WEBsessed
Razan Khatib's commentary on life on/off the web

Archive for the 'WEB' Category


Jordan Internet Blackout Day: Aug 29th Action Alert 0

The Jordanian government officials are planning to censor the internet in the country using baseless moral claims.

Join the Internet Blackout day this coming Wed, Aug 29th.

Read more here in English at The Black Iris

Read more here in Arabic at 7oryanet.com the official campaign website.

7oryanet badge

“Thoughts on the now and future of Social Media” presentation @AmmanTT 1

Below are the slides I presented at last week’s Amman Tech Tuesdays (#AmmanTT) event. Would love to hear more of your comments/questions.

Thoughts on the now and future of Social Media

View more presentations from razank.
Big thanks to AmmanTT team for the opportunity and support!

ArabNetMe afterthoughts 1

So we talked about my feelings before; now here are my afterthoughts on the conference!

The short version:

It was great in so many ways to participate @ArabNetMe the past couple of days. The energy, the spirit and the conversations were all too amazing.

The longer version:

It felt at home away from home, with the significant number of Jordanians participating as well as the lingo, the issues the whole cult built around web entrepreneurship.

The tweeting, I just loved the tweeting…best solution to my short attention span problem!

The numerous coffee breaks were very thoughtful and worked very well I think.

However, did the sessions contribute much new information to the average webist? Not really. With the moderate reading and catching up we do from silicon valley, I can’t say the sessions contributed more than about 15% of either new insights, trends or solutions. Even my partner alma, who’s a social researcher and not a webist didn’t think she gained much new information!

Here are my two cents for ArabNetMe 2011:

With all the hype before the conference about the inclusion of women, I was very disappointed with the low number of women speakers, one. Really? All this hype and then only one woman?

Don’t be the all & everything for the web industry. Get selective, mine the feedback and see what worked best.

Sessions should be shorter, must run at least two in parallel,  topics be much more specific and make it more cozy, with people HAVING to select which sessions to attend and participate in resulting in a lower number of attendees thus more conversation between the panelists and the audience.

Have the participants vote for the topics they want to discuss before hand and submit their questions instead of having the moderators do it, or doing it for the moderators as it seemed to be the case in the conference.

The conference should be about finding solutions, sharing of ideas and coming up with action plans.

Share the list of participants on the website before hand, so people can pre-prepare meetings with those of interest.

And make the following in BOLD in every way you find possible

“NO TIES, NO HIGH HEALS, NO BUSINESS SUITES, CASUAL WEAR ONLY” ;-)

Big thanks to a well organized conference by ArabNetMe team, especially Omar and Sana, you rocked!

En route to ArabNetME 1

Yes, it’s been over two months since my last post as I’ve been very busy and swamped with lots of operational and financial stuff at work. The only thing that kept me going is working on one very innovative project SYNTAX and Spring are cooking these days, yes I can’t say more about it now :p

So, I am thinking the best thing for me to do is to end the first quarter of what so far has been a very tough year at work by attending ArabNetMe, the region’s first dedicated conference for the web industry (as Ahmad said, it came 10 years late! I guess, better late than never in this case).

From the minute I heard about this conference, I was skeptical it would be something I would look forward to attend. Why? With my low attention span and my need to engage in a conversation or discussion and not just listen to people talk for hours; simply, I am not a conference person.

Having attended so few conferences in my life so why this one?

First and foremost, I need to get WEBsessed again.

Whether by coming up with new ideas, or taking existing ideas to new directions. ArabNetMe would be a great place to meet a lot of people that talk the same language, share the same passion and where geeks like me are more than welcome! I’m thinking the energy there must re-ignite my passion for creating more web stuff.

Second, is my utmost respect to Omar Christidis and his team. I mean look at the energy this guy came with and what he was able to accomplish in few months. A very impressive list of speakers that someone like me who has a strong conference-o-phobia couldn’t resist attending.

Excited to listen and participate in the conversation, catch up with the people I know there, meet face-to-face the ones I’ve been following on Twitter and meet all those other people I never heard of :-)

On Jordan’s court decision to “control” websites 2

While a significant and growing number of Jordanians are/have been working very hard for over 10 years to put Jordan on the global map of innovation in building and maintaining web communities/tools of all sorts and purposes, comes the Jordanian court’s decision last Wednesday with a big blow to our faces.

Yahoo! comes and invests in our own creation, Maktoob and what does our government do? A court decides to censor the web. Rendering each website, portal, blog, wiki, tweet, tumble, stumble, photo, video…etc an entity that can be governed under the aging Print & Publishing Law that is making our print media obsolete to a certain degree.

Not only do Jordanians bloggers as the print media Journalists alike practice self-censorship online in fear of being harassed or imprisoned, now they want us to talk about the weather all year long!

Thanks to people like Hajjaj for his brilliant caricatures and the analysis of Bassem Sakejha the existing law and how would it would apply to electronic media the absurdness of the situation appears there so well.

But let me try to speculate what will happen. This decision will be overturned somehow[I am no legal expert], instead the decision will be magically reiterated to put the real target of last week’s decision; increasingly  popular news sites like Ammon News under that law which will be bound to fail so miserably. Maybe some IT vendor here in Jordan or elsewhere is already making plans to supply the technology needed to make that seemingly impossible task possible! Maybe a catching-one-fish-at-a-time policy will be used instead!

But let me end with this, amongst other freedoms we don’t enjoy in Jordan, this is something we actually know what it tastes like, something we love so dearly, we nurture and are leaders in our region because of it. So this time around, we will not let that freedom be taken away from us so very easily!

AramramTV: Social media for social change 0

Part of AramramTV coverage commemorating one year since the Israeli Assault on GAZA winter 2008/2009 was this video containing interviews with me, Ali Dahmash and Ghassan Yonis.

Funny that they called the feature “Electronic Jihad” not sure i would call it that. Would call it of course Electronic Activism instead!

Sixth Sense Projection Technology Demo 1

Amazing technology, can’t wait for it to be commercialized with a better product design!

A day in the Internet 0

A Day in the Internet
Created by OnlineEducation.net

WEBsessed finds a new home 2

Storytlr is closing down by the end of the year, so I was finally pushed to do my own website properly. That means dealing with my own WordPress installation, adding the proper plug-ins to making it look like what I really want! As I previously envisioned in my post Blogging 3.0 a year ago. And I am proud of the result :D

http://razano.storytlr.com will no longer exist after Dec 31st, and I will keep http://razano.wordpress.com for a while ( Jan 31st, 2010) due to the fact that other websites/blogs link to it.

Let me know what you think!

AramramTV, behind the scenes 1

After listening and broadcasting us (Internet Entrepreneurs) for the past few months; Serene Al-Ahmad & Mohammad Khairy from AramramTV team get a chance to talk about their own creation this time around in a -very well done -video interview by Mohammad Azraq and Amahl Khouri.

They talk about some of their projects and their original approach that differentiates them within Jordan and the region. Moreover, they talk about their own take at bridging the divide between east and west Amman.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOcuH2Wj3XI

Why Jordan could be the next silicon valley? 0

A skeptical friend of mine the other day asked me while we were attending the Global Entrepreneurship Week launch event in Jordan why do people think Jordan is special and why would it ever be the silicon valley of the region?

Through answering him I explained how Amman is similar to the US in one important aspect. We are a city that grew through immigration of displaced people from different parts of the region throughout the years.

This sense of starting new, passed down from generation to generation. While the apparent difference in this analogy comes from the fact that when people settled in Jordan it wasn’t seen as a dream come true like what immigrants in the US felt. Nonetheless, I see this spirit of making it big in many of my circles, the social and professional alike. With people from older generations, the 40 somethings as well as my generation of 30 somethings. Now i see it more in the 20 somethings.

They all want to make it big, want to follow their dreams, want to be the next Microsoft, Google or Facebook or the better Starbucks, Landor.

It gets to a point at my startup that people get out to start their own after a while, might be annoying at times to an employer but the bigger picture is that they take the risk, they go and follow their dreams.

I don’t have statistics but I am sure if you look at the number of new tech companies that started up the past 10 years you will definitely see a sharp curve.

The torch for the next silicon valley was ignited already, we are still struggling to create an ecosystem but i see it happening. Yet as Fred Wilson mentioned recently in a blog post:

But it takes time. And you can’t fast forward because we are talking about experience which can’t be manufactured. You simply have to put in the time.

We have a long way ahead of us, the private sector needs to start investing in educating the next generation we must be proactive in creating innovative ways to bridge the gap between our existing educational institutions and what the workforce needs and not wait until our government does so. Sponsor innovation by investing in internal labs to experiment with ideas. We need to enable other Arab talent an easy path to come and start their dream in Jordan not get stuck at lousy immigration policies. Look at how many people from an Indian origin live in Silicon Valley? See how they are celebrated.

The Maktoob deal earlier this year ignited this hope once again, it gave everyone a successful picture and a reality that could be theirs in the near future or something along that path.

Charter of Compassion: a call to bring the world together 0

Karen Armstrong is purely brilliant. She knows what matters.

Her book “A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam” was one of those few books that did change the way I thought of the world and us humans not just religion.

After winning the TED Prize; Karen’s wish was a call to bring the world together…Charter of Compassion which if anything affirms her deep understanding of what we all know needs to happen yet we hide behind self preserved walls.

Watch the video voicing the charter:

Amman Twestival a success! 0

Was a great evening tonight at the Royal Scientific Society who hosted Amman Twestival, Organized by Malik Shistawi Foundation, and Sponsored by Aramex and Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship in support of Al-Aman Fund for the Future of the Orphans.

Almost 100 people attended a very heated discussion about Twitter, social media and entrepreneurship prospects for Jordan and our part of the world. I was happy to be selected amongst the panel speakers along with Zeid Nasser, Laith Al Qasem and Laith Zureikat moderated by Moh’d Khawaja.

Majd Shweikeh CEO of Orange Mobile attended and shared great insights as well as the marketing, Shop’nShip and sustainability teams from Aramex including Lina Shihadeh, Firas Hilal and Raji Hattar.

The discussion topics were many, from use of social media to promote business, new ways of reaching and servicing customers, connecting to people as well as discovering content & opinions from around the web. The longed-for Qatayef break was equally interesting, as I got to meet lots of tweeps face-to-face! Ok, I never went to any of the Jordanian bloggers meetings so this was a first-time experience :-)

Its one of those days where I have a good feeling about Jordan and us Jordanians.

As a contribution to this momentum, I worked most of the weekend to create a simple website that aggregates all tweeps (twitter people) and their tweets from Jordan, you can check it out at http://JOtweeps.com. To be included all you need to do is follow @JOtweeps and we will follow back.

Also you can go to #AmmanTwestival to read all tweets about the event.

Happy tweeting everyone!

Sunny, the feel good music station has a feel good website! 0

SYNTAX and Spring teams are happy to announce the launch of Sunny 105.1 radio station website!

sunny.jo

http://sunny.jo

Sunny a brand designed by SYNTAX and launched in 2008, mow has a very cool fresh website, featuring a blog filled already with feel good stories and tips.

The home page features links to promote Sunny’s social web consisting of its newly created Twitter page as well as its very successful Facebook fan page. a.k.a. more ways to have conversations!

You can listen to the station using the live stream as well as sent a shout (comment) almost at all pages of the website.

As in Play.jo website, you have the cinema and events guides to check out fun activities. But one of the things I love the most about the website, is the very lively background that looks like a real sky. When you go to the about page in particular, you will be able to read the text while the clouds move behind it, very cool right?

Enough talk, go and feel good now :-)

to the moon and back…kind of! 0

I’ve had a chance to attended one of the humans greatest events 12 days ago @ We Choose The Moon a web experience built by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon.

I kept up with most of the journey witnessing the animation and listening to the audio of the mission over its all 11 stages from July 16th till the 20th. A big salute to the designers and flash animators for a brilliant job!

WeChooseTheMoon

Was so much fun, that afterwards I had this big urge to watch my favorite movie of all times Contact of course! Found a streaming of the whole movie online! Don’t you love online video? :D

Anyway, now you can watch the animation of the whole journey at your own pace at the website, go through the photo & video gallery available for each stage.

I love NASA, the best of the US of A!

I still have a dream to travel in Space by the age of 60, hopefully two things happen by then:

1. The ticket and accommodation price becomes affordable.

2. by affordable i mean, that I can save up to $50,000-75,000 to do it!

What? A LOT can happen in 25 years!

You'd think everyone knows what a browser is! 1

Think again!

With the tech world busy talking about Google’s announcement of its upcoming Google Chrom OS, on the other hand, here is some answers to the question:

What is a browser?

(form some New Yorkers it seems!)

folowen: find people/organizations' social web 2

Wonder why I haven’t been blogging that much lately? Yes, was busy for the past month and a half working on our new web application whom proudly I have codded my self :D yes, after 10 years of not coding complete applications, its has been so much fun!

folowen

So, what is folowen?

folowen is a social media search tool that aggregates social profiles of people and organization’s on several social media sites into one search result.

It simply makes it easy for you to follow a person or organization’s social web; be it a Facebook profile, page, group, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn profile, a YouTube channel…etc.

By simply entering the name of a person or organization you will be able to find their social links across 19 social networking sites!

We are currently in a private beta testing stage, trying out the search and getting feedback on its accuracy as well as getting to know what users want more out of the service in the near future.

I am giving out invitations for the beta for the first 30 people who comment on WEBsessed!

Thank you Gaith from ArabCrunch for writing about us :)

Thank you Mohammad from StartUpArabia for writing about us as well :)

Spring & SYNTAX sponsor Chronicles of a Refugee Website 0

Chronicles of a Refugee is a 6 part documentary series looking at the global Palestinian refugee experience over the past 60+ years.

Chronicles of a Refugee website

The documentary was produced and directed by Adam Shapiro, Perla Issa and Aseel Mansour and is currently being broadcasted @ Al Jazeera documentary channel.

SYNTAX and Spring sponsored the design and development for the documentary’s website as its the platform upon which the conversations between Palestinians all over the world would take place after screenings of the documentary. These conversations will take place on the website’s Forum section.

The website was build using Drupal 6.0 as the CMS with a customized video player to play each episode’s trailer.

Wolfram|Alpha launches tonight! @ 7pm CDT 0

Ok it is one hardcore WEBsessed post. it even has a geeky name.

Wolfram | Alpha, the new product out of Wolfram Research labs (world known for their Matmatica product) is promising to be the real deal search engine. I think Google finally has the prospect of a real competitor.

wolfram-logoThis search engine is smart, is semantic and promises to use natural language search something we’ve always wanted to have. Most people in semantic search talk about RDF (restructuring the Internet) so machines as people can talk to each other. Wolfram team thought no, that would take a long time. Lets code smart algorithms to get the answers we want.

Well they say its here. Watch the introductory video to understand more and watch a demo.

Watch the countdown video and later live broadcast  here.

Summer internships available @ Spring 0

are you bored of studying the whole year?

want to spend the summer training in the real world?

do you have a training requirement with your university?

are you a  student who loves to learn who to develop websites using PHP?

are you a great web developer in-the-making?

Come find out!

If you and your laptop plan to spend the summer in Amman, Jordan; all you need to do is send us an email describing your self, your hobbies, your interests, what you know and what you’d like to learn at hello[at]hellospring.net

If you know anyone who might be interested, please pass the word around!

We currently have two openings for a 3 month paid internship either Jun -August or July – September.

For more information go to http://hellospring.net

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