This question recently came up in an online group I'm part of (this is an edited version of the ask, keeping the questioner and the group anonymous):

What is the benefit of "Jewish" learning and conversation about social media, online comms or video when the content is arguably secular?
...I wonder if... we aren't collectively imposing a filter on learning from outside the Jewish community. A cognitive tax penalty on useful information that isn't overtly Jewish, from Jews, for Jews, or in a Jewishly convened space. A way of moving slower, on purpose, because a particular useful info-nugget or best practice didn't come from a Jewish authorized source.
The best real world evidence for this might be the proliferation of synagogue membership software that is often more expensive, harder to use, with less features, than what is available to anyone willing to browse the database market...


It was a prescient question. Here's what I wrote in response:
A couple things (and I can't guarantee this is going to be any different than what you've heard elsewhere, but hey)-It's because there is value to learning about social media from/with other Jews because of commonality of language, environment, experience, community, goals, etc. (The same could be argued about the nonprofit community - yes, learning about the ways businesses, governments, individuals, and other kinds of groups are using these tools is valuable, but there's a different set of concerns or values or a worldview that it's also important to address.)

It's because social media isn't about technology (well, it is, but you know), it's about people, and we're all talking about one particular group of people. (Not to suggest that Jews are at all homogeneous.)

It's also because it feels safe. And maybe validating. And it's just what we do. 

And I'm sure there are other reasons. 

And, to be honest, I think a lot of us are actively learning about these things outside of the Jewish world - individually. I went to NTEN (and the #SM4NP conference, and New York Social Media Week) and can name 10 other "professional Jews" from the area off the top of my head who also went. We're bringing that learning back to our community, and groups like this, and even keeping up ties with those folks we learned from/with in those spaces. 

I do think the Jewish community does a lot of "navel-gazing" (not a term I've ever really used, but I keep hearing it). We too often look to ourselves - and only ourselves - for answers and fall behind because of it. And I think many of us who work in an open, social, networked way, and rely on these technologies, and see the benefit in them aren't necessarily the ones deciding which synagogue membership software is best. In that respect, you're touching more on a generational/leadership issue than a social media one.

I'm glad you asked the question; I think it's an important and relevant one. I'd be curious to hear others' responses.

And I'd be curious to hear yours...
 


Comments

08/09/2012 4:25am

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08/21/2012 10:55am

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09/03/2012 12:51am

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09/27/2012 9:01pm

good deal over it.

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