talk about what makes a viral video.  In light of Kony 2012 and the debate it has sparked, I figured this would be of interest.  It’s 7 minutes, which is a bit longer than I normally post yet well worth your time.   If you are interested in what makes a video go viral take a look. 

In the name of viral videos, my two favorite viral videos are embedded below.

Which are your favorite viral videos?

Thirteen: “Kony 2012” Compelled to Connect Pt4

It is safe to say that Kony 2012 is all over the place.  Twitter and Facebook alone became saturated with pictures, comments and videos.  Heck last night alone 20 people in my Facebook network posted the video or other links about the movement.  Not just my fellow British Columbians, but people from all over North America.

Connection is happening all over the place in the name of Kony 2012.  It is compelling, it is gripping because we are people created to connect.  It is in our DNA to connect with God and to connect with each other.   Technology gives us the persistent opportunity to do this with great efficiency.  As we have seen with Kony 2012, it can start movements.

According to Derek Sivers, a movement starts not with a leader, but with the people who are willing to follow.  When you have followers you create momentum.  When there is momentum it is almost impossible for the idea to stay within the nebulous world of digital social media.  It hit’s your home, it hits the streets, it hits your neighbourhood and beyond.  Things start moving.  It is attractive because people want to be part of something larger than themselves.  There is this desire because our individualistic society isolates us to the point where we need each other for belonging.   Peter Block speaks of this in his book “Community: The Structure of Belonging.”  He continues on to say;

“Community offers the promise of belonging and calls for us to acknowledge our interdependence.”

Movements assume the interdependence of a connected network of people willing to participate in something greater than themselves.  It is safe to say that Kony 2012 is a movement that has given people a place of belonging.  And it’s beautiful. Think critically, get involved, Kony is a monster who forces children to kill. But it is also a reminder, that though we are compelled to connect with one another in the name of something far greater than the individual, there is also a great divine connect waiting, just waiting for us to become active participants. It’s more than a movement, it’s citizenship and incarnation of a Kingdom and a world born within the dreams of God.  We need our connections with God and with each other to be stronger than that which empowers movements.  Follow Jesus, be missionaries of each and every moment.

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”  Matthew 6:10,11

Previous Post: Twelve: “The Disconnect Box” Compelled to Connect Pt 3

(If you have not seen the video that has hit the social media world by storm, I have embedded it below)

Twelve: “The Disconnect Box” Compelled to Connect Pt3


A few years ago while at mall in Winnipeg I come across two people walking together at a normal pace texting.  It was an odd scene.  At the time I couldn’t really place what was odd about it, other than the potential for a super awkward pedestrian collision.  I scurried out-of-the-way completely flabbergasted.  Then it occurred to me.

They were completely disconnected.  Disconnected from each other.  Disconnected from the potential awkward mall collision.  Disconnected from all that was around them.

Technology has afforded us the beautiful opportunity to connect.  There is no doubt that the texting mall walkers were connecting with people important to them.  Cell phones, tablets, and laptops have given us the ultimate in mobile connection.  I text my wife, send updates to youth group facebook page, check hockey scores and check email all with my mobile device.  Texting, facebooking, tweeting, emailing at the touch of a screen at any moment, in almost any place, thanks to my portable 4G Android device.  

I remember listening a Charles Adler radio show in memory of Steve Jobs.  There was plenty of discussion and review on his impact on the world.  Much of the conversation revolved around the cultural impact of the ipod, ipad, and iphone.  45 minutes into the conversation, a gentlemen called ranting about the use of technology by younger generations and how ‘they’ were on their ‘phones and things’ all the time completely oblivious to the world around them.  His rant lasted a while until the host finally cut him off.  Adlers response has stuck with me.  It went something like this; “…given the grand scope of human history, we could say this mobile technology has not been on the map for a very long time.  It’s almost like we don’t fully yet understand the implications of its use.”  Adler continued on to call it ‘technology etiquette.’  It is almost as if we are learning about the implications of connecting so readily.  As a culture we have not yet discovered the proper way in which to use this technology. 

Let’s think a little bit about what incarnation means.  Incarnational ministry is a practice of presence.  Being present with God, as a participant with God in that particular time and place.  A divine shout out to the flesh and blood presence of God here on earth.  It is the ministry of the moment.

If incarnation and being present in the place and space in which we find ourselves is important then paying attention to that which disconnects us from our present realities is even more important.  It becomes a practice of self-discipline in the name of discipleship.  It could be a key in understanding this ‘technology etiquette.’ In a youth group I was part of we created a disconnect box.  Every student would put their cell phone or other mobile device in the disconnect box.  It wasn’t born out of a need to pry them away from their devices.  It was a statement to one another that these two hours together are important.  They are divine, and they deserve our immediate attention.  It was a ministry of incarnation.  It was an opportunity to teach our students to be present with one another, and with God… no distractions.  

It is quite strange to think of these devices that hold so power to connect actually have just as much, if not more, power to disconnect us from our present reality.  But it is a learning process.  I am certainly as guilty as anyone.  A technology addict myself, I have had gentle reminders from my wife and even my two year old son to put down my phone.  May we learn to disconnect so we can indeed connect.

Previous Post: Eleven: “Facebook Spirituality?” Compelled to Connect Pt 2

Eleven: “Facebook Spirituality?” Compelled to Connect pt2

“I’m just going to check it for a little bit.” 

You start with a status you like, so you naturally ‘like’ it.  Then you stumble on a link that you like, so naturally you ‘like’ it, comment on it.  Then you write your status, hoping that it is witty enough to feel the facebook love with an assault of ‘likes’ and comments.  Then you post in one of the many groups you are in, maybe for homework, maybe for youth group, maybe because you know a bunch of people who like beards or pie.  Then you post photo’s of your beard, or the pie you baked and begin in a dialogue about it with someone 1000’s of km’s away.  Then you look at an event you were invited to, click ‘attending’ or ‘join’ even though you’ll most likely forget about it.  Then you look at the clock and realize that an hour has gone by and that’s when you feel it… ‘facebook guilt’ or ‘facebook shame’ because there was something else you needed to do.  The thing is, during those moments you are actively participating in something that you are naturally compelled to do.

Connect.  God connects with us.  We connect with God.  We connect with each other.  (Genesis 1-3) 

But the thing is, a lot of people use facebook to connect.  TONS!  Some of the stats on usage are staggering; 1/4 say staying connected on facebook is more important than dating, 4/5 students say that in a given hour they will be interrupted by social media, 9/10 college students and young professionals have a facebook account.  These numbers are staggering.  Whatever the stats may be, people are hanging out and staying updated on facebook or other social media (for other stats click here).

There are some benefits to this high degree of connectivity.

People from all over the world are connecting.  The result has been, people from different contexts are sharing information, ideas, critiques and much more with a few clicks.  Movements have started because of this consistent opportunity to connect.  People are able to connect with old friends and family.  People share photo’s and video’s that are wonderful snap shots of a life lived half a world away or across the street.  Facebook has become a social hub. 

Inherently, I’m not sure that this is all bad.  Facebook has created community.  Community is a good thing because community is a group of people connecting in the name of relationship.  Community can be an intimate spiritual experience when a group of people connecting in the name of relationship seek a relationship with the living God. 

The question for me, can this happen without physical presence with one another?  Can there be a digital community in the deepest sence of the word?  Is there such a thing as a facebook spirituality?

Previous Post: Compelled to Connect Part 1

Nine: Compelled to Connect Pt 1

If we take a look at the beginning, the very beginning, connections are extremely important.

Genesis chapters 1-3 point toward the fundamental place connections have within the human experience.  God created humanity to connect with Godself.  God created Adam and Eve to connect intimately as husband and wife.  Further on in the text we read that God blesses Adam and Eve to multiply, establishing a genetic and emotional connection with offspring.  God created the planet, and everything on it where-so-in Adam and Eve could reside.  Interestingly, as people made in the image of God, they are to hold stewardship over it.  There are connections all over the place.  Those connections have connections.  Most importantly however we see that God is at the centre of every single one of them.  It is a Divine network.

Within a network, our connections become massive.  We connect with fellow citizens of humanity of all races, spaces, sexuality and socio-economic realities etc… all over the place.  For example what and how we buy has a far reaching consequences within our network.  I asked a group of Jr High students where their tee-shirts were made.  Their answers spanned the globe.  Not surprisingly as we live in an era of globalization.  The price they buy those shirts for deeply impacted those who made them in the seemingly far and distant countries that we like to forget.

Our collective human relationship with creation is another example.  The way we use the earth, the pollution, the community gardens and the bicycle commuters all point to the connections we have.  These actions have tremendous implications for those in other countries.  All of a sudden everyone is really close… didn’t Jesus say love your neighbour as yourself?

When we all of a suddenly pay attention to where our clothes are made, or food is grown, and begin to look at what a fair price for all that stuff is, we are building a relationship with that person on the other side of the planet.  When we become aware that our environmental choices have an affect on people who reside elsewhere on this planet we are loving our neighbour.

If connections are fundamental, then relationships are at the heart of the human experience.  Within the context of humanity, relationships are born out of connections.  The stronger the connection, the stronger the relationship.  The simple example is found in any human relationship.  You talk, you listen, and your physical presence or other all point to various was in which connections happen.

If connections break, or weaken in any way the relationship suffers.  Think of the destructive nature of sin, that which separates us from the Divine.  It disconnects us from God.


Let me put on my captain obvious uniform on for a second and identify that our collective and individual relationship with God, who created everything and loves us, is the central relationship;  The sin, the redemption, the restoration, the forgiveness, the covenant, all of it.   Think of Jesus as the divine connection that makes the relationship with God, and therefore everything else, jive.  After all Jesus also said, ‘Love God.’  When we focus on this relationship with God, and all the other relationships available to us via this Divine network, we are in essence, a missional agent of God working toward the redemption and restoration of humanity and creation.

Imagine all this, originating in, and being sustained by, a loving God!

So when we have a technology that connects.  It should be of no surprise that it becomes a important to people.  We are compelled to connect.  It is in our DNA.  Below are some staggering numbers that indicate how important connection has become.

So I guess that leads me to what I am hoping to poke and prod with this mini series on “Compelled to Connect.”  How do we use this technology to connect in a way that gives life, and connects us deeper into the bowls of relationship, as a community, within the larger redemptive heart of God?  The next two on in this series will be dropping on Monday and Tuesday respectively, as I am wanting to post my notes on the sessions with Stuart Murray tomorrow.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, as this is raw, and very much a work in progress for me.

(Hat Tip to Steve Plenart and Dan Dyck for pointing me, via facebook, to this wonderful graphic filled with staggering stats… click here)