Participate or get left behind - that was the message echoed by many bloggers and blog experts at ictQATAR's Mudawant: All About Blogging, which took place Saturday 12 December 2009 in Doha.
The event, which attracted more than 250 people, featured regional and international blogging experts, as well as interactive workshops to help people start a blog or better market their existing blogs.
"Simple online publishing technology has revolutionized how information spreads around the globe. The power has shifted to the participants, so participate," said Jeremiah Owyang, the keynote speaker at Mudawant. Owyang, who is considered an international blogging guru and one of the fresh voices on blogging, said that humans are inherently social beings and that in the new digital age blogging is an increasingly necessary way to engage in society.
ictQATAR followed Owyang's advice to participate and announced the launch of its own blog, Digital Qatar, at the event. Digital Qatar, www.DigitalQatar.qa, aims to engage technology enthusiast throughout Qatar in a conversation about the boundless potential of information and communication technology. The blog is available in both Arabic and English and represents one of the first technology-focused blogs from the region. The first blog posts focus on creating effective web content that is user-focused, as well as practical information on how to blog.
Digital Qatar will be a platform for ictQATAR to more effectively engage in a two-way conversation with people throughout Qatar on a variety of ICT issues. ictQATAR is already very active in a variety of social media, including 14 social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Qatar Shares and Qatar Living. This online community was active throughout Mudawant, with more than 60 people watching the online live stream of the event and commenting, and many people live tweeting from the event, along with ictQATAR.
Event tweets can be viewed at: #mudawanat Mudawanat also featured a lively panel discussion, titled "Real People, Really Good Blogs." One of the panelists was Ahmed Hamzawi, Head of Engineering for the Middle East/North Africa for Google. In his presentation, Hamzawi painted a bleak picture of the current state of Arabic e-content and participation of the region in the blogosphere. He shared research that showed Arabic accounted for only 1 percent of all online content, despite being the 5th most widely spoken language in the world. He also said that Arabic is not among the top 10 ten languages used in blogs (through Blogger and Word Press). "Not many people are writing in Arabic, but plenty of people from the region are reading blogs," he said.
To help the audience become part of the solution to this Arabic blog deficit, Hamzawi shared practical advice on how people could use Google templates and tools to create a blog, promote it and even earn money on it. "Bloggers need to be aware of what readers want, what type of information they search for and also what is already available online," said Hamzawi. (Download Hamzawi's presentation - PDF, by following this link).
Ammar Mohamed, a well-known local blogger and co-founder of Al Jazeera Talk, stressed the importance of people in Qatar starting to blog so Arab voices could be heard around the world during his panel presentation. He estimated that there are only about 1,000 active blogger in Qatar which accounts for barely fraction of the bloggers worldwide. Another panelist, Raouf Shabayek, who writes a prominent Arabic blog on entrepreneurship, said that "Everyone can blog and it's important to find ways to keep the blog running for the long term." He also cautioned prospective bloggers about the risks of preserving copyrights online. (Download Ammar Mohamed's presentation - PDF, by following this link).
The panel also featured Mohamed Badawi, a senior web developer for the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanuba; Shabina Khatari a Doha-based American freelance journalists and author of numerous blogs; and Sophie Burns from Forum One Communications. Following the panel was two blogging workshops, one for experienced bloggers and one for people wanting to start their blog. (Download Badawi's presentation - PDF, by following this link).
Mudawant was held in partnership with Forum One Communications, Al Jazeera Talk, the Peninsula and Al Sharq newspapers, and Interactive Middle East , which was the online media partner. The Al Jazeera network also featured Mudawant during its popular weekly show Minar Al Jazeera, and included an interview with Mohamed Badawi and interviews with numerous attendees.
For more information, visit: http://www.ictqatar.qa/output/page1585.asp
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