Terrific or Terrifying? Technology’s Impact on Your Organization

Posted on: May 12th, 2009 by Hayim Herring

Item: in 1986, I purchased a desktop computer manufactured by Leading Edge (which would now have to be called Dead Edge—the company didn’t last long) and an Epson dot matrix printer for about $2200. The computer was state of the art, came with 2 megabytes of RAM which I upgraded to 4, a monitor on which amber-colored words appeared and, when I inserted a second floppy disk, a fairly sophisticated spell-check program. As I write this entry, I am sitting on an airplane, using a laptop. One person is watching a movie on his handheld device, another is listening to songs, and although it’s dark, the cabin is aglow with other laptops or net books. All of these small, portable devices are exponentially more powerful than my first electronically tethered desktop, which didn’t move more than a few inches because it was plugged into a wall outlet.
My point? As much as we may sometimes wish it, technology is not going away and is literally embedded in most aspects of life already. In fact, it’s literally embedded in many bodies—insulin pumps, pacemakers, replacement parts (we are just seeing the beginning of how technology will allow for body-morphing for the masses for non-medical purposes).  So while hardware and software applications will continue to change and mature, the communications environment in which we live is here to stay.
From what I observe, there are many digital addicts who are always on. That means that they expect near-immediate responses when they send you a question, want you to help them solve a problem or simply want to send a greeting. The ding of an email or voice mail notification can create a near-Pavlovian response on our part, we feel like me must acknowledge the email moments after it comes, perhaps at the expense of deeper thought. 
I’d like to start a conversation with you now by asking two questions:

  1. Are you satisfied with how your synagogue manages to keep up with the rapid flow of technological changes?
  2. What technological changes has your synagogue made within the last five years, and have these changes delivered what they promised?

Thanks for what I’m sure will be another provocative discussion!

Rabbi Hayim Herring

image from flickr.com  leo.prie.to 

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