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Posted on Jul 25, 2013

How Twitter Reacted to Ahmad Al Assir

How Twitter Reacted to Ahmad Al Assir

Following the latest events in Sidon and the clashes in Abra, Twitter resounded with hashtags and support for all kinds of parties, be it the Army, Assir, Fadel Chaker, or any other political faction. The global repercussions were evident in the hike in Lebanon keywords and hashtags, as world news agencies reported the notorious instability that smeared the Southern coast.

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Posted on Apr 8, 2013

The Silent Death of MSN Messenger

The Silent Death of MSN Messenger

For anyone born in the 80s and 90s, it’s a fair chance to have encountered and get hooked in MSN Messenger. Sure, Microsoft changed it to Windows Live Messenger, but for the rest of the world, it still remained the 3-letter acronym that it grew up with.

This post is a personal eulogy to the platform that rose after email, making it the online portal to an online realm that today we just can’t keep up with. From Facebook Chat, Whatsapp, Viber, Twitter, Tango, Voxer, and the services seem never to end, unlike the old days where MSN Messenger was our only choice, and we couldn’t but love it.

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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 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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Posted on Apr 29, 2012

Social Media and the Relationship Status

Social Media and the Relationship Status

Facebook - The 'Last Stop'

Facebook: The ‘Last Stop’

It’s not a news flash when someone states that Facebook has altered the way we interact with society, but to what extent? Rather being a platform to interact with society, online social media have become the visible display of dirty laundry, a haven for gossip, and the ‘last chance’ before the relationship knot is untied.

While social media started by relying on societal interactions, the opposite is now true. Society has become so influenced by social media that it has diffused into real life and become such an important factor in building relationships, and notably, breaking them. The question “Is it Facebook official?” has become THE determinant for modern relationships.

See, during the old days, once a relationship is broken, it has the privilege of staying private with the partners’ inner circles. Yet our days lack this freedom; once a couple separate, so does a Facebook status that should express the news and propagate it across the nation and beyond. The young, the old, the relative, the enemy, the stranger, the fake, and even the inactive will get the knowledge of your status, and judge upon it by interacting with it online or off the record. The point is, there’s no way of running away from the unwanted hype or the gossip, and sooner or later, everyone will know.

Manhattan psychologist Joseph Cilona states that people have a greater tendency to share their emotional aspects, particularly when it comes to their love life when emotions are at their highest: during the “honeymoon phase” or when a relationship comes to an end.

“The reality is that there is always a very high possibility that any romantic relationship might not work out at some point, so it’s really wise to think ahead and circumvent these kinds of problems,” he said.

“Sharing information about personal life, particularly details about romantic relationships, is often related to needs for external validation, approval or admiration,” Cilona claimed. “The underlying emotional subtext of this kind of behavior might be stated as trying to communicate the message: ‘I am valuable because someone loves me.’ ”

For this reason, social media has become the ‘last station’ before the partners go there separate ways. Some even stay with no intent of pursuing the relationship just for the sake of avoiding the whole charade! Once that status is changed, so does the mode of interaction with the ones who read it. Friends would ask “Did they change their status?” and gasp at the confirmation, realizing the seriousness of such an action.

Personal information should be shared to close friends and family, not beyond. People now scavenge the information junkyards for relationship breakups, hook-ups, and complications. Who can blame them when everyone seeks his perfect mate among their friends, or stalking a crush with the dire hope of browsing the Home Feed for “Single” as their new relationship status.


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Posted on Apr 22, 2012

The Under-Represented Perspective of Our Data Trails

The Under-Represented Perspective of Our Data Trails

The Under-Represented Persepective of Our Data Trails

The Under-Represented Persepective of Our Data Trails

The Internet has forever changed our lives by the way we interact, socialize, gather data, read the news, and do business. The basis for interaction has morphed drastically through the development of social media platform such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the list keeps growing from there. The mentioned platforms gather more than 1.5 billion users, and with such an information gold mine would develop interest across all the job spectrum, from sociologists to CIA agents, and even terrorists.

The study takes course on Twitter, the 140-character platform that has managed to topple tyrant regimes and inform the world within seconds on crisis such as the Haiti earthquake, Bin Laden’s death, and the list goes on. Twitter, since 2011, has become one of most used ubiquitous news-funneling source in the history of mankind, and there’s enough room to grow beyond.

The Twitter platform engages its users by an engulfing desire to influence and the desire to be popular. A tweet goes into a void space, manically wishing to be retweeted, to be replied to, and to be followed. The numbers of followers and tweets sent are an addiction indicator. The more influence a user craves, the more effort he invests into increasing this number. In other words, Twitter is a total chaos of 140-character chunks of noise with a couple of intellectual notions here and there.

My project targets this phenomenon. By human nature, anything un-interesting or out of context would be ignored. That same principle works otherwise when it comes to popular posts, news that go ‘viral’, which is a term often used for an online event that spreads rapidly, just like a virus, people get to retweet it, talk more about it, and interact with the one who posted.

Social Collider is a tool that measures just that. Over a defined time frame, user tweets are gathered, analyzed, and graphed. Tweets that are not shared by anyone would just connect to the next item in the stream. The tweets that did resonate, however, will spin and connect horizontally to the users or topics that correlates with them directly or in terms of related content.

What you’ll see:

Phase 1:

The attached video will start by displaying all tweets in a two-dimensional table showing the date and corresponding user or hashtag relating to my twitter account, @nicocohayek. My profile comprises of the following inputs:

  • Following : 1,037 Twitter Accounts
  • Followers : 635 Twitter Accounts
  • Number of Tweets : 6,118
  • Joined : October 20, 2010

Upon input, the tool gathers the following:

  • Tweets during a time-frame (for simplicity, we’ll set it to 1 week)
  • Hashtags used in a tweet, commonly used to categorize tweets.
    (Eg. Today’s #News covers the launch of India’s long-range missile)
  • Twitter users who interacted with the tweet
  • Twitter users with relevant content based on the common hashtags used.

Phase 2:

Once the tweets are plotted on the graph, the solver starts correlating the tweets with its users, showing with a color-curved line the conversation path that occurred from the tweet.  If the post doesn’t resonate, it connects to the next tweet in the stream. If it does interact with another user, it will create a spin and horizontally link itself with users who related to it, directly or through the common content.

End Result:

The render process took a total of 41 minutes. The longer the time frame and wider the influence network, the greater time it takes to analyze all the data gathered. Initial samples from different accounts took more than 16 hours to complete the process, while low-profile accounts took a matter of minutes to finish.

The result obtained was a combination of clusters circulating across the center of the graph. The reason is due to the concentration of tweets pertaining to the following queries.

  • @nicocohayek
  • #Infographic

The reason stems from the experience gained through time that led to more content-oriented approach focused on user behavior and an increased network influence. The term #Infographic has a cluster of its own due to the daily posting of this hashtag in a specified time, which created a trendy topic  and an upcoming event among Twitter followers/

It is easy to spot the disregarded tweets and the clusters formed around a user or a hashtag. White clusters are generally online trends that can be monitored. The tweets with the most ‘colored’ are the ones that show the degree of influence of a certain account, and reveals the degree of influence and traces the conversation progression across dozens of other users, all in a limited timeframe.

In a nutshell, the users interacting with my tweets created a network with shared content. In a world full of noise, this network has developed trust and reliability on certain users that render instant feedback. This phenomenon applies to the little people as it applies to celebrities. The data in the graph are no longer under-represented, but traced through their journey from node to node in a network of influenced and influencers alike.

The recording of the whole process is visualized in this YouTube video. For best quality, please set to 720p.


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Nicolas El Hayek located at Beirut, Lebanon , Beirut, LB . Reviewed by rated: 10 / 5