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Digital Digest August 2012


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A personal take on 22 recent Internet and Technology developments from – and/or potentially impacting on - Qatar and the Middle East by ictQATAR's Internet & Society Manager, Damian Radcliffe.

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Digital Digest August 2012

  1. 1. Digital Digest 22 recent Internet and Technology developments from - or relevant – to Qatar and the Middle East Issue 3: August 2012 Contact us: Twitter: @ictqatar
  2. 2. About this Digital Digest This digest aims to share some of the key digital developments from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in recent months. It also highlights some global communications developments which may impact on Qatar and the wider MENA region at a later date. Stories of particular interest in this issue include new social media data from the Dubai School of Government, use of the crowd to monitor the new Egyptian Presidency, teaching children code and Google’s self-drive cars. Visit: for Volumes 1-2 and future digests. The slides can be downloaded, shared, ripped or simply read at your leisure. ------------------------- Disclaimer All content in these slides is in the public domain and referenced so that you can read the original sources. Any omissions, errors or mistakes are mine, and mine alone. Feedback, suggestions and comments are very welcome.
  3. 3. Digital Digest Contents, August 2012 Slides 1. Developments from across the MENA region • New data on social media use in MENA • The 100 Most Influential Arabs on Twitter • Egypt’s citizens using the web to monitor Morsi • In Brief: Social Media News • In Brief: Content related news • In Brief: Technology News • Google, Social Media and Ramadan 4-11 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 2. Wider Internet & Society Research • Research: 6 out of 10 people find technology stressful (US and UK) • Youth: Code Clubs – teaching young children to code • Emerging Technologies: Connected TV growth • Internet Governance: Unexpected impact of online censorship 12-16 13 14 15 16 3. Coming Up – three emerging issues and themes • Research: The rise and rise of Internet advertising • Technology: Google’s self-drive cars • Governance: New developments in Russia 17-20 18 19 20
  4. 4. Images: and 1. Recent developments in the MENA region Including: New Social Media data, Top 100 Arabs on Twitter and News in Brief
  5. 5. • The Dubai School of Government published new data about social media usage in our region: • In addition to Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is included for the first time. • On Digital Qatar, ictQATAR’s blog for technology enthusiasts, I outlined 10 key points from the report. Read them here: 1.1 New data on social media use in MENA
  6. 6. 1.2 The 100 Most Influential Arabs on Twitter Earlier in the year Wamda, identified the Top 100 Most Influential Arabs on Twitter based on their Klout score. Of this: • 38% of the Top Tweeps are from KSA. • Egypt comes in second with 30%. • The media sector is the dominant profession with 62%. Politics is secondat 16%. • The majority of Top Tweeps are male, while only 14% of the total list of 100 were female. With thanks to @shusmo for highlighting this. The Top 10 is below or grab a pdf of the full list.
  7. 7. 1.3 Egypt’s citizens using the web to monitor Morsi • Morsi Meter has been set up by a couple of young Egyptians to encourage citizens to monitor the new Egyptian president. Their Facebook page says: "The is an initiative to document and monitor the performance of the new Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi, and we will monitor what has been achieved from what he had promised in his program during his first 100 days in power." See: Susannah Vila, writing at The Engine Room noted: “Morsi Meter requires some degree of crowdsourcing, and crowdsourcing requires significant staff time if it is to work…. While there is huge value in putting a spotlight on campaign commitments, and in citizen initiatives for government accountability, there is a rub: it will only work if citizens stay vigilant and someone maintains the initiative.” Amr Sobhy, a 24-year-old organizer with the group behind the site, told CNN he had voted for Morsi and added: "We are a group of Egyptians who don't belong to any political ideology and, for the record, we are not by any means political activists.“ "We are average Egyptian youths who want to use whatever they do best to bring about change in Egypt.“ The site is not about "criticism or advocacy". "It's a portal of data. People can use it later, as much as they like, to form whatever opinions they want to hold.” Read more: and
  8. 8. • Arabic is now the 6th most popular language on the Twitter, accounting for 2.8% of all tweets: • The BBC reported that the Bahrain human rights activist Nabeel Rajab has been sentenced to three months in jail after prosecutors received complaints that he had libeled residents of the town of Muharraq on Twitter: 1.4 In Brief: Social Media News Time Magazine reported on the impact of social media in Saudi Arabia, noting that KSA has more Twitter users than any other country in the MENA, at c.400,000 as well as 4m people on Facebook, second only to Egypt. Mohammed al-Qahtani, a human- rights activist in Riyadh and co-founder of the Saudi Civil & Political Rights Organization told them: “Can you imagine going to the street corner and speaking to 10 people? The government would round you up immediately, but now we are speaking out to thousands.” Read more: As reported in my Digital Digest last month, Saudi Arabia is Twitter’s fastest-growing market percentage-wise month on month: Lebanese born Nadim Kobeissi has launched Cryptocat, an open-source encrypted web chat client. The service “aims to offer strongly encrypted, private Instant Messaging.” Wired noted: “It’s …a web app that can save lives, subvert governments and frustrate marketers. But as little as two years ago such a site was considered to be likely impossible to code.” See:
  9. 9. • WikiLeaks has received 2.5m emails from Syrian government officials, which it has begun releasing. • Founder Julian Assange said: "The material is embarrassing to Syria, but it is also embarrassing to Syria's opponents.“ • See the files: 1.5 In Brief: Content related news • OSN Play, billed as “the region's first online TV platform” is now available on the iPad: • ‘Taghreedat’ is to offer Arab Twitter users their own search engine: • The British Library is to put more than half a million pages of historic documents detailing Arabic history and culture online for the first time: Image: Venture capital fund and startup accelerator 500 Startups has made its first investment in the Middle East — in the local reviews website Jeeran. Image: Story:
  10. 10. • The Guardian ran a feature on Palestinian tech startups, noting that 2,500 Palestinians now work in the IT sector. • The sector has grown from 0.8% of GDP in 2008 to 5% in 2010. It is still growing. • The industry has seen a 64% increase in foreign business since 2009. 1.6 In Brief: Technology News • The Internet was knocked offline for several days in Lebanon in early July due to damage to an underwater cable, depriving the whole country of access: anon-internet/ “Palestinian universities offer excellent technology courses that produce around 2,000 graduates a year, but the nascent market can only accommodate a few. The Palestinian IT Association (Pita) estimates that at least half of these graduates are unemployed.” See:
  11. 11. • Google used a raft of social outlets to provide content related to Ramadan. This included: • Sharing prayers live from Mecca on a dedicated YouTube channel. • A new YouTube Ramadan channel so viewers can watch special television shows produced for the holiday and shown only during Ramadan. 1.7 Google, Social Media and Ramadan • They also used their social network, Google+, to host Google+ Hangouts, offering 30 virtual get-togethers in the 30 days of Ramadan. • In these celebrity chefs shared favorite recipes. • And doctors gave tips on eating healthy. “The hangouts will engage people in subjects far beyond eating. Actors will talk about their favorite Ramadan shows. Poets will discuss literature inspired by the holiday. Religious figures will answer questions.” From a post by: Maha Abouelenein, Google Head of Communications , MENA
  12. 12. 2. Internet & Society: Wider Research Update Images: and Tech Stress, Coding Clubs, Connected TVs and Unexpected Content Restrictions
  13. 13. 2.1 Internet & Society: Societal Impact 60% of people in the US & UK find Technology stressful, according to a small scale survey conducted in the UK and the US. Respondents were mostly younger people who perhaps surprisingly had these concerns. See the full infographic:
  14. 14. 2.2 Internet & Society: Youth • Code Clubs are a new volunteer led initiative aiming to teach the basics of computer programming to UK schoolchildren aged 9-11. It aims to have 25% of the UK's primary schools running a Club by 2014. • Lessons will use 12-week courses based on the Scratch curriculum. "We're taught physics at school because our world is ruled by the laws of physics. Now we are in a digital age it would be strange not to teach children how we program computers to create the applications and tools we use everyday.” Co-founder Clare Sutcliffe in an email to • Scratch is developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. • It is available by free download from the Scratch website . Scratch has 1,180,988 registered members, 349,105 project creators, and 2,716,060 uploaded projects. • Other similar initiatives include CoderDojo. “In four short courses at the Coder Dojo, 9-year-old Tynan Parker has learned how to build a web page and design a computer game complete with his own personal touches.” Source:
  15. 15. 2.3 Internet & Society: Emerging Technologies Connected TV growth continues • In June, Istikana the Jordan-based startup announced a deal to offer over 30,000 hours of online video content through Samsung Smart TVs. • iDate predict the global market of services on connected TVs at €2.5 billion by 2016. • Globally, Juniper Research forecast the number of residential TVs, connected to the Internet via different platforms such as Blu-ray players, set-top boxes and consoles - and also via built in wireless or Ethernet connectivity - will reach c.650 million by 2017. • Currently, shipments and penetration are lowest in the MENA region. Images: and
  16. 16. • Canadian researchers have discovered that some internet users in Oman are being subjected to Indian content restrictions because of traffic flowing through India. • Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, found that sites affected included Indian and Pakistani entertainment sites, political blogs, file-sharing websites, and IndyBay, a US based online news site (see above). 2.4 Internet Governance: An unexpected impact of online censorship As Citizen Lab observe: “Users in Oman did not consent to this blocking” and this filtering “raises a number of questions, including jurisdictional issues and the lack of recourse available to users in Oman.” Data: Image: Image:
  17. 17. Images:, and 3. Coming Up – Three emerging themes and trends Internet Rights & FreedomsInternet Advertising Self drive cars
  18. 18. The continued rise and rise of Internet advertising • $8.4 billion was spent globally on Internet advertising in Q1 2012. • The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in its bi-annual report showed Q1 2012 was the biggest quarter for online ad revenues ever. • Revenues are up $1.1 billion increase (a 15% rise) from last year. “More online consumers than ever are taking to the internet to inform and navigate their daily lives—by desktop, tablet or smartphone.” “Marketers and agencies are clearly–and wisely–investing dollars to reach digitally connected consumers.” IAB President and CEO Randall Rothenberg 3.1 Internet & Society: Societal Impact Source:
  19. 19. 3.2 Internet & Society: Emerging Technologies Google self-driving car clocks up 300,000 miles. And no accidents. • In 2010 Google revealed they were testing “automated cars [which] use video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to “see” other traffic, as well as detailed maps (which we collect using manually driven vehicles) to navigate the road ahead.” They have now racked up 30,000 miles and are moving into the next phase of testing. Image: Ford also announced it envisions a self-driving car by 2017 using current generation technologies. When announcing the project, Google noted that: “According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.2 million lives are lost every year in road traffic accidents. We believe our technology has the potential to cut that number, perhaps by as much as half. Tomorrow." Other potential benefits include reduced energy consumption, being able to concentrate on something else when commuting, and usage by the disabled or non-drivers.
  20. 20. 2.4 Internet & Society: Internet Governance New legislation in Russia • A new law seeking to protect minors from Internet sites with harmful content has come into force in Russia. Critics argued that it is a tool to increase censorship. • Analysis by Andrei Soldatov argued the aim of the legislation is to take control of Russia's social networks and prevent online political activism: • Protests included the Russian Wikipedia going dark for 24 hours: • LiveJournal, Russia’s largest blogging platform, also opposed the bill commenting: “Lobbyists supporting the amendments argue that these amendments are directed only against illegal or inappropriate content for children. However, the system of blocking such content does not apply any appeals or procedures for reconsideration…. In practice this means that a provider will be able to block a certain site on ministerial orders without a court's judgment. We believe that the amendments to the law can lead to censorship in the Russian segment of the Internet, creating a black list, stop-lists and blocking certain sites. Unfortunately, the practice of law in Russia indicates a high probability of the worst-case scenario.” See:
  21. 21. Thank you for reading. Visit our SlideShare channel for previous Issues and our monthly Tech Top 10: Disclaimer: all content in these slides is in the public domain and referenced so that you can read the original sources. Any omissions, errors or mistakes are mine, and mine alone. Contact us: Twitter: @ictqatar