Arab Women's Network, Berners-Lee on Tracking, and Personalizing Your Blog

BlogHer Original Post

Arab Women's Network

woman in scarfLaurel Papworth, an Australian who blogs at Laurel Papworth - Social Networks is an online community strategist. She teaches social media at the Univerity of Sydney and is a social networks trainer. It's her role as a social networks trainer that landed her a job in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, teaching blogging tools and techniques to Arab women.

She provides the background information in Event: Saudi Arabia: Arab Women Creating Content

In December 2006, a major Middle East broadcaster had a writing competition. They invited young Arab women to write in and say why they mattered. As in "why do Arab women matter". The prize was an internship at the company, working with their Arab Women's channel and other media properties. Over 2000 women responded. HRH Princess Abta Al Saud attended the ceremony and 17,000 women signed up for an as yet unformed online community to support Arab women.

In an email, Laurel gave me more information about the project and how she became involved in it.

I was asked to write a job description for a Community Manager online for MBC (Middle East Broadcasting - owned by Royal House of Saud, based now in Dubai - check wikipedia). From there, it was decided to bring me in to keynote (I teach social media subjects as part of a Masters of Convergent Media at the University of Western Sydney) and then to teach some two hour workshops to help women to register and start blogging and writing.

The community is based around 4 awards that will be given out in 7 months time. Art Matters, New Media Matters, Community Matters and Entrepreneurship Matters. The women can submit business plans and art work and photographs and blog articles and not for profit events to show that they matter. Women from the Gulf region - actually Arabic women anywhere, including the States, are eligible for an internship with MBC in Dubai or with Proctor and Gamble.

In the post on the background mentioned previously, Laurel reflected on the significance of this budding online community of Arab women:

No matter how naive I may be in some things, no waaaaaay can I pretend this community is just another oh, dating site, or tv show, social network. It's a game changer, a rule breaker. Newsflash: social media is disruptive! And you know that as well as I do.

This online community - the host has 50 million subscribers to their TV channels - reaches from one side of the Middle East to another. They had an overwhelming response to anything they do with women being asked to show development, self-actualisation and passion for communication. And, you gotta love 'em for it, they are going to bring social media to as many women as possible. A media company and a Royal family empowering the new Arab woman to believe in herself, to write, communicate with her online community, and upload photos and other content. Blogs, forums, photo galleries, the lot.

In Journey to Jeddah - Day One she describes arriving in Saudi Arabia. The action started in Journey to Jeddah - Day Two - Women and Identity. This post describes the first day of her interaction with the women she's training. The day began with a press conference. I've tried every sort of search I can think to do, but cannot find any news source reporting on this press conference, so if you see it somewhere, please leave a comment. Global Neighborhoods has promised to interview her about the experience when she's back in Australia.

About day two, Laurel said,

The press conference was held in the main auditorium. All women except for one male techie guy (with a female assistant). First part of press conference/day - MBC, Proctor and Gamble Shine, and Effat school announce agreement to work together to promote Arab Women self development in the region.

Photos from the event are at Flickr under Laurel's Silk Charm identity (which is also her Twitter id, if you want to follow her).

Some of the comments on Day Two include,

Each of these women are so much more au fait with identity on the 'net than our young women in Australia and elsewhere. Think of it this way: one indiscretion, one photo of you uncovered, one discovery that you have spoken with a man alone, can totally disrupt your life. Disruption is the mildest term I could think of.

A woman's likelihood of marriage, social standing and respect rests very much on perception, reputation and honour. You guard them as you would your bank PIN and keys to a safe. The same as online - your profile is your identity. Your identity leads to your reputation. Once you have gained reputation, you have trust. And without trust, you have no standing in the community. Indeed, without trust there is no community.

Laurel will be in Jeddah through Thursday, so further information should appear at Laurel Papworth – Social Networks soon.

Tim Berners-Lee on Network Tracking

Tim Berners-Lee, credited with inventing the World Wide Web, reportedly threatened to drop his ISP if they insisted on using Phrom, a network tracking system oddly similar to Facebook's much maligned Beacon. (See Laura Scott's post Facebook's new ads: If you're a good person, why should you want privacy?) The BBC article reports that Berners-Lee said,

"I want to know if I look up a whole lot of books about some form of cancer that that's not going to get to my insurance company and I'm going to find my insurance premium is going to go up by 5% because they've figured I'm looking at those books," he said.

Sir Tim said his data and web history belonged to him.

I think consumers rights in this are very important - we haven't seen the results of these systems being used.

Becky, blogging at Open Rights Group, commented in Phorm update,

It’s difficult to tell which of today’s developments the UK’s major ISPs should be more worried about - the fact that Sir Tim Berners-Lee has publicly stated that he would change his ISP if it started employing systems, like Phorm, which could track his activity on the internet, or the news that UK digital rights gurus the Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR) have today written an open letter to the Information Commissioner, urging him to look at the legality of Phorm.

Over the last few weeks, the story that BT, Virgin and TalkTalk are signed up to trial Phorm, a system which tracks users’ online surfing habits in order to target ads at them, has caused a storm all over the internet.

Personalizing Your Blog

If you're looking for widgets and other add on goodies that can enhance your Blogger blog, you need to know about Blogger University. Annie has all sorts of add-ons, widgets, tweaks, and other ideas to personalize your blog. She explains how to install and use them. You'll find some good ideas there.

Recent Posts by Virginia DeBolt

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