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CIA Tweeting its Funny Side to The World – Arab News

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via adamr/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

They knew how to play it smart; they were funny and relevant. All it took them was one tweet, less than 140 characters to gather followers at an unprecedented speed. In about five hours, around 200,000 followed them and more than 440,000 in the first 24 hours.

You probably know whom I am talking about; it is the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States. The first tweet went like that: “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.” It proved to be a small stone that generated waves on the social media platform.

Apparently, Americans are responding to funny tweets. That is not only a guess, a report generated by Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange noted that “Americans are more likely than the average global citizen to share funny rather than important content,” as published on Forbes. A similar study on Saudi Twitter users would not yield that different results, OK that is a guess, but it is backed by simple evidence, most of Saudi stars on the social network are those whom some would like to call “funny.” That is understandable in my opinion, many consider Twitter as an escape, an opportunity to change the mood and break away from the routine. In a bid to do so, they prefer something light and funny.

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Posted by on June 10, 2014 in Articles, Social Media

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Waiting for our Team to Win World Cup – Arab News

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via http://bostinno.streetwise.co/not related to Arab News

Within a few days, most of the people across the world will be gathering around their television sets to watch 32 nations competing for the World Cup on the playgrounds of Brazil.

Depending on one’s perspective, call it the magic of or the craziness for football that brings the whole world together. After every four years, history is updated and new records are made. This is a special event when victories are lived, defeats suffered, people shed tears of joy and pain and screams and hugs are shared. Tales of love and glory are born on these playing fields and fame and fortune follow thereafter.

It is fascinating to see that while the whole world is passionately awaiting the start of the games, Brazilians themselves are not. A research by Pew Research Center (published in the New York Times) found that 61 percent of the respondents see the World Cup as bad for the country because it is taking funds from health and education projects. Only 34 people consider this mega event as an economic opportunity. Furthermore, after about a year of huge protests denouncing the World Cup organization, 47 percent consider those demonstrations good for bringing to light important issues facing the country, while 48 percent consider it damaging to the country’s image internationally. 35 percent see the World Cup as a good chance to enhance the country’s image, 39 percent expect it to worsen the image even further, and 23 percent were of the view that it would make no difference.

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Posted by on June 9, 2014 in Articles, Culture

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Watch Out What You Do in the Cyberspace! – Arab News

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via Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

IN the days of the Internet, it seems that every step we make, every word we say, every photo we take, every opinion we express and every situation go through gets immortalized. Once it reaches the Internet, it is destined to stay, either to perpetuate something good you have done, or to scandalize you for years to come.

Such kind of information, about us, our lives and those around us, is inhibiting the dark shadows of the Internet. Nesting calmly under the warmth of a server somewhere out there, it could be few kilometers away, or way across the globe. And the tools to fetch that information, to track it and to hunt for it deep in the digital world to bring them back into light are search engines.

Go ahead and write your name in any of the popular search engines and you would be directed to links attached to you; your Twitter or Facebook accounts, and maybe some news links to statements you had made few years ago about a project you were supervising but never found its way to daylight.

In one way or another; Internet will never forget!

However, Europeans do not seem to like that. Around the mid of May, the European Union’s Court of Justice has ruled that Google must listen and even comply, when regular individuals ask for certain links to be removed. A surprising decision that Google has received with “disappointment.” Out of no where, the search engine giant could find itself overwhelmed with thousands of requests to remove links and articles from its search results for personal reasons.

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Posted by on June 3, 2014 in Articles

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Don’t Believe Everything You Read or Watch – Arab News

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The word “study” has a glamorous ring to it. Put it in a sentence, followed by a name of a western university and to many people, it becomes a universal truth or not that different from Newton’s laws of motion.

When catchy statements like “Diet soda helps weight loss; Diet Soda is better than water for weight loss” start to fly around, you should instantly feel that there is something fishy. The study contradicts some very basic knowledge that it is next to impossible to take it at its face value; how a carbonated, chemically altered beverage be better than a basic human need like water.

Of course the next step would be trying to go a bit deeper beyond the headline and try to figure out how the study reached its results. That did not happen around here of course. I cannot totally blame the individuals behind the flood of Tweets and WhatsApp messages sharing it, but I would certainly blame the news channels.

The study that lasted for 12 weeks over 300 participants does not give much. It is more of an experiment rather than a detailed, well evident study. It goes like this: 300 obese participants listed in a weight control program were randomly divided into two groups; one group was asked to avoid drinking any beverage other than water, and the second group was allowed to consume diet sodas besides water. At the end of the study, the group allowed to consume the diet sodas had lost about 13 pounds (close to 6 kilos) on an average, and the water- only group had lost around 9 pounds (around 4 kilos) on an average, and … that’s it. The study gives nothing more to describe its findings.

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Posted by on June 2, 2014 in Articles

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Beware! Selfie Can Land You in Trouble – Arab News

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via Roberto Sohmidt/AFP via cnn.com/not related to Arab News

YOU do not need to dress up, add any touches to the way you look to snap it. Whether in formal or informal situations, in a bathroom or in a meeting room, in a wedding or at a funeral, your commonsense and good judgment is the only thing that could stop from taking your phone out, extend your arms and take a selfie.

If the name of the game is social media networks these days, then a selfie is a major player in that game.
“Selfie” found its way to the dictionary in 2013 when the online version of Oxford Dictionary accepted it as a new word in the English language. The word means a self-portrait, a very common expression between photographers. 

Some of the resources suggest that the first ever self-portrait or selfie, was taken in the 19th Century, in 1839 by Robert Cornelius, an US photographer to be more exact.

However, the act of taking self photos, a lot of them, was getting popular along with the popularity of social media platforms themselves. Such photos started to appear repeatedly on MySpace and Facebook during the last decade. The exact word, selfie, began to appear in 2005, and some resources connect the term to the US designer and photographer Jim Krause.

As social media networks like Instagram, Twitter, Tumbler and Path got famous the word also gained popularity. By the end of 2012, selfie was chosen as one of the top 10 buzzwords by the Time Magazine.

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Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Articles, Social Media

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To Love, Or Not To Love One’s Job – Arab News

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Even if I want to, it would be impossible to count the times I hear the phrase “employment is the new slavery.” It is repeatedly used, especially by self-proclaimed entrepreneurs and “get a better life” coaches; it is recited with such confidence resembling a talk about a scientifically proven fact, and audience are accepting it as if it is the ultimate truth of life.

This approach to work usually comes hand in hand with another popular advice “do what you love,” hinting that happiness and self fulfillment are impossible to achieve unless a person decided to do what he loves, as a profession.

Such argument begs a very basic question: Why do we have to work in the first place? There are a lot of theories and discussions trying to answer this question; the shortest answer is … necessity. A person needs to work because “it is necessary” for him to earn an income to support himself and his family, and one has to work to keep society functioning; “it is necessary” for the individuals living in that society to work and be productive. Whether an electrician, a CEO, a waiter, or an actor, you submit to the exact same force of necessity. Even if you present yourself as an entrepreneur who started from zero, at the end of the day, you should be providing something others need and they simply pay you for it; the very basic building block of modern economy.

Now, encompassing “the necessity to work” in such emotional format could be misleading. What does it mean to love your job anyway? You enjoy doing it, you might respond. In other words, believers in such mantra are saying that it is your “own pleasure” that should dictate the necessity of you to work, not the value you are adding, not the difference you are making in the society. Do not you think it is narcissistic tendency that deems a job likeable only due to the pleasant feeling it produces! Miya Tokumitsu in her article in the Jacobin Magazine, “In the name of love,” wrote, “While ‘do what you love’ sounds harmless and precious, it is ultimately self-focused to the point of narcissism.”

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Do You Know Everything About Social Media? – Arab News

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via stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

HOW many social media platforms do you subscribe to? An easy bet would be saying that you are subscribed to 3-5 platforms. You are aware of the most popular ones in the region and in the rest of the world: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Path, and WhatsApp. 

However, you might be shocked over the actual number of social networking websites and applications available out there. It is a whole universe of them and the ones we are familiar with are like a couple of planets in a huge galaxy. Networks built around music, movies, languages, comics and books are just few examples.

What I am trying to say here is that do not assume that you know everything about social media networks, actually, no one does! This fact is of great importance if you are using social media platforms in your business. 

Social media platforms are dynamic; not only they are evolving, but their users’ behavior is also continuously changing. 

From time to time, findings of various researches surprise us, requiring us to rethink, to re-examine our understanding of the networks we think we are so familiar with.

One of the findings came about a year ago. Believe it or not, the fastest growing demographic on Twitter is not teenagers or young adults as you might assume, it is the adults between the ages of 55 to 64 years. This demographic has grown by 79 percent since 2012.

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Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Articles, Social Media

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Make Libraries Part of Our Culture – Arab News

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via Phaitoon/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

I have a confession to make; I have not been to a public library since my graduation from the university and that was around 10 years ago. For someone who loves books and reading, I find that embarrassing if not shocking.

However, in my defense, and on behalf of all book lovers in the Kingdom, it is not in our hands. The sad truth is that public libraries are not part of our infrastructure or should I dare say they are not part of our culture!

If science and literature have homes, then it is these libraries. Between those walls embracing thousands of books, neatly arranged on shelves, wonder is born; the love to discover, to create, to travel between pages, to sit quietly and open your minds and souls to new knowledge, is developed. 

In the libraries, talents are sharpened, ideas shaped, experiments designed and a pact for loving knowledge is forged. 
“It isn’t just a library,” Isaac Asimov, the distinguished American writer once said, “It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you — and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.”

The relationship between a Saudi and a library is, let’s put it this way, anemic. Back to the school days, the school library is a luxury not all schools can afford. If you were not a student in a private school, or a public school with a moderate library, most probably you have not been to a library till you became a university student. And even if your school hosted a library, I bet the relationship between you and the school library is surrounded by a lot of fear and bureaucratic prominence. I remember been a couple of times only to the library in my public intermediate school, and every time I’ve been there with my fellow students, it was like visiting a nuclear plant; do not touch anything, stay away from this and that. Schools keep those libraries for prestige rather than for educational purposes. They know that if anything happened to those libraries, they will never get the required budget to maintain them or uplift them.

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Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Articles

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Social Media and ‘The Culture of Humiliation’ – Arab News

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via Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net/not related to Arab News

Monica Lewinsky — does it ring a bell? If you were born in the 90s, then the name might not mean a lot to you, but if you were born before that, then I am sure it does. Lewinsky was the star of the most sensational story the world had witnessed in its recent history; the story of the illicit relationship between a White House intern and the most powerful man living in that house, the president of the United States, himself!

After about 10 years since her last public appearance, Lewinsky is back with an article she wrote for the Vanity Fair magazine. In the article, she discusses the consequences of the scandal that she had to deal with and live through all these years. Of course, this is not the reason such a story would make it to a page like this talking about technology and social media. It is here because she touched, so eloquently, a very hot topic that is related to social media in her article; a topic she called “the culture of humiliation.”

In her article, she described a situation in a Copper Union event, back in 2001, where she was “thunderstruck” by a comment so humiliating made in such a public setup, and she takes that as a starting point to tackle how such a comment would have been different if it was made in today’s world where social media is the name of the game.

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Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Articles

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Studying Pros and Cons of Digital Activism – Arab News

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via Stuart Miles/freedigitalmedia.net/not related to Arab News

While going through your Twitter in the morning, a hashtag could stop you for a second. The next moment you would be participating, either cheering or bashing the cause. As it starts in seconds, it ends in a similar fashion and one moves on with the rest of his/her day feeling good about taking part in some national or international cause.

Digital activism, or cyber activism, is defined as the use of Internet tools, especially of social media platforms like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc, to promote certain ideas and gather support around certain causes.

Some of these causes are international, they call for that distinct human nature to appear and gather around. The abduction of schoolgirls in Nigeria can be cited as a good example. Within a few days, the hashtag supporting the case (#BringBackOurGirls) has been tweeted and re-tweeted millions of times. A lot of political figures and celebrities jumped in the stream, calling for justice, alerting for human trafficking and discussing women rights. 

The other type of causes is usually ideological; promoting certain ideas and ethical codes. Such issues stir controversies and randomly lead to deep reflection and fruitful discussions. 

However, there is one theme that mostly all digital activism causes fall under; they are subjective. They appear on the public radar once certain celebrities or influential people adopt them. Interestingly, it is a mechanism so similar to how classical media functions; there are few “subjective” reports that make the headlines. 

Boko Haram, the group behind the abduction of girls in Nigeria, again serves as a good example. While the group caught world attention because of the innocent girls involved, similar cases have never been able to gather such momentum because simply influential people did not highlight them. 

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Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Social Media

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