It's Our Twentieth Anniversary of Exploring Ideas, Culture and Technology
Times certainly do change, whether time feels like it is going quickly or slowly. Twenty years ago today, Open for Business went live. It feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago. It’s been an interesting and wonderful journey.
OFB at 20 years old. I can’t get my head quite around it. Read on for some reminiscence about the magazine and its various longtime contributors.
My latest musings on tech and mask, all in one:
Over the last week, virtually everything that could go wrong with the technology I depend on for work has gone wrong, as if it has actively turned against me. Having spent a fair number of years wrangling information technology, one thing has always provided a path to survival in those times: redundancy. Redundancy masks problems in the best of ways, much like the physical masks that are such a lightning rod in our culture today.
I can’t believe it was 10 years ago today I started my position teaching at Lindenwood. I truly loved my time teaching in the classroom there; I always miss it this time of year. I’m thankful to still be in touch with many of you who were my students and colleagues — friends — those five years were a treasure! I’m excited for what’s next with Little Hills Church, which is still very much intertwined with that part of St. Charles, which God always seems to lead me back to in ministry.
I’m very concerned about so-called “religious exemptions” to the COVID vaccines. Quite frankly, no one has shown me a legitimate Scriptural basis. In this piece I tackle the subject and ask pastors to consider placing commitment to Biblical truth over what will appeal in the moment to some potential congregants:
While it is a minority of churches thus far, in some cases, it has taken the appearance of a “religious exemption mill.” Some churches promise anyone who attends access to such paperwork, despite having no preexisting teaching opposed to vaccines.
Cynically, I’ll confess some of this smells of an attempt at free publicity for churches, while other examples I’ve read seem more like pastors fearfully bending to avoid conflicting with members’ passionate political (not religious) beliefs. But, to cavalierly stamp “this is what we believe” on an issue for publicity or appeasement threatens all of us who advocate for genuine religious liberty.
It’s been hard to get my mind around the horribleness of what is happening in Afghanistan. Some thoughts:
Reeling from the horrors of 9/11 two decades ago, we entered Afghanistan to eliminate terrorist camps and also try to build a better nation for the people who had been caught under the Taliban’s control. Was it hubris or hope to think we could lastingly accomplish either goal? I’ll leave that discussion for another day, but this week has reminded us of how even our greatest powers stumble.
Despite the great sacrifice and heroism so many poured into this effort, despite the world’s strongest militaries throwing unfathomable sums of technology and money at the situation, despite most of the world preferring a Taliban-free globe, the Taliban now chat on Twitter as the reasserted leaders of Afghanistan.
Something Has Gone Wrong with the Modern Customer Service Survey
Something a bit more lighthearted: my musings on the oddity of customer satisfaction surveys that dock employees for anything less than perfect scores. Do such policies bug anyone else?
It was an innocent — even endearing — touch when I received a delivery today. The delivery person left a sticker on the bag thanking me for my patronage. The sticker depicted five stars, a not too subtle hint at his desire for a five star review. And he deserved it — the items came quickly and correctly and in perfect condition. But, it got me thinking about how weird our view of customer service surveys has become.
How Politicos' Low Tech Understanding Threatens High Tech Harm
I see folks on both sides of the aisle getting way to excited about a massive interference in Big Tech by Big Government. In this piece, I discuss some of the issues that are inevitable with it while also noting the real Big Tech problems we need to deal with:
Probably all of us have some frustration with one or more of the Tech Giants who are being targeted by Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s “Ending Platform Monopolies Act.” It is tempting to cheer on efforts to offer a cure to common Big Tech disease, checking their power over us. But, like a layperson coming up with the wrong treatment for a serious illness, this and other similar proposals, dangerously operate on oversimplification that threatens to make our technology much worse while ignoring the genuine Big Tech problems staring us down.
Do Trite Curse Words Really Help "Art"?
My latest take on OFB, tackling the subject of f-bombs and the like in current pop culture:
I’m tired of it. I’m tired of every currently running TV show someone tells me to watch being littered with content that might make even the proverbial sailor blush. With so many forms of entertainment now freed from the reach of the FCC’s decency rules, it is now countercultural if dialogue or song lacks a peppering of the coarsest words. Is this really the best we can do?
If Skipping the COVID Vaccine Were a Pharmaceutical Commercial...
What if not getting a COVID vaccine were promoted like a medication? Imagine “NoVax,” if you will. That’s the starting point for an OFB piece I wrote in response to a skeptical friend who asked for a non-reactionary reason why someone should get the vaccine.
The disease that we will likely recall for the rest of our lives as simply “the Pandemic” has been answered by vaccines that, by any pre-COVID standard, would be viewed as incredibly effective. Reduce spread, reduce severity and do so with stunningly few severe side effects? How can “NoVax” be appealing in that light?
The Promise of the Internet was Decentralized Content. Let's Return to It.
Over on Open for Business I argue that it is time for us to return to taking the blogosphere seriously and start to see it as the first place we post, instead of being “social media first” like so many of us are. In doing so, we address some of the biggest concerns both the Right and Left express about social media and we return to the heart of the Internet’s decentralized promise:
It is time we took back control. A healthier Internet need not be free of social media, but it must have far more decentralized interaction from us, so social providers have to actually compete for our attention. The blogosphere offers the path to that better Internet.
My current and former blogosphere compatriots… let’s do this.