QUOTED: Former chief Rabbi blames social media for inflaming wars

220px-SirjonathansacksRuth Gledhill asked me for a quote earlier today re “The former Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, has warned of of the potential of social media to inflame wars to global proportions and said: “God himself weeps at the evils being committed in His name.” Here’s some of my response:

Dr Bex Lewis, research fellow with Codec, which explores the interfaces between the Bible, the digital world and contemporary culture at Durham University and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age, criticised Lord Sacks for a “technological determinist” position – that the technology is responsible for forcing a person to act in a particular way, rather than giving new opportunities which a person make choices around.

She said: “Social media can be considered like a brick – you can build houses with it, or you can throw it through people’s windows. People are doing both with it, as people have always done with every communications medium. Yes, social media allows messages to move faster globally, and those who speak loudest will often be listened to. Social media, however, gives the opportunity to speak back, particularly if people gather together.”

Read full article.

Tweet Featured on #BBCSML


Today’s programme was pre-advertised as:

Should there be a ‘fat tax’ on sugary drinks and fast food?

This week the government announced a new healthy food school meal initiative across England. This is part of the solution to tackle the growing obesity issue facing the UK. A quarter of British adults are now thought to be obese. The NHS spends around £5billion a year on treating conditions linked to obese patients. Prof Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, told a committee of MPs that “we may need to introduce a sugar tax”.

Would you support a new tax? Should we pay more for unhealthy foods? Or, would this be a case of a nanny state telling us what we should eat?

You can have your say by voting on the question now online or live via SMS during Sunday’s programme: Should there be a ‘fat tax’ on sugary drinks and fast food?

I sent a tweet several days ago – and I think Graham’s were too. As I continue to work with Beyond Chocolate, and think about all the reasons that we eat other than because we’re hungry, an interesting watch. In many ways a ‘fat tax’ doesn’t seem to make much sense, but if that money encouraged food industries to use ‘proper ingredients’ rather than cheap ingredients such as palm oil it might make some sense… we can live in hope – my tweet was slightly ironic I think!

Thanks Vicky for picking up the emotional eating line – was worried amongst the group emphasising education, which seems straightforward, but research has shown that people’s ideas of what is ‘healthy’ change over time, or people return to ‘calories in = calories out’ and I’m not sure it’s that simple either… bits to chew over!

Growing Churches in the Digital Age


I’ve just had a commissioned piece published on the Church of England’s Church Growth Research & Development Blog. Here’s the start:

For many churchgoing is no longer the ‘cultural norm’. People don’t actively ignore the church: they don’t even think about it. Matthew 5:13-16 calls us to be salt and light in the world, and for thousands in the ‘digital age’, that world includes social networks such Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest. With literally billions in the digital spaces, the online social spaces presented by churches need to be appealing, welcoming, and not look like they are just an afterthought: they are now effectively the ‘front door’ to your church for digital users, and you ignore those spaces at your peril.

Read the full piece.

Some Digital Spaces for #TFBloggers

tf-bloggersSo, as I get prepared for Uganda, what spaces am I thinking I might place material in…

This will depend, of course, upon power, signal, etc. in the villages/hotel – a certain amount of pre-testing has been done, but we won’t know until we get there…

I’m going as part of my work for CODEC, and so plan to feed back into BigBible with an overview – keeping this blog for my more personal reflections, and BigBible for more a #digidisciple aspect… whilst the wonderful @vahva looks after the Big Bible site itself.

Theory of Change

Organization Development (http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0749460946/britishomefro-21)“The 1st thing to remember is that the only person who loves change is a baby with a wet nappy.” #change

p41-42 of Organization Development: A Practitioner’s Guide for OD and HR gives 5 possible theories, and how it might affect your Organisational Development strategies (this is an OD bid!):
  • Action research theory
  • Lewin’s change theories
  • Systems theory
  • Complexity theories
  • Appreciative enquiry

P41  on Twitpic

P42  on Twitpic

Meantime, on Twitter:

Simon Cohen, TEDxTeen

TEDxTeen 2010 – Simon Cohen from We Are Family Foundation on Vimeo.

I had the privilege of meeting Simon this morning. I’m looking, for @bigbible, to do something like his Tole-Rants (so impressive), but I need to do it on a shoestring… The guy is engaging, interested, incisive, insightful and all round good guy. Here he is in action changing the world…

Bex’s Bio for @bigbible

In my third day working for CODEC, I ensured that my bio was available on the CODEC site, so here’s my new role for St John’s College, University of Durham:

  • Bex Lewis  – Email ; Twitter ; Blog
  • Blended Learning Project Manager, ‘The Big Read 2011’

Bex has a background in history, completing her PhD in ‘British Home Front Propaganda Posters of the Second World War’in 2004 at the University of Winchester, where she’d done her first degree in History with Education Studies. Bex built her first website in 1997, has built many more, and has undertaken accessibility and usability projects. She, however, is more interested in people/ communication/ popular culture than programming, and therefore was delighted when social media took off, and she is the Director of ‘Digital Fingerprint’, a social media consultancy.

As well as a ‘digital resident’, Bex is a polymath – she is the social media consultant for ‘Super Fun Days Out’, and has promoted interdisciplinary research, undertaken the LICC Toolbox course, and written for Damaris Culturewatch. After 7 months travelling around the world (Asia, Australasia, South America), she worked a summer season as a Tour Leader with Oak Hall Expeditions in 2008. She continues to work at the University of Winchester, as a ‘Blended Learning Fellow’ (finding tools for teaching using an appropriate mix of technology and face-to-face) with Associate Lectureships in Media Studies (particularly digital literacy) and History, alongside funded projects in student-skills and change management.

Bex is working for CODEC for 50% of her time throughout the 2010/11 academic year to develop ‘The Big Read’ on from its successful launch in the North-East over Lent 2010. The project will look to use the best mix of tools from the online and the offline worlds to encourage more engagement with the Bible, and draws upon Tom Wright’s forthcoming book ‘Matthew for Lent’. The project is supported by The Methodist Church, Premier Radio and SPCK, and Bex can generally be found at the Premier Radio offices in Pimlico Tuesday/Wednesday.

Join the project on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/bigbible.

@drbexl’s sessions at #medialit

This morning I have been presenting, using Prezi, accompanied by a number of exercises that I hope have made people think:

Hope you enjoy, and I look forward to your comments.

Communicating Conviction, @pmphillips #medialit

Communicating Conviction on Prezi

Currently listening to Pete’s presentation, may add a few more notes here, but the Prezi is easy to follow the train of thought!


http://menmedia.co.uk/oldhamadvertiser/news/s/1243081_church_loses_fight_to_block_new_takeaway?all_comments=1 – not really investigated the media and considering what was the BEST tool for the job. A problem, because there are many churches on Twitter, and the church only has 2 followers. Twitter is not solely about numbers, but it is a factor.

Video “I am Second” – hugely popular in the States (with all in the States – many stars putting their faith up): http://iamsecond.com/. Like Rob Bell, one person, and WORDS.  How can we express the Christian message better in pictures? I have a slight problem in that as soon as I hear American accents talking about God, I dohttp://drbexl.co.uk/wp-admin/post.php?post=1674&action=edit&message=1n’t know if it’s for me (that seems like a terrible thing to say, but…)

  • Is new media word based? Cross-platform?
  • The “word” is at the centre of the Gospel – they can communicate effectively so why are we so desiring to get rid of them?
  • Words are great, but VIDEO is not the space to use WORDS… real power of videos is in telling a story/visually
  • As we move towards video calling, is that true? Embodiment is important?

“I am Second” = reverse celebrity culture.  Props from Ikea (simplicity), why the dark location? The community around ‘I am Second’ online, including local groups. Many American youth stars, and many young people engaging strongly. What about ‘I am Last’?

Rob Bell & I am Second are polarising what we’re thinking… so if we, who are interested in media are, what about those who are just in the churches.

Accommodation Theory

Communicate appropriately – e.g. shouldn’t communicate in Welsh… Feel excluded (and maybe slightly amused)… huge mythology in Aberystwyth – the Welsh speak Welsh as soon as the English are nearby.

Accommodation Theory – use same vocabulary, etc.


Know your audience and you can start to accommodate yourself to them – not JUST words! (Is that what Rob Bell is trying to do – speak the language of the American people – looks like a Mac advert?). What about De Montfort advert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q67EKPLpi2M.

  • When Paul goes to Greek city – always taking feet off the evangelistic pedal!!
  • World doesn’t see a difference between nature & practice.
  • Don’t be whipping people up with emotion, but see what God is already doing in their lives.

ACCOMMODATE to the world in which you live… rather than trying to protect ourselves in a Christian bubble…  Get no sense from Rev Plumpton, as to how he actually has a relationship with the community. How compromise that identity in presenting self in media?

My favourite video so far: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbQso6hY5qE, by @koreuk

The Stolen Broadcast (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xl0oXmhTynw): Left open ended, want to ask questions… no fixed meaning (some don’t like this… because they don’t get it)… makes you think!  So busy FOR God, not time WITH God… ?!

I Love Elvis: A bit like Asterix, can be read on different levels. Can enjoy with no overtones, but if ‘reading’ with some Christian understanding can see the underlying meaning. Good animation scriptwriting. [End caption would be ‘out of broadcast’…] Images tie up and really tell the same story (as you would see with the news), which is what Nooma/Resurrection didn’t do yesterday with Rob Bell.  Interesting – comment from @fleming77 on Twitter: “we all grow out of Elvis one day”. Did this video miss the exciting point where there IS an opportunity to become Elvis’s?! A good modern parable, but has it been pushed too far? Nice scriptwriting by KOReUK, & animation by: http://www.ilovepinatas.com/

Concern? Jesus didn’t say “let’s tell a story… and then let’s have a discussion about it”. Usually he just told a story…  Can just watch and then go to the pub? Or should they provide the discussion starters?


Not just to agree/reinforce, but to teach people something, to give NEW messages/information. What hurdles are you asking people to cross at the beginning of the gospels?

Paul goes out of his way to detextualise, to make it simple…

Does the medium need to dictate what the message is or be totally immersed in it?

At the end: What IS the message that you want to get across…  and then choose the appropriate medium that you want to do that…


Robin Hood Tax

How it works

The Robin Hood Tax is a tiny tax on bankers that would raise billions to tackle poverty and climate change, at home and abroad.

By taking an average of 0.05% from speculative banking transactions, hundreds of billions of pounds would be raised every year.

That’s easily enough to stop cuts in crucial public services in the UK, and to help fight global poverty and climate change.

Why now?

Because of the financial crisis, frontline services at home – like the NHS and our schools – are under fire.

At the same time, poor communities and the environment are being hit hard – as aid and green budgets are slashed by rich countries.

So it’s time for the people who caused this mess to pay to clean it up.

Who’s in?

Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel (the German Chancellor) and Nicolas Sarkozy (the French President) have all spoken out in support of a tax on financial transactions.

Plenty of business bigwigs are on-board too. Like Lord Turner (from the Financial Services Authority), George Soros (the philanthropist) and Warren Buffet (US businessman extraordinaire). And then there are the hundreds of economists who have backed the idea, too.

This isn’t some crazy pipedream. It’s a simple and brilliant idea which transcends party politics and which – with your support – can become a reality.”

Sign up on the website, follow on Twitter, join on Facebook and YouTube.

Facebook Status Cloud

I’ve been on Facebook since December 2006, when Erika Harno introduced me to it. I didn’t really know what to do with it until I went skiing with Oak Hall in April, and within a week I had 70 “friends” (I’ve always been fascinated by the words these companies use – are all your friends REALLY friends? And isn’t followers for Twitter a bit creepy, as for Fans on Facebook pages – I’m sure there must be another word for that now pages are hosted by non-celebrities e.g. I have one for Digital Fingerprint and created one for Super Fun Days Out, which we’re still developing).

Now the joke is that I’m never off it, so I was curious when I saw the offer to create a tag cloud of all my status updates ever (there are other options)… I wonder how recognisable I am to my Facebook friends!


Looks like I am always wondering what’s happening tomorrow, and tired at night… and I’m always trying to do something! I’ve clearly talked about various interviews – upcoming, outcomes, etc. and clearly quite often update my status as I’m dilly-dallying about getting dressed! Bizarre mix, but not that surprising!

I’ve clearly used more words than this, so be interesting to see the algorithm that is used (not that I’d make much sense of it if it’s pure maths…). The cloud to the left is taken from a lifetime of tweets, whilst the one below is from the last month.

ALT-C 2009: In Dreams Begin Responsibility

Watching ALT-C 2009, streaming live from the University of Manchester, from today through Thursday 10th August 2009. There’s also some other sessions being streamed via UStream.

Follow the stream on Twitter. (#altc2009 seems to be the main hashtag, but there are other’s noted!).
Beware of the concept of Digital Natives:

I’m Back, I’m Back, I’m Back

I’m back from France (via Spain… long story), but I’m not unpacked, cleared up, or opened post yet, but I have faffed around on the internet for a considerable time… partly after 3 weeks without it, there’s a lot built up – and I still haven’t finished it all!

However, see: Digital Fingerprint on Facebook.

San Sharma @ Scanner Central

Last night I went to my first Scanner Central event. I’ve been meaning to go for quite some time… although as I said to John Williams when he asked me how I’d heard of them, I can’t remember any more, but it was something to do with reading Barbara Sher ‘s book and then finding that John had been on one of her holidays abroad, and had since set up something in London! It’s a bit of a trek from Winchester (about 1.5 hours each way), so I may not be able to go every month, but it’s great to meet other people who change interests so often, and John wants to encourage people to work together to get some of those ideas into production, rather than giving up as soon as you’re bored with it! I guess I’m more of a longer-term scanner, as I DO have lots of short-term interests, but also have some long term ones, centred around learning, academia, learning, contemporary contemporary Christianity, and wartime posters!

San Sharma gave a really interesting talk (apparently only his second time of public speaking: wouldn’t have known if he hadn’t said!), most of which was familiar to me, but it’s always great to see that I’m on the same wavelength as others, and there’s always a couple of things you come across that you go “ah ha” to! Most of the tools are listed from San’s presentation (see below), but gave some interesting context for social media also!
  • Any business not in social media is not likely to survive for long in the modern world.
  • Social media allows you to express different parts of yourself, as you talk you find a theme/style that you like and others who like it. So you connect with others with whom you have things in common.
  • Social media – offers accessible publishing tools for everybody, for many to many dialogues.
  • It has changed the fundamental nature of news media, from institutions to the media, the masses decide what’s hot (see how quickly the news about Michael Jackson’s death got out)
  • It’s now about how good you are, not who you know, or who you work for.
  • Twitter is rather like a city, where you overhear random conversations. A lot of the conversation is random, but this is similar to real-life where chit-chat hold human groups together. No one cares what you had for breakfast except you, but you’ll tell others anyway (we’re talking offline, as much as online!)
  • Social media is just another tool, you can write a novel with a biro, typewriter, computer, blog… all different tools, although changes the writing/reading experience somewhat.
  • Social media offers an opportunity to build meaningful relationships, and follow industry news (whether you’re pulling it down or pushing it up)
  • Twitter: Should it change it’s question from “What are you doing?” to change the kind of responses that it gets?!
  • Mass media offers a mass experience for events, for example, for the final of the Apprentice, felt a bit like was watching it with the rest of the nation in the front room, following Twitter feeds!
More Information:
  • See San Sharma’s presentation here (6MB, PDF) (picture)
  • I have been using Vistaprint, but love the Minicards that Moo uses (San does some work for Moo, and a number of Scanners had the cards)
  • Handy tools: Knowem; DandyID
Other Presentations

Scanner? For Sure!

I love this from Barbara Sher: “you wouldn’t ask a bird to pull a plough. It’s not cos it’s an inferior bird, a naughty bird or a lazy bird. It’s just cos it does other stuff and there are animals who do that… it’s their thing, they know how to pull a plough. And there are people who do the things you don’t like to do, and they like to do them, and they’ll do them better than you’ll ever do them on your best day because they get a kick out of it!”

Barbara Sher
First came across Barbara Sher in 2007, when I was trying to decide what I SHOULD do “for the rest of my life”, not sure that’s for me, and coming to terms with the fact that I can do many things, and that my passion for doing them means that I’ll do them well, but there reaches a point where I’m done! I have noted, however, that my interests circulate around learning/research, teaching/academia (post-compulsory), communication, community creation (online, including new media or offline) and contemporary Christianity!
Scanners Night, 8th July
Looking forward to going to a Scanner’s Night in London next Wednesday (organised by John Williams), with San Sharma, a Social Media Consultant.