about.

My name is Josh Mason-Barkin. This is my site.

Professionally, I'm a Jewish educator, tech strategist, and photographer/videographer. I'm founder and principal at The Motech Agency, and I also run my own photography business. Previously, I served as director of congregational learning at Temple Emanu-El in San Jose, California having held the same role at Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles. On the way there, I earned MAs in Jewish education and Jewish communal service from HUC-JIR and a BA in politics and religion from Ripon College. Formerly, I consulted with schools and trained teachers in my role as director of school services at Torah Aura Productions. I am the author of two books, God: Jewish Choices for Struggling With the Ultimate and Artzeinu: An Israel Encounter, and I have worked in numerous synagogues in California and as an instructor at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles.

I serve on the board of the National Association of Temple Educators and I am a member of the Jewish Educators Association and the Society of Professional Copy Editors (a job I held before entering the field of education).

I'm also into technology, especially the role and usage of technology in Jewish organizations. I have worked on a number of Jewish websites, including the mobile-optimized sites for the 2012 NATE conference in Phoenix, the 2011 NATE conference in Seattle, the 2012 NATE Kallah in San Antonio, musician Noam Katz’s site, and the Temple Isaiah Religious School Blog. For the organization's first three years, I served as webmaster and tech consultant to B’nai Mitzvah Revolution.

I am married to Rabbi Sara Mason-Barkin, and I’m Charlie Mason-Barkin’s dad. In my free time, I enjoy photography, writing, playing with Charlie, and closely following my beloved Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Bears. I feel strongly about the Oxford comma, eradicating the practice of typing two spaces after a period, and the proper use of contractions. My favorite Beatle is George.

about this site

This isn't one of those sites about a specific thing. It's my site, and I'm interested in lots of things, so it's about all those things. I realize that's not the best way to get lots of clicks or attract the most eyes to the ads on my site. But that's ok. I don't have ads on my site anyway.

colophon

  • Like many excellent sites, this one is powered by WordPress.
  • It is set in the Freight Text Pro and Proxima Nova typefaces (with help from Typekit).
  • It utilizes my own customization of Blogapp by Themes Kingdom
  • I use Civil Footnotes for source citations and extra-textual notes.
  • I've built this on a number of computers, but all of them were Designed by Apple in California (or at least they run an OS that was Developed by Apple in California). Most of the HTML, CSS, and PHP code (at least the chunks I wrote) was written using Coda. Most of the posts were written in Coda, MarsEdit, or right in the WordPress backend.
  • It is best viewed using Safari, though any other modern browser (Firefox, Chrome, Opera, etc.) should work fine. Use Internet Explorer at your own risk.
  • This site's favorite food is meatballs.

stuff that interests me

tech

most things that are Apple1, Areca SAS RAID arrays, SSDs, Thunderbolt, and other things that mean I don't have to wait for files to transfer; WordPress, clean CSS (which is to say I admire it — my own endeavor to become a CSS ninja is a work-in-progress), big high-res monitors, cloud-based services and storage, Keynote, Logitech mice and keyboards

design

typography, textures, horizontal lines, lower-case, Helvetica (sometimes)

sports

baseball, the Dodgers, football, the Bears (sorry... I don't say "da Bears" since I'm not a fat, mustachioed man from Chicago), Kirk Gibson, the Lakers (if I have energy to follow the NBA), hot dogs, quality pitching and slick defense

grammar & punctuation

I'm stubborn about the following things. You have the right to disagree, but you're wrong. (And I can prove it.)

  • It's fine to split an infinitive.2
  • Unless you're writing a very formal document, contractions are just fine. (And few people ever write documents that formal.)3
  • The Oxford comma is correct.4
  • Thou shalt not type two spaces after a period. Ever. Exclamation point.5


  1. For the record: I've owned nothing but Apple computers since the used Apple IIe my dad bought around 1989. Four years later I bought myself a Performa 560. In other words: I didn't jump on this bandwagon after it was cool, and I never jumped ship. I used OS 7.5 and I liked it. (back to footnote in text)

  2. The Chicago Manual of Style says so. And Merriam-Webster says the objection to the split infinitive has never had a rational basis. (see also: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage (1994), pp. 867–868.)  (back to footnote in text)

  3. See Chicago Manual of Style section 5.103: Most types of writing benefit from the use of contractions. If used thoughtfully, contractions in prose sound natural and relaxed and make reading more enjoyable. (see also: Modern American Usage, 2nd ed. by Brian A. Garner (2003), Oxford University Press, p. 194.)  (back to footnote in text)

  4. The MLA, Chicago Manual of Style, and many others back me up on this, but I need no other reference than Strunk & White: In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last. (Of course, that's from The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White (2005), Penguin Press, p. 3.)  (back to footnote in text)

  5. Your high school typing teacher was wrong. Get over it. Don't believe me? The style manuals are unanimous on this one (MLA, APA, AP, etc.), but I like the simple elegance of the Chicago Manual of Style (2003 edition, p. 61): 2.12 A single character space, not two spaces, should be left after periods at the ends of sentences (both in manuscript and in final, published form). And flip to p. 243: 6.11 In typeset matter, one space, not two (in other words, a regular word space), follows any mark of punctuation that ends a sentence, whether a period, a colon, a question mark, an exclamation point, or closing quotation marks. And on that same page: 6.13 A period marks the end of a declarative or an imperative sentence. It is followed by a single space. That should be enough proof, but if you require an explanation, Farhad Manjoo's excellent 2011 essay on the topic is required reading. (back to footnote in text)