Monday, August 26, 2013

Something I wrote over a year ago

Originally written 2/23/2012 
Two thoughts on the innovation of technology came together in my head recently. One is the impact of social networking on the amount of stored personal data available. When one died a generation ago the amount of data generated by and about an average person may be enough to fill a file drawer. Some pictures, some letters, medical records and the like--enough to get a general idea, maybe enough to write a respectable obituary or biography. The generations living today have a vast and ever-increasing amount of data about them stored in the cloud in the form of pictures, videos, blog posts, etc. The direction we are going is ultimately to have a complete copy of our memories, personalities, and more in digital form. As computers get better and better at processing large amounts of data there are interesting ramifications. Ever thought about how that info get’s used after you die?

The other thought on innovation was sparked by Google’s latest news maker, a heads up display that integrates the power of smart phones with augmented reality technology. Basically, they want to put all the information available on the internet directly on top of what you are looking at at the moment. Wearing Google glasses you could, for example, look at the products in a store and see product information floating above each item or price comparisons from other stores. You could look at a restaurant sign and see reviews and recommendations. The possibilities are endless.

When I put these two thoughts together along with the fact that more and more social content is becoming searchable and computers are getting better and better at interpreting social content I begin to see a world that is hardly recognizable. A world in which there are increasingly less secrets. The anonymity that comes with being a face in the crowd diminishes greatly. Here’s what I mean. Let’s assume you had some magical Facebook glasses that could bring up the Facebook profile of any person you looked at. Instantly, you would have access to who this person was friends with, where they worked, what they looked like in high school, what they had for breakfast in 2007. Assuming everyone adopted the technology and the glasses carried your id and location, as I’m sure they would, you would be able to enter a crowded room and scan the room for “suggested friends”. The social implications are mind-boggling.

Currently we seem to have a large amount of control over our information though it is much less than it was ten or even five years ago. At this point the rule of thumb is, if you don’t want people to know about it, don’t put it on the internet. But the direction of information technology and trends in marketing suggests that it will get more and more difficult to keep corporations, government entities, and even benign social networks out of your personal information. If you carry a smartphone or even use a credit card there are a lot of steps you would have to take to keep your location, purchase history, and other information to yourself. If the people around you carry smartphones then there’s really nothing you can do to keep your image off the internet. I received a text from an acquaintance the other day with a picture he had taken of his son in a restaurant. There I was in the background. We hadn’t noticed each other at the time, but when he looked back at his pictures he noticed me there.

Is this bad? It got me to thinking historically. Is this really such a huge shift for the human race? A few generations ago most people lived in small communities or in a rural setting where their family or tribe was the only social interaction they had. Secrets were considered dangerous to the community. Privacy only existed inside your head and even that wasn’t safe from the probing questions of your elders. The result was social conformity and greater checks and balances over morality. If a man abused his family, it would be found out, and he would be dealt with. If a woman lied to her neighbor everyone would soon know about it and she would face the consequences. What if the proliferation of widely available personal information is actually bringing us to a state of greater community and the ideal of a “global village”? Privacy groups assume a lack of privacy is a bad thing, but what will it really lead to?

If history is a guide then none of us know.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Giving Up MY Rights

Now that I am 34 years old, married with three kids and working as a pastor, it is obviously a good time to start thinking about becoming a man. Society (I'm looking at you Nickelodeon!) has taught me to delay this process for as long as possible. I'm starting to think that society may have mislead me a bit. It has been fun and all, but now I'm feeling somewhat unprepared to be, well...ME.

Both of my grandfathers are deceased, and I live a long way from my father. I can't really go back in time and pay more attention to the lessons they taught me (yet!), but I can scour my brain for memories of "man lessons." One thing all of these men taught me by example was sacrifice. I knew each of them as men who had consistently sacrificed their own desires and comfort in order to provide for and protect others.

I'm bringing up sacrifice because I wanted to talk about something that all husbands, daddies and pastors need to do. You'll notice a link on my blog for k9 Web Filtering. It is a program that runs in the background on your computer and simply blocks access to all websites in categories that you or your accountability partner chooses. I'm telling you right now, you should definitely install and use this or a program like it.

Here is why you might think you don't want to do it:
  • I don't look at anything bad, so why should I junk up my computer with another program.
  • It might block something useful that I really need from the internet.
  • My wife/mom/roommates will think that I am a pervert if I use this.
  • What if a regular site gets reported as a bad sight and it reports me and someone thinks I went to a bad site?
  • I sometimes secretly look at bad stuff. This might make me get caught, and disrupt my secret source of pleasure.
Here is why you actually DO want to do it:
  • Even if you NEVER are tempted to look at bad sites, this will help protect you from accidentally coming across them.  I have detected no negative affects to my system's performance. Actually, it has protected me a few times from accidentally going to cleverly disguised scam sites.
  • The chances of anything on the internet actually being useful is really small, but even if something you MUST have is blocked, your accountability partner can give you temporary access.
  • Your wife, mom and roommates already know that you are a pervert. If you want to avoid the awkwardness of admitting it, just tell everyone you want to make your computer safe for "kids." No one can say anything to that.
  • In my experience nothing from my regular web surfing gets reported as questionable. Hopefully, the person holding you accountable loves you and isn't out to ruin your reputation because of a slip up or misunderstanding.
  • If you are doing ANYTHING secretly, and you are scared of getting caught, you need to stop right now. You have been building an imaginary dream world that is slowly turning you into a monster capable of terrible things. You should do whatever it takes to stop this behavior as soon as possible. This will include telling someone close to you about it. If you can't do that then you are a slave and a fool and pain is on it's way for you and those you care about.
You may think this is an inconvenience that isn't worth it. I'm arguing that being a man means that you will make sacrifices for those you are responsible for. The minor inconvenience and humility it takes to be accountable with your web activity is WELL worth it if only for the sake of presenting a good example to those who look up to you. Maybe you aren't tempted by anything on the internet (really?), but many of your friends and family are. When you set the example by giving up more than you are required it helps the community around you take those same steps. When your wife knows that you love her so much you are willing to admit weakness and give up some control of your life, her respect for you can grow. When you shine light on the dark areas of your life, your children can grow up with a firm faith in your integrity that will be an anchor for them the rest of their lives.

So what are you waiting for. Click the K9 link right now and get started. Let me know if you need tech support.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Best Post Ever

One morning as I read from Galatians, my mind started to form an idea that made me really excited. It was an idea for a blog post that would be so amazingly amazing. Before the idea was even fully formed I was imagining how the post would get passed around Facebook then get picked up on Twitter. Soon Christian celebrities would be retweeting me, I'd be getting offers for book deals. Yes, this idea was a game changer. I just needed to write it down.

Suddenly, a long screeching wail of auditory flambé wrestled my focus away from this most excellent of ideas. I didn't move. I barely blinked. I knew exactly where the sound was coming from, and it didn't cause me the least alarm. I sighed. I looked back at my reading. Where was I? Oh yeah, the idea. It will be so great to get that written down and posted. What a difference it will make for so many people! The idea that...the What was it again?

I tried to retrace my mental steps to come up with it again, but the screeching continued. The idea was lost to the mist of distraction. The screeching, of course, came from my almost two-year-old whose negotiation skills are basically binary. You give him what he wants or he screams like a Ringwaith at Buckleberry Ferry. The cause of his vociferation was, as is the case one out of three times, his sister. She was sitting on the cushion that he wanted to move. I glanced up and saw her staring blankly ahead as he tried to remove her apparently using only the force of sound waves. The word he screamed only resembled English in that it began with a "nuh" sound. The rest of it was made up of vowel sounds too complex to render using traditional letters.

 When I told this story to my wife she quickly responded, "This is the season of life you are in." She delivered this response like a doctor explaining aches and pains to a mid-lifer who didn't expect age to come so quickly. She diagnosed me on the spot because she's been there. Being an at-home mom she lives with the near constant distraction that comes with raising kids (especially three of them very close in age).

So if my problem is that my season of life is one of distraction, interruption and compromise, what is the answer? Here are some guesses.
  1. Roll with it. That's the first approach I try to apply to any problem. 
  2. Get creative. Sounds hard to me, but all the people on Pintrest are doing it.
  3. Call for back up. Funny how doubling the number of hands and brains in a room can help make life easier.
  4. Hold on tight and weather the storm. Sometimes survival = success.
 So what, if I didn't come up with the Bestblogpostever? I'm a daddy, dadgummit! And daddies have to make sacrifices. The world may have to wait to be enlightened by the treasures being created in mind, but in the meantime I intend to make the best of it. To help me keep track of this I intend on documenting my progress.

I once saw jugglers on TV ask for items from the audience to prove they could juggle anything. They ended up with a cake, a squid and something else I can't remember. They succeeded, and it was amazing. The title of this blog (Husband Daddy Pastor) represents my great juggling act of being a husband, a daddy and a pastor. And listen folks, I'm terrible at juggling so, this could get interesting.