Above: An example of too much mobility at church
Every four or five weeks, I volunteer at my church.
The only reason I tell you this on a technology blog is because, well, I have a story about using technology. In church.
Now I know church is one of the places we go to get away from technology. I get that. But as a technology analyst, I do try to observe and understand how technology is being used in different arenas of life: home, work, the store, school (or at least my children’s school).
The reason I do this is because how technology is being used in all of these different places ultimately results in opportunities for people who make technology products. It also informs my understanding of how an overall technology market is progressing in a big picture way.
Ok, great you say. Makes sense. Big picture and all.
That’s all right, if you’re not a believer (apologies) now, just wait.
Like I said, I volunteer at my church. I help run the audio system, which involves setting up and wiring speakers and a soundboard, as well as running a soundboard for the band and the sermon for two services.
Another reason for the audio get up is because we stream video. Because the church is a satellite campus of a larger Seattle church, Bethany Community Church, we often stream video of the head pastor, Richard Dahlstrom.
And this is where it got interesting today.
Here’s how it usually works: The video is captured at the Seattle main campus and streamed to a private IP address where, at our satellite campus, we access it on an iPad over Wi-Fi.
The streaming video is then sent via a digital AV output to a projector and shown on a large enough screen for an entire auditorium to view it.
Ok, so streaming video to an iPad isn’t all that revolutionary, at least now in 2013. In 2011 it probably was kind of amazing, but since we’re all riding on hyperspeed time machine powered by Apple and the Internet, yesterday’s amazing is today’s yawn.
Well, stifle that yawn Mr. Hard-to-impress. This is church we’re talking about, and the fact that we were livestreaming video over Wi-Fi, using an iPad, which allowed it us to easily connect our satellite campus for sermons, is still kinda impressive if you think about it (which you probably haven’t).
So if that’s how it usually works, what happened today?
Problems. Technology problems.
Actually: Wi-Fi Problems
Our Wi-Fi wasn’t working.
The local community center where the services are held provide the Internet, and our video technician couldn’t get the stream to work.
He tried everything, rebooting the router, rebooting the iPad, checking the cables to the router, etc. Nothing worked.
Time was getting short. People were milling in. Tick tock, tick tock.
assistant pastor campus pastor.
But then I remembered I had an HTC One X with 4G. Really really fast AT&T 4G.
Disclosure 1: HTC is neither a client nor do I own stock in them. Same with AT&T.
Disclosure 2: I guess I really didn’t need disclosure 1.
Disclosure 3: I realize my having a phone in this story means that I’m likely the hero of my own story, which is kind of self-serving. Well get over it. It’s my story. Also, just wait on the hero thing.
So then I suggested we use it as the hotspot.
Everyone looked at me with amazement for such a brilliant suggestion. (Disclosure 4: not really).
But we did try it. And guess what? It worked! Video streamed, and the sermon and the service would go on.
Then it was over as quick as it started.
Earlier, the video technician had called in support, and just as we got the the video working using my phone, someone who’s clearly more savvy troubleshooting than both of us rebooted the access point connected to the router (which I did reboot) and they got it to work.
Disclosure 5: the fact I wrote a book on home networking and didn’t think to reboot the access point in addition to the router is really kind of embarrassing. It also means I’m no hero.
in the end, we decided to use the local Wi-Fi since we knew it was reliable and we’d never used a phone before.
For the record, I have to say I was a bit disappointed because I am sure the phone would have worked since, as I’ve said, the 4G really is fast and the phone is solid.
Keep on Streaming On
Ok, so this story concludes on anticlimactic note, with your hero (me) not really being a hero after all (see? I told ya).
But that’s not really the point.
The point is that the use of mobility is so prevalent that it’s part of every part of our lives, even on Sundays.
And it’s not just streaming video over Wi-Fi. People in our church - and I’m sure in thousands of churches elsewhere - use their phones or tablets to read sermon notes, to access the church’s app, to read the bible.
And I never really thought about it before.
I mean, I read a lot about enterprise mobility, and the huge opportunity for reinventing the classroom with tablets, and how retail is undergoing a mobile revolution.
But for some reason I don’t read much about technology in church.
Maybe it’s just not covered in my usual technology reading pitstops.
Maybe it’s because we like to leave behind our technology when we worship.
But either way, even if you leave it behind, it’s there waiting for you at church when you get there.