Emergent and Tony Jones in particular have been great to work with on this project.
I must say it is coming along nicely; stay tuned because I think when it launches it will be recieved well. There are at least a dozen contributors so far to the web team in my Basecamp account.... blogged by Tim Bednar -- Create your own blog only at e-Church. No fees. No editor. No membership required.
On Thursday, the e-Church database was pulled down by my web host. I scrambled to upsize the database and it seems that I have suceeded -- although it took 3 days. (If you do not know, I am a total hack developer that learns everything on the fly and often codes in the manner of keep trying different things until it works. The result is often that things work, but I have no clue how.)
To God be the glory
Thus, if you are reading this, to God be the glory. Because I have no idea how I upsized my pathetic MS Access Database (yes I said Access) to MS SQL 2000 database and actually got the site up. I had to quick delete some things from some badly written SQL statements -- but the site functions pretty much normally it seems.
This method of development caught up to me (granted it took 18 months so I'm not likely to change in favor of getting applications used rather than coding perfect).
That said -- it looks like everything is working. I'm sure their are bugs and the performance of the site seems very sluggish to me.
Success and the future
When I went to send an email to all our users, I was a bit surprised to see that we have over 350 active (and inactive) members. So it seems good that the site gets some attention.
I planned to do this for the beginning of 2007 -- but I might be able to make it for the fall. Now this will not only address the backend stuff -- but also refocus the site on helping people keep spiritual journals rather than blogs.
Our members seem to journal and keep only diaries more than blog -- so we're going to support that better. We are going to make the experience of adding and editing posts simplier.
So thank you for standing by e-Church -- I appreciate it. And your support motivates me to always make this better.
Blessings -- Tim Bednar
Yes, anyone can create a blog entry here. And yes, people can cuss and even be blasphemous. I usually delete entries for "designer jeans". But I'm opening up whether I need to delete the obviously sophomoric posts by JefuJemo Dog.
My first instinct was to just delete it. But then I wondered why? People do the same all the time and if someone gets their jollies from posting crap to a "Christian" web site thinking they'll outrage or provoke me -- they are wrong.
That said -- I don't really care because he did at least as a question about Jesus, rather juvenile but I don't have any clues as to where he's coming from...so what are your thoughts -- does it hurt us to leave it up and let it get buried by the hundreds of other posts? Or do I delete it because it offends my religious sensibilities (which it does). But my goal here is to be a place that is different then regular physical churches where you could never say such a thing -- let along discuss whether it should stay as part of the permanent record.
I know that many members blog here because its Christian and I want to respect that -- but I also want to stay true to my values which is to support the Christian conversation wherever it may take us?
... blogged by Tim Bednar -- Create your own blog only at e-Church. No fees. No editor. No membership required.
I think anyone who has used a computer can relate.
... blogged by Tim Bednar -- Create your own blog only at e-Church. No fees. No editor. No membership required.
I am a big fan of grungy, raspy vocals that we're typified by the alt rock scene out of Seatle in the 1990's (i.e. Nirvana and Perl Jam). I also am a huge punk fan.
I was just listening to The Current when they started talking about a new band called Wolfmother that has lots of buzz coming out of MySpace. I had iTunes going so I just searched for their new release and listened to a few tracks. I bought it. They describe themselves,
A mix between the playfulness of Earth Wind and Fire with the intensity of Black Flag — it's somewhat manic yet consistent . Influences: The Beatles, Boards of Canada, America, And you will know us by the trail of dead, AC/DC, Miles Davis, Beck, Jon Spencer, Twenty Miles, Motorpsycho, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Tim Buckley, The Stooges, Bob Marley, Two Lone Swordsmen ...
I have no idea how they don't hear the crisp, pure vocals of Led Zepplin or Queen especially on White Unicorn. You will want to check this band out. They remind me of the the kind of psycedelic old is new: like the Black Keys (whose tune is now a NissanTV commercial) or Lenny Kravitz.
Hear bloggedy pod
From the rural churches of Alabama to the coffeehouses of Greenwhich Village, roots music has informed rock and roll. This mix of recent roots tunes -- infused with sprinkles of folk, country, gospel, Delta blues and southern-fried git-tar rock -- pays homage to rock's roots. Songs about little ghosts, drunken angels, Elvis, Bible studies, sink holes and love gone wrong.
Andrew loves music and it shows.
While eBible can not yet boast as many translations as the 500-pound-Bible-search-guerrilla BibleGateway (eBible has five English versions including the Message), it is a great Bible search application. It does several things very, very good and is amazingly good for an alpha.
SimpleThe first thing they get right is simplicity, the first screen is Google simple. There are basically two branches of their search: the Bible and Answers.
Type in a verse or a keyword and you get a nice two column layout where you can drill into the verses and explore context by just hovering over arrows or using the keyboard. You can view inline commentary. The search is very intuitive and is a excellent example of how AJAX technologies create a enjoyable user interface.
They also developed a nice FireFox search plug-in for their application (but I could not get to work with the results page getting stuck at the "got your pass" screen).
AnswersThe second search branch is something called answers; which seems inspired by Answers.com where based on keywords you get answers for What is it? What else? and Related Verses (Note: the graphical headlines here seem a bit out of sync with the rest of the look and feel). I liked the potential of the drop-down menu in the What else? section that said, "I never knew that was in the Bible?".
eBible is more overtly paid for by advertising than BibleGateway which I think is cool; they designed it to be unobtrusive and complimentary to the task being performed.
I think they did a great job keeping the features to a minimum; frankly you just want it to search the Bible; do it quickly and provide a smooth interface that is intuitive. They did this. But I would be remiss if I did not add my two cents,
- I really, really want to get an RSS and iCal feed based on the Book of Common Prayer instead of the bland, arbitruary Verse of the Day.
- I want the URL to be more readable/hackable. As it stands, I can see the verse structure but it does not seem like I can add what version I want to appear -- this is critical for us Bloggers who want to link to a verse. I want to be able to build the URL without necessarily browsing to the verse then copying the URL; I just want to hack it.
- Some sort of "versinator" or plug-in would be great for bloggers. This would spur adoption of this Bible in the blogosphere. It would be awesome if there was some sort of trackback; where they could display blog entries that referred to that verse/chapter.
- Maybe a AJAX "spy" list (like Digg) that displays what verses/terms people are searching. This would be a cool RSS feed or badge for people to put on their web site. Or even if they published a zeitgeist page that displayed what people are searching, what is the most popular "answer" -- this would be facinating.
I am very excited about the future of these kind of apps; Mark and his team really know what they are doing and soon lots of folks will be looking to them for leadership in this new Church Web 2.0 space where people start building great web applications for the church.
There are other applications to watch for: I will be writing up People to Pray, talking more about blogs4God as a meme tracker and a different approach to Bible search that mashes the Bible up with delic.io.us called bibleicio.us. I'm also very interested in redlettr Bible search application. It seems the Bible search will be a "competitive" space.
... blogged by Tim Bednar -- Create your own blog only at e-Church. No fees. No editor. No membership required.
Because of the new focus for e-Church (more about that later) I also made the decision to move my blog and create something new focused on how Web 2.0 is changing the church -- my new blog and podcast will be called </endchurch>. I will be launching that soon; it will also be the title of an ebook that I'm writing.
Okay, so is the title/name good? Or too over the top? I want to know...... blogged by Tim Bednar -- Create your own blog only at e-Church. No fees. No editor. No membership required.
You can use 5loaves.net to strengthen and build your personal network. After registering, you will be encouraged to invite your friends, family and colleagues. This strengthens your current network by providing a place for you to pray for one another, share thoughts and comments on blogs, help organize events, and share photos. You can also use 5loaves.net to build your personal network. Most people connect with new people, like they do in the offline world, through friends, family, and colleagues. They say we are only removed from one another by 6 degrees. So, for example, I could connect with you through a friend, who knows another friend, who happens to know you. The social network is designed to create hundreds of these connections, so that we can better help one another and, at the same time, strengthen the global church.
With your personal Bibleserver.com password, you get extended possibilities:
- Use personal Bookmarks, Notes and Verse lists with color coding and import/export
- Send greeting cards with bible verses to your friends
- Customize the set of translations you want to work with
- Keep your favourite browse and search options
- Resume your work at the point you ended your last session
- Automatic login to your account (optional)
This is a really interesting project that I am going to be doing some user interface design. Brian is using the PHPScripture but mashing it up with delicio.us. Thus the name. There are lots of Bible search applications (eBible being a great example) that allow you to view different versions of the Bible and see links to commentarys. Brians passion is to create a "folksonomy" where verses are tagged because they are connected to a story. He writes,
We combine the bible and del.icio.us giving us a new media that uses tags to connect scripture with our online lives - blogs, news, music, art, devotions, etc. In doing this we start to see the world through the lens of the bible and we start to see the relevancy of the bible to our daily lives.
I am very excited about this kind of "Talmudic" approach to a Bible web application.
Christianster is a site made by simple christians for the benefit of fellow Christians. Christianster is about people, not about doctrines, agendas or denominations. We feel it is important as Christians that we surround ourselves with Christian friends who can help us walk the narrow path that leads to Life. By keeping in touch with each other, receiving mutual support and encouragement, praying for and caring for one another's burdens, we hope to be sanctified from worldly influences that grieve our spirits. As the saying goes, "Tell me who your friends are, and I'll tell you who you are." There are a lot of sites on the web for making new friends, but very few, if any, that facilitates the forming of friendships rooted and grounded on the foundation of Christan faith and love. This site is not about individual popularity or about how many friends one has. The focus here is only the popularity of one person - Jesus Christ. He is the center of all our relationships. Through Christianster, we hope to nurture a place on the web where Christ's Name is exalted, Christ's message is propagated and Christ's love is put into action.
CrossConnector helps you plan and manage mission trips and church activities. It works like a blog, so you’ll get your own website where people can read your messages and check out your projects. You can coordinate with churches and missionaries, send messages to supporters (or anyone), post messages like a blog and invite people to leave comments, research and search past and current mission work, and lots more!
- Project by Art of Mission
This is a interesting project that is still in alpha. Please read my exclusive preview.
- Project by Godspeed computing
I am pretty excited to see this project; it seems like a different direction that eBible.
"It's time for the most powerful Book ever written to meet the most powerful tool ever invented. Using tags, feeds, comments, and everything in-between, the Word of God will be accessible in totally new ways."
I will be doing more of a write up on this application which I have started using as part of my online routine (alongside Gmail, Rojo, Writely and Basecamp). Matt and Brian have done a great job; I am watching this close to see how it is going to be used.
There have to be others that should be listed here. Please add them by comments or email me.
- There are a couple other Bible applications I'm researching. Still please keep suggestions coming.
Their results profile the typical political, gossip, mom, and music blog reader.
The median political blog reader is a 43 year old man with an annual family income of $80,000. He reads 6 blogs a day for 10 hours a week. 39% have post-graduate degrees. 70% have contributed to a campaign. 69% have bought music, 87% have bought books. 58% say blogs are "extremely useful" sources of information. 52% leave comments on other people's blogs. Just 18% of political blog readers have their own blogs. (As you'll see, that's a lot lower than in other blogospheres.) Of these, 53% blog to keep track of their own ideas, 50% to let off steam, 36% to influence public opinion.
The median gossip reader is a 27 year old woman with annual family income $60,000. She reads 4 blogs a day, five hours a week. 17% have post-graduate degrees. 68% of gossip blog readers bought clothes online in the last six months and 63% bought music. 32% say blogs are "extremely useful" sources of information. 40% leave comments on other people's blogs. 89% listen to one or fewer podcasts a week. 86% read blogs for humor. Of the 23% of gossip blog readers who blog themselves, 61% say they do it to keep track of their thoughts and 55% say they do it to let off steam.
The median mom blog reader is a 29 year old woman with an annual family income of $70K, reading 5 blogs a day for 4 hours a week. 26% have post-graduate degrees. 72% bought clothes online in the last six months, 83% bought books, 44% contributed to a campaign and 71% bought music. 57% leave comments in other blogs. 93% read for humor. 48% have their own blog and, of these, 73% read "to keep track of my thoughts," 54% to let off steam.
The median music blog reader is a 26 year old man with an annual family income of 60K reading 5 blogs a day four hours a week. 17% have post graduate degrees. 58% leave comments. 86% have bought music, 70% books. 69% read blogs for humor, 55% for news they can't find elsewhere. 41% have their own blog; of these, 58% read to keep track of their own thoughts, 39% to let off steam.
So if blog readers come from households with pretty nice annual incomes; why is the tip jar almost always empty?
- Tim... blogged by Tim Bednar -- Create your own blog only at e-Church. No fees. No editor. No membership required.
I just learned of a British gameshow host, Dominik Diamond, who recently concluded a spiritual journey/reality TV show called Crucify Me; where he traveled to the Vatican, went on a a Jesuit retreat and scheduled to have himself crucified in a ceremony called the Karabrio in San Pedro Cutud,
Karabrio. The ceremony is held in the village of Cutud, 50 miles (80km) north of Manila. Men dress in white robes and flagellate themselves with glass-tipped paddles and bamboo whips, in penitence for their sins.
Evidently Diamond carried his cross two miles, watch watching nine Filipinos crucified before deciding not to go through with the crucixion. I'm not sure if signals the end of reality TV or the apocalypse.
Why does this interest me? Well because of its participatory nature; reality TV is "participatory" and I want religion to be more participatory. And it seems that we are to partake in the death of Christ from Scripture; but I'm certain that this is a destortion of the text's meaning.
I might be geeking out here a bit, but I just visited iCalShare trying to learn more on how to add iCal calendars to my new Google Calendar. (BTW: I added my Basecamp iCal urls, but get a can not display no authorized token sort of error. I can not find any information on how to subscribe which I do not understand because I was easily able to add Basecamp iCal urls to Sunbird.
This got me to thinking about two things the church must do with the Book of Common Prayer,
- RSS/XML feed of the readings
- iCal/XML feed of Book of Common Prayer calendar (God bless mattwhitehead who hand coded the 1928 Book of Common Prayer Liturgical Calendar which he shares on iCalShare--but it does not include readings)
Why is this crucial for Church Web 2.0 applications?
There are many applications that could mashup these feeds into really interesting tools that actually do stuff for churches and leaders.
- It would be super easy to develop a badge (ala Flickr) that could display the Sacred reading and the Sacred date (I know these are available to some degree but they are all proprietary and not structured). Also lots of them are just random verses not based on the most common liturgy in the world.
- You could subscribe to the iCal feed in your calenard application (desktop or web)
- We could create a blogging plugin to make it easy to "blog about the Scared text"
- You could mashup the readings with Flickr images to create a sort of Web 2.0 stained glass image
- The readings could be feed to a "pastors" widget installed on your Mac Desktop or Google sidebar
- You could build a cool "worship" leaders application that helped planning for services and mash up a "market place" where leaders are offered media to buy or share based on the text and date
- You could create a church event mashups of upcoming events, google maps and the Sacred calendar/readings
- What about a meme hunter that scoured RSS feeds for meme that relate to the Reading or Date? That could be an amazing resource for sermon preparation....
XML Bible needed
You see the text and the dates can be foundational to vertually any web application built for the church. The next critical piece to the puzzle is an XML version of a good translation of the Bible; if done well it could support multiple languages. This would be foundational to any good Bible application allowing for tagging, commentary.
Imagine then what you could build if these apps had open APIs so anyone could mash up there datastreams. Coming you got more ideas?
Come there is loads of cash floating around Amercian Christiandom? Where are the angel investors in these Web 2.0 applications? Do we really need another socal bookmarking application?... blogged by Tim Bednar -- Create your own blog only at e-Church. No fees. No editor. No membership required.
I have admired the work Kevin Hendricks at Church Marketing Sucks and benefit from his insights. He was kind enough to let me guest blog, How to generate grassroots buzz which tells the story beind the Mega Church Game for your PC. I highly recommend the site and its efforts to help churches not suck.... blogged by Tim Bednar -- Create your own blog only at e-Church. No fees. No editor. No membership required.
I just read Dean Peter's post outlining a blogs4God tagging standard and am announcing on April 24, 2006, e-Church will officially support this standard. Not only that, we will support it retroactively which means that our entire database will be automatically b4g- compliant.
Why? Because e-Church fully supports any effort to further expose the "Christian conversation" and blogs4God is one of the reliable services that is dedicated to that mission. As far as I know, e-Church will be the only blogging web application that will support this standard--that is just one more reason to Sign Up Now!
I decided to create a parody Amazon ad for my MEGA Church Game for PC. Please feel free to sell it on your web site or blog; you do not even need to be an Amazon Associate. With every one I sell, you will earn points towards salvation. You really can earn commsion...in heaven.
Just copy and paste this code -- image is 120px by 240px.
<a href="http://www.e-church.com/AssetsUser/amazon.htm" title="Mega Church Game For PC: Create the church you always wanted" style="border:0"><img src="http://www.e-Church.com/Assets/MegaChurchPCGame.gif" width="120" height="240" alt="Mega Church Game For PC: Create the church you always wanted" style="border:0" /></a>... blogged by Tim Bednar -- Create your own blog only at e-Church. No fees. No editor. No membership required.
I know that everyone has their favorite tools, and equally tools that they despise. Hopefully, you will agree with most of my picks and possibly discover something that will improve your work. So, here are the tools that I use to code, debug and manage projects.
Although I code XHTML and CSS by hand, I hate to admit that I still use Dreamweaver as my primary application. It does a great job color coding tags. Until I learn something else, it is the environment I use to develop web applications in classic ASP using VB Script.
I code CSS in Dreamweaver (I do not have 8), but the real work is done in FireFox using the Web Developers Toolbar extension. It allows my to edit live CSS in FireFox.
To tackle Explorer CSS issues, I still use and hit refresh. The new Internet Explorer Toolbar is the Microsoft clone, but it does not allow you to edit live CSS. I have used TopStyle and Style Master especially when I was first learning CSS, but rarely find them useful anymore. I am still looking for the killer, cross-browser live XHTML/CSS editor.
I am a FireFox extensions addict. Here are the ones I have found most useful for either debugging my own code or editing legacy code:
- Web Developers Toolbar
- DOM inspector – Windows FireFox users need choose Custom Install and then select Web Developer Tools in order to get the DOM inspector)
- View Formated Source – Organize messy code, allows you to collapse elements and brings all external scripts in-line
- Collorzilla – Eyedropper for your browser
For more information, I recommend reading Rapid Web Development and Testing with Mozilla Firefox.
The side of web design that rarely gets discussed is how to manage a successful project. I can code clean code, but if my client is not happy what have I gained. This is the most important aspect of any project and is especially important to those of us trying to convince churches to create better web sites. Use should use standards, but also run a good business.
I use Gmail. I often e-mail myself reminders, stray pieces of information, phone numbers or small files. They never get lost; I can find them from any computer. I can not imagine working without it.
As my primary project management tool, I use mostly the free version of Backpack, but also have a subscription to Basecamp for large projects. They are valuable tools for keeping records, messages, milestones and files. I can not tell you how many times these web based applications have saved my skin when I am not at my primary computer.
I just started using Box.net to help me remotely store files. I wrote this article using Writely from two different computers and just convinced a client develop all their content with it. The last piece to this puzzle is a new application called Vyew which is a web-based remote meeting tool. I will start work for a client 400 miles away and will use this to train them on my Content Management System. I now use Sunbird as my calendar because it supports iCalendar.
I am self taught. I learn everything by searching Google, using free tutorials or simply hacking code I find. For instance, I plan to learn Ruby on Rails this year through tutorials and resources I find online.
To this, I rely on Google, but also on my RSS Reader. I just switched readers. I used Newsgator Online for two years (view my opml feed), but just started using Rojo. I also listen to of podcasts on the bus. I would recommend the Web 2.0 Show, TalkCrunch and audible Ajax.
Originally posted at Godbit.
I'm not sure why Carson Workshops does not simply put this into an podcast rss feed, but here are links to their Summit podcasts.
I've already listed to Ryan Carson "Building an enterprise web app on a budget - Inside story of DropSend" which was inspirational and transparent. After listening, I went and wrote out a business plan for Turtle Interactive for the next 2 years.... blogged by Tim Bednar -- Create your own blog only at e-Church. No fees. No editor. No membership required.
I'm not sure if I'm flattered or not, but e-Church has been listed on the The Museum of Modern Betas MoMB with the description,
e-Church is a place for people to find, write and share spiritual blogs. Thousands of people have already renewed their spirituality by keeping a weblog.
Not sure how they decided to truncate that description. What is sad is how much it looks like all the other betas or Web 2.0 web applications in general. You can see what I mean by reviewing this collection of Web 2.0 logos or this review of Web 2.0 fonts.
Now, I am not a designer who is running away from Web 2.0, rather I'm embracing it. However, I really don't want to look like everyone else--although there is some benefits that come with visually being associated with Web 2.0.
But not to worry I'm fixing that and should be showing off another "new" design; starting with my blog first then rolling it out across the whole site. I have lots of objectives with it; but the one certainly is to look distinctive while still embracing so-called Web 2.0 vibe.
The redesign again will re-do the look and feel, but also the way that members use the site. More about that later; I've learned a lot from a recent survey of my members and from discussions with other web application creators.
The Bunny Hunt game is cool because it is NOT Flash but rather a fancy AJAX game. It is also cool because it is the type of virual game that online ministries could be developing.