Overview of #DigitalDiplomacy Discussion at AUB

L-R: Ross, Fletcher, Leach. More photos here.

On November 30th 2012, a debate tackling digital diplomacy was held at the Issam Fares Hall in the American University of Beirut. This debate featured three social media "rock stars": Alec Ross, Senior Innovation Advisor to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; HMA Tom Fletcher, British Ambassador to Lebanon and Jimmy Leach, Senior Associate at Portland Communications. Indeed, the presence of Ross in Lebanon was a great opportunity that the Online Collaborative did not want to miss and thus we decided to confront him with the British Ambassador, whose online presence cannot be neglected.

The debate started with a welcome note by the Chief Collaborator, Mohammad Hijazi, followed by Leach's introduction to the discussion. After that, Ross and Fletcher pointed out the importance of social media in the 21st Century, while stressing on real facts such as the effect of the social media on the political world. They shared their own stories with social media and proved that this phenomenon is a new tool for democracy. Leach ended with a presentation showing statistics and figures that translated the popularity of social media among the different categories of people in the MENA region. For example, Lebanon's top 50 tweeters are 12% activists, 72% journalists and 12% politicians, while worldwide, the numbers are 38% activists 36% journalists only 12% politicians.

The audience engaged with this discussion by updating tweeps on Twitter with the #DigitalDiplomacy hashtag. Between 11am and 1.30pm, 450 tweets were recorded holding the event’s hashtag. The tweets not only reported what the tweeps found funny, interesting or just worth sharing, they asked the diplomats questions as well and commented on the overall of the topic of the event. The top tweet of that evening was @HMATomFletcher’s “Diplomacy is Darwinian. What does Naked Diplomat need? Smartphone, thick skin, open mind. Right kit, right courage. #digitaldiplomacy” retweeted 30 times and favored 6 times.

Then, it was the audience’s turn to ask questions for the speakers. Many subjects were brought up such as online anonymity, the militarization of the Internet, transparency, etc. Some questions handled Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and one of them was “Are you the control freaks that cannot handle WikiLeaks out there?”. Alec Ross responded to that question describing the situation as a house theft where a person cannot but be a control freak. He considered WikiLeaks as an act of theft. 

Another question was about how businesses can utilize social media effectively. The answer from Leach was “content is the important, you should be active on social media”. In addition to that, an audience member asked whether cyberspace was the new place for conflict rather than a place to fix things up. Fletcher responded to that question: In fact, at the beginning the social media was described as the fourth warfare ground after terrain, air and water. 

As for the question that tackled anonymity, Fletcher responded by stating examples where social media was actually a ground to fix things up like Syrian tweeps’ anonymity to report news, and another example about online trolls. Ross emphasized that the social media is in fact a place for a better world: in 2011 the US gathered forty million dollars for Haiti’s earthquake victims by gathering ten dollars from each person on social media.

Social Media 101 Workshop Registration for AUB Students, Faculty and Staff

Due to logistical reasons and unforeseen turn of events, the SM101 workshop has been postponed until further notice.
You will be informed of the new date, time and location of the workshop ahead of time for you to be able to take part of it.

Stay tuned!

Digital Diplomacy Interactive Discussion: British Ambassador & Senior Innovation Adviser to Clinton

On behalf of the British and American Embassies in Lebanon, Online Collaborative requests your pleasure at an interactive discussion with:
  • Tom Fletcher, the British Ambassador to Lebanon 
  • Alec Ross, Senior Adviser for Innovation to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
  • Jimmy Leach, Senior Associate at Portland Communications

Date: Friday, November 30th, 2012
Time: 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Place: Issam Fares Hall - American University of Beirut.

The event is free of charge and all are welcome!

Secure your spot by clicking ATTENDING on Facebook!

Tom Fletcher was born in Kent, and studied at Harvey Grammar School (Folkestone) and Oxford University (Hertford College), graduating with a First class degree in Modern History. He has an MA in Modern History, and is a Senior Associate Member of St Anthony’s College for International Studies, Oxford.
He is married to Louise Fletcher and they have two sons, Charles (born 2006) and Theodor (born 2011). Tom enjoys political history, cricket (Strollers CC), and mountains, and is the co-founder of 2020 (a progressive think tank).
Tom was awarded the Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the 2011 New Year’s Honours, for services to the Prime Minister.
Twitter: @HMATomFletcher

Alec Ross (born November 30, 1971) is Senior Advisor for Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a role created for him that blends technology with diplomacy. As Secretary Clinton's "tech guru," Ross is leading the State Department's efforts to find practical technology solutions for some of the globe's most vexing problems on health care, poverty, human rights and ethnic conflicts. In 2010 Ross was named one of 40 leaders under 40 years old in International Development, and Huffington Post included him in their list of 2010 Game Changers as one of 10 “game changers” in politics. He is also one of Politico's 50 Politicos to Watch as one of “Five people who are bringing transformative change to the government.” Foreign Policy magazine named Ross a Top Global Thinker in 2011. Profiled in 2011, Time Magazine describes how Ross is incorporating digital platforms into the daily lives of U.S. diplomats and his support of programs to train activists in the Middle East. Time Magazine also named Alec Ross one of the best Twitter feeds of 2012. In 2012, Newsweek named Alec to their Digital Power Index Top 100 influencers, listing him among other “public servants defining digital regulatory boundaries.”
Twitter: @AlecJRoss

Jimmy Leach is a senior digital advisor for Portland Communications, director for digital engagement at Gems Education and head of Social Media at Unbound. Prior to that he was head of digital diplomacy at the Foreign Office, and head of digital comms at the Prime Minister’s Office and director for digital at The Independent.
Twitter: @PortlandComms

Media Partners for TEDxBeirut

Online Collaborative is proud to announce that it is a media partner for TEDxBeirut which is taking place on Saturday November 17, 2012 at the UNESCO palace.

TEDxBeirut is a full-day conference happening on Saturday, November 17th, 2012 with 16 speakers and performers; curated from thought leaders in the Middle East and abroad, as well as grassroot speakers sharing their inspiring stories. TEDxBeirut includes breakfast, lunch, and a coffee-break.

Furthermore, over 1,000 attendees will take part in the numerous activities and interactive opportunities planned throughout the day. TEDxBeirut is an event like no other, bringing together a community of like-minded individuals driven by powerful ideas, remarkable talents, and the desire to share their inspiration

All this is happening here in Beirut, and it’s happening on the 17th of November! Visit the TEDxBeirut website to learn more.

Video: Overview of University for Seniors Courses

In partnership with the University for Seniors at AUB and after the success of last year's Introduction of Social Media course for seniors (and the impressive mention on Mashable), AUB's Online Collaborative is offering two courses for the Fall of 2012-13 for senior citizens (age 50 and above).

Computer Literacy for Seniors (CMPL 001)
This is a basic introductory course to computers and technology for people who do not have any knowledge about operating a computer. Course material will cover an introduction to personal computing, hardware, software, operating system tools and Windows applications, word processing, web browsing and email. 

Introduction to Social Media for Seniors (CMPL 002)
This is a more advanced course for people who want to learn about social media and social networking sites. The material will emphasize the proper usage of social media and a discussion on the importance and drawbacks of such tools on society. The course will cover a basic introduction of how society is utilizing social media, using Facebook and Twitter, searching for and creating blogs and a brief overview of other emerging social networks.

Filmed and edited by: Mohammad Hijazi using a Galaxy Tab

Computer Literacy for Seniors

Now that everything is digitized. almost all of us own a laptop or any other smart device that could organize our day to day work. Nowadays, it is almost impossible to find someone not present on Whatsapp or any other social media platform. That makes us wonder about the ones who were not caught in this global phenomenon and were born before this digital revolution. Is it too late for them to cope and go with the flow? Lebanese families usually have at least one relative living abroad and we all know grandparents have to make sure their children are having good meals every day. The answer? The simplest and most common software; Skype! But to use Skype, first seniors should learn how to use its basic processor; the computer.

This is how the Online Collaborative crew of the American University of Beirut in cooperation with University for Seniors has designed this “Computer Literacy for Beginners” course that tackles the basics of the computer. 

The seniors showed a lot of enthusiasm and were very interested at the first lecture. Some introduced themselves and introduced their interest in that course saying those exact words; “I came to this course because I know nothing about the computer, and my grandchildren use the computer very well so I want to be up to date as well”, or “My children live abroad and I want to learn how to use the computer so I could be able to talk to them.” 

Ayman Jalloul, Treasurer of AUB’s Online Collaborative and instructor of the Computer Literacy course, was very excited for his first lecture as well. He was well prepared, and the class interacted with him pretty well. 

They asked a lot of question and that is what made the class more vibrant. The course is made up of 6 sessions; they are condensed and straight to the point. And remember; it is never too late! Better later than never.

More photos here

Introduction to Social Media for Seniors

On Wednesdays from 4:00 pm till 6:00 pm, the Online Collaborative offers a "Social Media for Beginners" course for seniors enrolled in University for Seniors. After last week's introductory session, this Wednesday’s session kicked off with Weam Al Awar (president of AUB's Online Collaborative) summarizing a bit what the seniors have learned the week before, and then he introduced the topic of the day: Learning how to use Facebook.

A conversation then broke-in after a senior commented on the rapid growth of technology: comparing the computer she used to work on back in the 70s to a Pepsi fridge. Now, everything is tiny, super fast and easy. This led to a small talk about Moore’s law and then each senior was dismissed to a computer waiting eagerly to learn how to use Facebook.

The seniors were all excited and had their happy and child-like face on while either seeing their first glimpse of Facebook, or just checking their usual news feed eager to learn more about all the buttons and pictures out there. The Online Collaborative team and the seniors were not alone, Al Hurra TV was following the seniors and joined us to film a documentary about UfS.

Al Hurra documenting

Weam explained to them what the news feed in Facebook is; your very own street filled with your friend’s “shops” and your own too. He explained what the “like”, “comment” and “share” buttons are and what they mean, and finally what the timeline is.

Each student had one assignment to do during class: tell the world (or themselves) what’s on their minds. At the end of the day, their friend request list was full and so was their notification. Each friended the other and each liked the “assignment” of the other, some even commented on them welcoming them to Facebook.

AUBOC Announces Committee Officers for 2012-2013

After the First General Assembly, members of AUB's Online Collaborative interested in becoming Officers of the club's committees were called for interviews. Those committees are as follows: Community Service, Event Planning/Workshops, Management/HR, Marketing/PR, and News Reporting. Interviewees presented their credentials and specified the committee they would like to become Officers of. The cabinet then selected the Officers based on criteria developed prior to the interviews. The results are as follows:

 Community Service: Hani Farah

Hani Farah is a Biology senior student with a passion for both science and technology and everything they have to offer. With just over 3 years of experience with the AUB Red Cross, he loves giving back to the community and believes the AUBOC has great potential to have an enormous positive impact on the society we live in. Hani can be found on almost every single social media platform but mainly on Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare. Follow him on Twitter @han1farah and stay up to date with his blog: hanifarah.blogspot.com

Event Planning/Workshops: Aline Chirinian

One of the first members of AUB's Online Collaborative, Aline stumbled upon the wonderful world of Social Media a couple of years ago and has been an addict ever since. She runs one of Lebanon's first personal fashion blogs, Nouchaline, where she shares her slight obsession with shoes and nail polish with the world. She is currently in her senior year at AUB studying Business Administration - with an emphasis in Marketing, and a diploma in Media Communication. Twitter: @Nouchaline

Management/HR: Alfred Naayem

Alfred Naayem, yet another AUB freshman, is a tech enthusiast with great experience as a web developer and security specialist. When he's not geeking around the web, he enjoys scuba diving, cooking, sampling the world's finest cuisine, and, most importantly, long walks on the beach. His recent involvement with AUB's Online Collaborative is due to his admiration for the power of social media in marketing and public outreach. Twitter: @pulpish

Marketing/PR: Michelle Jo Daou

After a long journey of transferring majors, Michelle Jo Daou finally found her passion in Public Administration and Public Policy. She hopes to be able to make a change somewhere in the world someday. She loves going out and meeting people, but at the same time, she equally loves staying at home in front of her computer. Michelle is extremely persistent and very opinionated, and will do the impossible to achieve her goals. She believes that hard work pays off. Twitter: @michelledaou

News Reporting: George Zakhour

George Zakhour is a self-proclaimed geek. He’s a hardcore programmer and is passionate about math, which is why he chose Computer Science as his major. His philosophy in the virtual world is Open Source, that is why he started his blog where he shares his experiences, thoughts, pet programs’ documentation, and sometimes his rage. He uses many social networks such as Facebook, Twitter (@AlloGeorge), Vimeo, GithubGeeklist,  and many more. He designed and developed his own website and many other social applications. George dreams about changing the virtual experience and making the new Facebook. That is what interests him in social media and what got him to Online Collaborative.

First General Assembly 2012 - 2013

On Tuesday October 9th 2012 AUB’sOnline Collaborative held their First General Assembly of the academic year 2012-2013. The cabinet of AUB’s Online Collaborative welcomed the members that filled the auditorium. Weam El-Awar, President of AUBOC started introducing the cabinet: Omar Aridi (Vice-president), Ayman Jalloul (Treasurer), Ali El Dali (Public Relations) and Nour Rifai (Secretary). He then introduced the club advisor Dr. Leila Khauli Hanna, Mohammad Hijazi the founder of AUBOC and Chief Collaborator of the Online Collaborative NGO, and the board of the NGO.

Shot by @JimRamK: @weam_al introducing @AUBOC

After that small introduction, members introduced themselves and briefly stated the reason that made them join the club. They also explained what “Social Media” meant according to them. After that, Weam gave a more specific definition and giving examples of Social Media platforms. He continued by stating the goals and missions of AUBOC. These goals were clarified by a timeline showing AUBOC’s previous and future events.

For organizational purposes, members are divided into five sub-committees; each sub-committee is supervised by a member of the cabinet and has an officer. These five sub-committees were introduced during the meeting and members the sub-committees they want to be in. Also, they were nominated themselves as officers to a certain sub-committee of their choice. Interviews for officers are to be held on Tuesday October 15th.

As social media addicts, the members and the cabinet didn’t forget to live-tweet the General Assembly using the hash tag #AUBOC! It was a great start of the new academic year, as there only remain a few steps before great events start commencing. 

Below are the slides from the assembly.

Overview of Share Beirut

Picture this: A warehouse in the middle of an industrial area transformed into a conference room where intellectuals and Internet passionate gathered to share their Internet related stories with a very interested audience. Because that’s what SHARE is about after all: sharing ideas, knowledge and creativity.

This weekend-long event started Friday October 5th with an opening party on the roof of Solea V, a warehouse in Sin el Fil. The following days were all about conferences with speakers from all around the world, tackling various subjects such as Internet security, empowerment of individuals, censorship, diversity, creation, technology, music and science but also the absence of Internet. Indeed, Abigal H Tar, a Cuban alternative filmmaker and blogger talked about the inaccessibility of Internet in Cuba. She explained that the only way to access Internet there is through a dial-up connection (which is very expensive, 1$ per minute) and thus very few people use it.

Maya Zankoul, a Lebanese graphic designer and illustrator captured the attention of the audience with her remarkable presentation. She shared her success story explaining how she switched from a simple blog where she shared her comics about typical Lebanese anecdotes, to publishing her drawings in the form of a book that made it to the “Top 5” at Virgin Megastore!

First 2012-2013 General Assembly

AUB's Online Collaborative will be hosting its first general assembly for this year on Tuesday October 9, 2012 at 6:30 PM in West Hall Auditorium C (Third floor).

During the meeting:
  • Members will get to meet each other.
  • Members will get introduced to the AUBOC cabinet, adviser and mission/objectives.
  • Discussions will be held regarding SMCL 2 (Social Media Changing Lives), our yearly conference, events and workshops for this year (so bring your creative ideas and suggestions).
  • Nominations will be will be taken for sub-committee officers
Registered members are required to attend the first meeting.

P.S. Bring your AUB friends even if they are not registered yet. They may fill a membership form during the meeting.

Also, like our Facebook page in order to stay in contact with the club’s members and up-to-date with the AUB OC’s latest news and confirm your attendence on the General Assembly's Facebook event. We hope to see you there! :)

#Digiconflb Tweetup: Where Online Collaboration meets Diplomacy

The British Embassy in Lebanon along with the Online Collaborative had the pleasure to host a dinner tweet-up in honor of the 30 delegates of British Embassies from all across the Middle East & North Africa region this Wednesday, October fifth.

The dinner took place at Amarres in Zaitunay Bay. The British Ambassador to Lebanon HMA Tom Fletcher, the delegates, media figures, a group of influential tweeps in Lebanon and distinguished members of Online Collaborative enjoyed the delicious food sponsored by Amarres Bistro & Cafe Fran├žaisAttending delegates from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, India, Jerusalem, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, SyriaTunisia, and the U.A.E., found the tweetup an opportunity to collaborate with each other, and with the Online Collaborative teams. 

Prior to having dinner, the British Ambassador to Lebanon HMA Tom Fletcher gave a brief speech about how important social media is becoming, especially in this area of the world. He stressed on the idea that the current generation holds the key to a brighter future as it initiates the change. In addition to that, he also encouraged all attendees or “tweeplomats” as he called them, to network and collaborate, as there is a lot to learn from everyone. 

Furthermore, Weam Alawar, the president of AUB's Online Collaborative, presented the AUB OC cabinet members to the attendees. Everyone then enjoyed a wonderful meal thanks to our good friends and hosts at The Alleyway Group!

It is at the core of values of the Online Collaborative to elevate effective usage of Social Media, especially when it comes to diplomacy.

Check out the photos on Online Collaborative's and Amarres's facebook pages.

AUB's Online Collaborative Cabinet Members:
(L-R): Raghd Hamzeh, Ayman Jalloul, Mohammad Hijazi, Nour Rifaï, Weam El-Awar, HMA Tom Fletcher, Omar Z. Aridi and Ali El Dali

Board members of the Online Collaborative NGO:
(L-R) Ziad Kamel, Youssef Alam, Mohammad Hijazi, Darine Sabbagh, Walid Khalife, HMA Tom Fletcher, Garen Yepremian, Yasmine Hajjar, Weam El-Awar and Joseph Maalouf

HMA Tom Fletcher during his speech