Friday, April 26, 2013

Two cute little flies on the walls of...


... The Lebanese Parliament.

They saw it all and lived to tell.

You know I love Michelle and Noel Keserwany

These two gorgeous and talented young ladies seem to know how to do it all. They write their own lyrics, compose their own music and even animate their own videos! Gotta love multifaceted artists. 

And to top it all, they are always right! 

You do not believe me? 
Click on "play".


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Monday, April 8, 2013

My Second on the First


My Second blog post on The First Social Media Awards in Lebanon, that is.
(Very funny, I know)

I am actually loving the SMA because they are introducing me to a lot of what has been happening online, some interesting, some important (like the NGOs featured in two categories this year) and some really, really fun and many I had no idea were out there. Being a full-time mom-of-two, blablablah, blablablah, I do not get the chance to see everything and this is like a nice recap of the year.

Like the category I will speak of now: Most Engaging YouTube Video.

Some of the videos, I was familiar with, like:

BEIRUT DUTY FREE FLASH MOB: This may be the most popular Lebanese Flash Mob on the web. I think virtually everyone has seen it. I think even my 90 year old grand-mother has seen it (note to self: show the video to téta next time I visit, just in case).

MASHKAL AT KHOURY HOME: I just love that the minute I type "mashkal at", YouTube immediately gives me search suggestions like "mashkal at khoury home" and "mashkal at khoury". This just goes to show how popular this video is.

AMAL AL DAHOUK AT TEDxBEIRUT: This one, I had watched live from Dubai, during the online live stream on the TEDx site. I am a little disappointed I can only vote for one nominee in the NGO categories because TEDxBeirut totally deserved a vote as their work was impressive and outstanding.

THE STORY OF SOUAD: This one was brought to my attention following the tragic passing of Ali Abdallah who ironically enough became "visible" nation-wide for all the wrong reasons. As the Find Ali Abdallah campaign states so clearly: everyone should be visible, anywhere, anytime, just for being there. It should not be that hard. After all, everyone is indeed there. 

And as ashamed as I am to admit this painful truth, I had never seen the other videos nominated for Most Engaging YouTube Video... So here they are for your eyes only (if like me, you were hiding under a rock for the past year):

PROPOSAL FLASH MOB: It is an entertaining (but a little too long) video of a real surprise proposal at Beirut Souks and it made me smile, laugh at moments and most definitely sing!

PEPSI LEBANON SURPRISING ELIO: This one brought a whole lot of memories! I had no idea Pepsi still did the whole plastic cap giveaway thing! I can remember a time not so long ago (and by not so long ago I mean at least two decades - yikes!) when my sister, my brother and I would carefully collect these caps in hopes of winning, I cannot remember what but I know it was so very precious, it might have been a unicorn. All we did win every once in a while was a bottle of Pepsi but boy did it feel (taste?) like a freaking unicorn! There is nothing like winning ;)

OVERLY ATTACHED LEBANESE GIRLFRIEND: There should be a warning attached to this one! That poor girl can not sing! But she is so darn cute and funny, I just love her! I swear I was laughing the whole time I was watching! I know I am only using exclamation marks with this one, but it is because her whole performance felt (sounded) like an exclamation mark! So, so, so funny! And they do get an extra point for creativity on writing these lyrics. And she gets another point for singing the whole thing while acting nutty and remembering all her lines, all in one unedited single shot (anyone who works in media production will tell you, this is not easy). Oops, sorry, forgot the exclamation marks this time so here are three to make  up for my Alzheimer's!!!

Now I need to clarify something: as I type these words, I have not yet voted and I think I will use this post to analyze my possibilities and make an informed click.

I think it will be easier to filter the videos by categories. First the PR and TV Commercials "stunts":

Khoury Home, Beirut Duty Free and Pepsi were all interesting productions. But to a (super-modest) media person such as myself, this is exactly what they are: a production. All were good concepts and we know that for certain because none were innovations and all have been tried before, more than once. Unfortunately, they all were too obviously TV-Commercials-looking.

Khoury Home edited cameras from various angles into one film. That could have worked if they had bothered changing the time code every time they switched cameras/angles (or at least make the time code jump with each camera cut). Instead, they edited all the footage from all cameras and then (lazily) applied one single "security camera" effect on the whole thing. They also could have played with the audio a little to make it more realistic (this one was too clean).

To be honest, Pepsi in my opinion, tried too hard. They got this message on Facebook which was not that special by itself and they tried to spin it into one huge social action. Which it was not. I just did not buy the whole thing and again, it is only my humble opinion, but I think they could have used the budget to do an actual social good deed. (Do not get me wrong, I am happy for this kid but I am talking about the video and Pepsi's intention as a separate concept, completely unrelated to Elio himself who deserves all the best of course).     

Beirut Duty Free Flash Mob has got to be my favorite among the three because it is simply beautiful. It works perfectly with the brand and even uplifts it. I think even real unsuspecting travelers engaged in the dance (if they all are in on this, then they get extra points for really playing it well).

Now I am not saying Social Media is no arena for brands to advertise themselves, far from it. It may actually be the most important platform for corporations to get visibility and gain credibility nowadays. However, and I admit that is completely arbitrary and subjective, I would like to use my vote to place the spotlight on nominees that do not have big budgets or the means to be in the media all the time. So that is why I will stay away from the videos I feel are more like TV Commercials.

Which brings me to the second category: individual initiatives such as the Proposal and Overly Attached Girlfriend.

These are the reason why YouTube was invented. They may very well be the "You" in "YouTube". They made a video and they posted it online in hopes of going viral.

The Proposal could fall in the previous category because it was produced by a production house (unrelated to Beirut Souks as they thank the venue in the end credits) with the intention of promoting themselves obviously, but because they position themselves as "enthusiastic university graduates, (who) aim to assist NGOs with the delivery of their message in a new and creative way, by the mean of audio-visual tools." (Source: Facebook) I choose to not place them in the same basket as powerful, budget-ful (whatever, it is 2:50 am and I invent words now) companies. They are film people and it appears the crew behind Overly Attached Girlfriend is too. Clearly, they enjoy writing, performing and producing their own productions. In that concept, that means "Film People" to (humble) me who are what makes YouTube what it is.

These two videos were fun enough to be shortlisted in this category and they do fall in the whole "Social Media" spirit but while they are entertaining and catchy, I personally feel they lack that extra something that makes the viewer want to get involved.

And although "engaging" does not necessarily mean for the viewers to actually "engage" into some sort of action, I feel that with the last two videos present in this category, that special quality cannot be overlooked. Both Amal Al Dahouk and Souad's story ask us to get involved and do something.

Really, at this point, it has become very personal and subject to my own personal discretion.

Well, let us be fair, all of the above was too, but I reserve this right, this being my blog and all ;) Just kidding, I honestly tried to think out-loud with you and be as objective as possible in my assessment.

The cause Find Ali Abdallah are championing is truly important and I did support their campaign on Facebook (which felt right) but I am not completely and undoubtedly certain this is the correct approach to tackle such a massive and sensitive subject. The intentions were truly commendable and the efforts as well, but I think they were brought from immediate raw emotions of pain following Ali's terrible tragedy and understandably. But I personally feel we are walking on dangerous grounds here as this involves people (and sometimes organized people) who we do not necessarily understand or know how to deal with. Pinpointing on the internet the location of children or even adults in need can engender grave consequences including and not limited to sexual assault or organ theft. While the aim is to save lives, if done without a proper safety system, it could actually have the opposite effect. Not to mention some of these people, while most definitely in need, are voluntarily or involuntarily attached to "bosses" who place them on certain streets as means for profits. This by itself is dangerous to some unknown extents. In any case, this is not the place nor the time to assess Find Ali Abdallah and again, I just would like to reiterate, I do believe their intentions are beautiful and I agree with them on the urgency and importance of this issue and I do not like to bash without proposing solutions and admire those who "do" rather than just preach (as I am doing right now) but I myself am not qualified to know how to go about this. So I am simply expressing fears which are probably part of the reason why I cannot vote for this video at this point in time (unless I am more informed and can understand how Find Ali Abdallah operates, so feel free to fill me in on this if you have any information please).

Which brings me to Amal Al Dahouk. A video I admit enjoyed and appreciated from the first viewing, back when it was streamed live at TEDxBeirut. I honestly believe it carries all the qualities to be a nominee and even a winner in this category. Firstly, it introduces a young talent who is eager to make a change and impact her environment positively. We always need young people like that. She is an independent, apolitical person (or at least, as far as this video shows) which is also so important to me. She is smart, funny and she proposes a plan for us all to take action. If that is not engaging, I do not know what is. And considering this talk is relevant to our behavior with regards to Media in general and Social Media in particular, I find it highly appropriate right now!

Well, I guess I know who is getting my vote then.
Thank you for the help ;)

Now it is your turn: who will you support?

  • The Social Media Awards official website
  • Like The Social Media Awards on Facebook
  • Follow The Social Media Awards on Twitter
  • Join The Social Media Awards on LinkedIn

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Beirut's very first Social Media Awards


The beautiful nerds of Lebanon have done it again! After the greatest GeekFest Beirut's ever witnessed (Ok, fine, it was the only one I attended, but still it was pretty awesome) some of the most creative and witty young talents of our webnation have gathered to bring us yet another outstanding event: The Social Media Awards.

We, the online community, proposed nominees in specific categories which were then shortlisted and you can now review them all on the SMA website to vote for your favorites. Now beware, you can only vote once in each category so choose wisely.

Here are some rules that you should take into consideration: 

1. Voting will start on April 1, 2013 and end on April 25, 2013.

2. Your votes will represent 50% of the final results, while the judges re-voting will represent the other 50%.

3. You can log-in only through Facebook and Twitter to submit votes.

4. You can only vote once for each category.

5. You cannot change your votes once you submit them so be careful when you are voting.

6. To navigate to other categories, use the progress bar (white dots) at the bottom of the page.

7. If you vote for all 32 categories, you will have a chance to win 2 tickets to the final award ceremony at Phoenicia Hotel on April 29. Once you vote for all categories, you will be prompted to enter your email address for the draw.

8. You can only vote from a personal account. Votes from accounts that do not represent a person (on Facebook or Twitter) will not be counted.

9. Votes from duplicate accounts (Facebook and Twitter of the same person) will not be counted.

10. Votes from fake accounts and accounts newer than March 30, 2013 will not be counted.

11. The Social Media Awards is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and accounts and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sect, location, age, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, disability, employment, or any other form of segregation.

12. The Social Media Awards reserves the right to disqualify nominees or users in the case of cheating, dishonest behavior, copyright infringement, trademark violations, promotion of illegal activities, abusive behavior, or promoting explicit content (such as pornography, drugs, or violence).

13. If any of the finalists is found to be cheating or spamming, that finalist will be disqualified from the competition without warning and all detect cheating voters will not be counted.

Source: The Social Media Awards

So who are your judges?

Nemr Abou Nassar (Stand up comedian)

Fida Chaaban Chaaban (Editor in chief of RAGMAG magazine)

Omar Christidis Christidis (Founder and CEO of ArabNet)

Tom Fletcher ( Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Lebanese Republic)

Mohammad Hijazi (Online Collaborative)

Ziad Kamel (Founder/CEO of The Alleyway Group)

Leila Khauli Hanna (Professor at the American University of Beirut)

Octavia Nasr (Journalist)

Shada Omar (Journalist)

Darine Sabbagh (Online Collaborative)

Nicholas Sehnaoui (Minister of Telecommunications in Lebanon)

Maya Zankoul (Author and visual artist)

Source: The Social Media Awards

Many of the nominees in my humble opinion, deserve the recognition and I am proud to see Lebanon giving Social Media the attention it deserves. So much work is being done by our online Lebanese community and most of the times, without any media coverage or visibility.

That is why this first edition of The Social Media Awards is so important. It is the beginning of, I hope, a long lasting tradition that will not only allow important members of the online community and their work to gain recognition with the wider public but it will also encourage current and new Social Media actors to come to light and know their efforts are actually appreciated.

This year, it appears some people were bashing (as haters always do) and to be honest, I too was hoping to see other candidates make the list of nominees and as much as I do not have to be in agreement with all the choices that were shortlisted (in my humble opinion, again) one thing is for certain, this is a first step. An excellent one even. And I am confident each SMA edition will be a learning experience to the online community as much as to the organizers, and will raise the bar for the Awards to come. So let us start, shall we? And by doing so, let us get involved and make sure upcoming events will continue to develop and grow.

I am still in the process of casting my votes. It turns out it requires more attention that I expected and since with (clicking)power comes great responsibility, I would like to make sure my voice truly represents me.

So far, I have focused on the categories close to my heart: NGOs.

Two of my favorites are actually competing and not only do I admire the work that these organizations have been doing, I have nothing but absolute respect for the ladies behind them. I am in awe of what they have already achieved and I can only see greater accomplishments in their future.


The first one is One Wig Stand. They need no introduction if you follow this blog: Bras For A Cause Middle East and Make The Cut: Hair Donation Campaign are two of the many initiatives this NGO has successfully managed to run both locally and on the regional scene offering women battling cancer with support, hope and most importantly empowering them to go beyond taboos and to shine as human beings, fighters and women. Inner beauty and inner strength will grow even stronger when you allow them to glow on the outside as well, and this is what these initiatives are about. Be as fabulous as your spirit, ladies!

My second vote went to The Nawaya Network, a well-deserving organization that has been tirelessly touring the globe to gain means (financial or otherwise) in order to empower our underprivileged youth by granting them access to resources they could not have dreamed of acquiring on their own thus helping them turn their talents and hopes into realities and consequently become assets to our nation. This is the kind of education we need for our children: non-politicized, unbiased, secular support for a united young Lebanon built by intelligent, successful young talents.


It is just my own personal view but I believe many other organizations I love could have been shortlisted too and benefited from the media exposure, such as SANAD, Cupcake Box, Lebanese Laïque Pride, Ibtissama, Skoun, Nasawiya, and the brilliant Take Back Parliament campaign.

But I guess at the end of the day, it is not realistic nor reasonable to shortlist everyone at this stage of the competition, and ultimately, only one will win anyway although I honestly believe all the current nominees deserving of an award. Yet this is not L'École Des Fans, and as much as I would love to hear 'tout le monde a gagné' (everyone is a winner) we all know this is not possible.

Hey, a modest mention on this even modester blog cannot hurt, right?
So there, it is done ;)

Now it is your turn to give your favorite nominees a voice or rather a click... So who will you support?

  • The Social Media Awards official website
  • Like The Social Media Awards on Facebook
  • Follow The Social Media Awards on Twitter
  • Join The Social Media Awards on LinkedIn


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