Tag Archive: Social Media


In an attempt to study the effects of media dependency, students from the Digital Media Literacy class taught by Dr. Jad Melki at AUB volunteered to take part in staying without media for 24 hours. This meant they couldn’t use their cell phones, their laptops, T.V, ipods, etc… To ensure that they don’t do any mistakes, we confiscated their phones. 3 graduate students including me were responsible for interviewing the students after they blogged about their impressions regarding staying unplugged for 24 hours. We also briefed the class about our findings.

Here are some of my findings regarding their behaviors:

Checking the media outlets was more part of everyday routines and habits rather than a real need. Actually 6 students expressed this thought. They referred to an instinctive impulse to check for their phones and to turn on the PC… A student expressed this by saying: ” I was used to having the television on even if I was not watching the television, my Facebook was always on even if I was not at my laptop and my phone was always in my hand even if I didn’t use it. ”

Some started hearing illusionary sounds including hearing their phone ringing their BB’s messages…etc…  At some point a student said: “While studying at the library I kept hearing the sound of my blackberry messenger ringing over and over in my ears…. it was haunting me!”

The students were longing for music. Music, as shown, is an essential part of students’ lives especially when driving. Nearly half of the class expressed their desire for music during the 24hour-media deprivation. A student said that; “I realized how dependant I am to music! I was going nuts in the car without music. I tried singing to myself but that was not so helpful.  ”

The free time was filled up with activities including house chores where 4 students reported doing this; in fact, one has reported cooking for 2 hours just to kill time. 3 students reported having long showers. 8 students either slept earlier than usual or took naps. Also 7 students mentioned in their articles their effort to “kill time” or “skip time” as if it was a temporarily unreal situation they had to live. Not knowing the time was a distraction since they usually check the time on their phones. 8 students reported having problems in waking up or asking someone to wake them up since they use their phones as alarm clocks. Some also said that they had hard time figuring out the time where one was constantly asking random people about the time.

Some reported having deep thoughts like thinking about the future goals and even writing about the goals they wanted to achieve next year. 7 students reported either concentrating more on their studies and in class or spending time reading.

All in all, T.V was the least missed media outlet while the phone was the most missed one.

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“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

Sooo…. What’s new media? Anyone? Oh yeh, I can hear pretty interesting stuff out there. New media or social media includes youtube,skype, facebook, twitter, blogging…. what else??? MySpace Digg…New Media led to the emergence of citizen journalism where each person regardless of his position or profession can have a say! It also increased the interaction between the audience and producer of the news event where more chance of  expressing different ideas is now possible with new media. The BBC started offering courses online for people willing to learn about it see this: http://www.bbctraining.com/newMedia.asp.

Part of lausocial class taught by Mr. Ayman Itani at LAU where we learnt about everything related to new media like blogging, tweeting, and live covering events and conferences, we had to do a project entitled “What Does New Media Mean to You?” As mentioned in my previous blog post, we had to interview three persons of different age groups and inquire about their uses of new media and in what ways it is affecting their daily lives.

Observations:

Tala Bekdash:

She was influenced by her home environment where every family member has a facebook account. That’s why she registered for a facebook account. She is also cautious in using it. When strangers added her on facebook, she consulted her older sister. Part of the movie wasn’t there because after struggling hard to find a good video convertor in order to convert the video file recognized by windows video maker, I realized that half of the video wasn’t there. The missing part included asking her if her parents sit with her when using facebook. She said that nobody sits with her and that “I know what’s right and what’s wrong to do online”.

Caroline Hodroj:

Although she misunderstood the first question, she gave me an in depth perspective about the positive and negative effects of new media and she considered that its positive effects outweigh it negative effects. Although she focuses on the new media more, she still prefers getting the news from traditional media outlets.

Ahmad Shatila:

He doesn’t consider new media important and doesn’t use it very frequently although he has an iphone and maybe he isn’t aware that iphones are considered part of new media. He also said that the new media didn’t have much impact on his profession and he will definitely monitor his children when they’ll use the new media.

Similarities:Both Dr. Shatila and Ms. Hodroj responses were similar regarding the issue of one’s privacy with new media where they emphasized the fact that one has the choice to either reveal private things about him or not. They both prefer getting the news from traditional media outlets. Dr. Shatila and Tala Bekdash referred to importance of parental supervision when kids use new media. Tala Bekdash referred to an incident where she had to call her sister and consult her regarding strangers adding her on facebook. I found also that all use the new media mainly for entertainment and socializing.

Differences:Dr. Shatila aged 47 years old doesn’t use it very frequently while both Tala and Caroline use it on a daily basis. Among the three interviewees, Caroline Hodroj showed much enthusiasm and comprehension of the new media and its effects.

Techniques Used:

I used my phone to record and I regretted it later on because my windows video maker doesn’t accept the video file my phone has so I had to find a suitable video convertor. The first one ruined my audio. The second convertor didn’t give good quality picture. The third time I was fed up; I used a convertor that only converted half of my video. I missed certain significant parts of the video, but I was late then and I had no choice… Then I transferred them to my PC and I uploaded 2 of my videos (Dr.Shatila and Ms. Hodroj) that didn’t need significant editing to youtube and I started adding captions using Captiontube (http://captiontube.appspot.com/) and adding annotations as introductions and final credits and I published them. I enjoyed subtitling my videos and it was really easy to do. Tala Bekdash’s video needed editing and I previously said suffered from the conversion problem. I worked on windows movie maker and then I uploaded it to youtube and voila… The easiest thing was actually recording the interviewees and the most difficult part as you have noticed so far from my previous comments was the video conversion.

My favorite part of this project is actually having my own Youtube channel with videos that I’ve prepared myself although from a technical perspective, the videos weren’t that good. I think also that the unprofessional thing I did is that asking questions that my interviewees had hard time elaborating on. What I didn’t like about the project is the whole converting process that I mentioned above that was very annoying and because of which I lost significant parts of Tala’s interview. In conclusion, I consider this experience as a start for a real assessment of new media’s uses among the Lebanese. We, as lausocial class, could later on move further to conduct research about new media’s uses in Lebanon and people’s preferences and we could also engage in workshops dedicated for new media literacy.

I know that I was very late to submit my project, but it’s better late than never!

Here are the links of the videos in case the” video embed” thing didn’t work:

Tala’s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOaGwvBsYVA     Caroline’s:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Og0g784lrrw  Dr. Ahmad’s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i27ZfFed54k

Media, especially the new media, is a crucial political and social networking tool that constitutes a potent element in shaping the culture, our lifestyles, and even the foreign policies. Political parties, social movements, religious organizations, and even extremist groups were quick to make use of this new information and communication media, the social media. Given its present day significance in international politics, its impact seems uncertain in the Arab world since the Arab world lags behind most of the rest in the world in using the internet. The “Arab Knowledge Report 2009: Towards Productive Intercommunication for Knowledge” indicated that there were only 10 internet users per thousand of population in 2006 each in Yemen and Djibouti, 30 in Mauritania, 70 in Algeria, 80 in each Egypt and Syria, and 90 in Sudan …etc

Where do Arabs stand in relevance to use of new media? In my project “What does New Media mean to you?”, I’m going to interview three Lebanese people of different professions and age groups to see whether new media is part of their daily lives and their uses of it.

What make the use of the internet somewhat difficult in the Arab world are censorship and the tightened governmental controls. For instance, Facebook was banned in Iran and Syria. The SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom (Samir Kassir Eyes) has issued its annual report on the issues related to the freedom of the media and culture, which the center monitored in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan in 2009. The report indicated that the media and cultural scene in Lebanon in 2009 was characterized by a mass layoff of journalists and that the Lebanese culture is still in the crosshairs of censorship. In my project, I’m going also to ask the interviewees about whether censorship of new media is an issue to them and what they are doing about it (if they have faced any situation like this).

The interviewees are:

–          Dr. Ahmad Shatila, 47 years old. He is a pediatrician and has a big family. He has a teenage girl Tala, 14 years old, Dana of 8 years old, adorable TRIPLET aged 6 years old, Yasmeen, Farah, and Mohammad, and the cute Tarek aged 4 years old! I chose him because first I would like to know how parents guide their children in using the new media. He has a facebook account and an iphome and he is aware of the new media.

 I would like also to ask him:

1- On the scale from 1-10, how do you rate your new media’s (i.e using facebook, twitter, youtube, flickr…) online activity?

2- How has the new media affected your profession?

3- Do you prefer getting the news from new media sources or from traditional media outlets?

4- Do any of your children use the new media? If yes, do you monitor them?

5- Do you think that one’s privacy is vanishing with the new media?

 

–          Caroline Hodroj, in her early twenties, is a journalism student at LAU. I chose her because she is in the field of media and she prefers getting the news from new media sources and internet rather than watching T.V. (Just found out that she likes the new media but prefers getting the news from traditional media outlets)

I would like to ask her:

1- On the scale from 1-10, how do you rate your new media’s (i.e using facebook, twitter, youtube, flickr…) online activity?

2- How has the new media affected your academic and social life?

3- Do you prefer getting the news from new media sources or from traditional media outlets?

4- Do you think that one’s privacy is vanishing with the new media?

5- Do you feel that there are certain limitations to your online activity and presence? What do you think about new media censorship? Does it exist?

–          Tala Bekdash, 8 years old. She had a facebook account when she was only 7 years old. She sneaks into her living room where the computer is and starts downloading games from the internet.

Tala Bekdash

I would like to ask her:

1-      How many hours do you spend using the internet/new media (facebook…) per day?

2-      Do your parents sit with you when you use facebook or when you download games?

3-      Do you prefer calling your friends by phone or chatting online?

4-      Do you face any privacy issues? Do your parents stalk you?

5-      How did your use of facebook affect your relations and communication with others?

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/

 

On Friday, I had a meeting with a person I met through Soliya’s Connect Program sessions online. He is Harry Baumgarten that decided to make a tour around the Middle East and currently is in Lebanon. He said that this is his first big travel experience and that he views it as a natural progression from our Soliya experience which encouraged him to consider the need for personal relationships to help deconstruct the myths and misconceptions which permeate U.S-Middle East relations and help widen his understanding. Simply put, Soliya Connect program is a program that uses new media and communication technologies to connect young people from around the world. In our sessions, we held discussions about the Western-Muslim relations and the present day conflicts in a rich online environment utilizing the latest in “social media” and learning technologies. On Friday, we discussed Lebanese politics and Israeli-Lebanese relations and he was pleased that he now had a broader understanding of Lebanese politics and culture. I introduced him to some of my friends. He said that Lebanon is the most country in the Middle East that he felt relaxed in and enjoyed. I hope that I’ve presented a good image about the Middle East. As in this case, Soliya literally brought us together.  Social media is really awesome!

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