A Little Birdie Told Me

Advent is just around the corner; it’s time to focus on important issues of faith. Like restructuring, finance and investments…

I know, it baffles me too, but this is Lutheran Church Canada we’re talking about. We have been told CEF/DIL was an error on the side of the gospel. Also, Elvis is working at a diner in Kentucky. Stalin washes the dishes at the same place. It’s all nonsense, of course. Blaming the Gospel is probably best avoided.

Coffee shops aren’t the clearinghouse of rumors, gossip, and information they used to be. These days, in this millennium, we look to Twitter.

Twitter presents the world as it is. It’s a global marketplace of people who want to be heard in a viscous, context-less, and relentless stream of anger and profanity. Mostly Twitter is celebrities and politicians fighting. Celebrities, politicians, companies, and even charities have all succumbed to the treacherous maelstrom of ideas that is a twitter feed. Unfortunately, millions of people use Twitter as filter to understand the world. They’re trying to make sense of things.

The fun thing about Twitter is that the brilliant minds who run it know a thing or two about making associations. Part of Twitter’s magic is that it sings from the same song book a Bob from Sesame Street. “These are the people in your neighborhood.” It was a great song and I can still sing the chorus, “They’re the people that you meet, when you’re walking down the street each day.” I loved Bob. I got to meet him when I performed once at Telemiracle in Saskatcheawn. It was a great moment. He was a nice as he seemed. That was a relief. But I digress.

When you open Twitter, you’re presented a “feed” (a news ticker of sorts) of all the Twitter people you subscribe to. Because the Internet is a giant collection of information that barely seems related, Twitter and other social media use sophisticated algorithms that examine the content of messages, and group similar messages, topics, and ideas together. That brings us to this example of Twitter associating similar types of accounts.

For the record, the ASC is the Alberta Securities Commission. It’s conducted an investigation into the goings-on of ABC District. It has yet to release a statement about the investigation. Charges may still be pending. Why should anyone care that the Canadian Lutheran is being grouped with Alberta Securities Commission tweets? Because as far as Twitter can tell, LCC is a financial institution – or at least enough of one that it’s grouping LCC with a securities commission.

There are a lot of good technical reasons why this feed showed up the way it did – mostly because I subscribe to both LCC and the ASC Twitter feeds. But Twitter finds the associations and groups related tweets, topics, and organizations. This example is partly algorithm, partly chance, and completely depressing.

The world – and Twitter – categorize words like “investment” into a singular way of thinking. At best LCC is losing a language war, and it’s only job is the Word. That’s not good. Regardless of how we think or talk about ourselves as a church, the world is relating to LCC as something different than what it is. Feast your eyes.



Andreas Schwabe is editor and publisher of SolaGratia.ca, and an Edmonton-based multimedia & communication strategist and producer. His focus for SolaGratia is on administration, governance, and issues of faith. For clients, he writes or produces just about anything.