CPJ, Let the CCL Be…

The CPJ asked his Majesty King Abdullah to toss out the new cyber crime law because they’re “deeply concerned” that the law “contains several repressive aspects that can be used to harass online media”. Now, I for one disagree with the CPJ on more than one aspect. You can read the full letter here. It just seems like a rash statement that was based on a law that was lost in translation, not the current CCL that until now hasn’t been formally translated into English.

They cite article 8, stating that defamation, content and slander aren’t well defined, while they clearly are within Jordanian law. They also cite article 12, which clearly concerns hackers, rather than online journalists. Article 13, quite contrary to what they claim, does not give law officers the right “to search the offices of websites and access their computers without prior approval from public prosecutors.”

They do have  a fair point with the fact that the law is not urgent enough to be considered a provisional law, but the elections are soon, and the law will be discussed in parliament before you know it, but does that call for such a drastic measure, and a great interference with the law making process, such as being scrapped by the King? I believe it’s an insult to democracy to use such measures when they’re not needed. All I can say is, CPJ should have researched this more, and perhaps contacted the MoICT before going for such a dramatic gesture.

My Friend is a Terrorist…

The title of this post refers to the recent (?) ad campaign I’ve been seeing all over facebook, and on TV, so don’t worry guys, none of my friends are actually terrorists. Excellent timing by the way, especially with all the discussion going on about Jordan’s new cybercrime law, which you can view on the Jordanian Ministry of ICT website (Arabic only), which includes an article that forbids “promoting terrorism”, but I won’t be doing any of that here, I just wanted to plug the law in, it’s new and there’s currently a discussion going on about it on AmmanTT’s website and the twittersphere (hashtags #AmmanTT and #CCL).

Anyways, time for my rant on that ad campaign. Now, I don’t disagree with the message, as a self-pronounced pacifist there is nothing I hope for more than people actually using words to work out their problems rather than resorting to weapons and terror. But the way by which this ad is presented, and the way it’s worded just pisses me off at no end. First of all, the Facebook ad, which literally says in Arabic, “My Friend is a Terrorist, How can I set him straight?”. It’s probably Americans behind the ad, and I don’t say this out of a conspiracy theory point of view, but the idea of how they presented terrorism in a way that’s equal to crack addiction.

It just shows a lack of touch with how our society is, and how terrorism really works, and especially what terrorism really is. Terrorism isn’t like pot, you try it at first, then you’re hooked at it, until you hit rock bottom or your friends stage an intervention and you “wake up” and change your life around, nor is it so prevalent that this ad will reach that many people who actually know terrorists. What some people label as “terrorism” grows out of injustice, and grows do to apathy, ignorance and intolerance.

These ads will only serve to feed the ignorance, mainly their sense of paranoia, that itself feeds the terrorism. My advice to the holders of that campaign is, to scratch it right away, actually study the people they are targeting (they can take a leaf out of the MyIslamIs.Me people’s book), encourage people to stop being apathetic and hold them responsible for their destinies, and then fight the ignorance (which will take more than a 30 second spot on MBC4), perhaps teach them about  pacifism, non-violent resistance, and conflict resolution. But ultimately, that plague can never be banished without removing all of the injustices in the world. This is how I can get my friend off Terrorcrack.

Dear Reader, Regarding Jordanian Memes, Like Name Them?

An internet meme is a concept that spreads swiftly via the Internet[2], but enough of the compulsory Wikipedia quotes. I think I know internet memes well enough not to research the idea. I’ve been on the internet long enough. I’ve seen the geocities websites, took part in the Lolcat craze, got rickrolled (and far worse goatsed) a countless number of times, and I was even a btard at some point of my internet life. So yeah, in the land of self-pronounced experts, I qualify as an internet meme expert.

Arabs, or in particular, Arab internet users have been really late adopters of Internet memetry. I still cringe when I see a university girl using the word “epic” IRL. For me, there were things that belonged online, and things that belonged IRL, and that’s a line that you don’t cross. But IRL and online doesn’t exist anymore, so I can’t really blame her. But I digress, this blog post is about a new meme I’ve been noticing  on facebook, and as far as I know, it appears to be a Jordanian thing.

Namely, it starts like this “Dear [insert name], Regaring [typical action of subject], Like [insert exaggerated suggestion]?”, or in Arabizi “3azizi … , bil nisbe la …, … mathalan?” One of the first examples I’ve seen were about the weather, suggesting that the weather is so hot that the speaker wouldn’t mind taking off his clothes.

What’s so special about it, is that it seems like one of the first genuine memes that came out of Jordanian Internet users, not advertising agencies. And at least it’s one that requires creativity, a far step ahead from copy and paste memes or chain mails. But Facebook is a somewhat closed medium, it could be something that’s going around my circle of friends, even though I don’t think so, because I saw a group with that name. But I haven’t been seeing it on Jordanian Twitter.

EDIT: According to the comments, this meme has older roots among Khaligi (Gulf) Blackberry users, and apparently Jordanians just found out about it. Thanks for the heads up Awartany. =]

Have you seen this Internet meme between your friends? Do you know of any other memes that went around before this one?

Just Another Blog Post

I just felt like writing a short blog post to release some thoughts that were lurking in the bottom of my brain. I had plans for this blog, and I’m horrible at planning. I wanted to write some posts on design, technology, and Amman, but so far I only have some old posts, a rant, another rant (this one apparently) and a random post. Continue reading “Just Another Blog Post”

Happiness and Loneliness

I’m happy when I’m alone. I’m happy because I’m alone. I’m happy despite being alone. Loneliness brings me happiness. I’m happy even when I’m alone. All these sentences makes sense to me in some way or another. Perhaps I have a little bit of lingering disbelief at the fact, but it’s true. I no longer feel the need to surround myself with people in order to enjoy my happiness, despite what TV keeps telling me.

It’s not my own disbelief either. I love the expression on the faces of the waiters after they ask me how many seats I need, and I say, “just one please.”  I love going out alone. Even my sister doesn’t accept the fact that I am going alone somewhere. I don’t choose to be alone, but more often than not, it’s just easier to be alone. I feel sometimes that I need to take a course in event coordination in order to have a simple outing with a group of people.

I just think it’s nice to be able to be comfortable enough to sit with yourself, and I really feel bad for people who can’t do that. But still, these precious few moments when you feel happy and alone go away, and then you remember your friends. I’m a person who greatly values his friends, and very often do I feel sad if I can’t see them for some reason or another. I always carry that bit of sadness and yearning in my heart, but I still feel happy when I’m alone.

Thoughts on AmmanTT

I’m writing this post out of a need to vent, more than anything else. I’ll be blunt, partly because I’m pissed off, and partly because I don’t know how to be anything else. But I hope the reader bears with me to the end, because there is an important point, and a call for action. I’ll assume everybody who reads this post has a passing familiarity with AmmanTT, or Amman Tech Tuesday. If not, here is a nice blog post about it and there’s always the official website.

Now, to the rant. For the most part, I am a great supporter of AmmanTT the idea, namely, a grass roots effort to mobilise the more tech-oriented Ammanis to act on their knowledge, share it, and hopefully do enough to create an interesting event every first Tuesday of the month, where we get to learn more, meet each other, and eventually foster a stronger community. That’s the rosy synopsis of what I aimed to help AmmanTT achieve, and hoped others shared the same aim. I can’t stress enough the importance of creating a strong community. It’s something we can’t risk not doing, both from a professional point of view, and a personal one.

Now, nobody ever imagined this would go without a hitch, and as it is still going, we hit yet again another hitch. AmmanTT counts on the community, and the choices it will make, as individuals, and ultimately, as a whole. Should it fail, there will be no single person to blame. I’m stressing this fact because AmmanTT was from the beginning, meant to be an endeavour from the community as a whole.

However, we’re all busy, most of us aren’t willing to risk spending time in a new initiative, especially if we don’t clearly see the benefit from it. Due to this short-sightedness many people have, we owe a great thanks to the organizers behind AmmanTT. Their belief helped AmmanTT achieve two great events so far, and hopefully, many more to come. As a friend, and an AmmanTT organizer told me, without the core team, there would be no AmmanTT. That’s a grimmer future. I am in no way attacking the team, and neither of it’s members. This is, to use an Arabic word, a light “mu3atabeh”, and purely my own views on the situation, and a call for action at the end.

There’s an event happening in Amman at the end of the month, and it’s not AmmanTT, it’s a US delegation on Entrepreneurship. Does that mean it doesn’t pertain to the AmmanTT community? Most of us, if not already entrepreneurs, have entrepreneurial aspirations. Some of us have reservations about this event, many of us want to boycott it. I’m not going to discuss that here, my personal opinions on the issue don’t have to do with AmmanTT, I only mentioned it because it might interest the AmmanTT community. Many people don’t get that point.

Here is what I am going to discuss. I personally don’t mind the AmmanTT hashtag being used to bring the community’s attention to events it might interest them, no matter how they may be unpopular with part of the community. We can’t expect to agree on anything, but one of the tenants of a strong community is tolerance.

My other qualm is with all the internal politics and off-line discussions. We tout ourselves as “social media experts” and use twitter and facebook for almost everything, but we can’t start a proper open and on-line discussion on what AmmanTT “endorses” or what AmmanTT’s policies are? Where is the transparency in the process? I want to take a break here and say, we are pretty transparent,  the AmmanTT prep meetings are open, and soon they’ll be covered by Aramram, and displayed online. But I personally believe there is more room for improvement, and more action should be taken to involve the community.

But I’m not going to be negative about my problems. This is a call for the community to stand, and act. I’m inviting the community to discuss this issue, and any problems they have with AmmanTT, here on this blog, or on their own blogs, twitter feeds, the official Facebook group,  or hopefully on the AmmanTT website,  should it  have such a medium in the future.

Discussion Points

Do you believe in the core values of AmmanTT and see it’s benefit to the community?

Do you think that anybody is entitled to make policy decisions on behalf of the AmmanTT community?

Where is the AmmanTT system failing at promoting an on-line discussion?

How can the AmmanTT be made more transparent?

Panorama

An Amman Skyline
A skyline of Amman.

This is Amman, my city. A near infinite fresco of white stone houses on many hills and mountains. In and between each house are families, stories to be told, a strong web that grew over the span of a hundred or so years. The Amman I’ve grown to know and love may not be the oldest or fairest of cities, but it certainly has its own character.

This is what they’re trying to change. I don’t fear change in general, it’s just this change. At the back of this panorama, behind those beautiful white houses, you can see a forboding black pillar growing. They’re actually two new skyscrapers being built, totally out of context. This is Amman’s skyline, we don’t need any skyscrapers to reach the heavens, these holy mountains on which Amman was built suffice. I hate them for changing Amman’s natural skyline.