Episode 64: Judaism By Design - Jesse Dorogusker


In the fourth episode of Judaism Unbound's seven-part series exploring Silicon Valley and the period between Passover and Shavuot known as the "Omer," Jesse Dorogusker, Hardware Lead for Square Inc, brings ideas from product design and technological innovation and thinks with us about how they might be applied to renewing contemporary Judaism. Dorogusker helps deepen our thinking on topics introduced in previous episodes, including integration, modularity, and "jobs to be done."

Image Credit: TechCrunch

Image Credit: TechCrunch

(0:01 - 10:57): Jesse Dorogusker talks about his own professional background in engineering and product design, [1] and focuses on the importance of empathy for design. He also tells the story of the origin and mission of Square, the company for which he works today, [2] and he and Dan discuss ways in which the story is relevant to Judaism.

(10:58 - 27:10): The question of integration vs. modularity, a frequent topic on our podcast, comes back into play. Should Judaism manifest as an "integrated system," where people incorporate all of it into their lives or none at all? Could there be an alternative approach, where Judaism is "modularized?" [3] Dorogusker brings his experiences wrestling with similar questions at Apple and Square to the Jewish conversation. He also provides his own take on the question of "jobs to be done," a frame introduced by Clayton Christensen. [4] Dorogusker applies these questions to Jewish life directly, exploring the ways that he himself connected to Jewish life largely because it effectively met an important "job to be done" that he had at the time (childcare).

(27:11 - 44:21): What is "ruthless editing" in the context of Silicon Valley, and how does it help companies avoid the danger of "over-service"? Could Judaism (and should Judaism!) be "ruthlessly edited" such that a few key "features" of it are centralized while the remainder are eliminated (or at least treated as less crucial)?  To close the episode, Dorogusker gives his thoughts on two issues -- aesthetics and accessibility. In Silicon Valley, it is straight-forward why both of these are crucial to the success of a product, but Judaism has not necessarily transitioned to emphasizing them in an age where individuals can choose whether to not to participate in Jewish life. [5]

[1] Learn more about Jesse Dorogusker by reading this piece about him, featured in Wired Magazine. 

[2] Check out this article in St. Louis Magazine to learn more about the origin story of Square.

[3] To hear more about the issue of integration vs. modularity as it relates to Judaism, listen in to Episode 25 of our podcast, entitled "Unbundling Judaism."

[4]  Dorogusker alludes to the question of "jobs to be done" as it applies to a Chicago architecture tour. Read this article, entitled "Integrating Around the Job to Be Done," to explore that case study further. 

[5] Listen in to Episode 32: The Art of Judaism if you'd like to explore further the role that aesthetics could (or should) play in contemporary Judaism.