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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 30, 2012/ 7 Nissan, 5772

Cyber-compassion, Learning Shortcuts

By Suzanne Fields




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The Internet is the latest tool for compassionate activism. When the sights of Angelina Jolie's leg goes viral, she magnifies her female celebrity by focusing attention on the miseries of Darfur. She teases and titillates in a celebrity culture and uses her fame for a good cause.

But the Internet is not necessarily the best means for educating the public in injustice. It confuses and deceives, as well.

When a remarkable documentary video called "Kony 2012" circulated on Facebook and YouTube, promoted on Twitter by Hollywood celebrities, it drew more than 80 million hits. Jason Russell, the young filmmaker who made the video, became an instant hero for telling the world about Joseph Kony, a brutal Ugandan warlord who kidnapped unsuspecting children and forced them into prostitution and a children's army to wreak murder and mayhem.

Instant fame is not always benign. It turns out that Jason Russell, a co-founder of "Invisible Children," an organization trying to find Kony and rescue the children, was not careful with the facts. His video contains errors, its history is outdated, and the African conflicts are dangerously simplified.

Kony fled Uganda six years ago and hasn't been seen there since, and the children's army is diminished and scattered. The sloppy research seems aimed at a kindergarten mentality, literally, as the filmmaker uses his son, age 5, to act as a "commentator." Commercial shortcuts peddling feel-good slogans inscribed on bracelets and splashed on posters protesting the warlord's evil deeds eventually drew questions about the filmmaker's finances. He collapsed with a mental breakdown. He was videotaped naked, running down a street in San Diego. He was diagnosed with a "reactive psychosis" and put in a hospital.

This is a story reflecting unintended consequences of the digital age run amok. It has farcical and pitiful dimensions of an Internet melodrama rising from undisciplined, unedited, uneducated electronic overload, when there are no responsible gatekeepers to make sense of high-speed information moving swiftly like a racing car without brakes on the digital superhighway. When videos go viral, they command a huge audience, generating a digital din more like barroom babble than serious debate.

The "Kony 2012" phenomenon has lessons for how we absorb and apply information transmitted electronically. The medium is not the message, but an untamed process. Thoughtful analytical engagement gets lost in a frenzy of self-indulgence in the self-absorbed social media. The digital revolution has been hyped as ushering in a utopian world of knowledge that would expand minds with facts faster than the speed of sound and light (and far faster than Superman's speeding bullet). Cyber-prophets promised a future world illuminated by wizardry and magical teaching, as if consummate hand-to-eye coordination could turn John Locke's tabula rasa into a human encyclopedia.

We're beginning to discover that computers have limitations, and it's time to compute that, too. In South Korea, which leads the vanguard of digital education, the education thinkers are reconsidering their idea to transform all traditional textbooks into a process for the digital age. The experts have begun to worry that digital books may exchange actual experience for virtual reality.

"The concern about the digital textbook is that young students won't have as much time to experience real life and real things," a school administrator of a pilot digital program in elementary schools in Seoul tells The Washington Post. "They'll just see the whole world through a computer screen." The Koreans, whose children famously achieve high scores in math and science, have found that one in 12 students between the ages of 5 and 9 is so addicted to the Internet that they suffer depression when access to a computer is withdrawn. Similar findings for Internet addiction among schoolchildren have been cited in the United States, too.

We've only scratched the surface of the ways the nature of electronic teaching will change not only what children learn, but how they learn and how that will affect focus, concentration, motivation and memory. Another problem is the way the Internet creates opinions and obsessions while at the same time digital words are easily erased from the screen and knowledge is deleted from the mind. Feelings disconnect from the emotions.

"Kony 2012" exposes one way a video gone viral can do harm and cloud critical understanding. We don't yet know what will follow in its wake, but we should be paying scrupulous attention to what the electronic media are actually telling us. What we need to see is not necessarily what's in front of our eyes.

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© 2006, Creators Syndicate, Suzanne Fields

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