There WAS a Jordanian 80s pop band called “Hot Ice” and It’s as Awesome As You Think.

HAHA! Just discovered an 80s Jordanian pop band that sings in English and is called Hot Ice. Hani Jordan, one of the best youtube old video archivists brings us this gem from the 80s, taken from a French TV show, of a music clip for one of the band’s songs called you’ll never guess what, “Never After”! Even the video is shot in pretty old vintage Amman. AND IT ALL SOUNDS EXACTLY AS AWESOME AS YOU THINK! I WILL CHERISH THIS INTERNET GIFT FOREVER.

Know more about this band? Comment below!

New Threat to Free Internet in Jordan – Article 6 (b)

The year 2012 was a horrible year for digital rights and free press in Jordan. The passing of the draconian Press and Publications law and extending its jurisdiction to include online news websites gave the government unprecedented powers to control and censor websites it deems unlawful, made it difficult to start a news website, and practically made it impossible for these websites to allow free comments on its websites. So far the law has not been applied yet, which gave us Internet activists in Jordan a glimmer of hope. News that members of the new Parliament gave a memorandum to the government asking for the Press and Publications law to be appealed gave us more hope.

However, my own hopes were dashed when I read the draft of a new Telecommunications law (link content in Arabic). The Press and Publications law was bad, it was the first attempt by our government to systematically censor the Internet, but at least it targeted censoring individual websites. According to the law draft, article 6 (b) gives the government sweeping powers to dictate guidelines that censor entire categories of websites if they wish. This clause alone can cripple free access to Information and Free Speech, both rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Article 6 (b) of the Telecomunications Law draft states, "(The Telecom Regulatory Commission has to) regulate access to content through public communications networks according to regulation set by the council of ministers for this purpose, as long as this regulation are limited to cases where the content is forbidden or restricted according to Jordanian law."
Article 6 (b) of the Telecomunications Law draft states, “(The Telecom Regulatory Commission has to) regulate access to content through public communications networks according to regulation set by the council of ministers for this purpose, as long as these regulations are limited to cases where the content is forbidden or restricted according to Jordanian law.”

First of all, the article does not fit in this law. The purpose of the Telecommunications law is to regulate telecoms and protect consumer rights, not to dictate and supervise what content they should be allowed to access. Secondly, the fact that “illegal” content exists on the Internet does not justify this article, Jordanian laws already apply in the cyberspace, and this particular issue is handled in the Cyber Crimes law (2010) and the unfortunate Press and Publications law of 1998, and it’s revisions.

That’s not to mention the biggest issue with this article, we simply do not want censorship over the Internet in Jordan. Jordanians made that clear with the 7oryanet campaign in 2012, and the Online Press Freedom Tent, yet the government insists on increasing it’s censorship powers. It infringes on our constitutional right to the free access to Information, and our right to free speech. It infringes also on our right to secret communication by forcing ISPs to monitor our Internet usage to make such censorship feasible.

Speaking of feasibility  such censorship is highly impractical, as we have learned from our neighbors in the region, and it’s counter-intuitive. Jordan has benefited greatly from having a free and open Internet for the past 17 years. Jordan’s web industry are some of the more prolific content creators on the Arabic web. And we are just beginning to realize the full power a free Internet has on innovation and the exchange of ideas and opinions. Jordan will no longer be attractive to foreign investors looking to invest in the many digital start-ups in the country.

This article will deal a blow to all of that. Holding ISPs responsible for content, and giving the government unchecked powers to censor the Internet will ultimately lead to over-censorship. Holding ISPs responsible for content they cannot control, and cannot easily censor will cause more overhead on ISPs, which will ultimately raise the price for Internet access, which will make the Internet less affordable. These are costs that Jordanians do not need in this economic slowdown.

I was looking forward to a more progressive Telecommunications law, one that guarantees digital rights,  fosters innovation, and promotes accessibility to the Internet. Article 6 (b) alone is regressive on all of those counts. Centralized censorship, and censorship in general, has no place in our laws.

MenaICT Amman: Things to Look Forward To

Did you know that Jordanian exports in the IT Sector have multiplied six times in the last ten years? Perfect time to hold a MENA ICT conference to show the region what we’ve done here. =D

Here’s a round up of the latest news to come up on the MENA ICT Amman

First of all, about the keynote speakers. I’m really excited Dr. Werner Vogels is coming. He’s one of the biggest researchers on the subject of cloud computing and distributed systems (in case you don’t know what cloud computing is, read Lara’s brilliant breakdown of it on Sleepless in Amman.) Dr. Vogels is also the CTO of Amazon, and he was the architect behind their move towards cloud computing, namely the Amazon Web Services. He maintains a blog since 2001 by the name All Things Distributed.  One interesting piece of trivia I found out about him while researching him was that his Phd advisors were Proffesors Henri Bal and Andy Tanenbaum. For those of you who haven’t studied Computer Science, they’re both really famous researchers and authored books that every computer scientist has read and studied.

Other Keynote Speakers are, Stanislas de Bentzmann, co-founder and CEO of Devoteam, HE Marwan Juma, Minister of ICT, and one of the biggest supporters of the IT community in Jordan, and John Chambers (via video), CEO of Cisco. Mr. Chambers was on Time’s 100 most influential people list for his philantrophy and work towards education causes worldwide.

On a different note, in the past week two new sessions were announced. One of them, is called The Chattering Classes; Turning Social Media into Money. I am a bit sceptical about any session on social media, but the MENA ICT team have done a good job bringing a panel that will surely have interesting things to say on the subject. Notable speakers include Mr. Alex McNabb, Group Director, Spot On Public Relations; Mr. Mo Al Adham, Founder of Twitvid;  Ms. Maria Mahdaly, Online Activist, KSA; and Ms. Nadine Toukan, a Jordanian Activist.

The other session is called On the Boil, and it is split into two parts, one focusing on the future trends in the ICT business, and the other focusing on mobile applications and development. This session will feature, among others, speakers from Google, Microsoft, Intel, and Symbian. 

That’s all the MENA ICT Amman news Tarakiyee has for you today. Stay tuned for more here on my blog, or on my twitter account. In case you’re interested in attending, and haven’t already applied, go to the website, and don’t miss the chance to win a pass by participating in the video competition!

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”

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?