Social Media and School

Had a very helpful and interesting day with TISCA – The Independent Schools Chaplaincy Association.  We were thinking about Redeeming Technology especially looking at Social Media and the lives of teenagers. The teenagers in question are students in some of the most exclusive schools in the country and the chaplains are playing a very strategic role in the lives of these schools.

The day kicked off with an excellent talk on understanding the impolications of our belief in the Kingdom of God for online life from Rev Libby Talbot. I particularly liked her emphasis on the challenges and opportunities of new technologies. Libby had conducted a survey of the students at her school which yielded some fascinating results.

I heard a case study of how Romance Academy came into an independent school and ran a seminar on Sexting for years 9-10. The way they helped young people to navigate this new technology was to explain the statistics that say the average Sext is seen by 7 other people. This had a profound effect on the young people who saw the implications of their decisions making. This kind of common sense wisdom had a more transformative effect that

Survey of 140 students in a UK independent school this week

Which sites or social media apps do you use?
–       Facebook 80%
–       Youtube 63%
–       Twitter 22%
–       What’s App 57%
–       Instagram 70%
[ Notice Black Berry Messenger has disappeared completely!]

88% of those surveyed  use social media primarily for talking to friends.
72% thought that their social life was better when they used social media.
12% have been bullied online (18% haven’t been but know someone that has).
11% had sent or received explicit images from people they knew.

Next up was  a great presentation by Richard Moy who spoke about some of the safeguarding issues around cyber bullying and Sexting etc. Richard showed this video which is a response to the Look Up Viral video as a conversation starter.

I particularly liked the first hand comments that came from young people that Richard works with:

“Doing your homework on the internet is so great because it’s like going to the biggest library in the world right at your desk, but its also hard because the building that has the world’s biggest library also has the world’s biggest game room, the world’s biggest porn store, the world’s biggest casino, the world’s biggest mall and the world’s biggest lounge. Sometimes I don’t make it to the library”
14 year old boy

“Teens don’t want to tell adults about problems because they response from the adults is usually to block a site and then teens don’t have access to the sites they want to use for positive social communication.”
14 year old girl

My talk focussed on a political theology for Christian use of the internet – I am working on a paper on this and will publish it when its ready. I did get some useful feedback and comments from today that will hopefully make my paper more useful.

I began to think about the different ways that we use social media for different roles in our lives. What do you think of the following:

  1. Facebook – a live address book
  2. What’s app – more of a closed group
  3. Snapchat – instant / semi-temporary / personal messages
  4. Twitter – deemed impersonal by younger users but a good source of news and ideas.

5 Reasons to wish Wired Happy Birthday 

I have been a regular subscriber to Wired for a few years now. It’s a fantastic magazine to read. Here’s what I like

  1. Design

In my estimation Wired is at the cutting edge of design, I read the magazine for inspiration on lay out and visual presentation. The quality of the photography and infographics make the magazine a pleasure to read .

  1. Balance

There’s a fantastic balance between meatier – in depth articles (helpfully arranged at the back of the magazine) and lighter easy to digest news, reviews and how to pieces

  1. Depth

Love the fact that Wired gets to talk directly to some of the biggest names in the tech and design world – Tim Berners Lee; Daniel Ek (Spotify CEO)

  1. Breadth

For me Wired has found the sweet spot between tech, design, innovation, engineering and software. It is helping me connect with emerging trends across a wide variety of interesting topics.

  1. Numbers

I am a stat addict – I love the throwaway statistics the editors put in just for fun:

£15, 180 is the average price of a contract killing in Britain.

80% proportion of users Facebook will lose between 2015 and 2017 according to researchers at Princeton University

0 the number of students who will be enrolled by 2021 at Princeton (report by data scientists at Facebook).


So Happy Birthday WIRED for launching and developing an innovative magazine at a time when more and magazines are closing or switching to digital only.


There’s only one thing I would ask…

As I looked over the past 5 years of magazine covers. I noticed that you had 29 featuring men – most of whom were named as they were featured interviews rather than models. For example:

Jamie Oliver, Dennis Crowley, Alan Sugar, Brian Cox, Steve Jobs (twice), Mark Zuckerberg, Reid Hoffman, Jonathan Ive, Jack Dorsey, Richard Branson, Ray Kurzweil, Will.I.A.M, Tim Berners Lee.

Most of the other covers were graphical and only 4 featured a woman most of which were unnamed models there for aesthetic reasons. This really is EXPIRED thinking and for such a cutting edge magazine I believe you can do better. Lets model gender equality and refuse to bow to stereotypes about the role and significance of women.

Thanks for an otherwise excellent magazine.

How do you know if you have a problem with social media?

I am running a seminar at Word Alive with the subject:
Digital Discipleship : serving Christ on Social Media. Here’s the blurb for the seminar:

Discover the opportunities that Facebook and Twitter bring for mission and discipleship. Start the conversation early by following @krishk and tweeting a question using #Socialdisciple

As I was preparing the seminar this week, I came across these images of poor old Ella Birchenough from Dover who dropped her Blackberry down a drain and then removed the drain cover and jumped inside to try and retrieve her phone. Sadly she got stuck and the fire brigade had to come and rescue her.  Its a mini parable of our times and that is why the story with its powerful imagery travelled around the world.

ella birchenough.001

We recognise that our digital devices are invaluable to our lives but at what cost? I’m no luddite and see huge opportunities for technology for social and spiritual good, but I recognise that one of my blindspots is knowing when my technology use good be addictive behaviour. I am quite likely to have jumped in after my phone just like Ella did.

So how can you tell if you have a problem with social media ? How can you tell if enough is (birch)enough – if you will excuse the pun.

What say you friends? Suggestions please.

Photo credit. 

Google Future

Wow love this new glimpse into the google future. Wearable tech that integrates the best bits of Google Now into your watch!
I know things never work as seamlessly as these videos suggest. But there’s a lot of functionality that make this look like a bit of a game changer.


What do you guys think?

6 verbs of leaders on twitter

Looking forward to a seminar this afternoon with students at Regents Park College at Oxford University. One of the topics we are going to look at is whether twitter is worth the hassle. Here are my six reasons why it can be a useful tool for leaders.

1.  Incarnating – expressing gospel in another subculture

Living out the gospel in every sphere of life is our calling as disciples of Christ, Twitter is a great space to do that in.

2. Listening    –  allowing new streams of ideas and information into your imagination

Allow the zeitgeist of new ideas and thought streams to impact you by tuning into different people to follow on twitter.

3. Incepting   – injecting ideas into church and culture

There’s not that many new ideas on Twitter – lots of things are just recycled content from other sources. Add your ideas into the mix.

4. Clarifying  – developing the skill of conciseness

Having to reduce your thoughts to 140 characters can be a very good discipline to develop. Perhaps Twitter is the 21st century haiku.

5. Collaborating – cross platform networking

Twitter can be a great place to put together needs, skills and opportunities. I have found an amazing film maker through a connection made through Twitter alone.

6. Disseminating – news and information spreads quickly through social networks 

Lets say you want to tell everyone there’s been a flood in your building – twitter is a very agile way to get the message out.

What have  I missed friends?

TEDx Oxford speakers

Looking forward to the TEDx event in Oxford. Thought I would do a bit of research on the speakers. My son is coming along with me and is really looking forward to the chance to interact with some big ideas. Here is some info on all of the speakers that I know abou. I have also included a tongue in cheek attempt to guess the talk titles they will speak to.

Laura Bates

Laura Bates is the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, a collection of over 10,000 women’s daily experiences of gender inequality. If you have spent any time on Twitter in the last year you could not have missed this really helpful campaign that has exposed the subtle (and not so subtle) ways gender inequality is experienced in normal life.

You may want to visit Everday Sexism’s website to get a taste of this important work.

Paul Collier

Pau is a world renowned developmental economist with a particular interest in poverty. He is Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, and Director for the Centre for the Study of African Economies at The University of Oxford and Fellow of St Antony’s College

I really enjoyed reading The Bottom Billion which explored the reasons why the poorest countries in the world are remaining poor. His latest book “Exodus” and I am guessing the topic of his lecture, is pretty controversial as the reviewer Kenan Malik  in the Independent argued.

But despite its wealth of statistical evidence, there is often a chasm between that evidence and Collier’s more contentious arguments. Many of its solutions are morally questionable.

Best bet for a talk title:

“How UKIP can appeal to the leftist elites”

Susan Greenfield

Susan Adele Greenfield, Baroness Greenfield, CBE, HonFRCP is a British scientist, writer, broadcaster, and member of the House of Lords.
John Tate. One of her areas of interest and the one I am hoping she is speaking on is the impact of technology on the brain. Susan’s work has sparked controversy in the past but she should be a very engaging speaker. On her website she asks:

What impact are technologies such as computer games, the Internet and social media having on the brain? Is Mind Change the new Climate Change?

She has authored numerous books including “Tomorrows People” :how 21st century Technology is changing the way we think and feel. 

My bet for a talk title:

“Is Candy Crush making us stupid? Is Facebook losing us friends?”

Anders Sandberg

Anders Sandberg’s research at the Future of Humanity Institute centres on societal and ethical issues surrounding human enhancement and new technology, as well as estimating the capabilities and underlying science of future technologies.

This topic seems to be in the sweet spot of the Wired and TED audience – can’t find anything he has written on it though…

Best Bet for talk title:

“The Future’s So Bright I had to wear Google Shades”

Peter Millican

Peter seems to be a real polymath – not only is he  Gilbert Ryle Fellow and Professor of Philosophy at Hertford College, Oxford University. He has also written numerous computer packages including the Turtle graphics programming System. My guess is that Peter’s research into “The Philosophical Significance of the Turing Machine and the Turing Test” might be TED friendly topic that he could speak on. It would tie in well with Sandberg and Greenfield’s specialities.

My bet for a Talk Title:

“Are you smarter than your smart phone?”

Augusta Thompson

Really excited to discover that Augusta is  Director of Corporate Outreach and Distribution for the Girl Rising film project. Check out the  amazing trailer here:

My bet for talk title:

“Changing the world one girl at a time: with help from Selena Gomez and Salma Hayek”

Richard Layard

Peter Richard Grenville Layard, Baron Layard FBA is a British labour economist, currently working as programme director of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics. I have had his book on my shelf for a while “Happiness: lessons from a new science” and have been meaning to read it – will hopefully manage a quick skim before Ted Ex.

My best bet for a talk title:

“Shiny Happy People: poverty, development and economics”  


5 Reasons to get hold of Logos 5 and 1 reason to hesitate

Throughout its history the church has often utilised new technologies to help spread the good news of the gospel. Now in an age of ebooks outselling print books it makes sense for digital tools for Bible study to come into their own.

The very kind folks at Logos have given me a free upgrade to Logos 5 and I have been getting used to it for the last 5 weeks or so.

First let me encourage you why to buy this product if you don’t have a digital Bible and theological library system:

1. Excellent range and value resources

If you want to teach the Bible well, you need to study the Bible well. Making use of the fantastic gifts and skills that God has given scholars around the world. As you prepare a sermon or a Bible study you have the opportunity to learn alongside the best scholars on the planet all at the touch of a button.

2. Outstanding Search

Logos has an excellent search system, and results are really nicely delivered to you. Ofcourse you could use Bible Gateway to search scriptures but Logos allows you a degree of sophistication not possible on Bible Gateway and in a more helpful format.

But when you factor in that you can instantly search your entire library too it makes preparation so much more efficient.

Logos has a fantastic range of resources available including:

IVP’s Tyndale Commentary Set
Word Biblical Commentary Series
Expositors Bible Commentary Series
New International Commentary Series

There are regularly good deals available to buy these in their entirety saving a lot of money in the process.

One of the best collections is IVP’s Reference suite.

Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels
Dictionary of Paul and His Letters
Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Developments
Dictionary of New Testament Background
IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament
IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament
New Bible Dictionary
New Bible Commentary

The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
New Bible Atlas
New Dictionary of Biblical Theology
New Dictionary of Theology

3. Save Shelf Space
This may seem silly to some, but shelf space for books is a big deal in my house. If you have to move home you will be so grateful that your books are digital. Also if you lose your computer – thanks to the wonders of the cloud your books are safely stored for you.

4. Great IOS and Android Integration

I am constantly having to prepare on the move so being able to access all of the great resources from my phone or tablet is a wonderful thing.

5. Nice clean interface

I have dablled a bit with Accordance which is the biggest competitor to Logos. There is a lot to love about Accordance and perhaps it has the edge if you are able to do your preparation in the original languages. But for the average user Logos is a lot more user friendly and has a cleaner interface.

One reason to hesitate

If you already have Logos 4 is it worth paying for upgrade? This is a big question. As with many pieces of software there are regular updates, tweaks and bug fixes that are all available for free – but does this new version really warrant the expense of paying for the upgrade?

Here’s the Logos video to help convince you:

The Key new features:

1. Topic Guide
Personally, I think i would be more likely to trust the scholarly articles in New Bible Dictionary than the agregation performed by the Logos staff. So not a game changer for me.

2. Bible facts
The team have gone through and categorised key facts in scripture and how they link together. The example given is Barnabus where you can search for him and you get references that don’t mention him by name. Again I think I am more likely to trust a Bible dictionary article – but the fact that this is all hypertexted up and linked up may make it easier to navigate on Logos 5. Still not a game changer for me.

3. Time line
This information has been available to some degree in resources like the New Bible Atlas – but now there is a fully searchable and customisable timeline tool built into Logos. The tool is pretty but not that intuitive to use. For me not a game changer.

4. Bible Memorisation
– this would be a lot more useful on a handheld device – as it would be great to have flash card that you could test yourself with in the queue at the supermarket. So although I am a big fan of bible memorisation I can’t see myself using this very much. Getting my kids to use this is unlikely as they have their own laptops and don’t have a license for Logos.

5. Ease of use

What I find myself doing most often in Logos. Searching an article or a commentary and wanting cut and paste it into a word document, seems to have become more complicated. It is not as easy to do this and for the bibliographical material to travel with it. Which is frustrating. Perhaps I need a little bit more time get used to the new interfaces. But here comes my main concern – in seeking to add more facilities which will probably not be used a great deal by many of its users – has logos made their product worse? As the design gurus often tell us “less is more.” I would suggest that in future iterations – this principle of simplicity should trump diversity of functionality. By adding more bangs and whistles to the tool the programme seems to be bigger and bulkier. I can hear my Macbook Air’s processor working overtime to keep the software running. For someone who needs their resources on the move this is a bit of a problem as I have a thin and light laptop to keep things nice and portable. But Logos does not seem as easy to run on it as it used to be.


If you don’t currently own a Bible software programme / library system logos is definitely worth the investment. If you own Logos 4 I don’t think the upgrade is worth it… yet.

5 things I enjoyed about Spring Harvest 2013


Our family have just come back from an excellent time at Spring Harvest. Here are the 5 highlights for me of the event.

1. Confidence in the Gospel

The theme of the event this year was “The Source: encountering Jesus Today” at the heart of this was a need for us to recover Jesus at the centre of our identity (BE) our words (SAY) and our actions (DO). It was great to be at an event that made sure evangelism was at the centre of the churches mission alongside doing justice. So many events manage to exclude one or the other – but to be thinking about genuinely holistic mission was excellent. As someone passionate about evangelism – one of the highlights of my week was running a seminar on evangelism in which we ran out of seats! You can read more about the theme in my new book Back to the Source.


2. All Age

I love the fact that Spring Harvest is such a genuinely all age event. From the Big start where children and adults are encouraged to worship together and get introduced to the theme of the day then there are groups for children and adults to explore the same material but in ways that take seriously learning styles and age differences. It was exciting to be having lunch together as a family and hear how my 6 year old and my teenagers were engaging with the same topics.


3. Accessibility and Diversity

We had the privilege of being at Spring Harvest with lots of friends including someone who has had a serious brain injury that has meant he has mobility, communication and learning challenges. We experienced first hand that the team at Spring Harvest do a brilliant job of making sure people with disabilities are extremely well catered for. I was so pleased to feel a real connection with African and Black majority churches thanks to a racially diverse speaking and worship leading line up including: Les Isaacs, Kate Coleman, Noel Robinson and Mark Beswick and many others. There’s still a long way to go – but it was a great step forward.


4. Adoption and Fostering

The Spring Harvest team gave an excellent amount of profile to the Home for Good campaign and we had hundreds of foster carers, adoptive parents, social workers and those wanting to help the church get involved join us for some inspiring times together.Find out more Home for Good.


5. Technology

Regular folowers of my blog will know that I love experimenting with new technologies. The new plasma screen, use of twitter, instagram, live video feed to chalets, phone ins etc were great fun and helped people to connect in new and exciting ways to the theme.

As a bonus extra – my kid have all become huge Tim Vine fans – he was on sparkling form in the afterhours programme.

Why iPads are so last year


I loved my iPad. It was barely out of my reach for the two years since they first came out. I was an early adopter and was completely won over by the portability, interactivity of the tablet experience. I used my Ipad mainly for email, diary, web surfing and lots of fun with the children playing games together. I wrote a chunk of one of our books on it on frequent train journeys into London. But something happened in November that means I have hardly used my Ipad recently

My work finally stopped a blackberry only policy which meant I bought a Samsung Note 2. This was a momentous step as it was my first step outside of the Apple ecosystem as we are an iPod, ipad, Mac family. So what changed my mind:

1. Size

The Note 2 is a phablet – a phone and tablet hybrid. Initially I was worried that i would feel like a comedian with a huge phone. But instead the size of the screen is perfect for me. Its big enough that i can read anything on it – from Kindle books, Logos commentaries, the Guardian Website and so that i can easily write notes with my S-Pen, yet it is small enough to fit into my pocket. Rather than fussing about on an Ipad which is not quite big enough to do serious typing on easily – I use my Macbook Air for that. but for quick responses to emails and note taking, web browsing – all the things i was using my Ipad for the Note 2 is spot on for me.

The Iphone 5 feels too small now and i would end up carrying 3 devices around:

Phone, Ipod, Ipad and my Macbook Air.

I now carry one thing about most of the time (and it fits in my trouser pocket). If i need to do a serious amount of typing then I carry the Macbook Air. Thanks to the tethering options on the Android I can get online on my Mac when I need to as well.

2. Price

My Note 2 was cheaper than buying the entry level Iphone 5 16GB.
I could also put in two additional batteries (3200 mah)- which give me a day and a half of heavy mobile usage and also boost the amount of memory (see below)

3. Stylus

In my opinion Steve Jobs was wrong. The stylus is a very useful addition to tablets. In fact I was using a stylus with my ipad a lot (and normally losing the thing because there was nowhere useful to put it). The S-pen that comes with the Note 2 is a thing of incredible precision and is very useful for writing, flicking through a list, previewing items.

4. SD cards

My music collection is bigger than my iPod and bigger than the available space on my Macbook Air even with a 32 GB memory card permanently onboard. Buying a iphone with a big enough memory was prohibitively expensive so it was going to be an iphone plus an ipod which was going to be bulky and expensive and confusing. The Note 2 comes with 32 GB plus I can put in a huge 64 GB card which solves all my music challenges. Not only that but thanks to 50GB drop box free upgrade and the wonders of Google Music I can now access oodles of cloud storage too.

5. Swipe type

typing on an IOS device feels very old hat – actually having to type in letter by letter. Swipe Type is so much quicker and more intuitive. It’s hard going back now.


There are a few things I miss:

– the blackberry was pretty good at Voice dialing which was very handy with my hands free kit.

– itunes is a very intuitive interface – and it took me a while to get used to google play

– podcasts are a little awkward to download – but have found some workarounds

But I can’t imagine going back now – so come on over Android you’ll enjoy the experience.

The future is glass

Google gave a glimpse into the future today – with this sneak peak of what life lived through “Google glass” will feel like. I must admit i find it both a cool and chilling future. I love the idea of being connected and that my reality is augmented by interaction with friends, sharing video on demand etc. But because these videos feel like you are looking through the eyes of the Terminator or Robocop its raises questions whether this form of technology will help us to become more human or make us less human. Take a look at the video and let me know what you think.