Sunday, June 15, 2008

iMissions: internet based collaboration

I did a post recently called "Missional Art" that was a collaborative effort utilizing the social networking site called facebook. We used a feature on facebook that allows those who are connected as "friends" the option of sending a message to multiple individuals. On facebook my "friends" are all those individuals who I have permitted access to my profile, photos, and other information (and I have access to theirs).

Here is a step by step explanation of how our collaboration worked (all messages were exchanged using facebook):

1. One of my facebook friends, Jon Hirst, encouraged me to expand on an idea about art being missional that I had mentioned to him in a personal message.

2. Jon also sent me several good questions, that really helped me get moving on the article, and he also gave me a deadline -- deadlines REALLY help!

3. I wrote a rough draft, with most of the main ideas, but there were many spelling and grammatical mistakes, the flow was not good, and it needed clarity.

4. I posted a rough draft to a select group of my friends on facebook -- I chose people who I thought would have something to contribute, and/or would benefit from the discussion. The majority of the group I chose are younger than me (I am 52). Actually, I think ALL of them are younger than I am, most by about 25 years. This group included people living on three continents -- N. American, S. America, and Asia. Geographic location made no difference in terms of the ability of members to be involved.

5. Every time one person posted a message, everyone got a copy via eMail AND we could all see every message sent by everyone involved using the inbox on facebook. So, it was easy to keep track of everything being contributed by members of the group.

6. About half the group of twenty did not respond at all, while five members contributed at a significant level. One other person (my wife Nancy) was in this group but contributed off-line. There were just over thirty messages posted, over a period of about two weeks.

I am stopping here. I want to invite others to post comments that explore the broader implications for missions. Scot and I will choose "the best comment" and the contributor will get one copy of one of the following books (the winner can choose):

1. Manga Messiah in English (distributed widely, in English and other languages, via Amazon, etc.)
2. Manga Messiah in Japanese (available only in Japan!)
3. Manga Metamorphosis in Japanese (available only in Japan!)

Deadline will be July 17, 2008


Scot Eaton said...

There is too much to say about how the internet affects missions. A book could be written about it!

Here are some quick thoughts:

1. Short-term missions trips. The way these trips are currently put together are usually focused on local bodies of people. Using the internet, a short-term missions trips based around special interest groups could be set up. Imagine, if you will, a short-term missions group of 15 Christians to Akihabara made up of people who already speak Japanese and can speak intelligently about the latest Gundam series with the denizens of manga cafes. That's just ONE possibility of using the internet in missions.

2. Using the internet, people from the countrysides can participate in spiritual discussion with people from the cities. Imagine a message board set up with an online reader for a chapter of Manga Messiah at the top and a place for people to comment and discuss below.

3. Bible studies. Last year, I was in South Korea, and I literally didn't know another Christian my age that I could speak with. Using a webcam and a microphone, however, I attended a Bible Study back in Minnesota. This is another way of connecting a small number of Christians over a large geographic area for strengthening purposes.

4. The social networking sites that Paul mentioned. Facebook just recently re-coded their entire site so that it is multilingual, supporting menus in 16 languages. Though people's comments won't be translated, that still allows for more opportunities. I for one have a mixi account, but never use it because I can't figure out my way around the site yet.

Robin said...

I think what you're doing with this post is a great example. Throwing a question out there and seeing how people respond. This could be done among believers discussing missions (like this) or as a "seekers" site, where people can ask questions and and respond to a message.

Scot had some great ideas, too, and I think you mentioned in the post about the film project you hope to set up a site where people can respond / interact / follow up. Another great way.

I've been thinking lately about the kikikomori issue in Japan. The question is "how do you reach people who don't even leave their rooms most of the time?" So much of our missions efforts try to get people to come to us, but we should be going to them, and if they're spending so much time online, well, we need to "go to them" online.

Robin said...

PS -- Another implication for missionaries is how we communicate with our supporters. I use my blog, podcast, email list and Facebook, all of which probably reach someone, but each of which reaches someone different. Using Facebook, when I was back in Canada raising support, I was able to connect with people I would never have been able to otherwise, and even gained some financial supporters by contacting people through Facebook individually.

José Gabriel said...

Hey Paul. I sent you a reply to this blog about two weeks ago. But I see there it is not posted yet. Did you receive it?

Paul Nethercott said...

Hi! No, I did not, and it isn't in the moderation waiting to be approved list either -- so, it must not have gotten to the server....

That is too bad, would love hear what you have to say!

Warmly, Paul

José Gabriel said...

Ok. Then I will try to remember.
I agree with Scot that considering the implications of internet on missions is too broad to be fully discussed on a comment. But maybe I can share some ideas on how to use “Facebook applications” for missions. I am a Facebook fan myself.

1. “Causes” is a facebook application that allows the user to promote or financially contribute “causes” registered non profit organization within Canada or the US. This can be used to facilitate and promote the work of a missionary organization or independent missionaries. “Causes” is already connected to a social network and somehow is self promoting.
2. “Groups” can be used to the extent of our imagination. It is currently used for event promotion like on “Passion world tour” or like discussion facilitator like on “Innovation in mission”. I found it to be better than using simply massive mail to communicate. There is a great potential in the event coordination when the work team is scattered.
3. “Kompoz Music Collaboration” allow musicians to interact with others through the web to compose songs. This could help to cooperate in the creation of Christian song in languages or areas where there aren’t many Christian musicians (o complete bands).
4. “Kanji Box” is a good example of language learning applications. These applications are free and can be useful to missionaries in their language learning process. There are other types of language learning applications that allow interaction. “Italki” can be used to get friends that are open to teach and to listen to foreigners.
5. There are many others applications that can be found on facebook that can be useful to communicate or teach. Many others are being developed month to month. “Upcoming events” can be used as a prayer request method. “Text me” can be used for massive SMS for free. And with some help we could develop games that allow social interactions but that teaches gospel at the same time. I really like to learn geography from a game called “Traveler IQ Challenge”.

Anyway... Imagination is better than knowledge. Knowledge is limited, imagination encircles the world.
So there is much more into imagine new ways than into learn exiting methods. Love for the nations can be an everlasting and explosive fuel for imagination.