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Technology and Livestream

07/22/2021 11:49:18 AM


Rabbi Dan Dorsch

When I was a kid at Ramah we used to listen to a song called Video Killed the Radio Star.  It was only years later that I realized that the song was an important lesson in false prophecies.
The song, which came out in 1981, was a lament to the end of radio.  With the advent of MTV, who would listen to the radio for music?  Why would anyone want to listen to the news if they could watch it on TV?
Decades later, the prophets of doom and gloom were proven erroneous.  No one I know watches MTV anymore (at least not for music videos), NPR is more popular than ever, with people paying extra for satellite radio channels.  An emerging podcast industry is booming driven by increased demand for audio-based content.
Why?  Wasn’t video supposed to “kill the radio star?”
For one thing, it’s true that people who are comfortable with one mode of communication tend to stick with it in place of newer technology.  My grandparents did not have a color television until their black and white dial television was no longer viable twenty-five years ago.  My grandmother also keeps nagging my zayde to get an iPhone in place of their large push-button cellphone (my cantor in New Jersey used to quip that she used to carry a “dumb-phone” instead of a smart one).  I can tell you right now that 93 years old it is never going to happen.
More logical of an explanation perhaps is that we know today that people process information differently.  How else do you explain the popularity of text messages over any other method of communication?  Text messages should be as outdated as the now obsolete pager.  In Talmudic fashion, you might have thought that with the advent of the phone and then facetime that seemingly “primitive modes” of communication would one by one have become obsolete.  They simply have not.  The way that information is communicated and understood is quite complicated.  It goes well beyond simple preferences to how each of us learns best.
When we first got our Livestream technology, I think I became a little too “Video Killed the Radio Star” happy.  Excited about the possibility of posting and broadcasting sermons, our shul transformed our once-weekly column into online video content.  With the help of Ron Judenberg’s video editing skills, this has been largely successful.  We are plan to continue posting video content.  However, what we perhaps lost sight of in the midst of a pandemic is that Drashing with Dorsch was more of a yes/and proposition than an either/or one.
With this in mind, we’ll do an early Al Chet and announce that my blog will resume periodically over the next few weeks.  Scroll down to the bottom of your Etz Blast to look for the link.  I plan to post my own personal content on the Atlanta Jewish Times/Times of Israel blog, and hope you look forward to reading it and sharing it with your friends.
Video hasn’t killed the radio star.  In fact, I’ve been contemplating starting an “EtzCast” once we get the technical know-how in place. 
Let the games for teaching Torah over the airwaves begin.


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