I was a guest on Al Jazeera’s Inside Story last week discussing how instant access to online images and information is helping to shape global reaction to the Israel-Gaza war.

As the conflict between Israel and Hamas intensifies, so too does the battle being waged online. 

For generations, propaganda has always unfolded alongside warfare; but conflicts now are coming under increased scrutiny through social media.

An information war is being waged online by journalists, by individuals and by the Israeli and Hamas media machines.

The hashtag #GazaUnderAttack has been used in more than 4 million Twitter posts, compared to the nearly 200,000 for #IsraelUnderFire.

But is it possible to determine who is winning the cyber battle for public support?

Presenter: Adrian Finighan

Guests:  

Ben White - a researcher and writer for Middle East Monitor, and an author and journalist on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mohamed Nanabhay - former head of online at Al Jazeera English, a media adviser and board member of Global Voices Online.

Mitchell Barak - a pollster, commentator and political communications specialist, and former media adviser to Israeli president Shimon Peres.

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2014/07/who-winning-social-media-war-over-gaza-2014722172425666235.html

Interview with Anand Naidoo on CCTV America on how social media is shaping views on the Israel and Gaza: 

To talk more about the social media battle we were joined in Washington by the former U.S. Secretary of State for Public Affairs, P.J. Crowley.  And from Johannesburg, a media advisor and the former head of online for Al Jazeera English, Mohamed Nanabhay. 

SignalNoi.se: iPhone 5 versus Libya social activity at Wired

signoise:

Noah Shachtman who edits of one of my favorite blogs (Danger Room) at my favorite magazine (Wired), just tweeted this:

I thought it would be interesting to pull up the Signalnoi.se dashboard and share the social activity we’re tracking across these two stories on Wired…

Read the full post and see the graphs here.

News.me + Digg = the most promising thing in online news this year. 
More on the betaworks blog. 

News.me + Digg = the most promising thing in online news this year. 

More on the betaworks blog

Bassel Safadi at the CC Arab World workshop in Doha, Qatar. Photo taken on 24 October 2010. 
Bassel has been detained in Syria. From the Free Bassel website : 
On March 15, 2012, Bassel Khartabil was detained in a wave of arrests in the Mazzeh district of Damascus. Since then, his family has received no official explanation for his detention or information regarding his whereabouts. However, his family has recently learned from previous detainees at the security branch of Kafer Sousa, Damascus, that Bassel is being held at this location. Bassel Khartabil, a Palestinian-born Syrian, 31, is a respected computer engineer specializing in open source software development, the type of contributions the Internet is built upon. He launched his career ten years ago in Syria, working as a technical director for a number of local companies on cultural projects like restoring Palmyra and Forward Syria Magazine. Since then, Bassel has become known worldwide for his strong commitment to the open web, teaching others about technology, and contributing his experience freely to help the world. Bassel is the project leader for an open source web software called Aiki Framework. He is well known in online technical communities as a dedicated volunteer to major Internet projects like Creative Commons (www.creativecommons.org), Mozilla Firefox (www.mozilla.org), Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org), Open Clip Art Library (www.openclipart.org), Fabricatorz (www.fabricatorz.com), and Sharism (www.sharism.org). Since his arrest, Bassel’s valuable volunteer work, both in Syria and around the world, has been stopped. His absence has been painful for the communities that depend on him. In addition, his family, and his fiancée whom he was due to marry this past April, have had their lives put on hold. Bassel Khartabil has been unjustly detained for nearly four months without trial or any legal charges being brought against him. We, the signees of the #FREEBASSEL campaign, demand immediate information regarding his detention, health, and psychological state. We urge the Syrian Government to release the community member, husband-to-be, son to a mother and father, and celebrated International software engineer Bassel Khartabil, immediately.
Sign the letter of support here.

Bassel Safadi at the CC Arab World workshop in Doha, Qatar. Photo taken on 24 October 2010. 

Bassel has been detained in Syria. From the Free Bassel website : 

On March 15, 2012, Bassel Khartabil was detained in a wave of arrests in the Mazzeh district of Damascus. Since then, his family has received no official explanation for his detention or information regarding his whereabouts. However, his family has recently learned from previous detainees at the security branch of Kafer Sousa, Damascus, that Bassel is being held at this location.

Bassel Khartabil, a Palestinian-born Syrian, 31, is a respected computer engineer specializing in open source software development, the type of contributions the Internet is built upon. He launched his career ten years ago in Syria, working as a technical director for a number of local companies on cultural projects like restoring Palmyra and Forward Syria Magazine.

Since then, Bassel has become known worldwide for his strong commitment to the open web, teaching others about technology, and contributing his experience freely to help the world. Bassel is the project leader for an open source web software called Aiki Framework. He is well known in online technical communities as a dedicated volunteer to major Internet projects like Creative Commons (www.creativecommons.org), Mozilla Firefox (www.mozilla.org), Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org), Open Clip Art Library (www.openclipart.org), Fabricatorz (www.fabricatorz.com), and Sharism (www.sharism.org).

Since his arrest, Bassel’s valuable volunteer work, both in Syria and around the world, has been stopped. His absence has been painful for the communities that depend on him. In addition, his family, and his fiancée whom he was due to marry this past April, have had their lives put on hold.

Bassel Khartabil has been unjustly detained for nearly four months without trial or any legal charges being brought against him.

We, the signees of the #FREEBASSEL campaign, demand immediate information regarding his detention, health, and psychological state.

We urge the Syrian Government to release the community member, husband-to-be, son to a mother and father, and celebrated International software engineer Bassel Khartabil, immediately.

Sign the letter of support here.

SignalNoi.se: Tracking the new Egyptian President on Al Jazeera, the BBC and the Guardian

New post on the Signalnoi.se blog:

Today the Egyptian election commission announced Mohammed Morsi as the President of Egypt. Signalnoi.se was tracking the story across Al Jazeera English, the BBC and the Guardian websites and how it spread through Twitter and Facebook. I thought I’d share some of the charts that you’d see in the Signalnoi.se dashboard :

It is not unexpected that Al Jazeera English would see a tremendous gain with this story, especially as it was the de facto news source for the world over the 18 days of the Egyptian revolution leading to the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak (disclosure : I was the Head of Online at Al Jazeera English until recently). Al Jazeera saw growth on Facebook, where their story was shared, liked and commented on over 11k times as of the writing of this post.  

Read more  here (including the BBC and Guardian charts).

My next venture : signalnoi.se (we've just won the Knight News Challenge)

Just launched my next venture - signalnoi.se. We’ve just announced it at the MIT Media Lab where we have won the Knight News Challenge. 

signoise:

Today the Knight Foundation announced at the MIT Media Lab that Signalnoi.se has won the Knight News Challenge. The Knight News Challenge accelerates media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information.

This years challenge was on Networks and was highly competitive. According to Knight there were over 1,000 applications, and this this challenge was 

…more competitive than in years past. This year, we’re running three contests, which means that instead of 12-15 winners per contest, we plan to select four or five. As a result, we will only be funding about 0.5%  of applications before us. (By comparison, last year Harvard admitted 6.2% of the applicants to its freshmen class.)

We’re excited about receiving this award and an investment from the Knight Foundation. 

The Kardashian is a unit I proposed a few classes back as a measure of attention. Conceptually, the Kardashian is the amount of global attention Kim Kardashian commands across all media over the space of a day. In an ideal, frictionless universe, we’d determine a Kardashian by measuring the percentage of all broadcast media, conversations and thoughts dedicated to Kim Kardashian. In practical terms, we can approximate a Kardashian by using a tool like Google Insights for Search – compare a given search term to Kim Kardashian and you can discover how small a fraction of a Kardashian any given issue or cause merits.

(I choose the Kardashian as a unit both because I like the mitteleuropean feel of the term – like the Ohm or the Roentgen – and because Kardashian is an exemplar of attention disconnected from merit, talent or reason. The Kardashian mentions how much attention is paid, not how much attention is deserved, so naming the unit after someone who is famous for being famous seems appropriate. Should the unit be adopted, I would hope that future scholars will calculate Kardashians using whatever public figure is appropriate at the time for being inappropriately famous.)

We hit 1 million fans on Facebook. Thanks for liking Al Jazeera English!

And thanks to my awesome Online team for producing all the content and New Media for the social media goodness.

We hit 1 million fans on Facebook. Thanks for liking Al Jazeera English!

And thanks to my awesome Online team for producing all the content and New Media for the social media goodness.

"We believed a big part of the answer lay in coverage of the Arab Spring on Aljazeera.com and by the Egyptian people’s own stories on YouTube and Twitter," Owen adds.

What’s next?

(Poster by Matt Jones on my office wall

After 7.5 years at Al Jazeera, I’ve decided to move on to explore further opportunities. Having worked at the intersection of media, technology and entrepreneurship, I’m interested in exploiting the structural changes in the media industry to build solutions at internet scale.

My time at Al Jazeera has been nothing short of epic. Together with many co-conspirators, we’ve accomplished much. As the Head of Online at Al Jazeera English for the past three years I’ve led the team that produced the award winning coverage of the Arab revolutions in 2011. Prior to that I founded the New Media group at Al Jazeera, which built some of the most innovative products in the space.

Arriving in Doha in 2004 I started banging on doors talking about how blogging and online video was going to change the way we do journalism. I had the naivety of someone who had not worked in the media industry but the determination of someone who had been building stuff online for over a decade.

It was out of this that Al Jazeera’s New Media group was born. I recruited and led a scrappy group of geeks who started building and playing with tools and techniques that are now commonplace in the industry. We were contrarian in our outlook – while other media companies were suing YouTube, we were uploading everything. We built mobile reporting toolkits for our journalists years before the iPhone was released. We instinctively started using Facebook and Twitter as a means to connect and converse with our audience. And we became the first broadcaster to launch a Creative Commons repository using the most permissive license.

It is hard to think of a more exciting job in the media industry than leading a New Media group that was free to build, deploy and iterate constantly. I was offered just such a position in 2009 when I was asked to run online for Al Jazeera English. We were a young channel that was producing exceptional journalism but did not have the quantity of viewership to match the quality of our product.

I took over a website with a remarkable group of journalists and editors. Since 2009 my team has constantly impressed me with their dedication and commitment to our audience, always putting them at the heart of what we do.

It would not be an overstatement to say that since then, we have moved from a fledgling news website to a major online player. The Online News Association recognized us for General Excellence in Online Journalism for a Large News website and judged that we provided the best breaking news coverage of 2011.

Our audience during the last year grew at a ridiculous rate. Through this time we’ve built up a sizable audience in America, with at least 40% of our traffic US based.  According to my friends at Chartbeat, for a point in time during the Egyptian revolution we were the most important news website in the world.

Over the last three years we’ve dramatically increased the number of online journalists we deploy into the field, built a new opinion section that featured world-class analysis and comment, introduced open source technology, pioneered new forms of micro-journalism through always-on liveblogs and brought social media into the heart of our journalism. Most importantly, we covered the stories that mattered.

I cannot think of a more exciting place to have spent the last seven years. We operated with the swagger of a startup and built something that millions of people have come to rely on.

Now its time for me to move on to build the next big thing. Follow me on Twitter and you’ll be the first to know the details.

P.S. Keep on visitingwatchingliking and following Al Jazeera for the very best in global journalism. I know I will…


maboa: First Steps with Al Jazeera

So excited to have worked with Mozilla-Knight to make this happen. The ideas for cool web apps have just been bouncing off the walls with Mark around! 

maboa:

I’ve been in Doha for a week now so it’s as good a time as any to recount my experiences as Knight-Mozilla Open News Fellow at Al Jazeera, for which I will be actively engaged in for next 10 months. So I should probably start by explaining what a Open News fellow is, something that I’ve been…

Not sure how I feel about Public Radio’s On Being running my photo through an instagram filter. Can’t see how it made the picture better…but then I’m biased. 
beingblog:

Celebrating Mozart’s birthday (photo by Mohamed Nanabhay). (Taken with instagram)

Not sure how I feel about Public Radio’s On Being running my photo through an instagram filter. Can’t see how it made the picture better…but then I’m biased. 

beingblog:

Celebrating Mozart’s birthday (photo by Mohamed Nanabhay). (Taken with instagram)

John Lilly: Tips for Entrepreneurs from a First Year VC

lilly:

But here’s the thing: meeting with an amazing entrepreneur can change your whole year. 

That’s why you do it. To find people to change the world with. I’ve been very lucky this year to work with some incredible entrepreneurs and teams, not just limited to the companies we were able to invest in. And that’s what we’re all looking for: not just the opportunity to make great investments, but the chance to work with people who are setting out to make the world the way they want it. There’s no more optimistic and hopeful endeavor, and it’s 100% addictive.