A Fresh Update for a Post Pandemic Time

Emily Hiding Under the Chair

We certainly aren’t post pandemic yet, but surely someday we will be, I hope. My blog hasn’t necessarily been hiding under a chair like my cat, but it hasn’t been far off from that reality either. Last year, among other things, we worked hard on building a backyard pond, (Deborah’s blog has kept up with that way better than I have) but now it’s cold and who wants to work outside in the cold. So it has been a really long time since I’ve done an update and refresh of my blog, and it finally came time for that change. There is something about the changing of a year, and as 2022 arrived I decided I was not going to put off doing some of those things I’ve always enjoyed doing any longer.

For the last year or so I’ve been mainly working on my .com site and different image portfolios like black and white, color photography, etc over at scottfillmer.com which is not focused on writing but images. This site is where I get to focus on both. While I haven’t updated here in a while, it’s never been far from my mind, and I pretty much never stop writing. For years and to this day I probably write 1,000-2,000 words a day in some form or fashion, a habit that seems to never want to fully leave me, so this blog has always been an open form that combines writing and photography of some kind.

Along with my blog, I’ve updated a few other areas that get me away from the big social networking sites. In my obsession with Internet privacy, security, and web3 stuff I’m trying to stick to more of the places that I build myself than on the places that take and use like Facebook, Twitter, etc., more on the things I’m interested in instead of what the feeds are interested in me seeing. I’ve added a new NFT site over on sftokens.io which is an image or photography based site but focused on designing images and photography for NFT’s, the blockchain, or just for me to explore new ways to interact with my photography. That site is just getting started right now but I hope to continue to add new content to it over the course of 2022 and see where it goes from there.

For blogging or writing I’ve updated this site of course, but I’ve also added a micro blogging platform. I’ve really come to really appreciate micro.blog for it’s ease and simplicity and my page over there is hosted at slf.micro.blog which consists of shorter more frequent posts. That’s about it for now. I’m looking forward to great things in 2022, hopefully with a little more love given to my blog this year.

Reasons To Chose to Write or Not to Write

Writing on the iPad
Writing on the iPad

So this is the typical blog away from blog post that seems to grace the pages of almost every blog I have ever read. For the first time in the 10-15 years I have been writing on my blog, I took a year off. Though I did stop writing here for a while, I never stopped writing off-blog posts in my DayOne App (the best journal writing app ever by the way) or on Twitter and Facebook. I had wanted to take this break for a while, to get some perspective, and I did. After being away for so long I kept wondering if I would ever come back, what the purpose is/was, and why it even matters if I ever write another word here in a world already filled with so much noise as it is.

When it comes to choosing not to write, I tried find reason behind these statements.

  1. It takes too much time.
  2. There is enough noise out there already.
  3. No one wants to read every thought that crosses the mind, ever (that’s still the case).
  4. Ultimately, who cares what’s “not created” by a writer.
  5. I had lost the freedom of speech on my own blog.

I doubt those questions have answers for the most part, and it is the stereotypical question and response of everyone who wants to start a blog but never does. Ultimately, what’s worth doing is worth doing, even, or especially, if there is no recognizable audience at the time. Blogging is somewhat like doing life together with the rest of the world. It leaves you open to ridicule, criticism, trolls (see a great article ‘Your Opinion is Obsolete‘), and oblivious objecting observers, when not writing removes those negativities. But the easiest thing to do is not to write.

I was somewhat inspired to get back to writing here after reading Roger Angell’s “Five Seasons” this past off season, the start of the Auburn baseball season, and the honest reflections of another sports writer who recently lost his job. Then for some reason, I became responsive to that inspiration after reading Joe Posnanski’s post about what was on his book shelf. It had nothing to do with the list of books he calls great (which was great), but by his opining about his office and how long it took him to come to the point. Great writing is like that. It’s the journey to the finishing point that creates the pleasures of wading through the details. You almost want the writer to slow down because you know the end is in sight.

As a writer (that is the act of writing something original… I make no claims to be on the level with the likes of Angell or Posnanski), the one on the list that bothered me the most was the last one. Once you start writing to please, or to not offend, the writing becomes less real, contains less of me. I still haven’t figured this one out. I admire those who have found the answer, or have ignored the question all together and just plowed ahead.

In the end, I hate being just a consumer of material. I read countless blogs, news articles, books, and other writings where the authors’ purpose was only fulfilled long after it was written. The purpose of the written word is, to be read, by somebody at some time, even if the knowledge of that purpose is never know by the writer himself. So… I write.

Nothing Motivates Writing Like a New Theme Design

Wordpress.com Twenty Twelve Theme Design
WordPress.com Twenty Twelve Theme Design

I know to non-bloggers, writing a blog post about blogging is a kin to photographers talking about equipment (which we love to do), but to the rest of the world, it’s… boring… that is unless you love photography, or in this case blogging. If you know WordPress, their mantra is Code is Poetry, and maybe that’s why I love their coding.

Funny thing is, I find more people interested in new theme designs than I find people interested in writing on their blogs so go figure. I really try not to change themes too often, and Google doesn’t like it all that much either, but this time my last highly customized premium them, called Portfolio by WordPress only lasted about 3-4 months (see scalability issue below).

It’s Not the Theme It’s the Content

I’m not really sure why this is, but it seems to be true, even though I refute the notion when asked. I hear it all the time… if I just had a new, fresh, nice looking, well designed, custom coded, update to my blog, I would write more. And every time I hear that, my response is always the same. If you don’t write on your blog when it’s ugly-ish your not going to write on your blog when it’s beautiful. The phrase amongst websites and blogs that “content is king” has been true for years, and will remain true for all foreseeable futures of Internet knowhow. There is just nothing that makes up for good content. If you doubt this, just check out three of the worst designed websites on the Internet; Craigslist, Drudge Report, and Reddit, who are also some of the highest traffic sites on the Internet.

Still, every time I update my theme (which I try not to do very often), I get reinvigorated and excited about my blog. I still think my advice holds true, forget your design and just start posting good content and the design will works it’s way in. If you are in the habit of producing high quality, consistent content already, a new theme will be even more invigorating.

The New Twenty Twelve WordPress Theme

Some of the most versatile website designs today are from WordPress. I have written on them many times before so I won’t repeat that here, but if you have that strong desire to change designs like you change Facebook profile pics, WordPress is for you, at least theme wise. For the first time, I have gone with a custom design of a default WordPress theme from the guys over at Automattic, called Twenty Twelve, so this them I used here is available to anyone with a WordPress blog.

My top priorities when it comes to design are readability, typography, clarity, customization, scalability to move from one design to another, and a design that will fade into the background allowing the images and writing to take over, and Twenty Twelve hit these requirements quite well. This new them has one thing my previous theme didn’t have, the ability to move on to the next theme. The greater the customization, the harder it is to move on to the next code.

Twenty Twelve, launched on August 28, 2012, this theme is now going to sit as the WordPress default theme, an update to their “Twenty something” series of themes. It uses a new typography from Google (Open Sans), which is one of the most readable sets they have produced. If you have a WordPress blog, check it out, but you might already be using the theme and just didn’t know it. Thanks for another great theme WordPress. In my relentless desire to find the cleanest, minimalist theme design, you have brought me one step closer to perfection, at least in my mind.

10 Reasons To Learn Social Media if You Are a Christian

Scott Fillmer on Facebook

I decided to start a series of sorts on social media and how we the people of the church body use, don’t use, or outright diss the majority of the world at this point. I’m hereafter coining this series of sorts as the SMFT (Social Media, Facebook, and Twitter) discussion. Part of the necessity of this discussion comes after reading some of Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival by Leonard Sweet (or @lensweet), which I would highly recommend to anyone, but should almost be required reading for anyone born prior to 1985. I have written on this many times before, but I do so now mainly because there are still some in the church today who continue ignore this medium, which has now become the most powerful tool in the world to connect with other people.

Much of the premise behind Viral is to bring the older generations of believers (that is those born prior to about 1985) into the fold of understanding in the world we live in today. It is far easier to say “I’m not part of the world, the culture, the depravity of our society,” and ignore everything our world has become, even though we do still live in the world. We are supposed to be the salt and light to the world, not to be just the salt and light to the baby boomers. Many of us do ignore the power of social media in our calling as Christians to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20).

How in the world can we make disciples if we don’t know and understand the different forms of social media like Facebook and Twitter? So you say I’m on Facebook, got that covered… well, I would say Facebook is the most closed, the least evangelically available social media tool there is. You can close yourself off in Facebook by locking every aspect of your Facebook account and never be heard from again, what type of witness is that? Did you know that most younger generations are moving away from Facebook at this point (partly because we are now on there). It’s extremely important to get beyond Facebook and into other areas like Instagr.am, Pinterest, Foursquare, FlickrSpotify, YouVersion, Kindle Books (yes it’s social), blogging, texting, and various avenues on Twitter.

[On a side note… if you are only on Facebook, you are not a part of the social media revolution, this is basically pseudo social networking at best. I say this because Facebook is close to reaching saturation levels. Facebook has become like the telephone or cable TV of the 80’s. Once everyone is on there who wants to be on there it’s growth is all but flatlined. I don’t mean if you aren’t on there yet, you shouldn’t get on there, and fast, but If you are only willing to get into one single social site, I would not recommend it be Facebook, I would first make it a smart phone, where you can learn how to access everything the world now takes for granted.]

So, if you are a believer, and think this social media thing is going to go away, I’m sorry, it’s only going to get more and more ingrained into the very fabric of the world we live in. In another 5-10 years it will encompass the world’s population, except for those who ignore it’s existence. For us the church to ignore social media is akin to the church ignoring electrical power and the car when they were invented, choosing instead to stick with candles and horses.

10 Reasons To Learn Social Media if You Are a Christian

  1. Jesus would have used this media (this is a later post, but I will show from Scripture why this is the case)
  2. We are called to disciple the world, and the world is connected via social media
  3. If you don’t learn the basics, instead of you teaching your kids, your kids will be teaching you at some point
  4. By the time you are ready it will be too late (it’s already quite late as it is)
  5. Your target audience are all sitting right there waiting for your witness
  6. How many people in your neighborhood have your talked to (witnessed to) lately?
  7. Door to door is dead. Buried… and greatly frowned upon in our society. Social networking is the norm.
  8. The disciples used every tool to their advantage (they wrote books and distributed them)
  9. The Bible is the greatest social media tool every created, it’s meant to be socially shared
  10. Because there are lost people who do not know Jesus and you may be their only connection

So there you have it. That’s just a start. I didn’t put a lot of references, or other specifics as to where my ideas came from, I will put those in future SMFT posts, and those 10 reasons are just off the top of my head, I’m sure there are a ton more. I beg the church body to not let itself become irrelevant in such an overwhelming way as to not be able to reach our world today. We make disciples by investing in people’s lives, and more than any other time in the history of the world, we have access to more people, to discuss the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ with more people, than any generation who ever lived before us.

Do We Publish Anything With Meaning and Longevity Today?

Edwards Sermons Publication

How much do we write that has meaning and longevity today? While we aren’t, and can’t, all be Mark Zuckerberg (see Mark Zuckerberg and the Biblical Meaning of Success), it got me thinking about the value (and noise) we add when it comes to our photos, videos, and  our writing today. Much like photography when the digital camera boom happened, there was a flood of “uncle Bob” photographers that rushed on the scene, flooding every corner of the Internet with second rate photos. Now 10 years later, photographers, pros and amateurs alike, are adding a staggering 200 million photos to Facebook PER DAY, or around 6 billion per month, and that’s just Facebook, Flickr from February and March 2012, has reached the pace of 1.8 million photos a day, that is up to 28 photos per second in peak times. Same goes with video, YouTube is now receiving 72 hours of video uploads per MINUTE, and I’m sure the same goes with the music industry.

So what about writing? WordPress (the blogging platform of choice for many writers and bloggers, added 937,374 new posts, 1,492,356 comments, & 197,044,567 words TODAY on WordPress.com, which doesn’t even include self-hosted WordPress blogs making that number about double. When you add Twitter in at something in the range of 300-350 million tweets per day, you really start to see the massive amount of data we put out each day. Perhaps volume of information written degrades the overall quality of our writing? Would someone who wrote in the 15-17th century have actually had an advantage to writing in the 21st century? Less noise, less Tweeting, Facebooking, blogging, Instagr.am-ing, etc, would probably have given Calvin or Luther more time to write, and write well, right?

This morning I received a notification from the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale that Wipf & Stock Publication has released previously unpublished writings of a series of sermons preached by Jonathan Edwards between 1737-1738. Here is a man who wrote profusely when it couldn’t be done on a computer. He had to write by hand, and even at that often times he didn’t have paper and had to use any scrap he could locate. In fact, he wrote so much that a whole team and museum of people are still sifting through his writings, trying to compile them into volumes. I wonder how much he could have written in the 21st century world. Maybe it would have been less… and not nearly as inspired as it was?