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Posted on Nov 25, 2012

Public Displays of Affection and Social Media

Public Displays of Affection and Social Media

Public Displays of Affection on Social Media

Public Displays of Affection on Social Media

The human tendency to express emotions publicly has been a debatable topic across sects, societies, cultures, and continents. While it is a common scene in the Western countries to see people holding hands, kissing, and hugging, it is frowned upon in some conservative societies, such as that of Saudi Arabia. ‘Getting close’ takes a literal meaning in every nightclub in the world, where clothed pornography meets teasing and casually passes through dancing (you’re just working through the beat).

But the topic today goes from the reality of our physical selves and friends to our online identity which seems to emulate this phenomenon. This skeuomorphism of our behavior has been incorporated into the digital world, creating even more debate as to what extent this should be tolerated online. Should my twitter account be flooded with heart-shaped binaries and cheesy poems between two socially-savvy lovebirds?

It may be an act of confidence showing that someone has a partner who’s as trendy as he is, or chasing away any potential home-wreckers. It’s the real-life equivalent of holding your partner close when a nearby predator is caught on your radar. Same goes online, but on the expense of the comfort of those who care less.

The complaints of us non-PDA users have been met with a need for a private social network. Introducing Pair, the most common social network for two. Now on iOS and Android, Pair seeks to make the lives of couples private, sharing photos, reminders, text messages, and the like, all for the convenience of themselves and their fellow members of the globe.

It’s a nice gesture to express your endowed interest in your partner at the sights of everyone. Proposals at shopping malls and movie theaters have become the latest trends in conveying true love and friendship by showing the world how much that person means to you, making them live a hollywood chick flick and experience something that every girl dreams off.

Yet it’s not that that we hate. Heck, I’d even participate in making this couple fulfil their lives in a flash mob. But it’s the “you hang up, no you hang up” kind of tweets and facebook posts that irritate the hell out of me. It’s one thing to tweet something nice to your significant other, but tweeting back and forth over which restaurant to choose and end every tweet with ‘yours forever’ and ‘miss you already’ and all kinds of x’s and o’s is just plain shallow and disturbing.

In the online world we live in, context phrases like “Get a room” will soon evolve to “Go Facetime” or anything of the sort.

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Posted on Oct 18, 2012

Art within Art – Tracking my Mouse on Photoshop

Art within Art – Tracking my Mouse on Photoshop

IOGraphica – 3 hrs

Sometimes the simplest form of art is the one left unnoticed, visualized through our mundane routines and unconscious repetitions that we barely take into account. Any abstract piece will remain out of this world until we find ourselves in it. That’s exactly the point of this visualization that sliced a portion of a session on Photoshop and made an abstract rendition of my mouse movements over time intervals. It may seem like someone was drawing with a shaky hand, but once it’s attributed to something as boring as moving a mouse, a new dimension comes to life and provides new aspects of this jungle of lines and dots:

 

The image below depicts a measly 9 minutes of working on photoshop. Things are just starting to build up as more lines are drawn by the second, and the dots grow by how long the clicks make their mark.

IOGraphica – 8.9 minutes

The images were made by a simple freeware called IOGraphica, which is available to download on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux by clicking on this link. A bunch of scribbles are found on their page, and a set of other interesting concepts that exploit our mundane habits. Below is more pics at different intervals while I was doing Lebanese Politicians and their Salaries [Infographic] .

Enjoy and be sure to try it!

 

 

 

 

 

[nggallery id=7]

 

 

 

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Posted on Sep 6, 2012

Lebanon Falls 2 Places in Global Competitiveness Ranking

Lebanon Falls 2 Places in Global Competitiveness Ranking

Source: Wikipedia.org

A couple of months ago, I ran across several articles that preached good news about Beirut being the competitive capital that is slowly becoming a cluster for incubators and startups. A recent google query failed to date me anywhere closer to 2010, with bad news on the doors.

For another year, Lebanon drops 2 ranks in the Global Competitiveness Index 2012-2013, anchoring at 91, down from 89 in 2011-2012 rankings, with no good news for the coming year in light of the political instability. Being above Greece and Argentina is something to boast about, but then all countries like Azerbaijan and Gabon score higher on that list. It shouldn’t be the direct index for a country’s success, but competitiveness plays on the long-term prosperity of the country and the efficiency of its people, and it’s not looking bright for us Lebanese.

It is sad to find that the private and public sectors are still two realms far away from each other like heaven and hell. The private sector is well developed and hindered by foreign investment and infrastructure, factors that are both a responsibility of any government. We’re bound to find out till when the Lebanese will be able to untie the knot that’s suffocating its progression and live to see a brighter future to its future generations. It’ll happen, though. I’m sure of it.

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Posted on Aug 25, 2012

The Day I Left My Country

The Day I Left My Country

It’s one thing to state that Lebanon’s youth is seeking opportunities overseas, and another to be part of the movement. In the sensitive state of being we are facing as individuals, a society, or an ideocentric collective, any slight change affects the future of all entities together and may as well define who we are and what we represent. How we perceive these changes is contingent on our well-being, although sadly the majority is pessimistic about the nation’s future and consequently their own. I still see, however, that despite Lebanon being confined to a consumer society, where all we do is based around consumption of goods and services, there has to come a spark that would bolster growth and prosperity at least in a certain field or sector.

I state this with a sense of hypocrisy in the back of my head, praising change and aspiring for hope in a country I’m going away from instead of contributing for. With that comes a sense of guilt that drives the need to compensate even higher in whatever means. The creative part comes in knowing how to contribute to your country when you’re thousands of miles away; in our world, it’s not that hard anymore, but not as common as well.

That summer was the best memory I could fabricate in two months. What I left behind is a tracklist of vivid melodies of laughs and smiles that are just complete because they stemmed from home. I’ve roamed countries and traveled thousands of miles across nature and cityscapes, but nothing beats the warmness of my home country. The heat that I embrace is far from artillery shells, gunfire, and arson, but the dynamism that flows in youth and friendship in every aspect of it.

I part today with a promise that I’ll be back with something new, something different. The journey by itself is an adventure that won’t fade quickly, I’m sure of that. Just like the background music plays in the background of every fond memory, so does the warmness dwell with every moment from the past. One day, I’ll be back with the utter satisfaction of having survived another culture, of being the alien that made it in the land of opportunities. For whatever happens, no home will replace my own. [Image by “Flag of Lebanon” by Hassan Ismail]

…A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.

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Posted on Aug 11, 2012

Why Driving Manners Still Matter

Why Driving Manners Still Matter

Driving Etiquette

Driving Etiquette

In a shallow, stressful society, the most organic form of expressing negative energy is through a medium way stronger than our own might. When you’re behind the wheel, you get the image of being stronger, being invincible. Your voice becomes the roar of the engine, your speed is your stamina, your swift curves are a product of your agile body.

As much as this image is farfetched and out of place, it’s true. Teenagers are more reckless because they feel they’re stronger when they’re behind the wheel, but the tragic results prove otherwise. Thus it’s true that we have the illusion of thinking we’re stronger as if we’re in a Transformers movie.

Eventually we all reflect our day’s frustrations on the road. Calm personalities may reside on listening to blood-pumping tunes and drifting off with their imaginations, while others seek satisfaction by going berserk on the road and disregarding the safety and well-being of the rest of the nearby cars. A drift from here, going 150km/hr there, manically switching lanes, bypassing cars from the right side, and whatever deviations from the law have all morphed the society into a jungle with no hope on the horizon.

Driving is all about values and respect. In the world we’re in driving in, it’s slowly being eroded just like anything traditional and meaningful in this country. Gladly, there are those people that believe in changing that by simply abiding by their good manners and following the law for that matter. I believe that each of us can make that difference because people are trying to accustom themselves to a sense-less system when in fact the remnants of the older, respectful system still remain.

The Law of Reciprocity

It is in human nature to return the favor for a gesture stemming from the interaction of another human. If you hear a secret from someone, chances are you’ll ‘feel’ you have to say a secret in return. The same applies to many fields, and driving is one of them. See, in my view, all it takes a good gesture while enjoying the music and imagine the world becoming a better place. Stopping at a crossroad would make the other driver ‘in favor’ of the road and he would in turn stop at the other crossroad for another driver, rendering a mini-chain of goodness that would brighten someone’s day and give him hope for the future. Sure, the more good deeds you make on the road, the greater the likelihood of ‘spreading the goodness’.

 

The law of reciprocity is easily witnessed at night, when the privilege of turning on the headlights is only interrupted by your own conscience. Turning off a blinding headlight will inherently be reciprocated by the opposing car, and boom, the headlights are off temporarily until the road is gone. That’s well-sounded respect for the fellow driver, and a victory of manners over the jungle life. I urge each driver (or passenger, for that matter) to be aware of this and lose some of the ego that halos across the majority of us these days. Drive safe!

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Posted on Jul 5, 2012

The Internet Isn’t Free

The Internet Isn’t Free

Ever since the proliferation of the internet, the concept of having value on content has been blurred to an extreme. From its early beginnings, content generation was conceived by sharing information rather than focusing on e-commerce. Yet as the growth of the internet has now dominated the world’s tiniest interactions, from wiring millions of dollars to poking a stranger on Facebook, the consumer perception has remained with the same notion of ‘The Internet is forever free’.

The rise of SOPA and PIPA were to censor such acts, but the end result was rendered unfair for consumers and site holders at par. It’s understandable why governments such as the United States would aim to limit piracy, because let’s face it, things have gone pretty much loose.

The whole concept of content sharing on the internet has become more than a feature, but a right for every internet user. As long as it’s digital, it’s supposed to be free. THAT’s the current norm that the world has stopped at and is happy with. People wouldn’t buy an Armani replica or a BVLGARI purse with the same enthusiasm and conscience as downloading a song, a movie, or a thousand-dollar worth of programs. It seems more ‘legit’ to download torrents, and the sad fact is that virtually all of us used torrents or shared files from torrents at one point in time.

Despite that, the proliferation of paid mobile applications has paved the way for a more just view by making consumers pay for their applications, partly thanks to Apple’s easy billing system in the App Store and low price ranges. It is safe to say that mobile development has mitigated the effects of piracy through in-app purchases and good marketing, but the programs running on the PC platform are under a constant risk of being illegally shared online and most commonly for free.

As much as governments and record labels try to shut down the big torrent sites like ThePirateBay.Org, Isohunt, and the like, the former decided to skip territorial jurisdiction by hosting its data in the clouds, literally, in a joint venture with the Greek government that is desperately seeking out money from innovative endeavors. So there’s always a way to circumvent the whole legal charade that has been penalizing “collaborators” for some time now with thousands of dollars and months of jail and probation.

I think it’s too late now to tie a leash around what the internet represents and how content is distributed within in. When one site is shut down, its rubbles is revived like a phoenix through another site, if not more, with even better content management systems and greater content. If MegaUpload wasn’t properly warranted to shut the site down, it’s a proof that cyber law enforcement is still primitive in its actions. The internet is not owned by anyone, and its content will forever be perceived as such, no matter how wrong that would sound.

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Nicolas El Hayek located at Beirut, Lebanon , Beirut, LB . Reviewed by rated: 4.5 / 5