Tim Keller at Google: The Reason for God

This post doesn’t exactly fit in the course of the basic SMUG curriculum, but I hope you’ll bear with me. And at the end I promise to tie it into social media.

Tim Keller is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, a flourishing congregation in the heart of New York City. I’ve heard him speak (not in person, but via mp3) and have appreciated and enjoyed his presentations, and today I heard both that he has written a book called The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, and that he had given a fascinating talk about it at Google’s headquarters, as part of the AtGoogleTalks. Here’s his Google presentation, which I understand had the biggest attendance of any for a visiting author in at least the last couple of years.


If you want a taste of the argument, check out his answer (starting at about the 20:30 mark in the video and going for about 3 minutes) where he counters the conception that like the blind men each touching a different part of the elephant, all religions have a portion of the truth.

I hope that will whet your appetite, and that you’ll check out his whole presentation. Lots of others have found it worthwhile; the crowd at Google was large, and while the video hasn’t achieved Obama Girl viral status, as of this writing it has been viewed more than 48,000 times on YouTube.

Interestingly, Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan has more than 5,000 members, but it hasn’t grown to that point through the marketing methods of many of the megachurches. Keller’s style is low-key and extremely thoughtful. Here’s what the New York Times has to say about him and Redeemer:

Unlike most suburban megachurches, much of Redeemer is remarkably traditional. What is not traditional is Dr. Keller’s skill in speaking the language of his urbane audience….Observing Dr. Keller’s professorial pose on stage, it is easy to understand his appeal.

So what’s the social media tie?

While Keller is using a Gutenberg-era medium to make his argument in full (I’m about 85 pages into it, and it’s quite good), you’re reading about it and watching this through social media tools (YouTube and blogs) that didn’t exist a decade ago.

Back then you wouldn’t have had an opportunity to hear and see his presentation unless he or his church bought airtime on your local TV station. And if you didn’t happen to tune in at that exact time, you’d miss it. You surely couldn’t skip to the 20:30 mark and hear the answer to the blind men and the elephants.

The ability to see and hear interesting talks when it’s convenient for you (and to easily share with your friends) is an amazing benefit of social media.

And instead of raising large amounts of money to buy airtime, the message can be communicated at no charge…which enables messengers to focus on the content instead of amassing the means to distribute it.

That’s a great thing. And I hope you find Keller as thought-provoking as I have.

Google Tool for Internet Marketing

Robert Scoble calls out the Google AdWords Keyword Tool and why it’s important:

What does this tool do? It helps you see the searches that people are actually doing on Google. Let’s say you had a quilting store. Do you really know what searches people are actually doing to find information about quilting? If you haven’t used this tool, no, you don’t.

This tool also is important to figure out how many people are searching for a particular topic. This helps you test your assumptions of how many people are really searching for something. This will help you choose your title tags, and, even, your content.

I look forward to checking this out and seeing what it means for search optimization of content.

Share This:

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Jeff Jarvis on “The myth of the creative class”

I’ve been a little quiet for the last couple of days, as I’ve dived back into work after a five-day family trip. I’ve been learning some really interesting things that will revolutionize SMUGs teaching methods, and look forward to implementing some of this. I’ll have a post demonstrating this soon.

But meanwhile, here’s a good read from Jeff Jarvis at Buzzmachine.

Internet curmudgeons argue that Google et al are bringing society to ruin precisely because they rob the creative class of its financial support and exclusivity: its pedestal. But internet triumphalists, like me, argue that the internet opens up creativity past one-size-fits-all mass measurements and priestly definitions and lets us not only find what we like but find people who like what we do. The internet kills the mass, once and for all. With it comes the death of mass economics and mass media, but I don’t lament that, not for a moment.

BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » The myth of the creative class.

I sometimes disagree with Jeff because of his almost religious antipathy for religion Update: frequently and caustically expressed opposition to at least “certain policies of certain churches” (see his comment below, and my clarification), and with his new book attributing deity to Google his irreverence goes too far, but more often than not he’s on target when he talks about the new economics of media.

This post is particularly good. The celebrity-oriented “creative class” is an artifact of the mass media, when access was scarce and limited by gatekeepers.

Now millions of bloggers, podcasters and video producers have access to low-cost equipment through which their creativity can flourish.

The days of moving to Nashville or LA to pursue a record deal (“Record? Daddy, what’s a record?”) are gone. Anyone can have access to the world through social media tools.

Will many make a living at it? Nope. Fewer will than did in the “old days.” Just ask the newspaper guild. When everyone can publish, and there is no monopoly or oligopoly control on the means of publication, the guilds no longer can command premium prices.

But if, as Jeff says, 81 percent of us think we have a book inside of us, we now have a chance to let it out.

You don’t need to get a book deal, and an advance from a publisher, and get permission to speak out. You can just do it. And if people find what you have to say is worthwhile, they’ll link to it. Like I just have to Jeff.

How about you? What story, or song, or book, or short movie do you have inside you? 

What’s keeping you from just starting?

Can Cuil Cut it?

Former Google Engineers Launch Search Engine – WSJ.com.

This is an interesting article about a new search engine called Cuil, which I had seen on Twitter a couple of days ago. It will be interesting to watch and see whether it can make a dent in Google’s dominance.

Update: I originally posted this using the WordPress.com Press This bookmarklet. It will be interesting to experiment with that, and I’ll report on it later.

islamicyearwaxeddonetimedeclared and SEO

The results are in from my SMUG survey in Blogging 304, in which I asked readers to search for two terms and see where SMUG shows up in the rankings to test whether Google treats hyphenated domain names as “spam” domains, as a previous commenter had alleged

Of the five comments so far, it seems that on a search for blue shirt nation this blog typically shows up #4 in the rankings (#8 was the lowest) and for best buy blue shirt nation it’s typically #3.

So the fact that this blog has a URL of social-media-university-global.org instead of socialmediauniversityglobal.org doesn’t seem to be causing problems with my posts showing up in Google.

In fact, I think it’s likely the opposite, as this blog shows up at the top in searches for social media university, and even is on the first page for university social media. It appears to me I even do fairly well on global social media and social media global.

Again, some of this might be that Google knows I’m doing the searching and is serving my blog preferentially in the results, so if you’d want to search for some of the italicized terms above and let me know in the comments below how SMUG shows up, I’d appreciate knowing.

This led me to test a post on my son’s new blog (where he’s excited that he’s #1 in Google when you search for his name.) I’ve done an optimized post on his blog to see how long and whether that moves to #1 in the John Aase search. We’ll see what happens, and I’ll update later with the reslts.

Meanwhile, I got thinking some more about how failure to hyphenate, either in a domain name or in post, could make it more difficult for the Google robots to determine what a site or a post is about.

This post, for example, could mean at least one of two things, depending on how the bots parsed the URL.

islamicyearwaxeddonetimedeclared could mean that a major national news magazine had reached the judgment that Muslim ascendancy had ended: Islamic year waxed done, Time declared. Or, in a nonsensical nod to one of the Cartoon Network shows we try to not let John watch (see graphic above), it could be “I slam icy ear wax,” Edd one time declared.

The application for you is that you should hyphenate your URLs and make it easier for Google to understand what your post is about. In this case, particularly with the tags, it might get the picture that this post is about SEO.

This is another good reason to choose WordPress or WordPress.com as your blogging platform, because the default URL for your post comes from its title and because you can edit your URL before posting.