Posts Tagged ‘internet


“For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”…

“Good morning, you have reached Terranet, for sales dial 1, for support dial 2, for a psychiatrist dial 3. (The last one is my recommendation, strongly)
“For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”…

– Hello, this Rami, how can I help you?
– Um, hi, I purchased a new Cisco modem, and I would like you to guide me through the configuration please.
– It’s very easy. Just set the VCI and VPI…
– Woooa! Hold on. Set the what?

– (With an audible yawn) Set the VCI and VPI. Did you configure the modem?
– Huh? I’m calling you for that!
– Is it hooked?
– (No it’s not! It’s in the microwave getting defrosted, I would have loved to say) Yes it is. Hooked and I logged in to it via my browser. Shall I tell you the options I have and you tell what to do?
– (With the end of another long audible yawn) What do you have?
I start enumerating the options for every setting. I only heard his voice twice:
– VCI 0, VPI 35
– Is that it?
– Yes
– So now all I should do is connect to the Internet.
– Yeh
– Thank you

I hang up, reboot the modem and try connecting to the Internet. Nothing.

I call again:
“For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”…
– Hello, this Hussein, how can I help you?
– Excuse me, I was talking to Rami regard..
– Rami is busy on another line, how can I help you?
– Ok. So I got this Cisco modem and I configur…
– Hold on!
– Yes? This is Rami
– Oh hi! I spoke to you a while ago regarding a Cisco modem…
– Cisco modem? Regarding what?
– Configuration?
– Oh yeh. So…
– Well, it’s not working…
– Why did you get a Cisco?
– WHAT?… Because YOU guys told me, get a Cisco or a D-Link… So I got the Cisco…
– Yeh, but the THOMSON you have now is better….
– Ok. But I got the Cisco now, and it’s not connecting. The “Internet” light is off.
– Do you have phones at home?
– Yes. Why?
– Disconnect them all and retry?
– Excuse me?
– Yeh, you might have a “loop”
– A loop? Uumm, Uhun, yep. Cool. Ok.
A loop? I thought I was installing a modem, not knitting a pullover!
I disconnect all the phones at home, reboot the modem and try to connect again. Nothing.
I call again:
“For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”…
– Hello, this Samer, how can I help you?
– Can I speak to Rami?
– Moment…
– This is Rami, how can…
– Rami, it’s me again (I just mastered the cut-you-in-the-middle-of-a-sentence technique!) I disconnected all the phones, it’s still not working.
– Well, I don’t know (with such a lazy voice)… Get a technician… Or the modem is defective.
– Defective? It’s a brand new Cisco! All is working perfectly, but it stops at “Internet”
– Yeh, it might be defective. It happens…
– Oh. It does? I did not know that… Thank you anyway for your precious assistance Rami!
I hang up.
Welcome to the world of Lebanese ISP customer support!
If “For quality control, this phone call is being recorded”, all ISPs would be out of business by now…


Wassim Tabbarah, God rest his soul, in one of his plays back in the eighties’ performed an act where he owned a fresh produce shop. One day he was standing in front of his shop shouting for people to come and purchase his fresh vegetables. One passer-by stops and tells him “But there’s nothing on display! Your shelves are empty”, and Wassim answers him “I’m selling tomorrow’s vegetables!”

Why wait for a newspaper or TV news when I can have it as it happens?! If the conventional media needs to know something, ask me!

24 hours news channels have also contributed to making print and news casts obsolete. What’s left for those? Analysis, that’s what’s left. But that’s a different story.

Now, don’t get over excited. Not every new website is a news website! If a newspaper starts its own digital delivery, that does not make it an immediate success. How many new websites do you read everyday, all the time? Really.

Most of us are stuck with one or two sites that we visit all the time to quench our thirst for news. ANd all we do is read the news. Who cares for useless gimmicks and hoopla? Yes, being able to share, print or email and article is great, but that does not make you a pioneer! And it does not either give you the right to invade my screen with annoying animations, buttons, links and stupid stuff I will never use.

Now, let’s look at what makes us read news at the first place. I think that there are 3 important drivers:

1- Immediacy
News as it happens. I have many times tweeted and read tweets about news way before it was published on leading news sites. You see, we the tweeters, are not after scoops. We do not sort material according to priority to yield more readership. For us, immediacy is the word. We are attracted to news when it happens. The digital age is about living the event, not reading about it later.

2- Relevance
We want to read news that are relevant to us, in any way. And relevance is also child of immediacy, because when it gets old, it might simply become irrelevant. Relevance is subjective, and the winners are those who manage to cater for all tastes. The meaning of “news” varies drastically from one individual to the other. Take me for instance, local news are the least of my worries, which means I skim through the titles. For others, they are the heart of the matter.

3- Discovery
We do not know everything. We never will. But that does not mean that unknown news are not relevant. Discovery happens on well structured digital delivery systems. They guide you through to find out about matters you ignored.

So as you see, immediacy generates relevance, and relevance generates discovery.
What makes what?
It is undeniable that a perfect symbiosis has started to exist between the event and the news. We hear a lot about news that magnify events to the extent of blowing it out of proportions. OJ Simpson was a great example. And mind you, the digital age had not really dawned by then.

Celebrities scandals have become prime news now, sometimes over-shadowing political apocalypse. Why is that? The digital age caters to the widest target audience possible. In doing so, it reaches ages otherwise inaccessible via traditional media unless heavy investments are made. The younger generation has at reach a plethora of digital access points that constantly deliver news of celebrities and the fringe. Previously, traditional media had all these news packed in five minutes at the end of their newscast.

The result, a total blurring of the border between “serious” and fringe news. This blurring has created that ultimate symbiosis, the result of which was a similar blurring of news delivery and audience. Portals like The Huffington Post, AllTop, even CNN epitomize such a trend.

Events do not always make the news. Today, it is about the potential news portals see in specific stories that “internationalize” such stories, blowing them out of proportions, or even sometimes triggering a chain of events that change political landscapes.

Tunisia, Egypt, Lybia, Syria, Iraq; are perfect examples. In such totalitarian regimes, “things” used to happen decades ago… Very bad things… And all we used to hear were bits and pieces of “rumors” that used to reach us days, weeks or even months later, and then quickly fade away in the archive of history, without even having proved they ever occurred.

Rallying the masses is what the digital age managed to do. What’s more, it can now do it in a blink. Like a plague, text messages, tweets and Facebook messaging act as catalysts, bringing millions locally to act, and more millions globally to react. YouTube triggers a chain of reaction that gets engraved in our minds, souls and the Internet archives forever.

Here’s the perfect example: How many emails with attachments do you get with warnings about a poisonous food additive, or “immediate” world occurrences, only to find out that they actually date to years back. The sender saw it on the Internet and simply thought it was happening now, without bothering checking the date of the news?

No one ever cared about Sudan or the Ivory Coast! Millions were, and still are, dying from hunger in Africa, and no one ever moved a finger. Today, thanks to the Internet news delivery, rallies are organized at the four corners of the Earth in support of these “causes”. People around the world demand the departure of dictators they never heard of! Or have they? Today it’s about what the digital news tell and show us. Conspiracy theories about media manipulation by super (and not so super) powers is starting to make sense, to me at least.

You want to topple a ruling monster? Here’s the formula: Start a Facebook group, a Twitter account and a YouTube channel. If you can afford it, start a news portal. Start spreading the news by registering hundreds of fake accounts who end up “commenting” and voicing their opinions in support to “your” cause, then sit and watch the snowball effect. Depending on your means, reach, and magnitude of the cause, you can achieve your goals in a few weeks. You can even create your own heroes as a bonus!

Bottom line, and the one million dollar question (That’s 710,000 Euros and 2,802,600 Polish zlotys), is it good or bad?

Don’t ask me!

Ask the idiots who believe websites that claim the end of the world was supposed to occur on May 21, or constantly visit websites that claim to turn you from Gargantua to Brad Pitt in four days.

Or ask the politicians who hire web geeks, writers and journalists to help them build a social media universe in compensation to their lack of meaningful social life.

Or, you could ask those who justly use the Internet to spread the news of oppression, voice the words of the muted minorities, educate, entice to explore, encourage knowledge and turn the global mess into a true global village, one where we don’t only meet to gossip, but one where we gather in empathy and support, and share knowledge instead of rumors.

The true purpose of news in the digital age is this: When your fellow human is in trouble, wherever he or she might be, you are in trouble too. If not today, then soon, pretty soon.

© 2011 Ibrahim Lahoud

Creative Commons License
News in the Digital Age by Ibrahim N. Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at


Lebanon, the Internet and literacy

The slow bandwidth, lack of broadband, free wi-fi spots and a proper and affordable pricing structure are dramatically contributing to the drop of literacy in Lebanon.

Yes, even Facebook and illegal torrents are tools of education. Not that I encourage illegal activities… but really, where else will you learn “things” in Lebanon? Certainly not the media! Surely not expensive books! And absolutely not from your entourage.

Before the advent of Internet, TV used to teach us a lot. English was perfected by many through TV series and movies. Documentaries were our hungry minds window to the world. Hell! Even news were good to watch back then. Books were cheap, magazines were about fashion instead of sick outfits, about innovations instead of cheesy gadgets, and about world human happenings instead of modern days copycats.

And one day, we woke up and all was gone. TVs started beaming brain-damaging endless soap operas, sci-fi movies where the only fiction is the director. And whenever there’s a worthy channel, you have to pay loads of cash to see it or… hack it.

Books became for the wealthy (as if they needed education to buy an outrageously huge and hideous pinky gold ring), and if you manage to land on an affordable one, it’s always about Lebanese politics, and the only way to rationalize this one is through a sarcastic joke about the origins of the word politics: ‘Poly’ meaning many and ‘ticks’ meaning blood-sucking parasites. Magazines? Don’t even ask! They contain more Botox than Zaza Gabor’s lips and more slimy-dripping silicone than Silicone Valley, and if they don’t, well… they’re simply “flat”!

So, today we have the Internet! Some will argue that the internet contains the same crap mentioned above. Well yes, true, but the good stuff is a URL away. Your call!

When one school somewhere in Lebanon gets connected and furnishes its classes with laptops instead of books, it’s national news, a scoop. Well, on one side it’s a relief from the usual “I shot the sheriff but did not shoot the deputy” headlines, but on the other… Come on! We’re now bragging about how late we were??!

Before connecting schools and finding enough bandwidth to make it run, how about we start with getting homes connected? It’s sickening to find ministers and politicians throwing the blame at each other in a weird ping-pong, over who’s responsible! Hello! Read the blogs, follow Twitter, look at Facebook. WE DON’T CARE WHO’S TO BLAME! Denial is far from being just a river in Egypt you know… Don’t know who said that, but I’ll marry her if it’s a “she”!

Bandwidth is available, the infrastructure is available, everything is ready but it takes a little bit of, Ahem!… brain… and… balls! Here I said it. Another sarcastic joke is due: God gave men enough blood to make only one of two function at the same time… so that’s probably why, broadband will take some time….

Most of what I know today, most of the information I had and that developed into knowledge was acquired from the Internet. My children (and yours) acquired their knowledge from the internet. And all that was achieved with the slowest of connections you could have anywhere in the world!

If we were to count on parents, society, schools and the whole educational system over here to provide knowledge to our children, they’ll end up talking politics, weather, coffee cups fortune-telling and some weird and totally misleading history material.

We want people to know about Facebook, but also about Zuckerberg, Apple, but also Steve Jobs, Obama, but also Kevorkian. We want them to know about big movies, but also about YouTube amateurs. We want them to know about Twitter but also Foursquare. We want people to harness the power of the internet to the maximum. We want them to bleed it dry. It is amazing that in some North European countries, Internet access became a citizen’s right, just like electricity and water, while here, it is still a luxury… like electricity and water!!!

The rich get richer, and the poor poorer… This needs no elaboration in Lebanon, but the danger that lurks inside does. The rich is motivated by money, while the poor is motivated by knowledge. Underprivileged people “know” that to make money, they need knowledge, not education; knowledge. They can’t afford education, because the country leaders simply won’t avail it, but knowledge should be accessible to everyone. It costs less to avail bandwidth than to build schools, and over here… It even educates better!

Ok, it’s true,  I love being sarcastic. I love criticizing the leaders, not “our”, “the”; they’re surely not my leaders, and you know why? I refuse to be led by someone who’s knowledge-meter is below freezing! I always wondered what do they do with their Internet at home besides playing online poker or watch… Ahem! (again) indecent and decadent material? Oh come on! Don’t tell me politicians read the news on the Internet! They made the news and trust me, even they don’t want to read their own crap.

So, do you want to create a nation? Do you want to build a country with its feet on the ground but a soul in the stars? Do you want to see yourselves and your children become beacons of knowledge? Ask your government to open up the bandwidth pipe and lower the Internet prices. Ask your politicians to avail free wi-fi spots all over the urban areas. Tell them that politics don’t make countries… Countries make politics

Only then will you “really” discover the difference between orange, yellow, green and blue. You’ll find out they are just colors… Nothing more… Nothing less.


August 2020

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,248 other followers


Top Rated

Follow me @ ebyking

wordpress stats plugin

Creative Commons

Creative Commons License
Reason To Believe by Ibrahim N. Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at htt://

%d bloggers like this: