Technology and Society - Weekly materials

WEEK 6: Looking Forward, Looking Inward


Digital Interactive Youth Society  AJ+

AJ+ is a digital interactive youth society that represents the intersection of human experience with interactive communication techniques. The idea to develop such a platform came as a response to the developments during the Arab Spring and to help get information to youth who use social media platforms to access information. AJ+ transmits different programs to convey information in unconventional ways.  

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Olivia Cuthbert for the Guardian

Spread the word: the Iraqis translating the internet into Arabic

Ameen al-Jaleeli and a team of student translators are working to empower people with knowledge. This report talks about Jaleeli’s initiative to translate Internet content into Arabic to help create a balance between English and Arabic content, to counteract lies with logic and counter false news with critical thinking.


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Driving Forces

The impact of technological developments on the future of Arab societies

The video discusses technological development in the past ten years, and the emergence of the most important and most influential social media, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp and others.

In addition to manufacturing mobile devices that are managed with different systems, such as the iPhone, Android, Windows, and others, and smart devices such as wristwatches, watches, and other forms of modern technology that have become an integral part of the lives of many.

The video also discussed the use of technology to make money and gave an example of Uber International in taxis, Airbnb in hotels, eBay in retail, Google in ads, Facebook in media content.

The video examined the impact of these developments on countries, societies and individuals in various aspects such as electronic harassment, rumors and electronic terrorism for societies, electronic wars and smart governments for governments, lack of privacy, cultural exchange and openness for individuals.

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WEEK 5: Ethical and Social Issues

Zeynep Tufekci

Machine Intelligence makes human morals more important

Human morals have been challenged by technological development.  Zeynep shares her experience in programing and how dangerous it is to outsource our moral responsibilities to machines. AI is needed and efficient to computing and calculating scientific decisions, yet that does not relieve us from our moral responsibilities. She talked about how picky and biased algorithms could be, how fatal a machine mistake in some areas could be, and how immoral it is to use machine intelligence to decide people’s fate, job opportunities’, criminal acts prediction. She concludes by “Yes, we can and we should use computation to help us make better decisions. But we have to own up to our moral responsibility to judgment, and use algorithms within that framework, not as a means to abdicate and outsource our responsibilities to one another as human to human.”

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Neha Narula

The Future of Money

What happens when our way of buying, selling and paying changes, or can we eliminate our need for banks and monetary institutions? This is the core of the new generation of cryptocurrencies according to Neha Narula the currency futurist. The monetary system went through changes over the centuries, and now we are moving to programmable money (cryptocurrencies) like Ethereum, Stellar, Dogecoin Litecoin and Bitcoin. Based on the science of cryptography the world is moving to an era of more secure and faster monetary transactions, which in return has its two folds by eliminating jobs and creating new cryptocurrencies mining opportunities.        

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Nadeem Al-Nashif for 7iber

Social media at the service of the occupation

Nadim Al-Nashif wrote about using social media in the service of the Israeli occupation by arresting Palestinian users and tracking those that may be hostile or anti-occupation and by establishing an elite unit 8200 in the Israeli army to track these activists. The article discussed the efforts made by the occupation forces to control and block any anti-Israel Palestinian content by recruiting ambassadors and influencing YouTube and Google.


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Disclaimer: This video does not represent the views of the Sharing Perspectives Foundation or any of its partners in any way. It must be noted that the video is unreal and it was shown as part of the TV series Black Mirror. 

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خواطر 11

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Amazing mind reader reveals his ‘gift’

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WEEK 4: Technology for Social Change

Amonge Sinxoto

From Social Media to Social Impact

Sinxoto alike other African youth encountered white discrimination/bullying in Johanesberg; therefore she has taken upon her shoulders to cause societal change by using social media to give voice to African youth to acknowledge their frustration in a non-judgmental environment. 

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Advocacy Assembly

Social Media Exchange: how one NGO shapes digital activism in the middle east

Launching a digital campaign doesn’t just happen with the click of a button. Understanding your audience, employing the right tools and having a well thought-out strategy are some of the many things an NGO or a digital activist must consider.


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Stephan Bachenheimer

How Start-ups Can Push Middle East Economy into the 21st Century

“The Middle East has become one of the most fertile grounds for start-ups. As governments and big companies struggle to provide solutions for the region’s major problems, disruptive technology has opened up new options and opportunities. One of them most successful start-ups in the Middle East is Careem, which has become a popular car service almost overnight. Energy 24 is another start-up that hopes to soon bring solutions to the Middle East’s power outages. And with youth unemployment one of the most pressing problems in the Middle East, several start-ups are creating impressive numbers of new jobs. Since 2011, IFC has invested more than $50 million in tech start-ups, incubators, and venture-capital funds across the region.”  

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WEEK 3: Social Media and Society

AJ+ Arabic

Is the Palestinian cause the cause of Palestinians only?

“Is Palestine the cause of Palestinians only?” No, says a group of activists as they record their reactions to the decision of the American president Trump to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. They indicate the severity of seperating the Palestinian cause from the rest of the Arabs, as it is core issue for liberation in the Arab World. Likewise, the activists asked youth in Palestine and the Arab world to demonstrate against this decision.

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Mikhail Zygar

What the Russian Revolution would have looked like on social media

“History is written by the victors, as the saying goes — but what would it look like if it was written by everyone?”Mikhail Zygar went on challenging the first part by through a project he and his team named “Project1917: a social network for dead people”. The project includes posting real diaries and letters of more than 3,000 people who lived during the Russian Revolution. The project aimed at showing the history through the eyes of Lenin, Trotsky and many less celebrated figures, and imagining who could it have been otherwise. He ended by pointing to their new project of the transformative year of 1968.

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Social Media is threatening social relations!

Social media has been occupying larger spaces of our lives. It’s no longer a place where we share news and opinions about public issues, but it has become a representative of our image where we share the tiniest details about our personal lives. Moreover, social media moved to be the main medium for social communication; where greetings and condolences are being expressed via- social media rather than attending them physically. Likewise, day-to-day life details are being shared rather than lived, and emoji’s and likes are replacing actual reactions. 

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What’s driving MENA rush to social media?

The rise of visually oriented social networks, video, and messaging apps is helping shape usage patterns in the MENA region. A change driven by smartphones ownership, high levels of internet penetration, and a large youth population; contributed to a rise to unprecedented numbers in the usage of social media in the Gulf states and the MENA region (with some exceptions in Northern African countries). Despite restrictions on some functions offered by those apps and censorship, the numbers continue to grow rapidly to constitute more than 30% of the world’s usage.     


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Sensemaking / Do new technologies bring us closer together or drive us apart?


The authors of the article tackle the changing world we are living in and the micro-level challenges and solutions arising from the modern world. The authors argue that technology is helping new communities to emerge. Technology is also creating solutions of local communities, solutions that range from water to food distribution. The authors support their argument with several examples of digital initiatives like NextDrop, Neighbourly, and Net Democracy Foundation. 

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WEEK 2: Identity in the Digital Era

Izza Fathi / Alghad Channel

Arabic started to Extinct due to the internet

An interview with Izza Fathi (a lecturer in social sciences) about the correlation between internet and national identity. Fathi indicated that internet distorts the identity (national, religious, and Language) by targeting kids and youth through movies and cartoons. Portraying super heroes in certain ways, conveying religious or atheist messages to kids, using dialects rather than the Classical Arabic are all ways of distorting identities. 

Izza emphasizes that language is the pot of thought, for example, Jews came from 180 countries speaking different languages; thus Israel acknowledged Hebrew as a national language and made all science in Hebrew.

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Behind all the idealism we see in social networking sites

An advertisement on the reality behind the idealism we see in social media. The video shows how people try to maintain an image in the eyes of their followers hiding behind the likes and comments the sad truth about their actual lives.

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Moudhi AL-Jamea

Digital Identity In Social Media

Online users tend to create their own digital identity that does not necessarily equal their physical identity. They can be categorized against the type and quantity of information they share online (fake, professional, real)/ (private/public). In the online space inattentive users may become victims of identity theft through trojans and fishing. Nevertheless, although numbers of identity theft are rising, numbers of social media users (twitter specifically) are rising.     

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WEEK 2: Additional Resources

University of Sheffield

GPS DNA tracking – University of Sheffield

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Technology Bias: Why Silicon Valley Needs Social Theory

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Week 1 - Does Technology Shape Society, or Does Society Shape Technology?

Suzanne Talhouk, TEDxBeirut

Who says if we speak Arabic we are no longer “cool”? 

Suzanne tells her story while trying to preserve Arabic. She along with others launched an initiative and many campaigns to preserve Arabic with various slogans like “بحكيك من الشرق  Betred min el Gharb” and “Do not kill your language”. 

She built the initiative on core element of nations rise. She indicated that studies have shown that to be creative in other languages you need to master your mother tongue, and that “If you want to kill a nation, kill their language”. She went on to talk about examples of developing countries that went up the ladder while preserving their language like Malaysia and Turkey. At the end she gave some suggestions for how to preserve Arabic and get it back to the throne of languages by starting from oneself.

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AJ+ عربي

Why is there so little Arabic content on the Internet?

Post, Tweet, Computer, Telephone are all terms that have synonyms in Arabic, yet the English version is more popular on the internet. The Arabic content contributes only 3% of the global content on the internet, although 96 million Arabs use the internet. Many reasons were mentioned here that are related to the core language and/or technical difficulties, which gave birth to ARABIZI – writing Arabic using English letters and numbers.

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UNDP Podcast لون الابتكار

Civic Technology: a two ways road

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Nowadays, many people often think of technology as anything but a civilian thing, and that technology only isolates and divides us. Nevertheless, technology if used efficiently could close the gap between citizens and their governments. Two stories; one from Palestine and  one from Tunisia demonstrate the use of technology is engaging citizens in decision making.

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