Tag Archive: social media

Hashem & Technology

Hashem doesn’t have a Blackberry or an iPhone, but He is my favorite contact. He doesn’t have Facebook, but He is my best friend. He doesn’t have Twitter but I follow him nevertheless. He doesn’t have Foursquare, but He is always checked in. He doesn’t have Linkedin but I always feel connected to him wherever I may find myself. He doesn’t have Google but that’s OK because he’s God. He doesn’t even have internet, but I am connected to Him. And even though He has a massive communication system, He never puts me on hold!

What Twitter Can Teach Us about Tisha B’Av!

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been taught to be careful with my words and how they can have long lasting ramifications. That said, being that we are all human, this is a very difficult topic to grasp, as our words are often just spoken and never really carefully and tactfully communicated. To that end, Judaism stresses the importance of not participating in slander, gossip, and so on and so forth. Indeed, seemingly every Tish B’Av,  thousands across the globe gather to view the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation Tisha B’Av Video. This Video features different Rabbis who remind us of the Torah’s wisdom on human relations and personal development, and by extension, inspires the public to be aware of the far reaching effects that just even a few words can have.

Indeed, our Sages relate that the episode that led to the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash is recorded in the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza. Unfortunately, the public undressing that Bar Kamtza received from the few powerful yet hurtful words of baseless hatred that was displayed towards him, led Bar Kamtza to walk right out the door and create a devious plan that would cause the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash.

In contemporary times, when you mention the ability to communicate in just a few words, many of us will think of Twitter. Twitter is a social networking tool that lets you easily follow other people and receive “Tweets” from this person. However there’s a catch!  Tweets are short messages that must be under 140 characters. Hence, you’ll have President Barack Obama making political statements on this platform or we’ll hear news directly from NBA All-Star Keven Dorant (see here) in which he announced his contract extension on Twitter. Both the politician and the athlete are limited to positioning their message in under 140 characters! And yet, Twitter has shown the world that even with just a few words, one has a powerful platform and can influence millions around the globe. Indeed, for making the wrong comments on Twitter, people have been fired from their position (see here)! Hence, if we ever needed a reminder of the power of just a few simple words, other than once a year on Tisha B’Av, this tool, used by millions on a daily basis, is a great way to keep this message on our “Spiritual Radar!”

Moreover, there are companies that are beginning to reveal to the general public that our words, yes even written, or in this case Tweeted, are in fact being watched from above, by not just the Almighty – but by corporate America as well! You see, PepsiCo’s Gatorade, Nabisco’s Wheat Thins or even Delta Airlines, realize what our Sages have known for years: that the collective words, comments, Tweets, or Facebook “Likes” can have a lasting positive or negative influence on society, or in this case, their brand. And so, as reported here:

“Gatorade is taking its social media strategy very seriously indeed – so much so that it has built a mission control center replete with screens beaming out brightly-coloured visualisations of what people are saying about it on the likes of Twitter…the room, in the center of Gatorade’s marketing department, contains six big monitors depicting real-time events in the social media ether. One screen is a representation of the tweets relevant to Gatorade, be they about the brand, its athletes, its competitors, or sports nutrition-related subjects. Another tracks and measures conversations across the blogosphere and allows Gatorade to conduct ’sentiment’ analysis around key topics and on product and campaign launches.”

Also see this Video:

Likewise, Wheat Thins “Crunch Control” monitored the Tweet of Tabitha Hancock and surprised her with enough Wheat Thins to feed an army! For more on the story see here and here.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight the fact that Delta Airlines recently created a @DeltaAssist Twitter account to only further their Online Ears and show people that they’re listening to feedback, kvetches, and what not. Indeed, I’ve been traveling for several years and have heard other frequent fliers remark that they get quicker/better service through Tweeting their issue that they are having at GATE X or Y or Z, then if they’d have to call the airline or wait for a Gate Agent. Truth be told, this matter got national attention when Filmmaker Kevin Smith sent a series of exasperated Tweets claiming that he’d been kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight for being “too fat”. Proving, perhaps, the speed at which Twitter can spread messages about your brand, his Tweets have been picked up by the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, ABC and other major outlets (see here).

All in all, while these businesses realize that every word, every character, can hurt or hinder their brand and image, it is incumbent upon us, especially during The 9 Days leading up to Tisha B’Av to realize that every word or character that we say can build or destroy the Beis HaMikdash! In so doing, may we merit to no longer celebrate Tisha B’Av as a day of mourning, but rather as a day of joy!

If you are on Twitter, feel free to help bring the Geula by keeping the message of Tisha B’Av on our collective screens! Use in your Tweets this hashtag – #mtjbrd = May the Temple in Jerusalem be Rebuilt in our Days.

Educating the iGeneration: Hundreds of High Quality Free Fonts!

Several months ago I was asked to give a presentation at the KISHOR SOCIAL MEDIA CONFERENCE held in Jerusalem, Israel. My particular topic was, The Facts: What Your Students are Doing with Social Media. And so, since the presentation I have found myself being asked in various venues for my insights as to how we can attempt to reach and inspire the iGeneration. The answer is not a simple one. If however we are to start somewhere, I believe the answer lies in how we present our ABC’s! Allow me to explain…

Let’s be honest.

Being a teacher has  never been a simple walk in the park! Today, students readily have the latest gadget available to them at home…and even in school. For instance, see the caption to this picture taken by an Administrator at a well known Yeshiva High School in New York. It’s no surprise that one may postulate that it’s arguably harder than ever before to get a student to look at a source sheet or a text book. After all, as the New York Times reported here, children ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of some sort of a screen, including but not limited to:  computer, television, and their very own smartphone.  Moreover, the new Pew Internet Report on Teens & Mobile Phones has documented that 1 in 3 teens sends more than 100 texts a day!

As the Overseas Director of Bnot Torah/Sharfman’s, I find myself particularly aware of this phenomenon. It is not surprising to me to read that it has been documented just how much girls are more voracious texters than boys. After all, the Talmud (Kiddushin 49b) related to us all many years ago, that regardless of the means of communication, women “speak” a lot more than their male counterparts.

All things considered, in today’s day and age it is even possible for a student to physically sit in a classroom but not really be “in class?” You see, there are teenagers who can text for hours on end, while seemingly sitting in the classroom “listening” to the teacher. In actuality, they have their cell phone neatly situated behind their back and are sending virtual notes to their friend across the room or in another classroom. Indeed, it has been reported that 64% of teens with cell phones have texted in class and 58% of teens whose school bans phones have texted in class! Furthermore, prior to the concept of SMS or texting, if a teacher managed to intercept a note being passed in a classroom, one might have been able to make sense of the words and discern what was silently taking place in your classroom. Nowadays however, a teacher needs a Dictionary of Texting Terms so that he/she can decipher such abbreviations as OMG, DMC, or LOL :)

All in all, I believe that if a teacher or lecturer is using source sheets or has prepared a presentation for the class to view as a Power Point Presentation or wants to engage the classroom utilizing a SMART Board, one of the easiest, quickest, and most cost effective ways  that you can captivate your audience (other than saying that whomever comes to our school receives an iPad and MacBook as this University did to incoming freshman!)  is through the use of relevant typography. Indeed, as proven here and here certain fonts can convey to the brain a wide array of emotions. In so doing, you aren’t just putting words in front of your audience. Rather, you are forever aided by the eternal appearance of each and every letter that exudes from the page. Indeed, I found a font that the letters from A to Z very much appeared like a Krembo. I used this font for a class entitled, Eating is Tikkun, in which we learn about some of the spiritual activities that takes place when we eat. That said, from the moment my students saw the font they remarked, “hey that kinda looks like a Krembo!” In so doing, the class began with the students doing the engaging…and not the teacher, and by extension, I found that they were much more captivated to learn about the topic.

Just as the companies that market their gadget are keenly aware of branding and font usage, we the educators of the iGeneration, should consider means (I believe I am merely presenting one) in which we can utilize similar methods and techniques to maximize the learning experience.

And yet, procuring a database of such high quality fonts may come with an expensive price tag. A company wanting to sell you the latest tech-toy may have such finances, but certainly in the current recession, I am not aware of any school or educator who has extra money laying around to invest in additional fonts. Accordingly, while there are still some people who associate Twitter, as being a website that informs you what your friend had for breakfast, there are millions of people who realize that if you follow the right Twitter Accounts, it can and is an effective tool to come across valuable information in a short amount of time.  In light of the above, thanks to Twitter, I have managed to slowly collect, over the past several months, hundreds of high quality fonts that will enable you to build and enhance your branding, or strengthen the words in your presentations, classes, flyers, essays, and so on and so forth. Best of all, they are all FREE!!

To access the fonts simply click on any of the 14 images found below and you will be directed to the appropriate link.

I’d appreciate hearing from you in the Comment Section (found all the way at the bottom) as to other methods you have tried/considered using to teach and reach the iGeneration.


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