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S O U R C E / B A C K G R O U N D M A T E R I A L

F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 0

A L A N D . A B B E Y

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1. cu @ temple: Social media transforming the way synagogues, members connect

2. Finding a voice in Facebook: Israeli NGOs are realizing the potential power of social
media such as Facebook and Twitter.
3. The (Sheikh Jarrah) revolution won't be televised... it'll be YouTubed
4. Keeping the memory of Auschwitz alive in a digital world
5. Turn the Future Into the Past
6. The Social Sermon: An Innovative Approach to Community Building, Engagement
and Torah Study
7. Rabbi Eric Yoffie: Toronto Biennial Sermon, excerpt regarding the Internet
8. Additional articles (links only)


1. And the most engaging social network is…

2. Determining Your Social Network Needs: When it comes to social networking, is more
always better?
3. 10 Reasons Why Every Nonprofit Must Have a Blog
4. To Blog or Not to Blog
5. The 3 Facebook Settings Every User Should Check Now
6. Facebook may 'lock in' its Internet dominance
7. The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word
8 . God joins Twitter, rewrites Bible
9 . 'Twitter Bible' Converts Scripture into Mini Messages


1. The Internet in 2009

L I N K S / R E S O U R C E S

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cu @ temple: Social media transforming the way synagogues, members connect

Congregation Ner Shalom in Cotati puts its prayers and blessings on YouTube so members
can learn the melodies before a High Holy Day or Shabbat service.

By using Google documents, Congregation Beth Israel in Berkeley has made it simple for
members to sign up online at their convenience to read Torah, teach a Shabbat class or host
other members at their home for Shabbat.

Congregation Adath Israel in San Francisco updates its members about the status of its eruv
— an enclosure that enables Jews to carry items on Shabbat — in a most contemporary way:
via Twitter.

Within the past year, Bay Area synagogues, religious schools and other Jewish groups have
been signing on to Facebook, blogs, Twitter and other social media, eager to learn how new
technology can strengthen their organizations and improve their outreach.

Faith-based organizations have been “the last to the social media party,” said experts at the
Nonprofit Technology Network, a membership organization of nonprofit tech professionals.
But lately, faith-based organizations have been jumping in with enthusiasm — even the pope
has a Facebook page that boasts nearly 80,000 fans.

“Technology allows us to connect more deeply to each other,” said Rabbi Menachem Creditor
of Berkeley’s Congregation Netivot Shalom, which uses Facebook, Twitter, Google Calendar
and Ning to better connect its members.

Ning is a Palo Alto–based Web site that allows people to join and create their own social
networks — a personal Facebook of sorts.

Sixty-five Netivot Shalom members have signed up for the synagogue’s Ning site, where they
can view other members’ profiles, watch videos posted by the rabbi and read blog posts
about world and community news.

The synagogue also uses Google Calendar to embed a monthly calendar into the site. It lists
minyan times, b’nai mitzvah, fundraisers, funerals, classes, special events and even dates the
rabbi is out of town.

“So many people lose themselves in the virtual world … but we forget that the reason it exists
in the first place is to get us to connect in the real world,” Creditor said. “Technology can be a
very appealing invitation for a real experience.”

That’s been the case for Margee Churchon, a program associate at the S.F.-based Jewish
Community Relations Council. She first participated in a young adult service at Congregation
Emanu-El in San Francisco after hearing about it through a tweet on Twitter. She follows
several Jewish Bay Area organizations on the site to find out about community events and
Shabbat candlelighting times.

Churchon has often “gone to events as a result of what I’ve seen on Twitter,” she said.

For Gabby Volodarsky, program director at Temple Sinai in Oakland, Internet technology has
helped her rally support quickly for someone in need.

For instance, someone posted a note on the temple’s year-old Facebook page saying that
she was “praying for the speedy recovery” of two new members. Volodarsky wrote back
immediately and found out that the couple, who didn’t know many people in the congregation
yet, had been in a car accident.

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“Within an hour they got calls from all our clergy and me,” Volodarsky said. “I asked what our
Caring Community could bring them. Because I saw that posting, I was able to reach out and
make them feel cared about. Now they’re among our most active members.”

Sometimes these new media changes happen behind the scenes. Berkeley’s Congregation
Beth Israel created a wiki page on, a San Mateo–based online workspace for
businesses and nonprofits. The site allows any member of any of the synagogue’s
committees to post notes from meetings and phone conversations.

It’s a “systemic change” from the countless phone calls, e-mails and meetings it once required
to plan a synagogue program, said Beth Israel’s Rabbi Yonatan Cohen.

“We drastically expanded our Shabbat programming in 2007, but after a year, we were all
burnt out,” Cohen said. “The question was: We have something great, now how do we make it

The answer: the Web. The online organizational tools provided by PBWorks are
complemented by the synagogue’s use of Google Docs and Google Calendar, which help the
entire community get involved and network with one another.

“The Internet is enabling the congregation to function,” Cohen said.

That sentiment is echoed by Irwin Keller, spiritual leader at Ner Shalom in Cotati. The
YouTube videos he began making last year for the High Holy Days have since expanded to
include daily blessings, Shabbat prayers and niguns [melodies] composed by congregants.

“We created it for our local use, but because of the boundarylessness of the Internet, people
have watched our videos all over world and posted comments in all languages,” Keller said.
“That’s not our mission, but it is lovely to have it out in the world where people can use it.”

Yet the changes can be intimidating to leaders who are used to the old organizational models.
Cohen, for instance, was scared by the idea of implementing Internet tools that he didn’t know
how to use. But he quickly became comfortable with them, and once he saw how much they
helped his congregation, he was fully on board.

“Social media changes the way people look at their faith-based institutions,” said Lisa Colton,
founder and president of Darim Online, a Virginia-based nonprofit that helps Jewish
organizations get over their trepidation and understand new media’s potential. “Organizations
don’t have a monopoly on organizing anymore. People can talk to each other directly.”

When synagogues and religious schools first turn to new media, Colton said, they tend to use
them to perform typical tasks more efficiently. They send event invitations by e-mail instead of
snail mail, saving time and the expense of postage stamps, or create a Web site that clergy
and staff use as an online bulletin board. But it’s still one-way, top-down communication,
Colton noted.

By delving deeper, she said, Jewish clergy, educators and others discover that these media
tools demand a different way of talking and listening, encouraging active participation and
grassroots involvement.

In February, Temple Beth Torah in Fremont will launch its first “snapcast,” a new platform
developed by G-Snap, a Web company led by a synagogue member.

The snapcast will allow the synagogue to broadcast a live video feed of its annual Purim
Spiel, one of the synagogue’s most beloved events, while viewers in their family rooms and
offices — or even on a BART train, watching on their cell phones — can chat with one
another, as well as the audience.

“We’ll be creating a virtual community between those who are there and those who are not
there,” said Richard Garcia, a synagogue member and technology consultant. “The snapcast

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will allow those who can’t make it a chance to participate. But at the end of the day, like any
other event, it’s best when you’re there live.”

Social media enables congregants to talk to each other as well as to clergy or staff. Rabbi
Yossi Marcus of North Peninsula Chabad posts philosophical notes about Jewish values,
ritual and holidays on his Facebook wall, and has had people emboldened by a Facebook
connection approach him on Shabbat.

“I feel like I’m coming up with new ideas all the time with how to use it,” Marcus said. “Of
course, Facebook itself is evolving and coming up with new things all the time.”

While the Internet hasn’t changed how Marcus plans events or programs, it has changed the
way he markets events, and also how he teaches.

“It used to be that I could only sermonize to people once a year on Yom Kippur, but now I can
do it daily or even hourly,” he said.

But Marcus isn’t the first Chabad rabbi to embrace new media. He recalls a story about the
Lubavitcher rebbe from the 1940s: Chabad had just come to North America, and one of the
first things the organization did was publish a monthly magazine for children.

The rebbe was the editor in chief. He instructed all of the writers and illustrators that he
wanted the magazine to look as appealing as a Dick Tracy comic strip.

“Here, you have a Chassidic rabbi steeped in mysticism and piety, but when it came to
teaching Judaism, he knew that it had to be as engaging and as enticing as Dick Tracy,”
Marcus said. “Even then the rebbe was a proponent of using the newest media. He saw that
they could be used for a holy purpose. And that’s absolutely still true today.”

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Finding a voice in Facebook: Israeli NGOs are realizing the potential power of social
media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Jerusalem Post

'We will demonstrate against the government decision to deport the children of migrant
workers after all. The demonstration will take place today, Tuesday, at 7:30 p.m. at the corner
of Ben-Zion and King George St. We must show the ministers that their voters are against
deportation of children!" - October 13, 2009 at 7:33 a.m.

Pay close attention to this announcement. Made by the nonprofit organization, Hot Line for
Migrant Workers (HLMW), to protest the government's threatened deportation of foreign
workers' children, this rallying call brought together hundreds of migrants and human rights
supporters in exactly 12 hours.

The call was not made on the radio, nor was it published in the newspapers and it certainly
did not form the basis of hundreds of e-mails or phone calls to supporters, rather it is three
simple sentences placed by HLMW on the wildly popular social media Web site Facebook. It
was a cry for help that reached thousands of people within minutes and it highlights the
resonance that new Internet media have for hundreds of local NGOs.

Of course, this particular demonstration was just one of many that happened over the past six
months to protest Interior Minister Eli Yishai's plans to deport some 1,200 children of migrant
workers, but as the gatherings grew in size toward the end of last year, Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu was finally forced to weigh in on the debate. He agreed to allow the
children to stay at least until the end of August to finish up the school year.

"We joined Facebook this past summer when the government launched its campaign to expel
the children of migrant workers," says Shevy Korzen, executive director of HLMW, a
nonpartisan, not for profit organization dedicated to promoting the rights of undocumented
migrant workers and refugees, as well as eliminating human trafficking.

"Events were moving at such a fast pace and even though we have a Web site it could not be
updated quickly enough," she says. "We wanted to organize demonstrations and gather up
our supporters in only a few hours to speak out against the government's policies. Many of
our supporters were already on Facebook, so it made sense to create a page, because then
we did not have to waste time sending out a mass e-mails and worrying that people might not
get the message in time."

She says that the NGO also tried utilizing micro-blogging tool Twitter to keep its supporters
updated but "that did not really catch on."

Instead, the organization focused on building up its following on Facebook and, in less than
six months, HLMW has accumulated some 1,127 "friends," keeping them updated almost
hourly with links to news items from around the world, sparking discussions on the
controversial topics important to the NGO and rallying its followers to take up the causes at
ongoing demonstrations.

"We are definitely seeing a much bigger turnout than in the past," notes Korzen, who says
HLMW staff takes it in turn to update the page throughout the day. "I have also begun to
notice that it is not just the same people showing up at our demonstrations like in the past.
Because of Facebook our messages are also reaching those who had not previously been
involved in our battles.

"This past summer we did not spend a shekel on advertising for our protests. Newspaper
advertising has become so expensive and the truth is that this is just much more effective."

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HLMW is just one of a growing number of nonprofit organizations that are taking advantage of
the new wave of on-line media. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other far-reaching
social networks can reach hundreds, if not thousands, of people with one click, and nonprofits
big and small are realizing they can send their messages out much more quickly and cheaply
then via traditional media outlets.

But while the benefits of touching thousands at a time are clear, experts warn that there is a
downside too. With the centrality of the Internet in our daily lives, they say, the new social
media could give voice to organizations that are dangerous or have questionable ethics.

In addition, say those in the know, if organizations do not mobilize such sites correctly, the
transparency and the need for constant monitoring could cause serious damage to their

"THERE HAS been a huge trend in nonprofits using social media," comments Ruth Avidar,
who is in the process of completing her doctorate in the field at the University of Haifa's
Center for the Study of the Information Society.

"Since I started my dissertation four years ago, there has been a huge change, with
organizations starting to realize how powerful social media can be," she says, adding that
these on-line tools allow nonprofits to better interact with their public.

Avidar's research, which quizzed hundreds of businesses and nonprofit organizations, found
that while Internet use in the country's third sector is still fairly underdeveloped, NGOs that
are plugged in have been highly successful at reaching their target audiences and interacting
with supporters and potential supporters.

This on-line medium, she says, "gives a platform to all organizations, even those without
money, so that they can reach out to people or funders who they might not have been able to
get to in the past."

While that is certainly a bonus of on-line social media, Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center's Prof.
Tal Samuel Azran, an expert in new media, warns that giving a voice to smaller groups that in
the past might have been considered inconsequential or fringe is exactly one of the dangers.

"The Internet is much less predictable than the mainstream media," points out Azran, who
also teaches at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. "Organizations or movements that found
it difficult in the past to get their message into the mainstream have no problem reaching
thousands of people on-line."

Azran highlights the recent controversy over B'Tselem's Video Camera Distribution Project,
which handed out cameras to Palestinians to record perceived illegal acts perpetrated by IDF
soldiers. As the short clips were pasted on YouTube and other social media Web sites, the
images stirred the Western media's imagination and suddenly B'Tselem's message was
projected much further than the confines of a small supportive community here. The group's
message had reached a new audience.

"This not even post-modernism," says Azran. "This is an example of ultra-post-modernism; it

is a totally new concept that is far outside the mainstream media that we are used to.

"Some organizations today only have a voice or presence on the Internet. While in the past
the mainstream media might have labeled them as peripheral, today these organizations can
reach everyone. Even a deviant has the chance to speak out on through the Internet."

"Social media allow all groups the chance to start up a real dialogue with people and share
with them their goals," contends Avidar, highlighting that it is all part of free speech and a
trend that should be embraced.

"It is up to the public to decide which groups speak to them and which do not. People are not
stupid and now they can see these groups for themselves."

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IN ADDITION to the debate over free speech that comes with new Internet media, Royi Biller,
CEO of the newly established Nonprofit Tech, a public benefit corporation that aims to assist
NGOs in finding their place among the new technological order, says that Facebook, Twitter
and other social media are not beneficial for all organizations; for some it can actually be

"Take this example," points out Biller. "If a friend of mine joins Facebook but is not active and
never actually responds to me in that forum, it could hurt our relationship. The same is true for
an organization. If an NGO joins [a social media site], then it needs to be prepared to create
an ongoing dialogue with supporters. The Internet is dynamic and fast-moving; if an
organization cannot keep up with that, then a potential supporter or funder could feel very let

Biller breaks the NGO world into two distinct groups - social rights organizations that have
been very successful in harnessing social media and working them for the purpose of support
and spreading ideology, and charities that work in a more service-oriented capacity, such as
soup kitchens or food aid distributors, who have a small staff and cannot commit to updating
their Facebook page or other such social media in a timely fashion.

"If I join the Facebook group of a certain organization and see that its last activity was six
months ago, I would be suspicious about what this organization was up to," he says. "It does
not look good at all.

"I have had calls from some NGOs who are bitterly disappointed with Facebook. They were
told it would produce great results and they open a Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn account
expecting to find funding, but they do not see any quick results. Soon they realize updating it
is a full-time job and they just do not have the resources for that."

According to Biller, one of the solutions to this is via GuideStar Israel (,
an on-line portal not yet active that will eventually list the activities of all nonprofit
organizations here and provide organizations a free forum to periodically update their
activities and post messages. A joint initiative by the Justice Ministry, Yad Hanadiv (the
Rothschild Foundation) and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee-Israel,
GuideStar is the central project of Nonprofit Tech and is based on similar sites in the US and

In the meantime, local social rights organizations are waking up to the power of on-line media
as a way of getting their agendas across.

"We often had a problem getting our messages in the mainstream media," comments Dana
Zimmerman, acting director of communications and publications for Amnesty International-
Israel Section, explaining that Amnesty often focuses on global human rights issues not
necessarily affecting Israel or the region. "Now, with social media, there is suddenly a big
change and it is much simpler and easier for us to reach a wide audience."

One example of this is last week's Flash Mob protest that the NGO organized to highlight the
plight of Eritrean asylum seekers. Based on similar demonstrations worldwide, the organizers
invited protesters to lie on the ground in Tel Aviv's Kikar Dizengoff and remain frozen for
several minutes, drawing the attention of passersby to their cause.

The event was posted on Amnesty's Facebook page for three weeks beforehand and the
application also allowed organizers the freedom to embed a video clip of a similar protest at
Grand Central Station in New York, which enhanced the explanation of exactly what was
being planned. Some 200 people showed up for the protest, which was covered by Web
portal Walla! and is now featured on Amnesty's Facebook page.

"It is still difficult for us to assess if [social media] have had an impact on our work," admits
Zimmerman. "However, they are a very useful tool allowing us to post relevant news items
and information from other organizations who are working in the same field."

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Yael Edelist, spokeswoman for the Israel Women's Network, says the same is true for her
organization. "When we started on Facebook a year ago, the goal was to reach out to
younger women who had not usually been our supporters. Now we use Facebook and Twitter
to post news stories from the mainstream media, provide updates about changes in
legislation for women and to highlight our own events or those being organized by other
groups important to us.

"It was becoming very expensive to advertise in newspapers," she added, saying that the
organization does not feel it has lost out by choosing to advertise its events only on-line. "We
believe in the power of this new media and plan to use them not only to reach the 400
Facebook followers we already have but hopefully to reach many more thousands of people."

While Edelist's goals are admirable, University of Haifa professor Sheizaf Rafaeli, director of
Center for the Study of the Information Society and head of the Graduate School of
Management, believes that organizations must not become complacent or rely too heavily on
the social media. They need to keep thinking one step ahead, he urges.

"This year it's Facebook, last year it was Twitter, before that it was YouTube and MySpace.
Organizations need to make sure they are using the most appropriate tool to reach the most
people," he says. "NGOs need to keep ahead of the game if they really want to take
advantage of this new reality."

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The (Sheikh Jarrah) revolution won't be televised... it'll be YouTubed

By Abe Selig
Jan. 25, 2010

Social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, along with a slew of blogs, are
playing an increasing role in the growing participation of young Israelis in protest rallies in the
east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, activists and journalists familiar with the
situation there told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

Activists and journalists both described a situation in which protesters were relying on the
Internet to try and affect change on the ground and raise awareness of the arrests made
during demonstrations in the neighborhood.

"It's all Facebook, e-mails and Twitter," said Didi Remez, a human rights activist, who has
become noticeably involved in the Sheikh Jarrah protests as of late. Remez was arrested
during a protest there last Friday.

Remez also said that distant audiences, like American Jews, who might be deprived of
Sheikh Jarrah coverage due to the mainstream media's lack of interest, were instead staying
abreast of the situation via social networking sites.

"The American media is for some reason refusing to cover this," he said. "Even though it's
becoming a major issue in Israel. And still, despite that, there's a lot of awareness [of this
issue] among Jewish Americans, the reason being that they are increasingly connected
through Facebook, Twitter, blogs and so on."

"They're getting information on this without The New York Times," Remez continued. "So,
something that hasn't been covered at all by the [American] mainstream media, is still getting
coverage through new media, and I think that's a statement about the decline of the
mainstream media and maybe a larger comment on the shift away from it."

Others echoed Remez's comments, but added that another advantage of social media was its
ability to counter police statements about Sheikh Jarrah they said the mainstream media often

"This is an issue that the media hasn't really been covering, and when they have, they've
mostly relied on police statements that portrayed the protesters as a handful of extreme
leftists or anarchists, which is simply not true," said Lisa Goldman, a Tel-Aviv based freelance
journalist who has used Facebook, Twitter and blogs to follow the Sheikh Jarrah protests.

"What the social media outlets have been able to provide is a direct source of information that
isn't filtered through the mainstream media," she said, adding that in this vein, the use of new
media had been "absolutely crucial."

Additionally, Goldman added, social media outlets had also served as a tool to awaken the
mainstream Left to the goings-on in Sheikh Jarrah, including, but not limited to, the emerging
issue of police behavior towards protesters there, which the Jerusalem Magistrate Court has
even censured - ruling last week that the arrests of 17 protesters during a rally two weeks ago
was illegal.

"The silent Israeli Left is finally waking up," she said. "And it's a result of the way some young
people are using social media. It's been very effective in raising awareness among the
moderate Left, who are seeing that the police are suppressing free speech."

Goldman also pointed to the participation in last Friday's rally of Prof. Moshe Halbertal, who
helped draft the IDF code of ethics and who has been active in disputing the United Nation's
Goldstone Report, as an example of figures who would certainly not be considered extreme,
but who have joined the Sheikh Jarrah fray.

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Hagai El-Ad, the director of the Association for Human Rights in Israel and one of the 17
protesters arrested two weeks ago, added that the use of new media to circumvent the
mainstream media, which, he said, was often "reluctant to cover hard issues, or blatantly
hostile," was spreading rapidly.

"However, it's not just new media [at play in Sheikh Jarrah]," he said. "I think there's a need to
[step back] from the tactics being used there, and zoom in on the core issue, which is the
moral outrage of Jerusalemite families being thrown out of their homes and living in tents in
the street. That's the essential injustice here, and I think it's a fuel of its own."

Yet El-Ad did concede that the use of new media was a driving force behind the success of
the Sheikh Jarrah protest organizers.

"They are a courageous group of young people, who are functioning without any real budget
or resources," he said. "But they are cleverly online, and they've been able to translate that
into real movement on the ground - it's not just a Facebook group that people add their
names too."

"Yes, the mobilization happens online," El-Ad added, "but the end result is the most classic
form of civil protest."

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Keeping the memory of Auschwitz alive in a digital world

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are playing a part in reaching out to young people on
Holocaust Memorial Day – but do they really have an impact?

By Mercedes Bunz
January 27, 2010

On the Holocaust Memorial Day web page, you can light a virtual candle
"On 27 January 1945, on Saturday, at around 9am the first Russian soldier from a
reconnaissance unit of the 100th Infantry Division appeared on the grounds of the prisoners'
infirmary in Monowitz. The entire division arrived half an hour later," reads the status update
on Facebook of the Auschwitz memorial page. More than 50 people so far have clicked to say
they "like" this.

Holocaust Memorial Day marks the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau,
and to keep the memory alive, more and more organisations are turning to social media.

In the UK, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust is taking a new approach. While a memorial
ceremony will take place in London's Guildhall alongside hundreds of community events
across the UK, the trust has also adapted the act of rememberance for the digital world.

This year, the trust completely changed its website to make it easier for readers to bookmark
and share content via social media websites. It now runs a Twitter feed, a Facebook fan page
and a YouTube page which features a video narrated by Daniel Radcliffe.

The use of digital engagement to keep such memories alive is becoming more and more
common, but it is also controversial: it is claimed that it might just be a simple way for users to
ease their conscience. As digital critic Evgeny Morozov puts it, there is a danger that this form
of activism makes you feel you are engaged when, for example, you join a "Feed Africa"
group on Facebook, while you actually don't make a difference at all.

On the other hand, digital involvement is becoming increasingly important as the media
landscape changes. So this form of activism could be a way to raise interest and pull in users,
especially young people.

"The act signifies a commitment to helping build a safer, inclusive society where the
differences between us are respected," says the trust. Within a week, more than 20,000
people have lit a candle on the website and thus gained more information about history and
ongoing events.

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"The majority of visitors to the Auschwitz memorial are students and other young people,"
said Auschwitz museum official Pawel Sawicki when the Facebook page was launched. "Our
mission is not only to teach them about the history, but to be responsible in the world of today.
We should find every possible way to reach out, so why shouldn't we use the same tool in
that young people use to communicate?"

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Turn the Future Into the Past

JT Waldman JT | 12/21/2009

The Tagged Tanakh (TT) turns the future into the past by making Torah study front and
center in the Jewish educational experience. The Tagged Tanakh takes the Old Testament
and places it in a contemporary format and context to suit the needs of current generations.

Using the TT, educators can build new curricula, conduct faster research, prepare D’vrei
Torah, and help foster communities of practice around Jewish text.

For everyone else, the TT offers an easy and engaging way to learn Torah L’shma, learning
just for the sake of it.

Previously on this blog, we noted that the Talmud dominated the intellectual discourse of
Jewish thought for more than a millennium. However, both halakhah(Jewish Law) and
haggadah (Midrash) use biblical prooftexts to validate and ground their arguments. The
foundations of Jewish scholarship, ethics, and imagination are found in the Tanakh.

Scholar Geoffrey Hartman says that, “There is much to learn from a religious culture in which
the creative energies went almost totally into commentary and the same basic method of
reading was used for law (Halakah) and lore (Hagadah).” Hartman goes on to say that, “there
is an associative way of going from topic to topic that characterizes Jewish writing.” With the
Tagged Tanakh, Hartman’s theories can at last be put into practice by the entire Jewish
community, not just erudite scholars or learned rabbis.

The Tagged Tanakh was imagined as a vehicle to reconnect Jews and other interested
people to the multi-faceted richness of the Jewish Bible. It was conceived as a response to
the changing demographics and needs of the Jewish community. But it’s goals are quite
simple…get people back to the origin of Judaism, the place where it began–the Torah.

Anyone familiar with my writing on the JPS Interactive blog knows that design thinking has
been at the forefront of my process from the beginning of this project. Roger Martin, the Dean
of the Rotman School of Management has recently coined the phrase, “Turn the future into
the past,” for his new book, The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next
Competitive Advantage. In a recent lecture given by Martin in NYC,
( he explains
the relationship between business and design and how the idea of turning the future into the
past is the core of this concept.

Jump to the 35 minute mark to get to the meatiest parts of the lecture. However, I encourage
serious consideration of the points he raises at the 24 minute mark as well.

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The Social Sermon: An Innovative Approach to Community Building, Engagement and
Torah Study

Social media, like other major communication revolutions before it (think: printing press) have
radically changed the way we learn, connect and organize. The impact on culture and
behavior is significant – we have new ways to connect with our communities, find meaning,
express ourselves and engage. The new ease of organizing is fundamentally changing the
role that organizations play for their constituents. This is great news for the Jewish
community, if we are able to take advantage of it.

We invite you to try a new approach to Torah study, community building, and perhaps even
sermon writing in your congregation, The Social Sermon, an idea comes from acknowledging
three things:

1. That many people can’t get to the synagogue for a lunch or evening Torah study
class, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t interested;
2. That people want the social experience of learning, not just passive reading or
listening to a lecture, and that connection through learning enriches a local community; and
3. Social technologies can be a wonderful tool to enrich and augment Torah
learning in local communities.

Imagine a Saturday morning sermon that’s the work of not only your rabbi, but you as well.
Let’s take it a step further: what if it weren’t just you and your rabbi, but also your fellow
congregants, young and old, those new to the community and the stalwarts of your city? By
the time your rabbi delivers his Shabbat remarks, he or she could be drawing inspiration from,
or even representing the discussion of, hundreds of his congregants!

What does The Social Sermon look like? At the beginning of the week a Rabbi posts a
question on his or her blog, or on Twitter with a particular hashtag (e.g. #CBSSS for
Congregation Beth Shalom Social Sermon), or as a Facebook post on the congregation’s
Page. The first post would describe a theme of the parasha, or link to some text, and at the
end, pose a question.

As comments and responses start to be posted, the Rabbi then facilitates an ongoing
conversation through the week — responding regularly with insight, text, links, answers to
questions, and more questions to guide the discussion.

By the end of the week, several things will have happened:

• New people are engaged in Torah study. Likely a portion of the online participants are
a demographic that doesn’t often come to mid-day or evening adult education classes. (On-
site classes – adult and youth – can also participate);
• Participants will have formed new relationships through the online discussion,
perhaps following each other on Twitter, friending each other on Facebook, etc. which leads
to ambient awareness, thus strengthening your community;
• The Rabbi will have a better understand of what aspects of the parasha resonate with
the community, and be able to design a Shabbat sermon that is the most relevant for the
congregation, and will have ideas, quotes, context to make the sermon even more rich; and
• More people may show up for Shabbat services, feeling more educated, connected
and like they have some ownership over the sermon that week.

And for those that missed the service, they could read it the next day when the rabbi posts the
sermon back on the blog or web site, with a link on Twitter and/or Facebook.
Interested? Use the SocialSermon tag on this blog to find posts about the Social Sermon, and
for case studies and guest posts from Rabbis and educators who are doing it. Follow
#socialsermon on Twitter for updates, links to these blog posts, and to connect with others
who are doing it. Join us on Facebook to be connected others who are doing Social Sermons
and get important news.

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Feel free to adapt the concept — a confirmation class could do this throughout the week
between class meetings, a youth group could do it with their adviser or a parent facilitator.
Please report back and let us know how it’s going, and what you’re doing. Please let us know
if we can help you at any stage – leave a comment here, or any other space mentioned

Want more “hand holding”? Darim offers hourly consulting, and we are working with
interested Social Sermoners to find funding from a donor or Federation small grants program
to work with a group of Rabbis in your local community. Holler if you’d like more information.
Ready, Set…. Social Sermon!

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Toronto Biennial Sermon

by Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie

November 7, 2009


That being so, what about the Internet? Will it undermine the synagogue? Some fear yes—
that it will lure Jews away from the old ways of connecting that require us to be in the same
physical place. They fear that it will become a substitute for in-the-flesh contact, and that if
people start getting their needs met in the virtual world, they will have no need for the real

But this is not my view. True, you can’t have a minyan or pay a shiva call online; online
experience is not the same as being there. Still, it can be a powerful adjunct. And studies
show that heavy Internet use actually encourages users to meet more with other people.

Remember: from the time of Ezra, who rewrote the Bible in a new script, we Jews have
always adapted to our environment and taken advantage of the latest technologies. To
encode our conversations and sacred texts, we moved with ease from stone tablets to
parchment to paper, and we will move with equal ease to the electronic word.

In fact, we should see the Web as one of the most wondrous developments of all time.

In the first place, our members do not have the time they once had. We are working more and
sleeping less, and we can’t get to the synagogue as much as we once did. Carving out an
hour or two for a class or committee meeting is harder than ever. In this world, we need the
benefits that online community brings. In any case, let’s not kid ourselves; our members are
spending more and more of their time online, and we need to be there with them.

In the second place, the web does what Judaism has always aspired to do: it opens up the
vast treasury of Jewish knowledge to everyone. Judaism is not a religion of elites; we are all
expected to learn and to know. The web provides access to Jewish learning on a scale that
was unthinkable a decade ago.

And in the third place, the web – potentially at least – empowers our members and
democratizes our synagogues. The synagogue is the grassroots address of the Jewish world,
and the web gives us an instrument to involve and include Jews as never before. This is
enormously exciting, and more than a little scary.

Are our synagogues doing great things in this area? Absolutely. Are we making the most of
this potential? Not even close. Almost all our synagogues have email lists and websites; but
these are usually a way to present information rather than a means to engage their members.
Even those congregations that have a blog rarely use it to generate conversation and foster

But I believe that we are missing a critical opportunity. The Internet and cyberspace are
changing all the rules of Jewish interaction, and we need to be at the forefront of these
changes. We need to create an online, Oral Torah of ongoing Jewish discourse, and invite in
the opinions of our members. We need to ask our members to share their personal stories
and Jewish memories – which they love to do when given the chance. We need to encourage
hotly debated, multi-voiced, civil discussions on synagogue and local issues, and on Israel
and national issues.

The idea is not just to serve our members but to engage them. The idea is not only to inform
but also to inspire and create community. The idea is to see the Web not as a bulletin board
for announcements but as an act of communal collaboration.

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Please note: None of this makes temple leaders less important. Information is not knowledge.
Our members will still want their rabbis and cantors, their educators and administrators to
listen and to lead.

Nonetheless, we need to be aware of what is happening in our world. We have talked

endlessly about how to attract young adults into our congregations. No one is certain how to
do it. But if we are ever to succeed with these young Jews, we need to know who they are,
where they are, and what they want. Having grown up in the digital world, theirs is a culture of
interaction and enablement. They want to inquire, discuss, and argue. They are natural
collaborators and community-builders. And they will not be attracted by authoritarian Judaism;
they want a synagogue that is more bottom-up than top-down.

That being so, I believe with all my heart that the Judaism best able to reach them is Reform
Judaism, and the synagogue best able to meet their needs is the Reform synagogue. We
must become the address for technological experimentation – for web streaming, “virtual
board meetings,” and a whole range of creative approaches that the innovators in our midst
are already working on. To help our congregations begin this process, the Union has
collected some of the best ideas for your review and consideration.

But there is one particular idea that I hope every synagogue will think about immediately, and
that is a congregational blog – not just an electronic temple bulletin, but a truly interactive,
online forum. We need blogs because the era of one-way, passive information consumption is
over. Our members, young and old, expect to talk back and have a conversation; they think in
terms of networks rather than hierarchies. And creating a blog is easy and free, and the
technology is so simple that even I can understand it. The Union has produced a guide with
sample posts, technical advice, and ideas on how to draw people in. The key is to assemble a
team of temple members who will agree not only to write for the blog but to read other posts
and to comment. At the beginning, participants may be few, but if we address the real issues
in people’s lives, the numbers will grow.

If this is to work, it cannot be the job of the rabbi or the administrator. They may choose to join
in, but they have enough to do. Only if lay leaders take this on will a community come into
being. As I said, if we ask our members to share their Jewish journeys, most will be flattered
and eager to respond. Let’s exchange Jewish memories. Let’s talk about why we come to
services or why we don’t. Let’s discuss the big issues of the Jewish world. And Presidents
and board members can test ideas and ask for feedback, on anything from dues and
membership to personal theology.

It is a rare business nowadays that doesn’t have an online forum for customers to share
insights, make observations, and post questions. Given the importance of our sacred work,
shouldn’t we be doing the same?

A word about the risks. A blog means you don’t control everything. You must welcome honest
and open conversation and give people the freedom to disagree, criticize, and complain.
Once, as we see from the Talmud, Jews could be counted on to do this with civility. But today,
blogging can be a shoot-from-the-hip medium. And if our blogs are taken over by the
kvetchers and the whiners, by the grievance collectors and the supersensitive souls, we are
lost. I suggest, therefore, a simple solution: every temple needs a volunteer moderator who
will review comments before they are posted. The Union will offer online training to prepare
the volunteers for their work. And I recommend three rules to govern what will be posted and
what will not: you need to sign your name; your comments will only be posted if they could be
read from the bima on Erev Shabbat; and no one blogger will be permitted to dominate the

Our NFTYites do not agree with me here. They favor a wide open approach and feel that
those who are petulant or nasty can quickly be brought around. But I believe that if online
conversation is to serve our sacred cause, tact and reflective judgment are essential.

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So yes, there are risks, but they are manageable; we will lose some control, but we will gain
the ability to hear and to learn, and to reach out in new directions. The greater risk by far is
that we will do nothing, and the digital generation will pass us by.

So let’s take up the challenge of the online age. Let this Movement do what it has always
done: welcome diversity, encourage community, and join ancient tradition with cutting-edge
culture. Let us create Torah, embrace Torah, and search out the unfolding word of God,
wherever it may be found.

And by the way, this sermon will appear next week on the Union’s blog, and I look forward to
entering into discussion with you….

Alan Abbey Commentary

In a word or two, Rabbi Yoffie hits the mark here. He mentioned many of the things I
mentioned in my presentation, including the need to engage in a conversation and to be
willing to give up some control. Well said.

Facebook Profile For Holocaust Victim Brings History to Life

Small boy killed in Holocaust gets Facebook page _ attracting thousands of friends,0,7470453.story?page=1

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And the most engaging social network is…


Some sites are utterly addictive. You return to them often, and when you do, you tend to stay
there for a good while, visiting different pages, viewing interesting content. In a word, the site
is engaging.

But how do you measure it? How do you put a number on how engaging a site is?

That is exactly what we are going to do in this post, and we will be looking at social network
sites, arguably the most engaging sites out there. Specifically, we will try to find out which
social network sites are the most engaging in terms of user activity.

The most engaging social network site is…

Figuring out how engaging a site is can be tricky. We could look at the number of page views
per visit, but that number alone doesn’t really tell us much. We also need to take into
consideration how often visitors come back to a site. After all, if we return frequently to a site
and also view many pages when we do, it’s likely that find the site engaging.

For the sake of argument, this article will measure how engaging a site is as the number of
monthly page views per visitor (monthly visits per visitor * page views per visit). You could call
it visitor activity level, but we prefer “engagement level”.

So, with the help of site data from Google and some number crunching, here is how engaging
the various social network sites are:

A few observations:
• These numbers are bound to be a bit unfair to Twitter. Many of its users rely heavily
on applications to access the site and don’t necessarily spend much time on the site itself.
• It’s interesting that Facebook not only has a ton of users (350+ million), but the site
manages to wring out so many page views from each one. This is bound to be extremely

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good news for Facebook’s income from advertising (see further down for a brief discussion of

Those of you who like to dig a bit deeper may wonder how we arrived at these numbers in the
first place, which is a perfectly relevant question. The following section is for you.

A closer look at visitor behavior

The data in the first chart in this post comes from two interesting pieces of information:

• The average number of page views per visit.

• The average number of monthly visits per visitor.

To get the most out of its visitors, social network sites will usually want to maximize both of
these. Facebook doesn’t have the highest number of page views per visit, but its visitors
come back to the site very often and still generate a good amount of page views each time.

This is why Facebook got such a high site engagement level in the first chart.
If we look at these values individually for each site, this is what you get:

A few observations:

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• Social network sites have a tendency to make us click around quite a lot more than
we do on most other types of sites. This is underlined by this mini study, which shows that all
of the top five sites in site engagement are what you could call “traditional” social network
sites, loosely following the template set by Friendster in 2003.
• If we just look at the number of page views per visit, the most engaging social
network would be… drum roll… Friendster.
• Facebook’s 28 monthly visits per visitor is more than twice that of any other site in
this study. Facebook seems to successfully encourage its users to come back to the site very
often. Of course, it has a little extra help from being the number one social network, but on the
other hand, perhaps this is one of the reasons it got there in the first place?

The advertising perspective

Many of these sites make their money from showing ads. More page views will lead to more
ads being displayed, i.e. more dollars, which will be an incentive for these sites to maximize
the page views they get from each visitor. (Twitter famously doesn’t show ads, so it isn’t
affected by this.)
In this respect, Facebook has really hit a homerun. It wrings a lot more page views out of its
visitors compared to the other sites. With such a huge user base, even small differences in
the number of page views per visitor are bound to have a big effect on Facebook’s income, so
you can assume that they are working very hard on making sure that the site is as engaging
as possible.

Final words

Ultimately what sites we like and use comes down to a matter of taste, but it’s always
interesting to see what you can find out about the general behavior of site visitors. Perhaps it
becomes even more relevant for social network sites, which are built around group behavior.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that last week we published a post about the
total number of monthly page views for social network sites. For example, we revealed that
Facebook has a whopping 260 billion monthly page views.

This was in many ways intended as a follow-up to that post. We hope that we managed to
give you some additional insight into where those massive amounts of page views come from.

Note: As always when working with estimates (which Google and all other external data
collection services do), there will be a margin of error in the numbers. All data in this post is
from, or derived from, Google Ad Planner.

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Determining Your Social Network Needs: When it comes to social networking, is more
always better?

By: Beth Kanter

February 5, 2008

More and more people are making decisions and getting information from conversations
taking place on social networking sites, online tools that help people connect with others who
share similar interests, or with those who are interested in exploring new interests and

Social networking sites promise to offer an array of benefits to nonprofits as well, from
allowing them to keep abreast of trends and generate awareness to helping them raise
money and connect with new supporters. As these tools continue to grow in popularity and
expand beyond their traditional under-20 demographic, your nonprofit may be tempted to
create a presence on one or more of the ever-growing roster of social networking sites.

Yet when it comes to social networking, is more always better? As Should Your Organization
Use Social Networking Sites? points out, these tools aren't for every organization. Yet if
you've determined that your nonprofit would benefit from having a presence on one social
networking site, would you find even more success on two or more sites? If so, how should
you go about choosing these sites?

Below, we'll discuss what it means to maintain a presence on one or more online social
networks, and help you evaluate what sort of presence makes sense for your organization.
We'll also show you a few tips for selecting the tools that can give you the most return on your
investment and ensure a successful online presence for years to come.

Potential Benefits

Social networking sites can help your organization increase awareness about an issue, find
signatures for a petition, and encourage supporters to take action. Moreover, by building up a
network of contacts on a social networking site, nonprofits can leverage the tools' viral
abilities to quickly spread messages and alerts to a wide audience beyond their immediate
community of supporters.

This can be especially valuable in times of crisis. A college student backpacking in Southeast
Asia started a Facebook group called Support the Monks' Protest in Burma to draw attention
to the pro-democracy protests led by the country's revered Buddhist monks. The group found
more than 400,000 supporters from around the world and helped attract attention to the
monks' cause.

Not only can social networking sites help your nonprofit widen its general support base, they
may help you find and connect with people who can promote your organization's work or even
fundraise on your behalf. If you put time into them, social networking sites give you an
opportunity to communicate directly and more meaningfully with constituents or potential
constituents in a way that is nearly impossible using other mediums such as direct mail,
email, or Web sites.

Many nonprofits are drawn to social networking sites with the hope that they will help them
raise money. While it is true that fundraising on social networking sites like Facebook and
MySpace shows promise, this is still in the early stages and for the most part, the payoffs are
minimal, barring a few notable exceptions. On the upside, fundraising efforts in these spaces
may be considered a strategy for cultivating future potential donors for your organization.
What Maintaining a Presence Entails

Maintaining your social networking profile is like maintaining a mini Web site. Like a Web site,
you need to keep your content fresh, while taking on the additional task of cultivating your
contact lists.

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One way to keep your community strong is by keeping in frequent contact with your friend
network, either profile-to-profile, via private messaging, or in groups. Remember, people join
social networking sites to network; they want to interact with an actual person from your
organization — not form letters. It is this personal, one-on-one communication that can make
or break an organization's success on a social network — and also what can make
maintaining a presence on one so time-consuming.

Successful social networking requires that you not only maintain existing relationships, but
also seek out new contacts. You will need to budget time to scour the social networking site
and your friends' friends' contact lists for new potential supporters, a task that requires
consistent effort.

How much time are you looking at, then? While some administrative tasks can be delegated
to an appropriate volunteer or intern, you should plan to invest about an hour a day per social
networking site, especially in the early stages. If you can't invest this time or your time is
better spent elsewhere, you may want to hold off on social networking for now.

Options for Nonprofits

While social networking sites have the potential to be a powerful tool in a nonprofit's
communications arsenal, they may not be appropriate for every organization. To reap the
benefits, your organization should create a strategy for how you will proceed and how you will
measure your efforts over time (Number of contacts gained? Signatures on a petition? Funds
raised?). You may want to begin with small, careful forays into social networking as an
individual user before investing in the medium as an organization. Below, we'll take a look at
some types of participation you may wish to consider.

1. No presence.
It can be difficult to benefit from the networking aspects of a social networking site unless you
have a presence on it. Yet if you determine that social networking sites are not for you and
that your time would be better spent in other areas, this does not mean that you are shut out
of social networking sites entirely. While some sites, such as Facebook, deny you to access
to their content without a membership, others, such as YouTube and Flickr, are open for
anyone to peruse, meaning while non-members can't take advantage of the networking
features outlined above, these sites can still be a source of information, content, or even
inspiration should you later decide to create a presence on one.

2. Maintain an individual presence.

If you are interested in testing the social networking waters, but aren't ready to commit to full-
blown organizational participation, you may wish to set up an individual account and profile on
a social networking site. (You may have no choice but to do this: on Facebook, for example,
only individuals using their real names can set up accounts, meaning you technically cannot
set up a profile for, say, Save the Giraffes). The initial setup process, in most cases, won't
require anything more technical than filing a Web-based form but for some sites, like
MySpace for example, more customized profiles may require CSS expertise.

Once you set up your profile, many sites will ask for permission to scan your email address
book. If this search finds people in your address book who are already on the networking site,
it automatically adds them to your contacts list or sends out a friend request. This can save
you a lot of time searching for colleagues.

Fill out your profile as completely as possible, within your comfort level (most sites ask you to
provide your first and last name, organizational affiliation, gender, birthday, hometown, and
interests, while some ask more personal questions, such as sexual orientation), including
links to your Web site and a photo. Because you are setting up an individual account to
represent your organization, keep your profile as professional as possible (meaning no
swimsuit shots or other overly personal information.) Treat your social networking profile like a
public Web site — or it may come back to haunt you.

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Be sure, too, to review the site's privacy policy. You will be sharing personal data, so make
sure you understand the platform's policies when it comes to privacy and data ownership.

Some sites reserve the right to share your data with other users, advertisers, or even the
government, and to re-use or even modify it as they wish. Facebook, for example, can track
and share your activities, giving others access to information including groups you've joined
or the comments you've left on other profiles — a potential source of embarrassment if you're
not careful.

Keep in mind that even individual profiles require a significant amount of time to maintain.
Once your profile is up, plan on spending 30 to 60 minutes a day to explore the site, check
out groups, find friends, and learn how its features work. Katya Andresen's Five-Minute Guide
to Social Networking can help you get started. Read your social networking site's and other
blogs to stay up-to-date on new features and policy changes. Mashable is a good source for
learning about a variety of different social networking sites; check out my Social Networking
Resources for additional social-networking-focused blogs.

3. Maintain an organizational presence on one site.

After you have become comfortable with your individual profile, you may decide you wish to
set up an organizational presence. Bear in mind that this will add to your workflow, as in
addition to this new presence, you may need to continue to cultivate and maintain your
individual profile as well. On Facebook, for example, you must have an individual profile
before you can set up a group or a "fan page" to represent a fictional character, an
organization, or a campaign.

Keep in mind, too, that an organizational presence can demand far more time and resources
than an individual profile. Think of your organizational presence as an online community. As
with a community, you'll need to get know the people who join and participate, keep
discussions going, and nurture and support your profile. (See's Best Practices for
a more detailed description of what this might entail.)

4. Maintain an organizational presence on two or more sites.

Having so much fun on one social networking site that you're tempted to join another? Your
decision to set up profiles on more than one social networking site will depend on your
available resources. To be effective, you'll need to invest time in exploring the site and
maintaining your presence on it. Take the time to analyze the demographic data of the social
networking sites and determine which site is the best match for your organization. James
O'Malley of the Frogloops Blog suggests taking a close look at user overlap before deciding
whether or not it makes sense to maintain multiple presences. After all, if a third of the people
on your current social networking site are also on a site you're considering joining, it may not
be worthwhile to invest in a second presence, especially if you've been diligent in finding good
contacts on your current site.

Selecting the Right Tool

The first generation of social networks, many of which are still alive and kicking, were about
putting your email contact list online and connecting to the contacts of your contacts. LinkedIn
and Friendster are examples of this kind of "friend of a friend" network. The generation that
followed these were designed around the idea of sharing — people connect to one other
through a shared interests in video (YouTube), or photos (Flickr), or other content
(, StumbledUpon, Digg, Twitter).

Recently, a new generation of social networking sites has emerged that combines the friend-
of-a-friend networking with social sharing, along with mini-applications created by outside
developers that extend the functionality of these sites. These include Facebook and Google's
Open Social, which will allow you to access applications and friend lists across existing social
networks such as MySpace, Ning, LinkedIn, and others. In the long term, this will make
maintaining a presence on more than one social networking site more efficient for users, and
give your organization access to a combined list of friends.

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So, where to start? How to choose? Where can you get information to compare the
demographics and size for different social networking sites? Wikipedia's list of social
networking Web sites is an excellent free resource, providing up-to-date data on over 100
services that anyone can join.

In general, however, you are most likely to join one of three broad categories of networking

1. Generalist Social Networking Sites

These larger social networking sites — which include Facebook, Myspace — attract a wide,
more general audience. Each of these communities targets a slightly different demographic,
but also includes many sub-groups where people can network around particular interests.
Facebook and MySpace are currently the two most active social networking sites on the Web
and are where many nonprofits are setting up profiles, launching causes, or networking.
Given their popularity, fast growth, and current size, many of your existing or potential
supporters may already be actively using these services, making them a good place to start.

2. Niche Audience Social Networking Sites

These social networking sites are designed to attract a niche audience, be it a particular
demographic or topic of interest. More and more niche-audience social networks are cropping
up, from Sobercircle (for people recovering from addictions) to MyArtInfo (a social network for
artists). Niche networks for social activists include services like Care2 and Gather, among
others. Niche targeting equals more accuracy in your marketing efforts and possibly a better
return on investment. Keep in mind, however, that there are some downsides to pursuing this
niche audience. There are many social networking platforms out there right now, and not all
will remain viable over the long term. Also, with fewer people in general on these more
focused networks, you may not be casting as wide of a net as you would on other sites.

3. White-Label Social Networking Applications

White-label social networking applications allow you to build your own social networking site
with your organization's branding. One popular example of such an application is Ning; for
others, see this list of white-label tools compiled by Web strategist Jeremiah Owyang., a social network for nonprofits and causes, also recently announced its version
of a white-label network on its site, which, for a monthly hosting fee, offers nonprofits the
ability to brand their own social network, integrate it with their Web site and capture data
about users. While a white-label system offers more control, it requires you to invest
significant time in creating and building an online community.

The bottom line? Choose wisely. If you don't have the time to invest in a social network, move
on. Do your homework. Study and compare your target audience to the target audience of the
social networking site you are considering, do some initial exploratory research as an
individual user, and then decide whether to invest in an organizational presence from there.

Start slow, keeping in mind that it's better to have a deep presence on a single social
networking site than to spread your organization too thin across many.

About the Author: Beth Kanter is a trainer, blogger, and consultant who writes about social-
media tools in the nonprofit sector. She additionally develops curricula, researches, and
evaluates technology for nonprofits. You can learn more about her at

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10 Reasons Why Every Nonprofit Must Have a Blog

By Lance Trebesch and Taylor Robinson

Think your nonprofit organization has no need for a blog? You may want to think again.
According to Technorati, more than 10,500 blogs were tagged charity, 4,000 blogs nonprofit
and 2,300 blogs philanthropy in January of 2007 and these numbers are predicted to rapidly
increase in the future. Below are ten reasons your nonprofit should participate in this
movement and harness the power of the blog today.

1. Search engine optimization — Keywords and website design are important to search
engines when calculating a search result list. A focused, well-written blog on your website will
contain several keywords which improve the site's search ranking. Additionally, if the blog has
useful content, other sites will want to link to it, improving your website's level of importance.
To keep search engines current with your blog, remember to ping them regularly using one of
the many free tools such as pingomatic. For more information on search engine optimization,
read my article “Make Your Nonprofit Website a 'Hit': A 30 Day Step-By-Step Guide to Better
SEO,” or one of the many articles within Search Engine Land or Search Engine News.

2. Expert in the Field — Nonprofit organizations have a wealth of information on their specific
area of focus. This information is highly desired in online blogging communities. By posting
regularly in blogs focused on similar issues, your organization will gain a reputation for being
an expert. Bloggers want to read more postings by experts and will follow links to your
organization's website. According to the March 2007 Blog Readership Report, 67.3% of
bloggers found information by following links from other blogs. Technorati and BlogCatalog
are good directories to find topically relevant blogs. Icerocket has also done an excellent job
dissecting blogs and making them more search friendly.

3. Credibility — It is more important today than ever before for nonprofit organizations to be
trustworthy in the eyes of their contributors. One of the best ways to establish this relationship
of trust is to make events and projects as visible as possible. By having weekly updates on
projects and the projects' successes, users will know exactly what difference their donations
have made (or will make if they donate). Furthermore, project developments can be posted
onto the blog keeping the organization's efforts current (Have Fun Do Good Blog.

4. Awareness — The beauty of the “blogosphere” is that almost all blogs are linked to one
another. This creates a useful network of information that bloggers have access to. According
to Vizu’s March 2007 Blog Readership Report, more than 30% of bloggers use blogs as a
source for information. This means that with an estimated 57 million bloggers today
(Technorati), more than 17 million of them are information-thirsty bloggers who desire the kind
of content your nonprofit blog could provide. In addition, having a blog allows you to create
your own media and bypass traditional media channels which are often expensive and limited
in frequency.

5. Negative Comments — People are talking and probably writing about your nonprofit
already. Hopefully, the majority of what is said is positive, but almost inevitably there will be
some negative commentary. A blog provides a median to field complaints or concerns and
defend the decisions the organization has made. Be sure to keep the tone of the
commentaries professional and respond promptly.

6. Events — A regularly maintained blog will attract loyal readers who can easily be informed
about upcoming events. To incentivize new subscribers, or to increase the loyalty of existing
subscribers, consider having special promotions on the blog before events. It is important to
note, however, that a blog should serve to work in conjunction with the traditional channels of
marketing already in place, not to replace them.

7. Annual Report — Many nonprofits are required to compile an annual or semiannual report.
By working smarter and creating a blog, you will have most of the content for the report
already completed before you even begin compiling it (Have Fun Do Good Blog. Furthermore,

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many supporters feel that blogs are more honest and accurate than formal annual reports, so
the effort required to create the content will be more cost effective.

8. Information — One of the most difficult aspects of any nonprofit is gaining an

understanding of its supporters. A blog can help tap into this resource of information and
more. Two major information-related benefits include:

1. Allowing users to create — A blog encourages involvement in the organization. The

AARP Issues Blog allows readers to create entries about what issues they feel are important
and receive feedback from these entries.
2. Provide information to supporters — If a picture can convey a thousand words, then a
blog on your website will have a lot to say. So much of the success of a fundraising campaign
(whether you like it or not) comes from its emotional appeal. By having a blog that contains
pictures and stories, viewers will become more emotionally involved with the cause or service.

9. Fundraising — By using charity badges on your blog, you can get your supporters to help
with fundraising efforts. A charity badge can be set up quickly and allows people to share the
small graphic image you create to make donations. ChipIn and Network for Good both have
charity badges available for a small fee. There are countless examples of blogging
communities that have worked together to raise money using charity badges.

10. The “Heart” of the Organization — A blog gives you the unique opportunity to show the
organization in a totally new light. While blogs are beneficial for marketing and fundraising
purposes, their most important function should always be to convey interesting and
compelling stories about the organization.

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To Blog or Not to Blog

"To blog!" you hear from your 20-something or Summary:

tech-savvy staffers. "Not to blog" you hear from
your grizzled communications veterans and legal Eventually most organizations will
advisers. "It's basically free to turn on a blog" the blog.
first group says. "But what if people criticize our
organization" the latter group responds. Who will Before your organization starts
win this epic battle? Quite bluntly, your 20- blogging, make sure you're asking
somethings will. Yet, despite this inevitable march the right questions.
to blogdom, now may not be the right time to start
blogging. Or maybe it is. Here are a few Advanced planning will go a long way
questions you should be asking your staff to towards developing an effective blog.
determine whether now is the right time to start

1. Who will read our blog?

Everyone! Hooray! And then the money will come pouring in. Or not. A better strategy is to
keep the blog focused on a specific audience and try to avoid the temptation to speak to
everyone all the time, whether it's your advocates, potential advocates, service recipients,
friends & family members of service recipients, the public at large, members, donors, and
your neighbors). Pick your niche and nail it. Then you can start to expand if it fits your

2. What's the objective of our blog?

Sorting this out is crucial. Expect that your blog will have a soft ROI and may take months
and even years before it builds the audience and following that can turn a post into dollars or
advocacy actions. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, but manage your expectations.
Blogs can serve many different functions from serving your constituent base at a program
level to providing insights on news and analysis on how current events impacts your
constituents. For an example of excellent blogging, visit the Sierra Club - they have several
organizational blogs, each with a specific audience in mind and objectives. Whether it's
raising awareness about what individuals can do about climate change, encouraging people
to get outdoors and go hiking, or getting the Club's position on the latest news and policy by
Carl Pope, each blog has a clear purpose.

3. Does our staff have time? Will they have time two months from now?

Blogging is all about consistency. Your organization should be prepared to write quality
content once a day and no less than three times a week. Reemphasize that it must be
quality. This is no small task. Most personal blogs last three weeks before the posts stop
because bloggers run out of content or can't keep up the daily regimen. Blogging takes time,
make sure the hours are available to make it happen.

4. What does the editorial calendar look like?

Before the first blog gets written, your organization should create an editorial calendar. From
an executive perspective, this ensures that the right types of things are being talked about
with the right frequency. Every blog should have variation in content and a editorial calendar
can help here as well. I'd recommend planning out 3-4 weeks in advance to ensure that
proper research is done, if needed. If you have multiple bloggers, this helps provide firm

5. What is our editorial policy?

This is where you address potential trouble spots from trolls (i.e., people who argue for sake
of arguing) to organization detractors to overly zealous (and potentially factually incorrect)
supporters. In your editorial policy, you will determine what your organization responds to

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and when. It also establishes an escalation protocol depending upon the nature of the
comments being made. Resist the urge to over manage this process - not everything needs
to be responded to.

6. What are our community guidelines?

Having a clear, non-legalese page outlining how your organization expects people to behave
on the blog is a very good idea. What sort of comments and behavior is in bounds? What's
out of bounds? Be straight forward and make sure you can stick with it even when people are

7. How will people find our blog?

Meeting your objectives will be terribly slow if no one knows that your blog exists. Make sure
there is a plan in place to get people to your blog. Furthermore, make sure that initially those
people are the right people. The right people are your supporters who will respond to critics
so you don't have to all the time. How do you do this? Your house email list for starters.

Second, if your staff doesn't have a list of friendly (and not-so-friendly) blogs, now is the time
to create that list and start paying attention to what those blogs have to say. You'll want to
create relationships with these bloggers over time. Third, create a strategy for promoting your
blog and set readership milestones.

8. Are we prepared to relinquish a little control?

The last question you need to ask is whether your organization is ready to relinquish control.
If you effectively answered the rest of the questions above, chances are that your
organization is ready. You now have a plan for who you want to reach and how you are going
to reach them. You have a plan for dealing with critics, trolls, and overly zealous supporters.
It's now time to embrace the open web and engage the world in this format.

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The 3 Facebook Settings Every User Should Check Now

ReadWriteWeb (as printed in New York Times)

In December, Facebook made a series of bold and controversial changes regarding the
nature of its users' privacy on the social networking site. The company once known for
protecting privacy to the point of exclusivity (it began its days as a network for college kids
only - no one else even had access), now seemingly wants to compete with more open social
networks like the microblogging media darling Twitter.

Those of you who edited your privacy settings prior to December's change have nothing to
worry about - that is, assuming you elected to keep your personalized settings when
prompted by Facebook's "transition tool." The tool, a dialog box explaining the changes,
appeared at the top of Facebook homepages this past month with its own selection of
recommended settings. Unfortunately, most Facebook users likely opted for the
recommended settings without really understanding what they were agreeing to. If you did so,
you may now be surprised to find that you inadvertently gave Facebook the right to publicize
your private information including status updates, photos, and shared links.

Want to change things back? Read on to find out how.

1. Who Can See The Things You Share (Status Updates, Photo, Videos, etc.)
Probably the most critical of the "privacy" changes (yes, we mean those quotes sarcastically)
was the change made to status updates. Although there's now a button beneath the status
update field that lets you select who can view any particular update, the new Facebook
default for this setting is "Everyone." And by everyone, they mean everyone.

If you accepted the new recommended settings then you voluntarily gave Facebook the right
to share the information about the items you post with any user or application on the site.

Depending on your search settings, you may have also given Facebook the right to share that
information with search engines, too.

To change this setting back to something of a more private nature, do the following:

1. From your Profile page, hover your mouse over the Settings menu at the top right and
click "Privacy Settings" from the list that appears.
2. Click "Profile Information" from the list of choices on the next page.
3. Scroll down to the setting "Posts by Me." This encompasses anything you post,
including status updates, links, notes, photos, and videos.
4. Change this setting using the drop-down box on the right. We recommend the "Only
Friends" setting to ensure that only those people you've specifically added as a friend on the
network can see the things you post.

2. Who Can See Your Personal Info

Facebook has a section of your profile called "personal info," but it only includes your
interests, activities, and favorites. Other arguably more personal information is not
encompassed by the "personal info" setting on Facebook's Privacy Settings page. That other
information includes things like your birthday, your religious and political views, and your
relationship status.

After last month's privacy changes, Facebook set the new defaults for this other information to
viewable by either "Everyone" (for family and relationships, aka relationship status) or to
"Friends of Friends" (birthday, religious and political views). Depending on your own
preferences, you can update each of these fields as you see fit. However, we would bet that
many will want to set these to "Only Friends" as well. To do so:

1. From your Profile page, hover your mouse over the Settings menu at the top right and
click "Privacy Settings" from the list that appears.

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2. Click "Profile Information" from the list of choices on the next page.
3. The third, fourth, and fifth item listed on this page are as follows: "birthday," "religious
and political views," and "family and relationship." Locking down birthday to "Only Friends" is
wise here, especially considering information such as this is often used in identity theft.
4. Depending on your own personal preferences, you may or may not feel comfortable
sharing your relationship status and religious and political views with complete strangers. And
keep in mind, any setting besides "Only Friends" is just that - a stranger. While "Friends of
Friends" sounds innocuous enough, it refers to everyone your friends have added as friends,
a large group containing hundreds if not thousands of people you don't know. All it takes is
one less-than-selective friend in your network to give an unsavory person access to this

3. What Google Can See - Keep Your Data Off the Search Engines
When you visit Facebook's Search Settings page, a warning message pops up. Apparently,
Facebook wants to clear the air about what info is being indexed by Google. The message

There have been misleading rumors recently about Facebook indexing all your information on
Google. This is not true. Facebook created public search listings in 2007 to enable people to
search for your name and see a link to your Facebook profile. They will still only see a basic
set of information.

While that may be true to a point, the second setting listed on this Search Settings page
refers to exactly what you're allowing Google to index. If the box next to "Allow" is checked,
you're giving search engines the ability to access and index any information you've marked as
visible by "Everyone." As you can see from the settings discussed above, if you had not made
some changes to certain fields, you would be sharing quite a bit with the search
engines...probably more information than you were comfortable with. To keep your data
private and out of the search engines, do the following:

1. From your Profile page, hover your mouse over the Settings menu at the top right and
click "Privacy Settings" from the list that appears.
2. Click "Search" from the list of choices on the next page.
3. Click "Close" on the pop-up message that appears.
4. On this page, uncheck the box labeled "Allow" next to the second setting "Public
Search Results." That keeps all your publicly shared information (items set to viewable by
"Everyone") out of the search engines. If you want to see what the end result looks like, click
the "see preview" link in blue underneath this setting.

Take 5 Minutes to Protect Your Privacy

While these three settings are, in our opinion, the most critical, they're by no means the only
privacy settings worth a look. In a previous article (written prior to December's changes, so
now out-of-date), we also looked at things like who can find you via Facebook's own search,
application security, and more.

While you may think these sorts of items aren't worth your time now, the next time you lose
out on a job because the HR manager viewed your questionable Facebook photos or saw
something inappropriate a friend posted on your wall, you may have second thoughts. But
why wait until something bad happens before you address the issue?

Considering that Facebook itself is no longer looking out for you, it's time to be proactive
about things and look out for yourself instead. Taking a few minutes to run through all the
available privacy settings and educating yourself on what they mean could mean the world of
difference to you at some later point...That is, unless you agree with Facebook in thinking that
the world is becoming more open and therefore you should too.

Note: Other resources on Facebook's latest changes worth reading include MakeUseOf's 8
Steps Toward Regaining your Privacy, 17 steps to protect your privacy from Inside Facebook,
the ACLU's article examining the changes, and's comprehensive analysis of
the new settings. If you're unhappy enough to protest Facebook's privacy update, you can

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sign ACLU's petition. The FTC is also looking into the matter thanks to a complaint filed by a
coalition of privacy groups, led by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. You can add
your voice to the list of complaints here.

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Facebook may 'lock in' its Internet dominance

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:33pm EST

Social network may be nearing "technological lock-in"

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES, Jan 27 (Reuters) - College senior Alyssa Ravasio gave up MySpace on the
day she got a Facebook account and never looked back. She has already lost interest in
Twitter. But how does Facebook know it can keep her loyalty?

The brief history of the Internet is littered with the ghosts of Websites that people have
abandoned in their relentless pursuit of something newer, faster, better and cooler.

Tech-savvy Ravasio, a 21-year-old UCLA student designing her undergraduate degree

around the Internet's impact on society and communication, is irked by changes privately
owned Facebook has made.

But for now, she says, Facebook is keeping her allegiance because of a concept called
"technological lock-in." In other words, the site has become an essential part of her life.
"I think Facebook is the most valuable Internet commodity in existence, more so than Google,
because they are positioning themselves to be our online identity via Facebook connect,"
Ravasio said.

"It's your real name, it's your real friends, and assuming they manage to navigate the privacy
quagmire, they're poised to become your universal login," she said. "I would almost argue that
Facebook is the new mobile phone. It's the new thing you need to keep in touch, almost a
requirement of modern social life."


Technological lock-in is the idea that the more a society adopts a certain technology, the
more unlikely users are to switch. Its the reason why the QWERTY keyboard layout, devised
for typewriters in the 1870s, is still the standard despite the development of several more
logical configurations.

And Facebook, which has more than 100 million users in the United States and 350 million
worldwide, appears to have nearly achieved technological lock-in, according to web marketing
research company

In December, for example, Facebook recorded nearly 112 million unique visitors in the United
States, compared to 57 million for MySpace and 20 million for Twitter, according to

Users also spent much longer on Facebook, averaging 246.9 minutes in December,
compared to 112.7 minutes on MySpace and 24.3 minutes on Twitter.

"It's something that feeds on itself," Comscore director Andrew Lipsman said. "The more
people who come into the network, the more connected they become to each other and there
actually becomes a greater cost to leaving the network."

"At some point it becomes a critical mass," he said. "It becomes so strong that its difficult to
unlock and I think Facebook has reached that point."

Skeptics might say that the same argument could have been made for MySpace just a few
years ago, when it reigned supreme among social networking sites to the extent that few
American teens would be caught dead without an account.


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But those who study web trends say that MySpace, while wildly popular, never quite reached
the worldwide domination of Facebook, which then-Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg started
in his dorm room in 2004.

Facebook initially limited membership to Harvard, then universities, a move that heightened
the draw for teens. And once Facebook opened registration to anyone in 2006, it was flooded
with members between the ages of 25 to 45.

Tim Groeling, a professor of communication studies at UCLA, said that because it was
possible to sign up for Facebook without dumping MySpace, many young people had
accounts on both sites until the center of gravity slowly shifted to Facebook.

"MySpace wasn't focused as much on the social networking aspect, which they seem to
enjoy. It wasn't quite the tight-knit social machine that Facebook seems to be," he said.
"Facebook has a certain amount of lock-in that's going to be hard for people to get past,"
Groeling said. "It's possible it could happen, but it has to overcome a high threshold of user
cost. It's their game to lose at this point."

Ravasio says that, technological lock-in aside, Facebook could potentially lose her if it keeps
annoying her, as it did when it abruptly changed a default privacy setting so that members'
pictures were public.

"All these (Internet) companies saying they'll figure out how to monetize later seem to be
forgetting that 'monetizing' has historically always meant a degradation of user experience
quality," she said.

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The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The theme of this year’s World Communications Day - The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a
Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word – is meant to coincide with the Church’s
celebration of the Year for Priests. It focuses attention on the important and sensitive pastoral
area of digital communications, in which priests can discover new possibilities for carrying out
their ministry to and for the Word of God. Church communities have always used the modern
media for fostering communication, engagement with society, and, increasingly, for
encouraging dialogue at a wider level. Yet the recent, explosive growth and greater social
impact of these media make them all the more important for a fruitful priestly ministry.

All priests have as their primary duty the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of
God, and the communication of his saving grace in the sacraments. Gathered and called by
the Word, the Church is the sign and instrument of the communion that God creates with all
people, and every priest is called to build up this communion, in Christ and with Christ. Such
is the lofty dignity and beauty of the mission of the priest, which responds in a special way to
the challenge raised by the Apostle Paul: “The Scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him
will be put to shame … everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ But how
can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of
whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how
can people preach unless they are sent? (Rom 10:11, 13-15).

Responding adequately to this challenge amid today’s cultural shifts, to which young people
are especially sensitive, necessarily involves using new communications technologies. The
world of digital communication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makes us
appreciate all the more Saint Paul’s exclamation: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1
Cor 9:16) The increased availability of the new technologies demands greater responsibility
on the part of those called to proclaim the Word, but it also requires them to become become
more focused, efficient and compelling in their efforts. Priests stand at the threshold of a new
era: as new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they
are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of
the Word.

The spread of multimedia communications and its rich “menu of options” might make us think
it sufficient simply to be present on the Web, or to see it only as a space to be filled. Yet
priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful
witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which
increasingly express themselves with the different “voices” provided by the digital
marketplace. Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest
generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites)
which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue,
evangelization and catechesis.

Using new communication technologies, priests can introduce people to the life of the Church
and help our contemporaries to discover the face of Christ. They will best achieve this aim if
they learn, from the time of their formation, how to use these technologies in a competent and
appropriate way, shaped by sound theological insights and reflecting a strong priestly
spirituality grounded in constant dialogue with the Lord. Yet priests present in the world of
digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly
heart, their closeness to Christ. This will not only enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will
give a “soul” to the fabric of communications that makes up the “Web”.

God’s loving care for all people in Christ must be expressed in the digital world not simply as
an artifact from the past, or a learned theory, but as something concrete, present and
engaging. Our pastoral presence in that world must thus serve to show our contemporaries,
especially the many people in our day who experience uncertainty and confusion, “that God is

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near; that in Christ we all belong to one another” (Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia,
21 December 2009).

Who better than a priest, as a man of God, can develop and put into practice, by his
competence in current digital technology, a pastoral outreach capable of making God
concretely present in today’s world and presenting the religious wisdom of the past as a
treasure which can inspire our efforts to live in the present with dignity while building a better
future? Consecrated men and women working in the media have a special responsibility for
opening the door to new forms of encounter, maintaining the quality of human interaction, and
showing concern for individuals and their genuine spiritual needs. They can thus help the men
and women of our digital age to sense the Lord’s presence, to grow in expectation and hope,
and to draw near to the Word of God which offers salvation and fosters an integral human
development. In this way the Word can traverse the many crossroads created by the
intersection of all the different “highways” that form “cyberspace”, and show that God has his
rightful place in every age, including our own. Thanks to the new communications media, the
Lord can walk the streets of our cities and, stopping before the threshold of our homes and
our hearts, say once more: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice
and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20).

In my Message last year, I encouraged leaders in the world of communications to promote a

culture of respect for the dignity and value of the human person. This is one of the ways in
which the Church is called to exercise a “diaconia of culture” on today’s “digital continent”.
With the Gospels in our hands and in our hearts, we must reaffirm the need to continue
preparing ways that lead to the Word of God, while being at the same time constantly
attentive to those who continue to seek; indeed, we should encourage their seeking as a first
step of evangelization. A pastoral presence in the world of digital communications, precisely
because it brings us into contact with the followers of other religions, non-believers and
people of every culture, requires sensitivity to those who do not believe, the disheartened and
those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute. Just as the
prophet Isaiah envisioned a house of prayer for all peoples (cf. Is 56:7), can we not see the
web as also offering a space – like the “Court of the Gentiles” of the Temple of Jerusalem –
for those who have not yet come to know God?

The development of the new technologies and the larger digital world represents a great
resource for humanity as a whole and for every individual, and it can act as a stimulus to
encounter and dialogue. But this development likewise represents a great opportunity for
believers. No door can or should be closed to those who, in the name of the risen Christ, are
committed to drawing near to others. To priests in particular the new media offer ever new
and far-reaching pastoral possibilities, encouraging them to embody the universality of the
Church’s mission, to build a vast and real fellowship, and to testify in today’s world to the new
life which comes from hearing the Gospel of Jesus, the eternal Son who came among us for
our salvation. At the same time, priests must always bear in mind that the ultimate fruitfulness
of their ministry comes from Christ himself, encountered and listened to in prayer; proclaimed
in preaching and lived witness; and known, loved and celebrated in the sacraments,
especially the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation.

To my dear brother priests, then, I renew the invitation to make astute use of the unique
possibilities offered by modern communications. May the Lord make all of you enthusiastic
heralds of the Gospel in the new “agorà” which the current media are opening up.

With this confidence, I invoke upon you the protection of the Mother of God and of the Holy
Curè of Ars and, with affection, I impart to each of you my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 24 January 2010, Feast of Saint Francis de Sales.

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God joins Twitter, rewrites Bible:
Old version of Scripture "wasn't reaching people anymore," so Lord shrinks psalms and other
stories to 140 characters each and "live blogs" the Last Supper.

By Andy Helfduke, Staff Writer

In the beginning, God tweeted:

Day 1: Lighting system installed. BRB.

Days 2-6: Some assembly required: sky, plants, cows, people. Left humans in charge, LOL.
Day 7: Siesta

That's how the story of creation is told in "The Twitter Bible," God's latest attempt to spread
His message.

"The old version of Scripture wasn't reaching people anymore," He explained at a press
conference where every question seemed to be anticipated before reporters could ask. "So I
signed up for"

Writing under the pseudonym WWGT (What Would God Tweet?), the Lord has begun
condensing Bible stories into hip, 140-character updates. "Even I can't resist the awesome
power of Twitter," He said. "I just hope I still have enough name recognition to attract more
followers on the site than @RyanSeacrest or @The_Real_Shaq."

To boost His audience, God plans to sprinkle posts with pop culture references and, if
necessary, winning lottery numbers. For example, Psalm 23 will read, "The Lord is my
iPhone. If I need to visit a pasture, there's an app for that. If I need to walk the valley of death,
there's an app for that."

Meanwhile, the Book of Jonah gets condensed to a mere three sentences: "Jonah = reverse
sushi. Big fish eats raw human, minus wasabi, then barfs him up 3 days later. Jonah's scared-
straight talk saves Nineveh."

God also hopes to live-blog the Last Supper, and include links to reviews of the
food ("tastes like chicken") by Jesus' apostles.

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'Twitter Bible' Converts Scripture into Mini Messages

A new so-called "Twitter Bible," which summarizes the over 31,000-verse Bible into nearly
4,000 short-form tweets, is being released at the Frankfurt Book Fair this week.

Thu, Oct. 15, 2009 Posted: 12:43 PM EDT

A new so-called “Twitter Bible,” which summarizes the over 31,000-verse Bible into nearly
4,000 short-form tweets, is being released at the Frankfurt Book Fair this week.
Formally named And God Decided to Chill, the German language book is the compilation of
tweets by more than 3,000 German Christians who participated in the church project earlier
this year.

In honor of the Pentecost holiday, German Christians used the micro-blogging service Twitter
to summarize 3,906 Bible sections into 140 character messages, according to Berlin-based
newspaper “The Local.” Though the project was scheduled for May 20-30, it was completed
37 hours ahead of schedule and achieved a world record.

The tweets were sometimes entertaining, such as the tweet describing God’s day of rest after
creation: “Thank God! It’s Sunday!”

Melanie Huber, portal manager of the Protestant Web site, which
launched the project, said about the initiative: “We want with this action to encourage a
debate about the Bible and to simultaneously show the modern possibilities that exist to
receive and make known the Word of God,” according to Ecumenical News International.

Similarly in the United States, many Christian leaders have found Twitter to be an effective
ministry tool to share the Word of God. Popular Christian leaders such as Pastors Rick
Warren, John Piper, and Mark Driscoll have tens of thousands of Twitter followers who read
their daily updates on Christian insight on daily life, Bible verses of the day, and projects
they’re working on.

Some U.S. churches have even embraced the micro-blogging service to the point of flashing
tweets from worshippers on large video screens during Sunday service.
Ministry leader Greg Stier, president of Dare 2 Share Ministries, in a column contended that
Jesus would have been a Twitter enthusiast and set out to brainstorm possible tweets He
would have posted.

Some of the hypothetical tweets from Jesus include: “40 days without food. Satan doing a full
court temptation press. Does he really think he can win?” “Just healed ten lepers, only one
came back to thank me. Nothing worse than ungrateful ex-lepers”; “5 loaves + 2 fishes x the
power of God = Fish and Chips for 5,000! Thanks for your lunch kid!” “Watching my disciples
as I ascend to heaven. They look helpless. Will send Holy Spirit soon.”

Jokes aside, Reformed Baptist theologian John Piper in an article this year explained why he
engages in social internet media such as blogging, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. He said
that while there are many arguments against using these technology, such as feeding into
narcissism and weakening discursive reasoning, he leaned towards the argument of filling
these media with the Bible and the teaching of Christ.

"We are aware that the medium tends to shape the message," Piper said.
"But it seems to us that aggressive efforts to saturate a media with the supremacy of God, the
truth of Scripture, the glory of Christ, the joy of the gospel, the insanity of sin, and the radical
nature of Christian living is a good choice for some Christians," he said, adding that they may
not be good for all and that some of these media should be abstained from.

Since its launch in 2006, Twitter has grown to over 32 million users.

The nearly 4,000 tweets from the German Christians can now be seen in book form at the
Frankfurt Book Fair, which opened on Wednesday and will conclude on Oct. 18.

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The Internet in 2009

• 90 trillion – The number of emails sent on the Internet in 2009.
• 247 billion – Average number of email messages per day.
• 1.4 billion – The number of email users worldwide.
• 100 million – New email users since the year before.
• 81% – The percentage of emails that were spam.
• 92% – Peak spam levels late in the year.
• 24% – Increase in spam since last year.
• 200 billion – The number of spam emails per day (assuming 81% are spam).

• 234 million – The number of websites as of December 2009.
• 47 million – Added websites in 2009.

Domain names
• 81.8 million – .COM domain names at the end of 2009.
• 12.3 million – .NET domain names at the end of 2009.
• 7.8 million – .ORG domain names at the end of 2009.
• 76.3 million – The number of country code top-level domains (e.g. .CN, .UK, .DE,
• 187 million – The number of domain names across all top-level domains (October
• 8% – The increase in domain names since the year before.

Internet users
• 1.73 billion – Internet users worldwide (September 2009).
• 18% – Increase in Internet users since the previous year.
• 738,257,230 – Internet users in Asia.
• 418,029,796 – Internet users in Europe.
• 252,908,000 – Internet users in North America.
• 179,031,479 – Internet users in Latin America / Caribbean.
• 67,371,700 – Internet users in Africa.
• 57,425,046 – Internet users in the Middle East.
• 20,970,490 – Internet users in Oceania / Australia.

Social media
• 126 million – The number of blogs on the Internet (as tracked by BlogPulse).
• 84% – Percent of social network sites with more women than men.
• 27.3 million – Number of tweets on Twitter per day (November, 2009)
• 57% – Percentage of Twitter’s user base located in the United States.
• 4.25 million – People following @aplusk (Ashton Kutcher, Twitter’s most followed
• 350 million – People on Facebook.
• 50% – Percentage of Facebook users that log in every day.
• 500,000 – The number of active Facebook applications.

• 4 billion – Photos hosted by Flickr (October 2009).
• 2.5 billion – Photos uploaded each month to Facebook.
• 30 billion – At the current rate, the number of photos uploaded to Facebook per year.

• 1 billion – The total number of videos YouTube serves in one day.
• 12.2 billion – Videos viewed per month on YouTube in the US (November 2009).

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• 924 million – Videos viewed per month on Hulu in the US (November 2009).
• 182 – The number of online videos the average Internet user watches in a month
• 82% – Percentage of Internet users that view videos online (USA).
• 39.4% – YouTube online video market share (USA).
• 81.9% – Percentage of embedded videos on blogs that are YouTube videos.

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L I N K S / R E S O U R C E S – Consulting firm working with Jewish groups

Beth's Blog: How Nonprofit Organizations Can Use Social Media to Power Social Networks
for Change ( - Beth Kanter

What is Social Media? (online slideshow presentation) -

Open Siddur Project -

The Open Siddur is a volunteer driven project to create a free resource for folks crafting their
own siddur (Jewish prayer book). We intend to collaboratively build an archive of material that
makes up the siddur — texts, translations, instructional material, commentaries, essays, and
other associated media. Along with the archive, we are building the software that can be used
to put together the building blocks to customize and personalize the siddur. Ultimately,
siddurim prepared from this content may be printed on your home printer, by on-demand print
shop, or in cooperation with a book artist.

31 Days 31 Ideas - -

New Jewish content websites of note:

3. – (Video Interviews)

Christian Bible verses on Twitter (daily)


Jewish Torah Twitter:

1. Article: Rabbi tweets Torah 4 Jews on the go

a. His book: Twitter Torah by Rabbi Ben Greenberg:
2. Torah Tweets: - long list of "Tweeting" rabbis
3. Rabbi Shai Gluskin:

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Sue Fishkoff and Stacey Palevsky,, January 7, 2010:
3 /servlet/Satellite?cid=1263147978593&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull
Phillip Brodsky, JewPoint0, blog of Darim Online, November 20, 2009
This is an excerpt dealing with his commentary on the Internet.
11, September 16, 2009
settings-every-user-should-c-29287.html?em=&pagewanted=print , January 20, 2010
Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVIfor the 44th World Communications Day, Sunday, 16
May 2010
"Internet 2009 in numbers,", January 22, 2010. Data sources: Website and web server
stats from Netcraft. Domain name stats from Verisign and Internet user stats from
Internet World Stats. Email stats from Radicati Group.Online video stats from Comscore, Sysomos and
YouTube. Photo stats from Flickr and Facebook. Social media stats from BlogPulse, Pingdom (here
and here), Twittercounter, Facebook and GigaOm.

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