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Twitter & Ministry


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Twitter is a powerful phenomenon that's changing the way we send and receive messages. Email and instant message haven't gone away but are starting better fit their intent rather than being all inclusive messaging systems. In this weeks episode we explain what twitter is, how it's being used, and talk about some ways it can be useful for ministry.

Before we dive into twitter we have listener feedback to talk about that includes more than a couple useful products and ideas. So, come join us for another information packed episode of Geeks and God.

Why you should use Laconica instead of Twitter

Hi Guys,

Great podcast as usual! Keep up the good work.

A few notes on twitter.

As you mentioned it's getting spammed a lot, it also tends to be down a lot.

Although the folks at twitter are constantly working to fix this, the main problem has to do with scaleability. Twitter is one system running in one place and is being used by hundreds of thousands of users.

You may have even noticed some of the more advanced IM services and stuff are disabled because they run into bandwidth/etc problems.

A better suggestion is to move to the open source system called laconica.

Laconica is a microblogging service and basically works exactly like twitter, except it is distributed across multiple servers. If you are geeky you an setup your own laconica (instructions at my homepage above). Or you can use one of the many free one's like the one at ident.ca

Plus, you can still follow others on their on laconica microblogs, and they will show up on yours. A process called Federation, allows you to subscribe to other laconcia sites not just the one you have signed up with!

The API still needs a little work, but very promising

It's Free, It's Open Source, and it's Distributed, Defineitly suggest you check it out!

Source Code Versioning

You mentioned using source code version control software when working on a web site. Specificly, you mentioned CVS, SVN, and GIT. I would recommend avoiding CVS and Microsoft's Source Safe (probably not likely a contender anyways, but definately still used) because they are outdated, lack features, and have issues with file corruption.

Personally, I have had a good experience using Subversion (aka SVN) (http://subversion.tigris.org/). It can be used locally, or remotely on a local server, or over the web. It stores changes as compressed diffs, so it is extremely efficient on storage. It can version both text and binary files (like images). And it's really easy to create a new local repository ("svnadmin create C:\repository\" from command window).

You mentioned that version control is for coders, and I would disagree - it does have a learning curve, but you don't need to be able to code to use it. I think that using a GUI front-end such as RapidSVN (stand-alone)(http://rapidsvn.tigris.org/) or TortoiseSVN (built into Windows Explorer/"My Computer") (http://tortoisesvn.tigris.org/) makes version control very approachable for any website creator. Or if you use an IDE such as Eclipse, there are plugins that let you interact with a repository directly from the IDE.

Once you are using version control, you probably will want to back up the entire repository, rather than the latest version of your files. SVN comes with "svnadmin hotcopy" and "svnsync" for those purposes. See the SVN documentation for more info.

One last thing. You happened to mention Google Code in the episode and also mentioned paying for a hosted version control system. Google Code actually comes with a hosted SVN repository for your project for free!

Good Info

You list out some great info on versioning.

One area I'd disagree is in the SVN vs. CVS area. If someone is new to versioning I'd suggest SVN. Although, to an outsider not familiar with versioning they may not notice any difference between the two setups.

There is a limitation with Google Code and that's 10 lifetime projects. If you have a project you know you want to distribute to others, open source, and that kind of thing then Google Code is great. But, there is that 10 project limit.

Also, sourceforge is a lot like Google Code. Check that out.

If you aren't interested in public storage (I write a bit of code that isn't open sourced) a private repository is a great way to go.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host

Twitter Resources

Enjoyed the episode very much--thanks!

Digital @ Leadership Network posted a nice round-up of Twitter and ministry links here.

Re: getting to really know people through Twitter (or FB status, I would suggest), I quoted some stuff here.

Tim Hortons

Interesting to hear what Americans actually think of Tim Hortons. It's almost a cultural institution to us Canadians. There's even an intersection in Halifax (I think it's in Halifax) with a Tim Hortons on three of the four corners.

Great episode by the way...

They are fine

I'll probably get kicked for this, but Tim Hortons is fine. I don't see anything special about it. Am I missing something?

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host

Re: They are fine

Hey Matt,

It's more about the ubiquity of Tim Horton's then anything else. Since there are so many of them, we tend to associate them with good memories and "Canadian" life. It also comes across as more old-fashioned and less corporate, then say mcdonalds. Plus people really do like the coffee.

That's why I was wondering what everyone state-side would think of them since they don't have that warm and fuzzy association with the brand.


a few comments

1. Snippely is pretty cool. For an AIR app, it feels very "mac-like." I did it. For now, I am still using www.snipplr.com. I keep a number of Drupal related code snippets at http://snipplr.com/users/shrop/. I like snipplr because it is web based and there is a plugin for TextMate (www.macromates.com) where I can access my snippets easily.
2. Thanks so much for the tips on automysqlbackup and rsnapshot. I have used my own scripts that are similar to these, but will check these out since they have a community support/following.
3. I talked to my staff and we are going to start experimenting with Group Tweet. Thanks!

Great podcast guys!

Mark Shropshire "shrop"
Geeks & God Forums Moderator


Shrop, your code repository on snipplr is a potential goldmine. I never thought of sharing code publically like this, but man, what a great idea! Now I'm wondering about a small 'developer focused' section on the new Geeks&God site where we can all share Drupal code. Hmm....

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host

I think that would be great.

I think that would be great. snipplr has an API, so if you don't want to dedicate a content type, you could integrate with snipplr and encourage its use with a special gandg tag or something.

Also, this blog post is related to this podcast: http://digital.leadnet.org/2008/09/twitter-is-a-pr...


Mark Shropshire "shrop"
Geeks & God Forums Moderator

Good episode


I'm a new listener, still catching up on your 2008 episodes.

Thanks for the Twitter piece. I've used it for about 6 months and really love it, but am just now starting to brainstorm ways my church can use it when I launch their new web site.

I think I'll ask my pastor to listen this this episode as well.

At this time, I'm going to try to sell him on a mail church Twitter account, to tweet about church news, events, activities, etc. And also a Group Tweet account for church prayer requests.

Thanks again.

Colleen Robledo

"I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me." - Psalm 13:5

Ministry on Twitter

Love that people are talking about Twitter and ministry. You can follow LifeWay Student Ministry on Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/StudentMinistry. It's been a powerful tool for us!