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Maximize your summer missions impact with disruptive technologies

Right about now, a number of you are creating checklists of what to bring on your summer missions trip. Here are a few technical items you might want consider, to help keep your family and/or sponsors up-to-date via your church’s website or personal blog … and if nothing else, to get your digital thinking out of the ‘disco’ era!

New Developments in Dog Years:

In my line of work, individuals measure ‘tech time’ in terms of ‘dog years,’ meaning one multiplies by a factor of 7.

This means that if you’re are returning to a missions field with the same technological mindset you perhaps traveled with in 2003, then basically you’re hitting the road with know-how that’s 28 years in the past … which for those of us old enough to remember what it was like back then … your digital thinking is ‘disco-era’ … and nobody wants that!

Something Old, Something New …
Here are some ‘disruptive innovations’ that you may want to (re)consider:

  • advanced online office collaboration services – such as Google Documents and Flickr – such tools not only allow you to work on the same document and photographs from any computer and/or smart phone anywhere in the world, but you can also share them real-time with other individuals – such as a church-staff member back in their quiet and air-conditioned office who can assure better post quality and clarity. Such tools were non-existent in 2004.
  • more comprehensive hi-speed Internet access – Malaysia was amazing for me, but me-oh-my, what reporting I could do-over if I had a chance to go back to Jordan ! For example, did anyone else notice that this past May, Jordan’s largest telco announced a BlackBerry Pearl offering in collaboration with a global telco partner? Or perhaps that the Jordanian Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Eng. Omar A. Alkurdi is himself a Skype user? It’s little things like that are Internationally available now that weren’t accessible then that will radically improve your ability and frequency to post articles of greater detail and depth.
  • broad adoption of syndication technologies – while the RSS feed existed in 2004, it wasn’t widely used, now it is. We see it being used by online newspaper and media outlets such as the Washington Postandr CNN. We see it widely used by the blogosphere – which is why many of our blogs enjoy free content advertising by several hundreds other blogs ( thousands more if you link this article today!-). We see syndication as the technology that drives podcasts and video snippets – meaning you could leverage the awesome power of Apple’s iTunes and Google’s YouTube to get your missions message out; free, globally and fast.
  • emergence of the online social network – virtual communities have been around well before 2004, but advancements in syndication, blogging tools and hi-speed Internet access/telephony have helped pushed social networks into the main stream. One need only look at the successes of such Web 2.0 inspired offering such as Digg and MySpace. blogs4God is experiencing a similar boom over this past year as we too have adopted the social bookmarking model. Taking advantage of such communities can help you communicate your mission’s achievements further, faster and ‘funner.’
  • better blogging and communications tools – available, but-no-so-reliable in 2003 was blogging by e-mail. Now it’s a snap. Too low-tech? Then why not instruct Google Documents or Zoho Writer … or better yet, have a back-home editor instruct the editor application to post your spell checked collaborative document directly to your church blog via the miracle of XML-RPC! If that fails, forward the document as text email to your blog. That failing – SMS that puppy via your cell phone! And if that fails, create a backup-blog via a free service such as Blogger.com to let someone know the date, time and place of your next Skypecast !

There are plenty of other tools and technologies, but my point here is just to get you to get your digital mind out of the disco gutter – and possibly provide your church, your family and/or your sponsors with 28 times more in-the-field reporting in 2007 than you did in 2003.

Something borrowed, what about you?

Your mileage may vary – so please, don’t be shy to drop in other technological advancements that may help those of you doing God’s work in the field.