Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Bungee Jump

Do you know those movies of  Ismail Yassin when he reads a book about the secrets of getting rich in few days, then he starts to follow the tips in the book blindly and end up getting himself into huge troubles and disasters!?

Today I bought a book called, "Screw Work, Let’s Play - How to do what you love and get paid for it". I just have read 11 pages of it so far, but it doesn't matter, as I am 99% sure what I want to do, but the remaining 1% that is stopping me from taking an action is that I don't know how to do it. Here's what I've read so far to get an idea of what I am talking about.

These people are part of a growing tribe around the world who are not content just to make a wage to pay the rent, but want their lives to be about something larger – creating something unique, saying something important, trying new experiences, having some fun, taking a few risks, and daring to fall flat on their faces – or win big and strike it rich. They want freedom, variety, challenge and excitement; they want to stretch themselves, and to keep evolving every day.

The internet and mobile technology have freed us all to work however, wherever, whenever we want. Old restrictive boundaries are dissolving; between local and global; employee and entrepreneur; professional and amateur; consumer and producer; home and office; work and play. Our options are now so much broader than just employee or business owner. What does all this mean? It means that there really is no reason left to suffer boring, unfulfilling work.

"I never went into business to make money – but I have found that, if I have fun, the money will come", Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin

A common belief is that the natural alternative to a job is to launch a business with all the risk and complexities of premises, staff and funding. But there are now so many different ways to make an income without a job: self-employed, internet marketing, passive income streams, portfolio career, micro-business. 
Should I continue the book and follow Ismail Yassin footsteps!?

My current job; it pays me well, it has a good career path, if you count the organizational levels from top to bottom I might be on the 3rd level from the top there. I am managing a team of brilliant engineers. And I almost everyone there is a very dear friend more than a co-worker. On the other hand I write for Global Voices, it's a volunteer job, i.e. no money nor career path in there. But guess which job I do with more passion and I believe I am creative more when doing it!? Exactly, the later and not the former.

But despite the fact that I think the articles I write for Global Voices are good ones - you tell me, may be they aren't. Despite this, I was never offered a job in the field of media, nor in Global Voices itself. Needless to say that NY Time, The Guardian and even The Next Web don't even know me.

Disappointing? But may be the secret I enjoy writing for Global Voices is that it is a volunteer job. May be if writing turns to be my career I will hate it.

Is this the career I want? I am sure that I am not sure it is. See all the big names I just mentioned, I never applied for a job in any. So, may be this means I never thought of it as a career for me.

So, why do I want to change my career if I don't even know what I want to do? Hopefully after reading the book I will be able to answer your question. I can't deny that Cairo traffic on my way to and from work plays an important role here. Cairo traffic is a b*tch! But in brief, may be because I am bored, and don't feel challenged to be more creative in it.

I'll tell you a secret about me. If you want to beat me in a discussion just repeat it twice. I will do my best in the first time to debate and convince you with my point of view, but the next time, I'll be really bored to argue and will agree with whatever you say to skip repeating myself. I hate repeating myself. I hate doing one thing twice, let alone three, four, or hundreds of times. And I am repeating myself a lot nowadays.

Shall I become an entrepreneur? I write code with passion too. But entrepreneurship is too cliché nowadays.

Taken by Carla MacNeil under creative commons license

I know how harmful this post might be to my career. I might loose my job because of it. But it's like those who do bungee jumps, they might loose their lives if the rope get cut yet they do it to feel the thrill. Pressing the publish button of this post is as thrilling as pressing the send button of an email I just wrote to a girl I love, asking her to marry me. You know this might ruin your relation with her forever if this she doesn't share the same feelings to you, yet you have to send it.You send it with your heart beating a bit more louder out of worry, yet having a big smile on your face.

See you later, after finishing the book.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Egyptian 80-20 Principle of Politics

Joseph M. Juran created the Pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 rule, which states that 80 percent of consequences stem from 20 percent of causes. For example when it comes to business, 80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers. The principle is named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto.

It's hard to tell the exact number of participants in the protests that took place during the 18 days of the Egyptian revolution. Some say 10 millions, some others say 20 millions. Some say 10% of the population and some say 20%.

Today one year ago, the Egyptians went to vote on constitutional amendments. About 80% (77.2%) of them voted with Yes, and the remaining 20% didn't accept those constitution amendments. Today, one year later, many of the 20% are blaming the 80% for the current situation in Egypt nowadays, but let's not go into this debate now.

In January this year, Freedom and Justice Party (Ikhwan) and Al-Nour Party (Salafists) got 71.5% of the seats in the parliament. Add to them some minor Jihady parties and remnants of the regime and you will probably end up with our famous 80% once more.

Now, we're having the presidential elections around the corner and the question is, who of the candidates is going to have the 80%? For sure it's not going to be the one I am going to vote for, since I've been among the 20% since the very beginning.

Friday, March 16, 2012

I <3 Kony2012

Few days ago, I decided to write a blog post to criticize that Kony2012 thing. Who is that Kony dude!? What's his problem!? Why is he all over my timeline!? May be he is yet another American presidential candidate a la "Herman Cain", who also spammed my timeline one day!?

Later on, I decided to go to the website, voila! there is a video there that summarizes the whole story, but nah! I'm not gonna waste 30 minutes (may be 30 more minutes loading the video depending on my internet connection) just to know about that Kony dude! So I read the first line I stumbled upon in the page, "Joseph Kony is one of the world’s worst war criminals and ...", good, so Kony is a bad guy. Bad bad guy! I scrolled down. I found some photos of celebrities, yeah, I know those people, they are cool people, should I click on their photos? How easy! So now, I am sending a tweet to those celebrities, I don't even have to think of what to say, or even type anything, the kind people behind that site wrote everything on my behalf. I didn't even bother to read the tweet. Who cares!? I am a mouse-click-away from killing that evil Kony bastard, let's do it, let's kill that fucken Kony with our tweets and save the Nigerian, Ugandan or Sudanese children, who cares which country he is from, as long as saving the universe just costs us few mouse clicks!?

No kidding, the above story is 100% true, well, in fact, it's 99% true, I did all that, I just didn't click the send button and never sent a tweet is support of this campaign.

This is slacktivism at its best, right? But why are Invisible Children - the charity organization - behind Kony2012 campaign doing so? Well, come on, may be they need funds, they do campaigns, they succeed, they do more campaigns, get more funds, and so on, and who cares how useful are those campaigns on the ground. May be they are just fans of one of those celebrities whose photos are on their site and they want to grab their attention. May be they wanna fuck Angelina. Or may be as Adam Branch wrote here:

Invisible Children's campaign is a symptom, not a cause. It is an excuse that the US government has gladly adopted in order to help justify the expansion of their military presence in central Africa. Invisible Children are "useful idiots", being used by those in the US government who seek to militarise Africa, to send more and more weapons and military aid, and to bolster the power of states who are US allies. The hunt for Joseph Kony is the perfect excuse for this strategy - how often does the US government find millions of young Americans pleading that they intervene militarily in a place rich in oil and other resources? The US government would be pursuing this militarisation with or without Invisible Children - Kony 2012 just makes it a little easier. Therefore, it is the militarisation we need to worry about, not Invisible Children.

So why do I <3 Kony2012?
Well, away from all this, it's already being described by some "as the most effective viral campaign in history". It's wicked but successful. And as far as I am concerned, I like the technique of simplifying a story, here are the good guys, and those are the bad guys, and all what you have to do is to click here on those eye-candy photos to kill the bad guys and save the good guys. Neat! Also as stated here, "Nine celebrities out of the curated list on the website chose to publicly support the cause, drawing substantial amounts of attention". Again, I am not saying it is a good campaign for sure, it's wicked, simplifications can be damn harmful sometimes, but you know what, we are a busy and have hell of things to care about, so if your campaign isn't that simple we might not care about it, no matter how humble and honourable it is. We better criticize Kony2012 from an ethical point of view, but watch and learn from them whet it comes to viral marketing.

Gilad Lotan wrote an excellent post about the social phenomenon, he analysed how it spread, profiled those who initiated the campaign, how they are connected to each other, their interests, how celebrities responded, all via the beautiful science of data mining. I highly recommend that you read Gilad's post.

And Finally, I'd better end this post by quoting Ethan Zuckerman who wrote a good post about that subject that worth reading too.
As someone who believes that the ability to create and share media is an important form of power, the Invisible Children story presents a difficult paradox. If we want people to pay attention to the issues we care about, do we need to oversimplify them? And if we do, do our simplistic framings do more unintentional harm than intentional good? Or is the wave of pushback against this campaign from Invisible Children evidence that we’re learning to read and write complex narratives online, and that a college student with doubts about a campaign’s value and validity can find an audience?