FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, March 21, 2005

iPods for Religious Study

MP3s such as the iPod aren't just for playing music anymore. Thanks to podcasting and similar technologies, college professors are distributing lectures in MP3 format, and radiologists are using Photo iPods to store and review patient images.

Now, iPods are being used for religious instruction. A 23-year-old entrepreneur named Yehuda Shmidman has created what he calls the ShasPod, an iPod pre-loaded with an audio version of the 2,711-page Talmud used in a cycle of study known to Orthodox Jews as the Daf Yomi. The program, in which students read a page a day, takes 7-1/2 years to complete.

Daf Yomi lectures have long been available on the Web in MP3 format, but Orthodox Jews are forbidden from using the Web for purposes unrelated to work -- even for religious instruction. Thus, devices such as the ShasPod are particularly useful for Orthodox Jews. However, religious law prohibits them from using electrical devices of any type -- including MP3 players -- on the Sabbath.

Orthodox Jews are hardly alone in leveraging MP3 players for religious study. Christian groups in particular have begun regular podcasts of sermons, Bible study, music and interviews.

Sources: The New York Times, we make money not art