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

Graph of the day, Iraqi civilian deaths since 2003 [BBC] 0

Just saw this graph while reading about the tragedy of the car bombings that swept Baghdad/Iraq earlier today on BBC with 127 killed and over 400 wounded  :-(

They say a picture is worth a 1000 words, this graph is about thousands of lost lives…[RIP]


BBC News - Baghdad car bombs cause carnage

BBC News - Baghdad car bombs cause carnage

Say Hello to Sofian (RIP) 1

I was freaked out yesterday while browsing Facebook, when the following suggestion was listed:

Sofian (RIP) our dear friend who we lost almost two years ago. Technology is weird. I posted a hello on his profile.

We miss you.

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!

Stuff that bugs me – Take I 0

- Someone eating something that obviously tastes bad, and then asking you to taste it too!

- Bartenders that keep pouring drinks to their customers, knowing that they will be the ones driving home!

- “BUT”People, the ones who decide not to use the words, yes or no to answer a question that obviously needs a yes/no answer.

- Drivers that decide to drive in the wrong direction + FAST + Annoyed by the cars driving in the right direction!

- People who decide they to give an un-asked for opinion based on a bestest-friendship in their heads.

- People you flirt with once, and think later that you owe them a relationship-in-the-making!

- Drama queens that think they are the victims of everything that happens to them, and have no brain power to take note that in most cases, you are in control of your own destiny, whichever f***d up way it turns out to be.

- People who claim to be liberal for the smallest liberal mini-ideology they have decided to adopt.

- Last but not least, Know-it-all folk. need I say more?

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.


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:

The case for being liberal 6

Over the years I’ve gone through the path from being a moderate religious conservative as a teen into a full fledged liberal as I like to call my self today. The journey was not an easy one and through which I came to learn that people around me understand liberalism in different ways, the ones who call themselves liberal that is.

From one side some think being open minded is equal to being liberal, others think that having a westernized-Arab mindset is liberal, while some think that the acceptance of other people’s religions is what makes them liberal.

You can read this Wikipedia article of what liberalism means and the history associated with it.

But what i want here is to share what I think being a liberal individual means (not to confuse this with political parties that call themselves that).

As a liberal it’s about really really believing in your individual freedom and of those around you and treating them as equals in their right to exist and be.

What they wear, where they want to go, where they live, what they do for a living, who they pray for, who they want to sleep with, who they want to love …

By freedom I mean everything that does not result in harming other individuals.

Yes those were BOLD. And those as many debates I’ve read, witnessed and participated in is where the confusion comes and where you hear stuff like this:

“I am generally a liberal person, but really someone sleeping around is something I am totally against, it’s harming for our society“.

“I am a liberal person, but really someone wearing an Islamic Hijab (scarf) is something I am totally against, she’s definitely oppressed”.

“I come from a liberal mindset, but really walking down the street wearing such tight short miniskirt and a transparent sleeveless shirt is definitely inappropriate! we are not in Europe!”

“Gosh this girl is wearing a scarf with such a tight jeans, she either wears a full hijab costume or take her scarf off and spare us her pathetically portrayed conservatism!”

“As a liberal, gays and lesbians can do what they want, but really I don’t think its my job or if it’s the right time and place to go defending their rights! there are more important things to fight for these days than that.”

“My wife and I are liberals, but you know how things are when you have kids, it’s the mom that has to stay home definitely not the dad.”

Those statements can not in any way, shape or form be statements coming from someone calling themselves a liberal. They can call themselves “moderates”, they can call themselves “cool”, “easy going”, “open minded” for all I care.

What do you think?

(If you are not a liberal or hate liberals and think they are the promoters of sin in society. I ask you gently to spare me your comments this post is not for discussing anti-liberalism. Thank you.)

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 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!


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!

Office 2010: the movie 0

Just watched this video on CrunchGear, what’s more hilarious than the video is the imaginary conversation at Mircrosoft posted under it.

My 5 Things MBA Schools Won't Teach You 1

Was just reading OnStartups latest post  Startups: 10 Things MBA Schools Won’t Teach You and getting all excited I started to comment then I felt I had more than one item to share, so thought to just blog it!

1. Its a roller coaster ride, one day you think you are on top of the world; the next day you might be thinking of how to close shop!

2. Having reserves is so nice on an excel sheet, working to actually have some is a totally different story.

3. A two week collection time on an invoice is not as binding as you might think it is. Every client has their own payment policy, prepare to be agile in planning your cash flow!

4. Giving a big discount to get more work from a client in the future, is a hoax. Next time -most of the time – they will demand the same discount for giving you more work! Make sure you know what you are doing!

5. Doing good is great, and if you are as passionate about the stuff you help build as I am, then you need to exert a lot of effort into how many pro bono/at-cost projects you might want to do. This however, they teach you very well in MBA schools!

That’s it for now!

Disclaimer: I don’t have an MBA.

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!


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.

Surprise! Arrivals dashbaord in QAIA 2

Went to pick up my dad from the airport tonight. Mom went in before me to see if we are at the right terminal and if the flight arrived or not (since 4457200 stopped working by the way, ringing endlessly!) She called and said that the arrivals dashboard said that it was delayed. So I parked and went in.

At 11:25 I read the dashboard my self and it said it arrived at 11:21 pm. super cool. 15 min and dad should be out there waving for us! Mom said no its delayed, and i say no it arrived. Turns out she was looking at the Arabic dashboard while i was looking at the English one. Fantastic!

11:40, I call dad and ask him where he is, assuming he’s either at immigration or waiting for luggage. to my surprise he told me he was just walking out of the plane.

I say that’s weird. I go check the dashboard again and this time it says arrived on 11:30 on the English screen. The Arabic screen logged the flight “delayed” at 11:25.

(Dammam flight)


I didn’t for one min ever doubt that the data source for the English dashboard is different than the Arabic one.  What kind of system even if coded some 20 years ago would  log a different schedule in English than in Arabic.

I guess its one of those “only in Jordan/Arabia”  kind of things!

Goodbye Julianna – Rest in peace 2

Lighting a candle in memory of Julianna, who lost her long battle against cancer yesterday. A battle fought so well until the very end. Thank you for everything. We will be forever grateful.

Goodbye Julianna RIP from Razan Khatib on Vimeo.


Technology, going back…then going forward 1

I happened to watch this funny video earlier tonight about what the pilot of 24 would’ve been like in 1994…

Warning: video ID not specified!

the file is too big, its about 3 floppies!!

Then later as I was browsing I watched this video of Microsoft’s 2019 Future Vision Montage,

Warning: video ID not specified!

don’t you want to read your news papers like that?

I often think that one main reason I would want to live beyond the age of 75 was that I want to experience as many technological innovations as possible. Most important of which is my long time favorite “Beam me up. Scotty!”

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