Updated: 5/16/2006; 3:40:37 PM.

Current events
Post-9-11 events and analyses


daily link  Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Software That Binds, And Converts, And Retains: In two articles, Baseline magazine profiles the use of customer relationship management (CRM) software in churches.  They track people so that visitors become members, members contribute and volunteer more, and members change churches ("churn") less -- all classic CRM.  "Eighteen months ago, [pastor] Hand implemented a new process based on software from a company called ConnectionPower to improve the church's outreach methods. ConnectionPower features modules for such things as automating the visitor follow-up process, tracking donations and revenues, and creating a Web portal for members. It's priced from $1,000 for a small church to about $20,000 for churches with 6,000 or more members. 

At [Hand's church], new visitors continue to fill out registration cards as they had in the past, with information such as family member names, ages, address [and] e-mail address. But now volunteers immediately type the information into the Windows-based ConnectionPower software. And now, each Monday morning, Hand or his assistant logs in to the system and see the names of the new visitors. .. The software then produces follow-up recommendations. For example, if a 28-year-old mother of two visits, the software prompts a volunteer of a similar age and background to make contact later in the week."

And the churches embrace podcasting and other media.  "69%of evangelicals use the Internet to send, receive and forward spiritual e-mail and electronic greeting cards and request prayers online, according to a Pew Internet survey last year. That's compared with 51% of Catholics and 54% of Jews, the Pew Internet study said. .. Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, an evangelical church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with 18,000 members, lets Apple iPod users download and take along a daily message from pastor Bob Coy, as part of what the church calls its Active Word Ministry. .. "If you don't have a parking lot, you can't get the people in the church to hear the message and ultimately lead them to the Lord. A Web site is as important as a parking lot to a church." "

  10:12:28 AM  permalink  

Brain imaging detects lies:  "Brain-imaging techniques that reveal when a person is lying are now reliable enough to identify criminals, claim researchers. .. neuroscientists from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia have now told Nature that they believe their test is ready for real-life scenarios. Daniel Langleben and his colleagues use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to track people's brains when they lie and tell the truth. By analysing brain activity during both scenarios, they have developed an algorithm that can detect lies from truth with 99% accuracy.

Team member Ruben Gur points out that, unlike the polygraph, fMRI does not rely on controllable symptoms such as sweating or a fast heartbeat. Instead it monitors the central nervous system. When someone lies, their brain inhibits them from telling the truth, and this makes the frontal lobes more active. "A lie is always more complicated than the truth," says Gur. "You think a bit more and fMRI picks that up." ..

Langleben has previously warned that fMRI is a research tool, not a way to spot liars. But the latest research has changed his tune. "We can't say whether this person will one day use a bomb," he says. "But we can use fMRI to find concealed information. We can ask: is X involved in terrorist organization Y?" .. Critics argue that lab experiments do not equate to real-life situations. .. Critics and researchers agree that more funding is needed to standardize the method and iron out ethical concerns before the approach is used routinely. The team's next step is to expand its studies to include women, people of different cultures, and psychopaths."  9:13:17 AM  permalink  

 
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Copyright 2006 © Ken Novak.
Last update: 5/16/2006; 3:40:37 PM.