Tag Archive: Guest Speakers


“I don’t think social media is tomorrow. I think social media is yesterday.” These prominent words seemed to stealthily creep through the stage, to strike everyone speechless, and remain there for a while before melting into thin air. Octavia Nasr, said these words, filling the Gulbenkian stage at LAU with her enthusiasm, her positive view of the world, and her vivacity that originated from her offline and online interaction.

She started her lecture by pointing out the fact she prefers not to talk about the past especially about what happened in the summer (the CNN-tweet dilemma) because “everything that can be said was said”, as she puts it. She stressed that people who would show up in public places and ask her questions about such issues shows signs of what she called “lazy journalism”.

She moved then to talk about social media and tackled two essential questions “How did social media affect our lives? What is the relationship that exists or should exist between traditional media and new media?” She made the point that the level of reach one can get through social media is unpredictable. Diverting her sight to where LAUsocial students were sitting who were live covering the lecture (You can check their live coverage of Nasr’s lecture by clicking on this: http://www.lausocial.com/Live.html ), Nasr said that #LAUsocial students were lucky to study social media while in university. “I know that social media is going somewhere and I want to be in the driver’s seat. I want to set the agenda.” Nasr said enthusiastically.

Octavia Nasr between traditional media (represented by photographers) and new media (represented by #LAUsocial)

Moving to speaking about traditional media’s views of social media, she said that she would like to “tell traditional media how wrong they’re in being afraid from new media. I want to tell them how they are wrong in treating social media as traditional media because it’s not traditional media and it’s anything but traditional media.” She explains further that her mission in life today through her Bridges Media (http://blog.octavianasr.com/2010/10/octavia-nasr-launches-bridges-media.html) is to bridge the gap between what traditional and new media.

Octavia Nasr joined twitter in 2008 and wasn’t active until 2009 and in the process she thought that she would like to meet ordinary citizens. She wanted to hear about something new rather than the recycled talk of the politicians and journalists. She searched through the region for those people and organizations that were on twitter and were active. She monitored them for a while before she made the decision to follow them. “In social media, you really have to be yourself if you want people to listen to you.” On twitter, people are smart, Nasr stated. Most of them aren’t passive about what’s diffused to them from media outlets. They are “La Crème de la crème”, as Nasr puts it, except that their voices are not heard according to Nasr.

To highlight the potency of social media in delivering factual material and allowing citizens’ voices to be heard, she gave an example of a report she made using social media tools. She tweeted the following: “Are you Arab? Will you be monitoring Obama’s trip to the Middle East? “and so on… and provided her email address. Some retweeted and others replied directly or via email. She ended up live tweeting as Obama was speaking in Cairo and they came out with a hashtag before hashtags were popular at that time. Also she ended up doing a report from a purely social media perspective. It was a test, but the result was amazing, as Nasr puts it.

The way she thinks, the positive outlook she has towards what happens to her, her ambitious view towards making a change in the world, her humorous and witty way to criticize the traditional media whether in Lebanon or outside Lebanon, and her diligent communication offline and online made me appreciate that a person like Octavia Nasr exists among us.  

You can check a video  I took at the lecture: http://youtu.be/6Li-fNjDnhQ?a

With a smile on her face, Maya Zankoul stepped in announcing the good news of getting a new job at telephone.com. (She has illustrations of this at her blog. You can check them here. ( http://mayazankoul.com/2010/04/15/new-job-musing/).
She paid LAUsocial a second visit introducing to us the Creative Commons. The Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that provides individual creators and institutions the ability to give a standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work. As indicated in the Creative Commons website, “The Creative Commons licenses enable people to easily change their copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.” ”
She also told us about her experience with the CC where after she shared her work with Naeema, they came up with a poster for the CC Beirut Salon event (http://mayazankoul.com/2010/03/31/announcing-cc-salon-beirut/) that took place yesterday. From news stations like Aljazeera (http://cc.aljazeera.net/ ) to bloggers and music bands like the Meen band, they all can share, add, and remix their work to get a better enhanced one! Because of Creative Commons, Maya Zankoul now has her comics translated to Arabic though they sound weird in Arabic! lol
As in the article on Yallastartup blog by Donatella, “we need to innovate , not only to preserve, we need to produce not only consume! “

Vivacious as her cartoon character that she draws on her blog, Maya Zankoul stepped into LAUsocial class and added her own “Zakouli’s” flavor to it. She is a 23 years old Lebanese graphic/web designer and blogger. She started by putting her work online and it grew into a book Maya Zankoul’s Amalgam. Zankoul’s illustrations reflect the many frustrations she and many Lebanese citizens face in their daily lives in Lebanon.

On her visit to our class on Thursday 18th of March, she showed in her presentation the different media tools she uses online. She stressed on the importance of social media and how she relies on twitter and blogs as her primary sources of news and finds them more efficient than news spread through traditional media outlets. She mentioned that nowadays we don’t need C.Vs anymore, by being online especially on twitter; one could have the opportunity to present himself/herself and his skills and competencies. She told us how beneficial twitter was in promoting her work and interacting with different people all over the world. She quoted someone who said that we should stop separating our online and offline lives emphasizing on the importance of social media in our daily lives.

After her presentation, there was time for answering our questions. When asked if she has any privacy concerns, she said that everything used to be private unless you made it public but nowadays everything is public unless you turn it to private. When asked about the meaning of Amalgame, she said that Amalgame is a blend of diverse things and it was the name of her portfolio at university. In her blog, she criticizes a lot of Lebanese women and when asked about why she does so, she said that she would like to see in the media true images of Lebanese women who aren’t only interested in trivial things as they are being depicted in advertisements.

Then she posted, live, on her blog a post about the new numbering service used at banks and Liban Poste and she actually did this in front of us. You can check it here: http://mayazankoul.com/2010/03/18/a-miracle-at-lebanese-banks/ The most thing I liked about Maya Zankoul is her passion for the work she is doing and her persistence where at some point she mentioned that when she was searching for a publisher for publishing her online work, no one accepted and said that online is not real to go for it, but eventually she didn’t give up and VOILA, her book was born.

“This Spring, “Amalgame”  will be touring Lebanon, along with book signings!” (Maya Zankoul’s blog)

Maya Zankoul is a Lebanese graphic/web designer and blogger. She started by putting her work online and it grew into a book Maya Zankoul’s Amalgam. Her sketches represent situations that she faces in her daily life in which she criticizes the Lebanese society. She will be visiting our Media, Technology, and Culture class this week and these are the questions I would like to ask her:

 Which of the new media’s outlets made you most reachable to your audience members?

 Have you faced any censorship issues? What about self-censorship? Do you practice it in your daily life blogging?

What is your main message you would like to deliver through your blog?

Do you think that art is more expressive than words when it comes to delivering a certain idea?

You criticize in your blog women in Lebanon and how they are being used as sexual objects especially in ads, how do you view women’s status in Lebanon?

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Do you plan to produce a film based on your little comic strips like the film Persepolis?

Whenever you need to have a good laugh, Maya Zankoul’s blog or website are the right destinations, so go visit them: http://mayazankoul.wordpress.com/ http://www.mayazankoul.com/

Anissa Helou’s Visit

Her white hair and her burgundy shawl portray her distinctive artistic outlook… that was my first impression of Ms. Anissa Helou, the internationally known food writer,
art collector, journalist, broadcaster and chef specializing in the cuisines of the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa. It wasn’t the World Food Day that is celebrated every year around the world on 16 of October; it was Food Day for some LAU communication arts students that were taken into the food world with Helou who visited LAU media, culture, and technology class on Thursday, the 25th of February.
The instructor of the class Ayman Itani introduced Helou briefly and talked about her accomplishments referring to her use of the new social media. In this regard, Helou said that she resisted social media for a while because she believed that it is time-consuming, but then she found it worth using for the sake of her work. She told us about how she started her blog. It was a mundane incident that prompted her to start a blog where she had to coach her students to prepare maamools in Easter and she couldn’t find the molds so she kept on searching for them, but she didn’t find them, so she decided to prepare the maamools without them. When she finished preparing them, she found the molds. She talked also about the importance of one’s presence online. As an artist who used to run an antique shop in Paris, she considers cooking as an art. In fact, in the spring of 1999, she decided to change the course of her life, so she sold her idiosyncratic art collections and bought with the proceeds of the sale a remarkable two-story warehouse loft in Shoreditch. She’s very conscious of food’s appearance, but she’s not active in the art world anymore.
After her succinct word, there was time for raising questions. She was asked about which of the media outlets she thinks is the most effective. She said that T.V is one of the most effective ones because of its capability of reaching a vast array of audience members, but emphasized on the importance of using all media outlets without a specific preference of one on the other. Responding to a question about her objectives in life, she said that she is willing to open her own deli and she is currently building towards creating her own cooking brand (Anissa’s).

%d bloggers like this: