So I didn’t go to the Jewish Futures Conference this year as I did last year, and I didn’t even watch the livestream, but from following the Twitter feed apparently the tech metaphor this year (last year it was “the cloud”) was that the Torah is a hard drive and we live in a RAM day and age, where people don’t crave the permanence of millenia-old wisdom.
This is where I have to bring in my professional experience working for big companies that store lots of data that people depend on 24/7, and remind you that hard drives still matter. A lot. You may not have a big noisy box on your desk any more (although the memory in your phone is actually more like a solid state hard drive than RAM). But your data may merely have moved to the cloud, where companies are spending millions of dollars to store it in expensive hard drives in their data centers.
I don’t say this just to be pedantic, I say this because I do think there are lessons from technology innovation that apply to Jewish learning, and I don’t want one buzzword to seem like the final word on anything.
If I really wanted to stretch the analogy out of context, for example, I could say that apps are Jewish educators, the iPad is the school they work on, but they still need to connect to the hard drives in the cloud, which are our Jewish texts. This is why I’m most excited about projects that literally give teachers and learners access to this material in the cloud, whether new ventures like Open Siddur and Sefaria or established publishers investing in online learning like Berhman House.
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