Category Archives: internet

Online Communication Etiquette

Although it has been millions of years since the humankind started communicating face-to-face, we still see many fall behind in this real life course. To make things worse, we now are introduced to a new kind of communication that we have never learned how to deal with in school or at home; the online communication etiquette.

Our parents taught us to say “thank you” and “excuse me.” These are complete, powerful, nice, and kind statements that mean a lot and serve a purpose. In school, we developed even better communication skills. We learned how to talk to strangers, how to acknowledge others and how to engage in a discussion with more than two persons.

My real world communication skills are very good. I know when to listen and when to speak. I know when and how to initiate a conversation and when the other party doesn’t want to engage in the conversation. I know when my students are nodding their heads as a result of agreeing with me or comprehending the material, and when they are nodding to fool me that they are following but in reality they are not. I know when to shake hand and when not.

On the other hand, my skills and etiquette in the online communication are very bad. Neither my parents nor my school taught me what to say or do when a stranger send me a Facebook friend request, or when someone doesn’t answer my Facebook friend request. Or someone doesn’t follow me back on twitter. No one informs you that they stopped following you on twitter, out of a sudden. All these behaviors are considered very rude in the real world. Imagine speaking to someone in front of you and he/she doesn’t answer you or even acknowledge your question.

When I joined Twitter I followed people but many of them didn’t follow back. Being new to twitter I unfollowed them, thinking it is rude not to follow back. Later, I decided it was naïve to do such thing. And since I wanted to hear news about Jordan I had a following mania. I followed more than 300 most of them tweet from Jordan. In the beginning, it was fun to be on top of what is happening in Jordan. It was great to be able to follow the news about #March24 Protest Camp in Amman . But then months later, more than 150 of those who I followed didn’t follow me back. So, I decided to unfollow.

As I said, I lack the etiquette of online communication. I just followed and unfollowed people twice in less than a year. Of course I didn’t inform them because they were not following me in the first place. I am not saying that everyone you follow should follow you back. It is, in some case, unreasonable and it is their choice to follow you or not. But not following back could be interpreted for different reasons. And since we lack the online communication etiquette we will never know why someone is not following back. It could be one or more of the followings:

  • It could be a polite message to the follower that you can follow me but I wish you don’t
  • They have thousands of followers and hence they can’t follow back everyone
  • You are not adding much to their online presence. I think I fall in this category since I only tweet my new posts. Twitter still not my thing
  • You tweet too much, or your tweets are useless, or any other reason that they don’t feel they should follow you back
  • Some individuals think it is prestigious if the number of their followers is more than the number of people they follow
  • and whatever other reasons

I found I have a problem with my online communication etiquette when I started using Twitter and when I started receiving comments and subscriptions to my blog. I never for example thanked any of my blog subscribers. I even didn’t acknowledge their subscriptions which now while I am writing this feel it is very rude and unprofessional. I wasn’t sure if I should do that or not. I think it would be a nice gesture but I never did it. I wasn’t taught what to do and what not in such case. It is totally a new realm for me. No one knows if we should acknowledge every comment to our blog or not. I know some Jordanian bloggers like Rand and Whisper do it. For some other bloggers like the Black-Iris it could be almost impossible with thousands of readers per post.  I many times feel I have nothing to add to the comment on my blog but maybe a thank you would be enough. But again, it is a new communication skill that I need to learn about.

Facebook communication etiquette is much easier to learn than Twitter. When I send a friend request I always send an email with it. Informing the person that they should not feel obliged to accept my request. Some people reply back when they don’t feel comfortable accepting this request others ignore to reply back.

We all know to be successful we need to have a good communication skill. There are thousands of publications, courses and events about learning, developing and acquiring these skills. Unfortunately, most of these, if not all, publications are limited to the real world communication. Maybe it is time for the people in the social networking to start addressing these issues and start an online communication etiquette course. I am sure some on top of this business people already started addressing this issue but I think it is still undeveloped and in its early stage. 

For everyone who reads and comments on this blog I would like to say thank you. And a special “THANK YOU!” to those who I have never thanked or acknowledge before, my dear subscribers. I know it is late but I am learning a new skill, the online communication etiquette. Without these comments and subscriptions I would never know if someone out there is reading my posts or not.

Qwiki a visual interactive search engine

Qwiki is a new search engine tool. According to its founders Qwiki solves the problem of information overload. Here is Wikipedia definition:

Qwiki (pronounced Quicky) is a multimedia website that links a robotic reading of a text summary drawn from any chosen Wikipedia article with still and moving images drawn from many sources across the web including Wikipedia, Panoramio and Flickr. These attempt to contextually synchronize with the text as it is read with the aim of producing an audio-visual over-view of the subject.

Qwiki is still in its Alpha version, the information generated by machines can be improved by users suggesting more pictures or videos.

Here is what a search for Jordan produces:

You can watch this video below to learn more about Qwiki by the founders:

Qwiki at TechCrunch Disrupt from Qwiki on Vimeo.

Ask Google Translate “Who are the Terrorists?”

If you used Google translate to translate from English to Arabic or vice versa you know how bad the translation is, especially when you translate an entire paragraph or article. Google translate might be good to translate a word or a phrase but for more than that don’t expect much.  It seems Google translator caught Arabs attention these days because of a translation it made when asked to translate the following:

  • Jews are terrorists
  • Americans are terrorists
  • Arabs are terrorists

Google translation in Arabic is:

image[Click on picture]

Now, for not Arabic speakers the Arabic translation is as following:

  • Jews are not terrorists
  • Americans are not terrorists
  • Arabs are terrorists

I got to say that was suspicious at first, where the word “not” came from. So before Arabs boycott Google I tried a test to translate based on religion, nationality, and ethnicity:

image[Click on picture]

As you can see from the picture above, Google added the word “ليسوا” which means “not” when translated Jews/Christians/Muslims are terrorists. The same thing happened when translating “Americans are terrorists” but it didn’t consider French not to be terrorists. The last two lines Google translate added the word “ليسوا” (not) for Syrians but not for Jordanians.

When I tried to reverse the translation for the first picture, the translation was correct. See picture below.

image[Click on picture]

So apparently, there is a bug in Google translate. Google is not trying to take a side with Israel or the Jews against Arabs. Or are they? What would be interesting is to try to translate the same statements from English to another language beside Arabic and see what you get.

Computer language translation is one of those very complicated research area called Natural Language Processing (NLP). One comment I read about the cause of this problem is something called “rules for negations” in some languages. But I don’t know NLP and I don’t know Google translate’s algorithm but I am sure there is no conspiracy theory here.

Update: It seems the translation problem does not exist any more.

Update: This post is mentioned in Albawaba.com

Journaling

I treat this blog as my not so private journal. It helps me record segments of my life and thoughts. I have another two blogs one for my teaching and another one for my research. The one for teaching I use to update students by posting new notes, algorithms, assignments, etc. I found the dynamic blog to be better than a static website. Students like it. I knew that from the students’ end of semester evaluation forms. My research blog is not as good as it should be. I found that blogging is not the best way to keep a journal for the research. I use other tools to keep track of my research work.

The most I like about writing in my journal is it reduces stress. I use it as a relaxation tool. It is a way for me to vent. Although, when things get really bad and while I am wearing my black hat I vent into my spiral notebook. Some thoughts are better kept hidden from the public.

Many bloggers left for a younger trendier social media called Twitter. But I don’t think Twitter can replace blogging. Twitter is very helpful when it comes to know something about everything. My best usage of Twitter is to follow the news media I usually browse their websites. Instead of browsing each individual media website, now I can read the latest news headlines from one place and decide what I want to read, skim or ignore. Of course, there are more useful usages of Twitter. I am trying to discover or like them one by one, slowly.

I am still a fan of blogging. I enjoy reading concise one page posts. The Chronicle has a good article about different types of journals and the benefits of journaling:

Journaling regularly relieves stress

Journaling help you keep a list of things you are grateful for

Journaling can help you record your short-term goals to help you achieve them

Journaling reminds yourself of your intentions

Journaling reminds you of your mistakes (to show you how you overcame them)

Journaling allows a place for honesty

Journaling helps you overcome writer’s block

Journaling records the highs and the lows of your year

Journaling provides an outlet for pent up emotions

Journaling gives dreams and ideas a place to grow and be respected

Journaling allows you to gain clarity as you sort through the constant deluge of daily life

The article also provides some helpful links about writing. It also includes some tips on how to start a journal. One suggestion is to start blogging, an idea that I found very useful when I start this blog. When you treat your blog as a journal finding topics becomes much easier. Some topics would find readers others not. Blogging is a very good way to improve your writing. When I read some of my early posts I found many mistakes that I try to correct when I write my newer ones.

Blogging is good. Hopefully to see more Jordanians write blogs. The more the merrier. More blogs means more topics and more diversity. It is good to find some specialized blogs in local affairs, arts, design, advertisements, entertainment, politics, etc.

My Friend’s Wife Reads his Emails

Last week, I sent an email to a friend asking him a question about a matter we discussed earlier. He didn’t reply back and since it wasn’t urgent I didn’t call him but he did, two days later. He called me from his office to tell me that he just knew from his wife that I sent him an email. His wife has access to his email account. Being single I am not sure how much spouses share about their lives. I know another male friend who shares his email password with his wife. My emails to him are limited now to greetings and whatnot. I don’t send nude pictures of naked female celebrities to my friends but I don’t think everything I send to my friends should be shared with the wives.

As many spouses, my two friends are sharing their email password with their wives on the base that spouses share everything with each other. Understandable yet not all spouses do share their passwords. On the extreme case, there is snooping on the spouse’s email. In the US, a man is facing jail time for snooping into his wife’s email account. The felony charge carries a 5 year sentence. [source]

If the percentage below is accurate then I don’t know what to say.

About 45% of divorce cases involve some snooping — and gathering — of e-mail, Facebook and other online material, Lane said. But he added that those are generally used by the warring parties for civil reasons — not for criminal prosecution. [same source]

From the poll below it seems most Americans think it should be legal to snoop on spouse’s email: [same source]

email_snooping

I am against snooping on spouse’s email but in case one did snoop he or she should not serve jail time. A spouse may get suspicious and be tempted to snoop out of jealousy. It is bad but should not be considered a crime.

But snooping is the extreme so let us talk about normal relationships. Let us assume the normal case were the relationship between the husband and the wife is based on love and trust, no suspicious behaviors or unhealthy jealousy. Should spouses share their email password?

If no, why?

If yes, then I have other questions. To simplify the questions, let us consider the following scenario. Ali is a friend with Omar who is Married to Nadia. Omar and Nadia know each other’s email password. The scenario could be reversed as well, that is two women and one man.

  • Isn’t Ali’s right to be informed that Nadia reads his emails which are sent to Omar only?
  • If Nadia can read Ali’s emails without his knowledge doesn’t this mean that Nadia is invading Ali’s privacy?
  • If Omar and Nadia share their email password, would Nadia feel betrayed if she knew by mistake that Omar has another private email account (and vice versa)? Should Nadia insist to know the password of this new email account?
  • Who usually asks first or more concerned of sharing passwords the husband or the wife?
  • Is there a difference between different cultures regarding sharing passwords? Which culture the spouses share their email password more Arabs or Americans? How about Asians, Europeans and Africans?
  • Could sharing email password lead to jealousy in case a spouse receives an email from an opposite sex?
    One could argue that sharing email password is like sharing the ATM PIN or bank account that is to facilitate things. But in the case of banking no third party is involved like in the emails. So what do you think about sharing email password between spouses, good or bad? What do you think about any of the previous questions?
    I wonder how the future Mrs. Jaraad will think about sharing our email passwords.

I am twitter free

Finally, I canceled my twitter account. I had it for more than a year but never tweeted. Since I was following some people and been followed as well I used to check it quite frequently. Twitter might be useful to some people and it actually serves a purpose, in some occasions, but I found it has no value to me. If I am going to miss any tweets it would be Queen Rania’s. I was following her tweets but she didn’t follow me 😦 . Nevertheless, my iPod is working magic keeping me connected digitally. For now, facebook is still the best -digital- social network tool. Roar facebook, roar!

image

When doing wrong be aware of cameras as well

Recently, many scandals were caught in cameras. And the number of such videos are increasing everyday. The contents of these videos varies; it could be for a couple having sexual intercourse (in some cases, without the woman’s consent), or a politician filmed having sex with a prostitute in a hotel room, or a community organization (ACRON) videotaped offering to assist two individuals posing as a pimp and a prostitute how to lie to IRS, or watching members of the Mossad attempt to murder a Hamas leader in the hotel’s cameras.

The latest of these scandals is by Sarah Ferguson, Britain’s Duchess of York, who allegedly agrees to $700,000 in exchange for fixing meetings with her ex-husband, Prince Andrew [video]. What she were thinking?

The new facade of email scams

Unless you have never used the internet before you should have received one of the many Nigerians’ business proposal email scams. Recently, these business proposals are not from Nigeria anymore. Read the two emails that I received recently; one from Hong Kong and the other one from Scotland. It seems bankofscotland.com does exist but bea.com does not, the legitimate bank is hkbea.com.

I am afraid because of the current economic crises, people’s greed for fast money will flourish this business proposal email scams. Therefore, expect to receive such emails once every week in the near future.

From: ZHANG (zhanglui@bea.com)

Goodday,
I am Mr. Zhang Liu  i work with Bank of East Asia. I have a business of  $26.5million for you
contact me for details.
Zhang Liu.

From: Leith Fraser (leith@bankofscotland.com)

Good Day,
I am contacting you for a business transaction involving GBP £17,000,000 (Seventeen Million Pounds Sterling) hoping that you will contact me at your earliest convenient for a possible business deal. I am presently the External Auditor of Bank Of Scotland Plc, with your sincere assistant and co-operation, I am determined to work this deal with you if you can do the business. At the moment, I am constrained to issue more  details about this business until your positive response is received. Please take a moment of your time to read this  and send your response. I assure  you that this deal is worth taking and highly profitable.

Leith Fraser

A new email scam

I received an email from a friend of mine who just went to England to pursue his graduate studies. The email below was very strange because it looks somehow it is a scam but since you receive this from a friend you have to double check with this 1% doubt you have, hoping he is safe and not having problems. Luckily, this email turned to be a scam and nothing bad happened to my friend.

Now, the reason this scam is dangerous is because it is not like the other obvious Nigerian scams asking you to help them transfer millions of dollars to your bank account. The hacker in this case made you believe that your friend is in trouble and you have to help him. Specially, in this case were my friend was intending to go to UK. Here is the email I received verbatim:

Subject: Please help me…………

I am in a hurry writing you this message i am sorry i didn’t inform you about my urgent trip to London, i don’t have much time on the pc here,so i have to brief you my present situation which requires your urgent response actually, I had a trip to London but unfortunately for me all my money got stolen at the hotel where i lodged due to a robbery incident that happened in the hotel.I had been so restless since last night cos i have been without any money moreover the Hotel’s telephone lines here got dissconnected by the robbers and they are trying to get them fixed back i have access to only emails at the library because my mobile cant work here so i didnt bring it along,please i want you to help me with money so please can you send me 1500pounds so when i return back i would refund it back to you as soon as i get home,I am so confused right now and dont know what to do,Please you can have it sent through Western Union Money Transfer so will get it  immediately its sent but let me know if you can help me then i will make findings.please let me hear from you below is the address and name where you can send the money to today please.Its really urgent for me as i dont know what to do right now than to leave here soonest you send it to me and i’ll pay you back immediately i get home..Thanks alot for your kindness,

Name…(my friend’s full name)
Address….49 Gloucester Place, Marble Arch.
City… London
Zip Code… W1U 8JE
Country… United Kingdom

Social Networking Websites and the Future

One of the many reasons USA is leading the world is the way they continuously try to close the gap between the young generation and the adult generation. Social networking websites such as MySpace, FaceBook, YouTube, and twitter all started with the young generation in mind but boomed, exponentially, when the older generation started to adapt to this new era of communication.

In 2008, the strong support of the young was one of the keys for Mr. Barack Obama to the White House.

“Fending off accusations of apathy, youth voters turned out to the presidential election in historic numbers, exceeding the turnout of their grandparents’ generation and swinging at least two states for President-elect Barack Obama.” [link]

The Americans knew the power of the young so they tried hard to reach them wherever they are. In the new era of communication, the young were hanging around the social networking websites. Intuitively, the adult moved there as well. Nowadays, many celebrities and world leaders like Barack Obama (http://twitter.com/barackobama ) tweets on twitter.

The young generation is the future. The closer the gap between the young and the adult, the smarter we become. Unfortunately, in the Arab world the only tone we hear from the adult is that the young are slackers and astray. Even if we don’t like some or many of their behaviors they are the one who will find solutions for problems we caused and they are the one who will continue building this life on earth. Instead of just preaching let us listen to them and hear what they have to say. The link between the future and the young is intelligently described by Christa McAuliffe who was a teacher and one of seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger (1986): “I touch the future. I teach.” Teaching is a great process that requires speaking [to the students] and listening [from them]. Without this two-way communication the process of teaching is doomed.