As we look forward to #CNMAC12 this Saturday, another great interview with Benjamin (not Ben!) Ellis. Benjamin is speaking in the ‘Deeper’ stream at 12.10pm:
How are the new social services changing the way we interact? What direction is social interaction online going?
Who are you, what do you do, and how do you come to be speaking at #CNMAC12? What’s your personal ‘story’?
Father of four, husband of 21 years, founder and early employee of more technology start ups than I can list here. CNMAC12 is possibly the first time that my journeys in faith and technology have coincided in one event, and I’m quite excited to see where that leads. My background is in technology, with a degree in electronic engineering, during which I got involved in testing the first Web Browser. While at university I also came to realise that the Christian gospel required an active response. I hold a Church Colleges Certificate in Religious Studies, a Diploma in Psychology and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. I’ve worked with Internet technologies for almost 20 years, focused on how they impact on communication and behaviour, and how they can be used to make the workplace work better.
Can you give us a ‘sneak peak’ into the story of your session at #CNMAC12?
We are increasingly shifting from being users of digital technologies, to being products of how they cause us to communicate. Facebook has become the dominant form of digital interaction for many people, but in the background there has been a subtle shift in how our social interactions take place. A new generation of platforms are emerging, and they are dramatically changing how we communicate, and even if we are heard. I’ll be talking about some of the platforms, and the bigger trends that are driving them, and what that means for those of us engaged in using them.
What is the best ‘good news story’ to come out of your journey as a disciple? What keeps you going when times are hard?
For me, the best good news is that there is Good News. Seeing people discover that is probably the biggest thing that keeps me going. We’re on a journey with a hope and a destiny. It’s a journey that challenges and changes us daily. I don’t think there’s a better place to be than that.
We’re working on the @bigbible project. How do you think the (stories in the) Bible can inform what we do online, in whatever sense?
There is a quote from C.K.Chesterton that has always stuck with me: “All new news is old news happening to new people” and I think that particularly applies to on-line technology. While the technology lets us communicate faster, further and more cheaply than ever before, we are still, fundamentally, the same as we have been since Adam and Eve were put out of Eden. We run the same battles and fight the same foibles. Certainly we need to understand the new tools at our disposal, but the lessons of thousands of years ago in God’s word teach us all we need to know. Twitter, Facebook, and a thousand other on-line tools that haven’t even been invented yet, provide us with new contexts and tools to relay those stories, and cast different lights on both the stories, and the people hearing them.
Outside of your own session, what are you most looking forward to at #CNMAC12?
I’m excited to meet, face to face, many of the people I have been interacting with on-line in the run up to the event, and hearing some of them sharing their stories and learning. I think, like many, I’ll want to be in multiple places at once!