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

Blue Lemon – الليمون الأزرق 3

We went to the Ministry of Industry and Trade and registered a trade name for Questler, since it had to be Arabic and we couldn’t use “كويستلر” then we had to come up with a unique name and we didn’t want it to take ages to check against their database. Our first option was “Blue Star” – “النجمة الزرقاء”, and oups, it was taken.  The next option was Blue Lemon – “الليمون الأزرق”  and the registrant lady wents into a big laugh, sayine “come on guys, Blue Lemon!!! what kind of software company gets called Blue Lemon. Then she made sure we sign that “we will not translate that name when we write it in English” Here is to you lady, a blog post called Blue Lemon!

So the company behind questler is -so far- called “Sharekat Al-laymoun Al-azraq lilbarmajeyat” – “شركة الليمون الأزرق للبرمجيات”.

And much to our surprise later, is our icon!

Questler goes international! 1

We got very excited today with the number of blog posts that sprung out of Jane’s post yesterday, the more exciting thing was the great number of users that joined and are growing!

Here is the chronological order of things:

1. Jane’s post on July 28th UK morning time. http://janeknight.typepad.com/pick/2008/07/questler.html

2. Someone submits Questler to SimpleSpark.com,  gets on review queue.

3. Glen Gaten writes about us on his blog. http://ggatincritped.blogspot.com/2008/07/informal-aspects-of-everyday-learning.html

4. Questler gets listed officially in  SimpleSpark.com. http://simplespark.com/catalog/questler/

5. Questler gets selected as one of the 15+ web reviews at KillerStartup.com, a great review! http://www.killerstartups.com/Web-App-Tools/questler-com-find-answers-and-share-knowledge

6. Ajay Tripathi writes about in his Visionwiz blog http://visionwiz.blogspot.com/2008/07/questler-is-informal-learning-network.html

7. ROTOR blog writes a great review of Questler, http://www.rotorblog.com/2008/07/29/questler-tries-to-make-the-world-an-active-learning-space/

Hope I didn’t jinx it by a pre-mature post :D but I had to mark this day!!!


Update, July 30th

8.  Questler review on KillerStartups.com is published @ The Online Life Knowledge http://www.jaimeviniciusbarros.com/2008/07/questlercomfindanswersandshareknowledge/

9.  The briefest mention ever (yet powerful!) @ the English Education Professor http://www.eeprof.com/blog/?p=3209

10. Questler briefly reviewed at a mini blog post by Sigalon http://sigalon.posterous.com/an-informal-learning-network

11. Questler @ ZEPY http://www.zepy.net/archives/find-answers-and-share-knowledge-with-questlercom.html

Arab-based startups at Tech-world popular blogs 4

I was wondering why I keep reading posts about startups from everywhere in the world at the most popular tech/web blogs, but none come to mention Arab ones. So I did a search on the following keywords in TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb and Mashable:

Arab, Arab startups, Middle East, arabia, Maktoob, d1g, yamli, ikbis, watwet, and of course my own startup questler.

and here are the results:

TechCrunch ReadWriteWeb Mashable
Arab 10 Results, 8 with “arab” in “comparable”, 1 with “arab” in “sharable” and one about censorship!!! 57 Results:
1 about Queen Rania YouTube Channel
1 About innvovation in UAE
1 About EgyptianYouTube Channel
7 with “comparable” so I only browsed the titles of rest!
3 Results, one with Ikbis mentioned!
One mentiones flickr being bloced in UAE and the third one has no mention of the word arab anyway.
Arab Startups 0 0 0
Middle East 6 Results, talking about different web companies targeting the middle east, one about Middle East Oil and one about the Internet cables! 2 posts about World wide Internet Penetration rates Just too many to go through! Sorry!
Arabia 5 Results, all mentioning Saudi Arabia 0 1 Result mentioning Saudi Arabia
Maktoob 0 0 0
d1g 0 0 0
ikbis 0 0 0
watwet 0 0 0
yamli 0 0 0
questler 0 0 0

In comparison, there was a long post on ReadWriteWeb the other day about German twitter clones as a phenomenon. Korean startups, Canadian ones, China of course, Philippines, Spain, Portuguese.

So I tell you, cloning or lack of real innovation is definitely NOT the problem here, So is it because of:

  • That the words “Arab” and “Middle East” are synonymous with Internet censorship?
  • No interest?
  • Not many startups to make the news?
  • Bad marketing?
  • Worse of all, low self worth, that many Arabs suffer, thinking that they won’t make it big anyway so they don’t contact these people?

On online and mobile learning from IMCL 2008 0

Well after taking two days to recover from the three day IMCL 2008 conference, I would like to talk about my experience there.

The conference was really small in size not the bigger one I anticipated it to be, though i was part disappointed at first then became to appreciate the intimacy of smaller conferences, the chance to meet and talk to many people as well as to attend more sessions!

Our presentation attracted several good discussions with other attendees/presenters (some good ego boost ;-) ) several people were very excited about the site and appreciative of what we are trying to do in an attempt to encourage and capture informal learning while few were suspicious of the real value community websites could bring to “deep” learning.

The general talk at the conference was concentrated into 2 main topics, the need for platforms that could connect informal learning to formal learning, the second was the non-existence real change eLearning has made to traditional learning environments. Some experts were talking about eLearning serving to be yet another content delivery channel with content being the same traditional content that was delivered in class.

Some participants shared experiences they had at the class room, like ability for students to send questions by sms to the instructor while in class, another one ability for students to send geology field trip photos by MMS to the class’s blackboard eLearning system.

In general, I believe many educational systems are confusing new technologies as a goal instead of a mean for better teaching and largely ignoring the power of informal learning. And eLearning vendors are supplying tools to enable accessibility of content instead of new ways to teach and learn. Focus is always on the teacher and what he/she needs with little attention being given to the learners and what they need.

All in all it was a great learning experience for me, to see what different people in the Learning “industry” are talking about!

Questler in the news @ Subzero Blue 0

Another article about Questler from our new friend & fellow Questler Mohamed Meddah @ Subzero Blue

Thank you Mohamed for the attention and looking forward to start some great conversations with you on Questler!

To read the article go to http://www.subzeroblue.com/archives/2008/01/questler_where_minds.html

Conversation about Questler @ AndFarAway 0

We got into the spotlight today at Roba Al-Assi’s infamous blog AndFarAway.net
and that encouraged the birth of a good number of Questlers today, welcome all )Read more on Questler : Aiding your Quest for Knowledge

Big thanks Roba from the -expanding- Questler Team

(Razan, Alma, Eyad, Khalil, Hassan and Sally)

Predictions for 2008 0

I am copying and pasting my answer to kim’s Quest on Questler

So here are my predictions for 2008:

1. Lebanon will have a new president (do they have one already???)

2. George Bush will give us another disaster decision before leaving office.

3. It will be more and more expensive to live in Amman.

4. People will start having negative feelings about Google.

5. Republicans and Hillary will lose the presidential race.

6. Questler will hit big everywhere (ok, this is wishful thinking:) )

7. Microsoft will announce that office 2010 will be completely a web app!

8. New search engines will become more popular (Spock, Riya…etc)

9. Palestinian occupied territories will still be called the same.

10. last but not least, real estate prices in Jordan will start declining by end of year. (Wishful thinking?)

Funny video about Web 2.0 "bubble" 0

I just came across this video at OnStartups.com , its so funny but sadly it has some truth to it! Titled “Here comes another bubble” sang by The Richter Scales.

Being the founder of a Web 2.0 web app, I still found this video funny, but here is why I don’t think we are building a bubble! why? I am going to do exactly like what Dharmesh did on his blog! Watch the video then read why!

Warning: video ID not specified!

1. We are building a learning network that will help people learn from each other, not just poke each other…hint hint!

2. We are building a toolset that will empower people to take charge of their own learning, not wait for formal programs to to keep doing that for them.

3. The product vision for Questler is to enable organizations of all types both cultivate and capture informal learning that is already happening in their organizations.

4. We want organizations to balance their spending between formal and informal learning to get performance results not just keep on spending 80% of their budgets on formal training programs.

5. We are talking about one industry only not two.

6. We are using Web 2.0 concepts but we are trying to focus their use in learning, not socializing and i think that should win us a point!

7. I am 33, Eyad is 32 and Alma is 29 and we don’t think that Web 2.0 is only for people in their early-mid twenties!

Thanks for that video, its good to be able to blog this!

A whole new Questler 2


Yes, we did it! We launched the wide beta at midnight yesterday or today, sometime in the middle of the 4th and 5th of November!

The whole new Questler is up and running, and its just too exciting to be part of such project. A learning network that engages individuals in their own learning management through connecting them with others who share their interests to learn, collaborate and share ideas.

In addition to tweaking the Quests tool, we launched a new one called Discoveries.

Discoveries, a mini-blog that enables individuals to share a piece of information they have just learned or unlearned as it happens. They can also, add their comments or even challenge discoveries made by others.

All to exciting, we will start working on a facebook application that will enable users to extend their Facebook experience into one that focuses more on their learning.

Check it out at questler.com!


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