Tuesday, August 07, 2012

More on the iPad Talmud app

SOME BACKGROUND on that iPad Talmud app:
Talmud app publisher walks a digital tightrope

Available only for the most online device ever created, the Artscroll Digital Talmud is designed to be used strictly offline

By David Shamah August 7, 2012, 8:23 am 0 (The Times of Israel)

It might seem strange that a publishing company that is one of the crown jewels of American right-wing Orthodoxy — the wing that opposes using the Internet unless it is absolutely necessary — would choose the iPad as the platform on which to launch a fully annotated English digital translation of the Babylonian Talmud.

After all, the iPad — which is great for watching movies, playing games and downloading news and books — would simply be an expensive paperweight without the Internet.

But Artscroll Mesorah, publishers of the Schottenstein Digital Edition of the Talmud, believes that Orthodox Jews can have iPads and use them for positive, Jewish experiences without having to resort to the Internet for anything but an initial download. “We want people to understand that the same device that can be used for Netflix movies and other things can be used for holy purposes,” said Rabbi Mayer Pasternak, CTO and director of the Artscroll Digital Technology Team.

Besides, Pasternak told The Times of Israel, Artscroll had little choice but to use the iPad if it wanted to develop digital apps. “The Kindle and the Nook don’t understand Hebrew at all, much less the mixed dynamic interactive Hebrew and English that we have on each page.”

The Kindle Fire does “speak Hebrew,” but it’s an Android device — “and because security is so awful on Android devices and the Android operating system’s form factors are so much more complicated, we decided to go for the iPad.”

As it turned out, the iPad was the only device that could handle the complicated iterations of text, hyperlinks, and interconnections between Hebrew and English text that the Artscroll edition of the Babylonian Talmud is made up of, so the company, together with RustyBrick – a programming house that specializes in Jewish apps, such as an interactive “smart” daily prayer book and an app for synagogue sextons — began developing the Talmud app earlier this year. After thousands of hours of grueling work, said RustyBrick CEO Barry Schwartz, the app was completed and released, just in time for the Siyum Hashas — the completion and rededication of the study of the seven-and-a-half-year cycle of the Daf Yomi, the daily study of a page of Talmud.

Rivlin Congratulates Talmud Students

(Arutz Sheva)

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin addressed on Monday, during his remarks at the Knesset plenum, the Siyum Hashas events which took place throughout the country and the world last week.

Background on the Talmud app and on Daf Yomi is here and here and links.