Today was a long day, both in class and then afterwards for me, at least. First off, I actually woke up feeling pretty well this morning which was a minor miracle considering how I felt going to bed last night. I think that Barbara Bradley Hagerty was right when she said in Fingerprints of God that modern medicine is like a miracle.
Anyway, I'm supposed to be talking about the class, so I'll get on with it. We spent a lot of time today getting to know one another and the course instructors, Eric Shafer and Matt Tombers. They both have a lot of experience in the area of media and religion but their backgrounds are different enough that I think they will complement each other very well throughout the week. The morning was wrapped up with looking at an article on the Simply Zesty site showing some interesting trends and metrics on social media. I think that one of the more interesting statements for me was the following: "Auto-posting to Facebook decreases likes and comments by 70%". This prompted some discussion of some of the things Michael Hyatt said in his book Platform with regards to twitter. He mentioned having a set of links periodically tweeted to his account on a rotating basis based on a schedule and it seemed to me that I would find this rather annoying. I know that the volume of tweets on twitter is large enough that I don't see everything that is posted but I got the impression that these links would appear with enough frequency that I'd remember them.
Our afternoon session began with a very good talk by Dr. Scott Thumma from Hartford Seminary. Dr. Thumma studies the sociology of religion and he shared some very interesting statistics regarding growth (and decline) trends of churches over the past several decades. It was also intriguing to see towards the end that using technology in the church doesn't guarantee that membership will increase. This further emphasizes the point that we must be deliberate and intentional about how we use technology. Just as "no website is better than a bad website" it's also important to remember that any use of technology and media needs to be matched to the needs of the congregation at hand.
The rest of the afternoon was spent creating blogs and twitter accounts for everyone in the class. This led to some confusion which I think could have been alleviated if some of the terms were discussed prior to having everyone go through the process. It might have been helpful if Eric went through the process on the classroom computer and everyone else followed along while he created his Wordpress account and blog. As it was we had different people progress through the process at different rates and that led to more confusion in a few instances. I also might have reversed the order that we setup our accounts so that everyone could have posted their blog URL to twitter, making it easy for everyone else to click on the link and get to the sites to follow it from there.
All in all it was a good beginning to the week and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.