High on a hill, Estee Solomon Gray spoke last Thursday night at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, where she officially launched the meme she's been thinking about for some time now: People of the Link. She presented the meme ("a postulated unit of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena" - Wikipedia) to an audience of educators, writers, artists and community leaders, in a presentation that included links to many of the innovative minds and works that are so influential in today's Jewish innovation sector.
Since moving to Silicon Valley in 1980, Estee has inhabited dozens of identities, among them tech strategist, marketing guru, Jewish community leader, mom, CEO and social entrepreneur. Estee credits the birth of the meme to a Wexner experience she had in 1996:
Rabbi Yitz Greenberg first sparked the idea behind People of Link in Aspen in 1996 - a time when the internet, the business world and our Bay Area Jewish community were all beginning to manifest the major changes that now surround us. Yitz spoke of three eras in Jewish history – Biblical, Rabbinic and “[?]”. – each with its emblematic structures and ideas.
Estee addressed these three categories within the gestalt of her "People of the Link" meme, including shoutouts to many innovative spirits in contemporary Jewish life as well as to celebrated names in the tech/digital and social psychology sphere: Clay Shirky, John Seely Brown, Rodger Kamenetz, Jon Woocher, Steven M. Cohen and Ari Y. Kelman, Arnie Eisen, the Jumpstart guys, Elie Kaunfer, Sarah Lefton's G-dcast and others. The presentation also included my "Blogging Talmud," the text of which I wrote for an article and exhibit for PresenTense Magazine. (Pictured above at left; I believe the illustration was done by Lina Tuv, of Talina Design.)
Among the ideas presented were the perspective that people of the link means a community of practice which creates intellectual and social capital. It means a tie between nodes, a relationship or a connection, a bidirectional tie, a covenant. What does "People of the Link" mean to you?