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. . . learning from each other
W-E-B Issue 150 ~ July 07
Every 3 or 4 weeks ISSN 471-0323

News this time...


"Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped" - African Proverb

"Retirement? You're talking about death, right?" - Robert Altman


I am always amazed at the vast range of video clips now available on YouTube and other video sharing sites. You want an obscure pop group from the 60s? They are online. You want a 1 hour TV program on C S Lewis and Tolkien. It's there. You want clips of any hobby or sport interest you can imagine? All there.

Because users cannot easily assess the value or content of a video clip without actually watching it, this gives a special significance to building a 'bridge strategy' site about almost any secular topic, built around video clips. (This was how Yahoo started - a list of recommended websites to share with friends.)

YouTube offers a very simple way to insert any video clip into your own website, so this makes it easy to build an attractive compendium of video clips. It will be time-consuming for you to do the spade-work, find the clips available on your topic, and then assess those worthy of inclusion. (You can also subscribe and be notified of new additions to YouTube within subject tags you specify.)

This collection of clips within your chosen subject area will be valuable to others having the same interest, because you are presenting a collection of material which they would otherwise have to search for, and may not even realise exists.

Your site can then use sensitive bridging techniques to also offer visitors links to appropriate material linking to the gospel - testimony, story, spiritual parallel, or just offsite links to appropriate outreach sites such as or

If you know of sites already using this technique, please tell me and we will add them to this page on the topic:


"A new evangelistic movement has emerged... Yet this effort does not spring from those loyal to a particular faith or religious view," says the research group Barna:

It behoves Christians to understand clearly the arguments which able communicators such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins are using (though if you are young in the faith, or feeling a bit wobbly, do treat these books and websites with a health warning.) Here are extracts from Hitchen's new book 'Why Religion Poisons Everything':

- and an interview with Hitchens:

Bible verses on Richard Dawkin's website? Yes, but only in an article reposted from the London Times, which features an interview with Olympic triple-jumper Jonathan Edwards and his sad and we trust temporary loss of faith. Note the level of rejoicing from site visitor comments:

SITES AMALGAMATE TO HELP MEN has merged with, Tom Buford writes, "... to form our new flagship site. Our mission has not changed, although it is now just a bit more focused."

Their mission is helping men with tempation. "The tag line of our ministry is, 'It's about honor! It's about integrity! It's about purity!' Our focus is in helping people (especially men) who travel for a living or are away from home and accountability for other reasons such as university or military service to live lives of honor, integrity, and purity. We have just launched the new website which will be the anchor site for the new focus. We are developing some new print and recorded resources (hopefully on CD and in MP3 format). When they are complete we will be making them available to these people.

I personally traveled for many years, accumulating more than 1.6 million miles on the road. I drove trucks and passenger coaches, and then for a long time, drove music celebrities across North America. The last entertainer that I drove for was Johnny Cash and his wife June. I drove for them the last three and a half years of my driving career. I know the pitfalls of life on the road - the temptations, the loneliness, the boredom - all things that can contribute to a life spiraling out of control."


Steve Knight writes, "Three years ago, I started a 'bridge' site on the subject of reality TV ( Rob Williams from CCCI later joined me, making it sort of a team blog, and between the two of us, things started to take off.

Unfortunately, both Rob and I are now swamped with our regularly scheduled programming (i.e. 'day jobs'), and the site has been languishing for a few months - even though we have a fresh and exciting partnership agreement with that could be putting our content in front of thousands of new readers!

Is there anyone else who enjoys reality TV and would like to join us in this bridge venture? The commitment would not need to be much (even once or twice per week would be a huge contribution!).

Learn more about the vision behind
Contact me at stevek [at] realityblogs [dot] com "


The Millennium Matrix
Reclaiming the Past, Reframing the Future of the Church
M Rex Miller
Jossey Bass ISBN 9-7879-6267-8

Miller's compelling thesis is that the church has been located in four different communication cultures over the last 2000 years, and that each one has profoundly influenced the entire fabric of the church - the way it is organized, relates together, and communicates to the outside world. For the first 1500 years until the invention of the printing press, society lived in an 'oral communication culture'. Then from about 1500 until 1950, 'print culture' predominated, with far-reaching effect.

From 1950 onwards however, he proposes that the influence of TV has led to 'broadcast culture', bringing in a whole new mindset. And finally, he suggests that we are rapidly moving into 'digital culture', with further dramatic changes resulting from the computer revolution. His 'matrix' is a table suggesting how these four cultures have impacted the church in different ways.

It's a shame there are no discussion questions at the end of each chapter, because a book like this raises so many interesting issues that need exploration. I'd personally see many of the individual comments within the matrix table as discussion starters, rather than fixed conclusions.

OK, your inner teenager may ask, "Whatever. But how, exactly, is this meant to affect me?" Because each communication culture functions differently. If we try to use the methods of the previous culture, or the one before that, just because they used to work and have therefore gained an imagined sanctity, we may end up communicating very inadequately.


News media like to cover anniversaries. Last month it was 40 years since Sgt. Pepper. Next month, 16 August, marks the thirtieth anniversary of Elvis' death. Elvis Week begins August 11. Media hype likely will increase public awareness as the date approaches.

Here is an opportunity to identify with people's enduring interest in, and affection for, a supremely gifted if flawed singer.
So an article - 'Elvis Has Left the Building' - from Rusty Wright aims to get readers to look at Elvis, themselves, and Jesus.
It is available to republish in church newsletters, outreach literature, magazines, blogs and websites:


"The Web is messy. Your website is a constant beta. You can't just publish a webpage or launch an application and think that's it. That's only the very beginning. Every page and application you launch is the beginning of a journey of continuous improvement," writes NetDummy:

There are two things which sadly many outreach sites never do:
1) test the site for usability with web users of only average ability who do not already know the site:

2) learn how to optimize a webpage for a range of relevant keywords:


STORIES: Which communicates better? Which stays in the memory longer? Which reaches the emotions better? Which actually proclaims truth better? A string of ethical propositions, or a story? It's a no-brainer. - 99 Balloons - Dear Jane

How to teach with parables (like Jesus did):

WRITING WELL: are you broadcasting on the wrong frequency?

WHAT IS GRACISM? Whitney Hopler has summarized the message of David A. Anderson's new book, Gracism: The Art of Inclusion, InterVarsity Press, 2007).


GENERATION LOST? Author/apologist Josh McDowell says the church is losing a generation as youth leave in alarming numbers. What do they believe? What are the issues? And how can churches turn young people back to God?

RELATIONSHIPS: When you Love Someone who Doesn't Love Christ:

COMING BY THE END OF THIS YEAR: 'surface computing' - a multi-touch large screen like a coffee table enables manipulation of photos, and even automatic transfer of files to and from devices sitting on the screen! Not initially for the home user, but expect this sort of usability to filter down to home devices before too long. Like any other development, we should be thinking now: is there a new way we could use this for the Gospel?

CHURCHES: ArkAlmighty is taking a cue from the film Evan Almighty to encourage churches in random acts of kindness:

WE CAN STILL BEAT COMPUTERS! There's one game where artificial intelligence can't beat humans, and it is the oldest in the world, originating in China:

PEW INTERNET REPORT: About one third (32%) of all teenagers who use the internet say they have been targets of a range of annoying and potentially menacing online activities:

CHINA: New report on China's internet user population. There are now an estimated 137 million internet users in China, second innumber only to the United States:

AFRICA: In parts of Africa where the mobile phone is the only communication method, some very imaginative uses have emerged, and are transforming rural development. These include money transfer through mobiles, and this example of teacher training, reported by Christian NGO TEARFund's FOOTSTEPS magazine:

ARCHEOLOGY: Museum's tablet lends new weight to Biblical truth. The British Museum recently hailed a discovery within a modest clay tablet in its collection as a breakthrough for biblical archaeology - dramatic proof of the accuracy of the Old Testament.


If you are considering the Internet Ministry conference in Grand Rapids USA in September, there's an early-bird booking date of 15 July. I hope to meet some of you there!


- non-techies look away now

FIREFOX 2 CSS ISSUE: Firefox 2 and IE7 no longer allow you to format an RSS .xml feed page using your own .xls style sheet - instead they imposes their own. Quite a problem, if you have designed your RSS page to have extra information and formatting. But there is an easy way round - insert 512k of text within comment tags near the top of the page, as we have done here:
and the solution is explained here:

AJAX... is changing web applications, giving them a responsiveness that's unheard of beyond the desktop:

FORM DESIGN WITH CSS: few forms look really good. Learn how:

VISTA: need help?

CSS:Vertical positioning in CSS is possible:

TIMELINES: pay-for program, but sounds as if it could be useful - creating timelines in HTML:

JAVASCRIPT: latest useful scripts from The Javascript Source:

ALTERNATING ROW COLORS IN PHP: almost every database-driven website uses alternating row colors when displaying a list of records, a concept used all over the Internet:

SPYWARE - how one expert just escaped:

STICKY FOOTER: if you need a footer that will always be at the bottom of the screen, even on a very short page, here's the CSS:

BREAK OUT OF BOX DESIGN - with CSS and imagination:

GOOGLE ANALYTICS - get the best out of this site stats system:

CORRECT CAPITALIZATION - script to put uppercase characters at start of a name in a form:

PNG graphics - why you should be using them:


Culture-watch ministry Damaris offer internships:

More opportunities:


The amazing color-changing card trick. Filmed in one take, it demonstrates that we often do not notice what we are not looking for or expecting. An object lesson, (also demonstrated in the gorilla video described in ).

And for a straight-forward illusion, in case you did not catch it on TV: quick-change clothing from a couple who are one of the best in the business:

graphic by
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