Is the Messenger the Message?

“The medium is the message.”—Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (McGraw Hill, 1964).

McLuhan’s famous quote from a half a century ago has never been truer than it is today. The proliferation of mass media—first audio recordings, film, and television, and later home computers, the Internet, and mobile devices—have placed an overwhelming variety of content in our hands every waking moment of our lives. From education, to entertainment, to mindless distraction, the digital media onslaught is never-ending.

But now, in this age of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and every other social-media platform wrestling for our ever-diminishing attention spans, has McLuhan’s prophetic quote become passé? In our current, self-centered, selfie-obsessed, digital navel-gazing culture, has the messenger become the message?

This is the question I am trying to answer, as a writer, as a blogger, and most importantly as a Christian. How do I balance the need to create and maintain a platform with the necessary call of Christian humility? How do I get out of my own way and point back to the One who is the Maker and Sustainer of all things? How do I glorify Him through the gifts he has given me and use those gifts for the uplifting of others rather than my own glorification? And how do I accomplish the very practical task of bringing traffic to my blog and spreading the word about my writing at the same time?

These are difficult questions. I can ask them in five minutes, but I’m not sure how long it will take for me to answer them.

Five Minute Friday

The Blog is on Twitter (Again)

Twitter "bird" graphic

“Tweet”

I’ve been rethinking my social networking priorities over the last few days. This was prompted—as such soul-searching often is—by that ubiquitous community/virus named Facebook.

I’ve never been convinced that Facebook Pages are worth even the minimal time I put into them. I get far better results from my Twitter feed, my WordPress likes and comments, and even my personal Facebook profile, than I do from my name-branded Facebook pages. But when I log in and see a message like this, I wonder if even my minimal time is being wasted.

Coming soon: A New Layout for Facebook Pages
Add your Page to the waitlist to try it out.
Learn More.

(Note: The link may not work without a Facebook login) Continue reading

Anna’s Favorite Apps, Part Four

Anna and I check out her new iPad Air

Photo: Julia Ozab

We bought Anna an iPad for her birthday, and what’s an iPad without apps? I took a  look at an iPad at Anna’s elementary school while Julia searched online, and together we found a wide variety of educational games along with some just for fun. Now that a few weeks have passed, I asked Anna what some of her favorites were? She likes a lot of them, so I’ll be featuring them here each Tuesday over the next few weeks.

Check out Part One: Spelling, Grammar, and Reading, Part Two: Math and Science, and Part Three: Geography and Foreign Language.

(Note: specs and screenshots via the App Store)

Part Four: Just for Fun

3 Games in 1 App

Monsters University

  • $0.99
  • Category: Games
  • Updated: Nov 05, 2013
  • Version: 1.1.1
  • Size: 60.5 MB
  • Languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Traditional Chinese
  • Seller: Walt Disney
  • © Disney 2013

Compatibility: Requires iOS 5.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPad 2 Wi-Fi, iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G, iPad Wi-Fi (3rd generation), iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (3rd generation), iPad Wi-Fi (4th generation), iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular (4th generation), iPad mini Wi-Fi, iPad mini Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad Air, iPad Air Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad mini with Retina display, iPad mini with Retina display Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPod touch (4th generation), and iPod touch (5th generation). This app is optimized for iPhone 5.

Free version: Catch Archie.

Become the ultimate scarer!

Description: Catch Archie the Scare Pig, run the Toxicity Challenge, and Avoid the Parent (aka the 50 foot librarian) in three fun games based on the film Monsters University. Each game features thirty stages of increasing difficulty. Play as Mike, then unlock Sully, Squishy, and Don Carlton, as you move up in levels. Earn coins and buy boosts and second chances.

Anna’s favorite part: Spending coins in the store.

Julia and I are both hooked on this app. She’s played all thirty stages of Toxicity Challenge and Avoid the Parent, and I’m on Stage 28 of Catch Archie.

Continue reading

Anna’s Favorite Apps, Part Three

Anna and I check out her new iPad Air

Photo: Julia Ozab

We bought Anna an iPad for her birthday, and what’s an iPad without apps? I took a  look at an iPad at Anna’s elementary school while Julia searched online, and together we found a wide variety of educational games along with some just for fun. Now that a few weeks have passed, I asked Anna what some of her favorites were? She likes a lot of them, so I’ll be featuring them here each Tuesday over the next few weeks.

Check out Part One: Spelling, Grammar, and Reading, and Part Two: Math and Science.

(Note: specs and screenshots via the App Store)

Part Three: Geography and Foreign Language

50 States with Flat Stanley

Learn the States With Flat Stanley

  • $0.99
  • Category: Education
  • Updated: Nov 02, 2013
  • Version: 1.9
  • Size: 48.4 MB
  • Language: English
  • Seller: Flatter World, Inc.
  • © Flatter World Inc

Compatibility: Requires iOS 5.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.

Send Stanley to Oregon.

Description:  Help Flat Stanley re-deliver lost mail while learning the names and locations of all fifty states. Grab a slingshot, take aim, and send him flying.

Anna’s Favorite Part: Flinging Stanley with the slingshot.

Continue reading

Anna’s Favorite Apps, Part Two

Anna and I check out her new iPad Air

Photo: Julia Ozab

We bought Anna an iPad for her birthday, and what’s an iPad without apps? I took a  look at an iPad at Anna’s elementary school while Julia searched online, and together we found a wide variety of educational games along with some just for fun. Now that a few weeks have passed, I asked Anna what some of her favorites were? She likes a lot of them, so I’ll be featuring them here each Tuesday over the next few weeks.

Check out Part One: Spelling, Grammar, and Reading.

(Note: specs and screenshots via the App Store)

Part Two: Math and Science

Equation screen

Mathmateer™

  • $0.99
  • Category: Education
  • Updated: Sep 18, 2013
  • Version: 2.2
  • Size: 20.2 MB
  • Language: English
  • Seller: Freecloud Design, Inc.
  • © 2010-2013 Freecloud Design, Inc.

Compatibility: Requires iOS 4.3 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.

Rocket launch screen

Description: Solve math problems, earn money, and build a rocket. Then launch the rocket on a math mission. All levels of elementary mathematics will keep a child engaged and learning into middle school.

Anna’s favorite part: Launching the rocket, of course.

Continue reading

Anna’s Favorite Apps, Part One

Anna and I check out her new iPad Air

Photo: Julia Ozab

We bought Anna an iPad for her birthday, and what’s an iPad without apps? I took a  look at an iPad at Anna’s elementary school while Julia searched online, and together we found a wide variety of educational games along with some just for fun. Now that a few weeks have passed, I asked Anna what some of her favorites were? She likes a lot of them, so I’ll be featuring them here each Tuesday over the next few weeks.

(Note: specs and screenshots via the App Store)

Part One: Spelling, Grammar, and Reading

scramble mode

FreeFall Spelling

  • $1.99
  • Category: Education
  • Updated: Oct 31, 2012
  • Version: 2.4
  • Size: 65.0 MB
  • Languages: English, German, Spanish
  • Seller: Merge Mobile, Inc.
  • © Merge Mobile, Inc

Compatibility: Requires iOS 4.3 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.

Fish Tank

Description: Practice spelling in three different modes—scramble, drag—and typwriter fun—and win fish and aquarium supplies to fill a virtual fish tank.

Anna’s favorite part: Feeding the fish.

Continue reading