Sunday, June 21, 2009

Are Jordanian Blogs Not So Great?

I did a little survey on my blog where visitors voted on the overall quality of Jordanian bloggers. This survey is by no means a scientific and the results may be skewed. Besides, those who voted are actually people who visited my blog. Obviously it's people who read blogs so the results might actually be a little better than what they actually reflect.

Worldwide, most blogs are awful. Most blogs are created by people for no obvious reason and they stop existing a few weeks to few months after nobody really reads them. A lot of them are copy+past+youtube blogs and those are doomed to fail. In the US at least I've been through a lot of "mommy blogs" where a mother, usually a housewife with a kid or two posts stories and pictures of her husband and kids. Those are nor awful blogs, but are extremely boring for anyone who doesn't know the person. Finally there are blogs where you feel the person is trying to say something but you can't understand what are they trying to say, or they write in a bad style or very large or very small fonts or whatever reason there might be to keep one away from reading them.

For that reason I'm not very concerned that a lot of Jordanian blogs active right now will disappear. Mine might be among them sooner than I expect. However I am concerned that we have not had any good blogs in a while. It feels to me like many blogs were created over a period of 2-3 years and some of them were great. They discussed many controversial issues, they used a language many journalists in the mainstream media never used, they had pictures and videos of things we encounter in a typical Jordanian daily life. With time a lot of them faded away, and nothing special came by to replace that vacuum. Besides, most blogs were in English and most Jordanians prefer to read and comment in Arabic. A well-written blog like the black iris is written in English and despite the fact that it's well-written not a lot of Jordanians are able to access its content. Mab3oos is clearly a very clever and humorous guy who often crosses many political red lines in his blog but again, he's writing in English and his blog's name is mab3oos and this is a very major obstacle for people to access his blog. A few other bloggers have very interesting articles and I depend on them in knowing about what's going on in Jordan, but again there are many basic issues that we are afraid to discuss. We're afraid to write something that we'll regret writing later on, or from a random comment an anonymous commentator might drop.

Finally, and I don't have the statistics to support this but it sounds like the case, when it comes to reading news or opinions, Jordanians would rather read a newspaper or watch TV than read something online. We are still not a very internet-friendly society especially when it comes to the not-so-young.

Overall, I don't think Jordanian blogs are terrible, but we have plenty of room for improvement. I'm hoping for stronger, more challenging, more controversial and well-written blogs especially in Arabic to start appearing on the internet. As for myself, Hareega isn't going to get any better, medical school has irreversibly damaged all of my brain cells and 70% of my hair.


Unknown said...

Well I started reading your blog because I found it humorous and enjoyed your posts. Not everyone who starts a blog sets out to be the worlds greatest blogger. Everyone has a different reason. One might have family all over the world and posting things about your family is a way to keep in touch in a creative way. Some people may have started doing research about the middle east reading books, doing online research and using online social networking sites to connect with people in different countries. Blogging is another great way to do this. You can follow blogs connect with people post pics for the family, and yes copy and paste articles you want to share or save as part of your research. It might sound stupid to some people but to others it seems perfectly sensible. I have learned so much in the past two years its amazing. Also the media is not always the most reliable source of information for news about places such as Iraq or anything else.

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess you're right about the English writing issue. although we're Arabic speakers, we don't seem to be able to write in Arabic. I tried to do that once but I really failed, I guess our university curriculum really screwed our Arabic abilities

mab3oos said...

I totally agree with. I've written before on how you could motivate the Jordanian street if you write in Arabic. But, as Tha2ir said, our Arabic language is totally screwed. If I write in colloquial Arabic it wouldn't sound serious, and, if I write in formal Arabic, it would sound insincere and sarcastic. I wish I could write in the same style as محمد عمر و أُسامة الرمح, but I don't think I have the linguistic ability to do so.

Thanks a lot for the mention.

Ammar said...

Interesting post, but I tend to "catagorize" Jordanian blogs under the English speaking part of Jordanian electronic media. And although we don't have blogs that are completely dedicated to the Jordanian public interest, the ones which you've refered to, as well as your own, are creating a trend -albeit slowly- of speaking up about local issues, even if in english, which probably gives a higher ceiling of freedom of expression, even in the printed press, The Jordan Times is an example.

The point is that the trend is out there, by people inside and outside Jordan, and for the most part, the bloggers names are known, so they're not hiding behind aliases, even if they use them, except for mab3oos, whose alias is a reflection of a collective feeling, which is a protest itself.

kinzi said...

I was talking to Natasha last week, and she asked who of the originals is still blog regularly. I had to think, not many.

Those who said all they have to say are done. I hope you aren't.

I don't think I'll ever run out of things to write about, but I am more a mommy blogger. I have been surprised that my stats keep rising, as I am way too much a minority for a large Jordanian following, and my American friends complain my blog is too ethno-Jordanian, so I wonder who reads and why. Oh well. i do it for me anyway.

Don't fall by the wayside, ya Dr.

jordanian blogs are lacking in humour said...

although not in arabic, always an entertaining read, I enjoy the blogs with a sense of humour.

I Three Dots said...

Well blogging in Jordan is good when it comes to the English posts, but think about the readers people! What's the percentage of Jordanians who are able to speak English? I don't really know but I can tell that it's not higher than 10% -or less- so 10% hypothetically, how many people are using the internet? the government says they're 24% of the population so we have 1200000 internet users and less than 100000 can speak English, so it's apparent that blogging -in English- belongs to a very small percentage of our community.

and honestly people are still afraid to blog! the fear is not totally gone partially maybe but that's not good enough! days ago the guys at the parliament wanted to legislate a law that restrictions on bloggers and those who "comment"! so honestly do you want Jordanian blogging to more controversial? -I do too- but that's not gonna happen unless... this article gives something to the discussion.

Hareega said...

San Antonio, blogs like people can truly be useful and very different. I'm afraid Jordanian blogs are lacking that variety. Mainstream media is essential and blogs would not have existed without them. I trust it more than I trust blogs to be honest.

tha2ir, I tried it a few times but it's time consuming and it often fails me, unfortunately!

mab3oos.. you're good enough in English .. give it another shot in Arabic!

Hareega said...

Ammar, I'm hoping for that trend to continue. I notice some split between the Arabic-speaking blogs and the English-speaking ones on several issues, like the "blog against homosexuals day" would not have been very popular among the English-speaking ones for example.

kinzi.. you're a little unique in that you have lived in Jordan for a while but you're American and you write pretty well about different issues, so there's something interesting to read in your blog. you're not a 100% mommy blog, you talk about several issues in Jordan and people like that.

Three Dots, I second you on the language part, I don't think it's a terrible idea to blog in English (or else I would have been contradicting myself for 4 years now) but I'm hoping to see more jordanians blogging in Arabic.

asoom said...

"Finally, and I don't have the statistics to support this but it sounds like the case, when it comes to reading news or opinions, Jordanians would rather read a newspaper or watch TV than read something online."

That's not necessarily a bad thing..definitely the case for me. Time is limited nowadays so if I want news I'm going to a news source and not someone's opinion of the news. The exception would be when there's a specific issue that I'm interested in a specific blogger's opinion about.

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Haitham Seelawi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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