Entering the Internet Video Age

It’s hard to believe when I began this blog to catalog my iPod listening, that the concept of portable video on an iPod was just that — a concept.  Now streaming video is available everywhere and on everything including your large screen TV  (keep an eye out for the touch screen refrigerator door.)

I intentionally limited the posts here to available audio formats for mp3 players, which at times has been unfortunate because some conferences, discussions and sermons have only been available on video.  But now it’s time for Faith by Hearing to step into the video age, so keep an eye out for many more video posts.

The Tyranny of Time & Blogs

For you observant types, you’ve noticed that the posts on Faith By Hearing have been few and far between of late. Hopefully this will simply be a temporary situation.

My work load has increased dramatically over the past few months, and unfortunately it has coincided with a debilitating health condition that my wife is experiencing.  She is slowly improving and we believe she will be back to normal by the end of summer.  But until then I’m doing double and triple duty with very little time for anything extraneous.

I have been listening to quite a few MP3’s, but haven’t posted anything about them hoping I would have time to talk a little bit about them. But alas, it’s not to be, and time marches on.  So over the next few weeks and months I will post links to good audio, but will have very little to say about them.


Comments on Commenting

A few words about wise commenting.

Comments are a great tool. On one hand they can provide encouragement and new information, but on the other hand they can be greatly misused. I must say I’m fortunate because I only have a small fraction of the commenting problems that many other blogs are overrun with. Yet, because FBH links to so many preaching personalities, I see a fair share of comments from people who have axes to grind or hamstrung hobby horses to parade.

I don’t want to repeat what other posts have said so well, such as Nathan Busenitz articles The Blog in Our Eyes at Pulpit Magazine. But I do have 10 specific things to say about comments.

Before you comment on any blog consider these points:

1.) Your comment isn’t going to change Christendom, or the world for that matter. If that’s your goal, save your time and redirect your energies elsewhere. Commentdom will not be your arena for success.

2.) If you fancy yourself as a modern day Martin Luther with 95 theses of protest to post, let me affirm to you that you’re dead wrong. If your comment has more than 5 points then it no longer qualifies as a comment. Keep it out of the comment box. Start your own blog and post your thesis there. Send yourself comments if that makes you happy. I’m a strict 5 point Commentist.

3.) Check to see if the blog has guidelines for commenting. Many blogs have published guidelines that they would like you to follow (Faith by Hearing has one on every page). Look for guidelines before you comment. You just might save yourself some time.

4.) The word ‘comment’ doesn’t equal ‘debate.’ Take some time to get to know a blog before you comment. It might not be a blog that is interested in debate. Not all blogs are. Don’t assume your contrary point of view will be valued…or read, for that matter. Take your fight where it’s welcome.

5.) If you have to copy-paste your comment from Microsoft Word then make your own blog to post your opinions. I would love for someone to program a comment box that doesn’t allow copy-pasting. One comment I found this week calculated to almost 12,000 words (do you really think I even considered reading it, pal?). And the copy-pasters often place numerous copies of the same exact comment on every post that is tagged with the same preacher. One is enough, already.

6.) If you are maligning someones character, just stop. Credibility does not ooze from a comment box. Aside from the fact that it’s a form of character assassination, your comment will carry absolutely no weight. Nobody in their right mind is going to lower their estimation of a good preacher because JR Anonymous wrote something negative about him in a comment box. Think about it!

7.) Don’t be inflammatory. Give yourself some distance from the subject before you draw the sword. If your comment is really that important then it will be important for you to remember 2 days from now. If not, you will forget it and spare us your divine wisdom. The world doesn’t need another swashbuckling ‘commentador’ to skewer the ‘foolish’ Christians.

8.) If you do have a viable disagreement, consider first bringing the issue to that man directly. Make a phone call. Send an email. Write a letter. If this is not appropriate, then support your point with real meat and avoid hearsay. Stick to the issue and be as brief as possible. No preacher is perfect. But with all wisdom, treat the matter as Paul outlined in 1 Timothy 5 bringing an accusation against an elder — you approach it with humility, wisdom and great care.

9.) If your comment is an argument and has an “us” against “them” flavor, rethink it. It’s very easy to oversimplify someone’s opinion or perspective, which then leads us to making assumptions that are far from a fair representation. This would be a straw dog in the end.

10.) Stick to the relevant topic of the post. Don’t use your comment as a platform to ride your hobby horse into town. We have the King James-only horse, the Sabbath-observance horse, the Baptism horses, the ‘Jesus-didn’t-die-on-Friday’ horse, the Genesis-Creation fill-in-the-blank horses, the Hymns-only horse, the Prophecy/Millennial horses, and I could go on and on ad nauseum.

For those of you who have your own blogs and allow comments, I have a word of advice: Do not allow comments to be automatically posted if you are able. You don’t owe everyone the right to post their viewpoint on your blog. Many simply have no edifying quality to them at all, are filled with discouragement and often give the world cause the blaspheme Christians and their God. In the end your faithful readers suffer. Bad comments are almost as insidious as bad blog writing, and the internet is so congested with garbage, why add bad comments to it?

Let’s hope the future holds an age of responsible comments.

Digital Etiquette for MP3 Creators

This is a friendly call for creators of MP3’s to follow some very simple guidelines that  will make end users lives easier, and be a testimony to the messages we preach & teach.   If you value the material you post publicly on the Internet, please demonstrate it’s value by following these 3 very simple guidelines.

1. Edit the ID3 tags thoughtfully.  ID3 tags are the meta information that allows users to locate material based on the artist/speaker, album, name, date, etc.  A large percentage of MP3’s have no ID3 tags whatsoever.  They are simply identified by the file name, which is so over encrypted and unintelligible to be of any use.  Fill in the speakers name in the ‘artist’ category. Use ‘album’ to identify the preaching series or workshop.  Fill in the ‘name’ or ‘title’ section with a clear title .

2. Be consistent with your naming convention. I have seen quite a number of series or conferences that vary the spelling of a name, and each variation appears within it’s tag differently.  I can’t tell you how many Don Carson names I have to scour to find my Don Carson audio  (D. A. Carson, DA Carson, D A Carson, Don Carson, Dr. Don Carson, Dr Don Carson, Dr. D. A. Carson, Dr DA Carson…you get the idea).  This happens within series or conferences. Personally I think the ‘Dr.’ bit adds an unnecessary level of complexity.  When you add a ‘Dr.’ or ‘Dr’ or ‘Dr. __’ the problem becomes exponential.  Watch that you don’t mistakenly put a space before or after the name as this will also create a new instance of the tag.

3.  Compress your files.  We don’t need to waste bandwidth or hard drive space.  I still see 1 hour speech files as large as 90 mb.  That’s more than 3 times what is necessary.  You should be able to get 60 minutes below 25 mb with little loss of quality.  Switch off stereo and you reduce it by half.  The speaker is talking into one mic, which makes stereo needless.   There are plenty of good compression tools on the net.  Audacity is a very good free package.

We live in a digital world, and we produce digital content.  Let’s take care that what digital content we create has as much care applied to it’s digital format as the care we use in the exegesis of the message contained within.

Thank you.