Posts by: Mohamed ElGohary
An Egyptian veteran blogger.Global VoicesLingua manager.
I wrote this some time ago, not knowing if I should publish. I decided that it is good now instead of deleting it later.
Trump, Trump, Trump. This has been what we were consuming for the last couple of months, or was it last couple of years? As someone who resides in the Middle East, as someone who resides in Egypt, I live in a constate state of fear. I wake up in fear, I live my day in fear, I sleep after spending the evening thinking in fear. Fear is just a thing you have to endure in everyday life, just like bills, tax, traffic, you can’t escape it.
As time passes by, you cope with this fear, as much as you can. Fear pushes your limits; it pushes it so hard to the extent you discover things you were not able you could do to protect your sanity.
From time to time, though, things happen that makes you feel you can’t handle it anymore. This vicious cycle of waiting for awful things to happen, seeing them happening, denial, sarcasm, thinking, more thinking, feeling down, then just live with it, adding to the endless list of fears you have to endure every day.
I fear a lot of things. I fear my safety in my country. I fear that I can get sick, I fear my mother can get sick, I fear my wife can get sick. There is no health facilities in Egypt, heck even medications disappear. I fear I can’t afford my future children the education they deserve, or even an education equivalent to what I got. and I was privileged in that.
I fear the consequences of increasing pressure on everybody. Financial, psychological, social, all kinds of burdens on my fellow Egyptians and my friends and loved ones.
I used to think, that if everything collapsed, if all hell broke lose, there would always be the chance to leave. To escape. To forget everything behind. I used to think that the only reason I didn’t decide to leave for, is my mother. She can’t leave, heck she doesn’t even want to leave her city. But now, I feel that the world is slowly transforming to another Egypt. A dehumanized country. I don’t want a dehumanized environment, for anyone. Not for me, not for others.
I don’t know what do do, but I know something is wrong. I know there are a lot of people who work just for the status quo. But you can’t keep the status quo; it turns back at you, and it kicks, it kicks hard. I hope I can have the opportunity to contribute to fixing this. I just hope.
I learned from my experience in entrepreneurship and working in non-profits that non-profit has so much to learn from the for-profit world. Every non-profit should have its equivalent of a CEO, and its equivalent of a COO. This is one thing I learned that is very highly over-looked when you hire or promote people inside your organization during expansion or when you organization structure changes with time.
COO’s job is about standardization and improving consistency. It is an analytical job. It’s a mindset focused on consolidation and risk elimination.
While a CEO needs creativity and needs to have a focus that seeks out strategic opportunities for growth and expansion, and they need to engage in intelligent risk-taking sometimes by being willing to invest in risky development projects that fizzle out into nothing.
It is very hard to have both in the same person. It is very hard from a COO to be CEO without much work, and without a strong oversight.
In October 2012, I joined my very dear friend Rasha Hassan in creating a startup based on our shared dream of contributing to rebuilding the Egypt we hoped to see after the 25th of January. We shared the common passion for stuff like blogging, music, and many other little joys. We believed that education is key for the welfare of fellow Egyptians. “The Workshops” came to life. The goal was transferring skills, as our current educational system is, simply put, a waste of time.
This may not be the first time I worked in a company from its start, but it is the first time to be involved in starting one. To share ownership and responsibility. Responsibility, when you invest your own hard-earned money, changes the whole perspective where you see life. A whole new experience you can’t gain otherwise. Mistakes cost you money and give you experience.
I must say that I was privileged to invest in a startup at such a young age of 25 and privileged to learn until this moment, where all of us, the founders, are no longer able to contribute to this project.
So, after years of facing and bypassing challenges, agreements and disagreements, losses and gains, Al Maqarr, who are a long business friend of ours has acquired “The Workshops”. AlMaqarr is one of the leading coworking spaces in Egypt since 2012. It manages a solid diversified community of innovation and collaboration between startups, student organizations, social initiatives, and freelancers. I’m happy that the project will be in their good hands. Wishing you guys all the luck.
A friend is participating in a RightsCon Workshop to improve communication model between users and developers. Can you send questions you have for the circumvention development community to frame the discussions at the session? Feedback from civil society is highly appreciated.
Ramy Raoof shared the news about the recently approved Egyptian anti-Terror law, and the clauses related to the internet and social networks. I’m providing a rough translation here:
Any person who created or used a website on telecommunication networks, or the internet, or the likes, for the sake of inciting terrorist ideologies, to mislead or obstruct investigations by authorities, to exchange messages and information locally and internationally with terrorists, or send orders to terrorists will be sentenced to at least five years of high security imprisonment.
Anyone who illegally accessed an electronic government website, with the intention to read or access data or information on it, or to change / delete / destroy this information, with the intentions or in preparations mentioned in the first paragraph of this clause, will be sentenced to at least 10 years of high security imprisonement.
and I will reply with a post, from here.
Being around people favourable to me, though I like being alone. I usually tend to go from that state after a short time in the other. I really don’t understand why. But what really happens is that I’m alone most of the time, not necessarily feeling lonely.
I enjoy myself when I’m among a bunch of new people, but in the same time I feel vulnerable and insecure, fearing a hidden verbal attack unlikely to exit. When I begin to know and feel comfortable about these people, I feel empty with nothing to say. Just listening to their talks. Sometimes while talking, I constantly measure the reflection of my talking making it seem nervous , or weak, or unoriginal, or maybe not confident. I suffer from time to time moments of being at a complete loss, forgetting what I was just talking about especially when comparing a pair of things. So I end up mentioning the same thing twice or at least making the whole thing unrelated to each other.
Sometimes close friends of mine refer to my silence when I’m with them, they it is not rudeness, but it is just a complexity in me, wanting to listen and finding no words to say. I guess I need some psychotherapy.
Despite all this silence in real life, I’m so talkative in virtual ways of communication. Those who know me both online and offline know what I mean. Instant messaging, text messaging and all the hi-tech ways of communication which is superior in “communicating” and poor in showing real emotions. Instead, showing virtual emoticons usually most people don’t believe in their real meanings.
AccessNow just launched a new, revamped tool to test whether mobile carriers are injecting super-cookies to track you. Test your mobile here. Make sure you turn off your Wifi, and turn on your mobile data.
It is reported that American mobile carriers use super cookies to track their customers, even when they delete cookies. Three members of the U.S. Congress signaled their move to hold Verizon accountable. Verizon mentioned their intention to make a ‘Super Cookie’ tracking opt-out but EFF said that users cannot easily opt out.
As part of the commemoration of the Volunteers Day, Global Voices sent this survey to our translation, aka Lingua, community. I may be working now for Global Voices, but I joined Global Voices originally as a volunteer translator. The survey constituted of three questions: Why have you started to translate, why do you continue to translate and what has GV given you.
I joined Global Voices as a translator, so Lingua was the first Global Voices department I came across. I primarily joined because back then, in 2009, Arabic content was only 1% of all the Internet, although there are at least 300 million Arabic native speakers. I wanted to be a reason to increase Arabic content on the web and I think I’m succeeding in that directly and indirectly.
I continue translating to know about places I never been, check out cultures I never experienced, learn about intellectual treasures I would never read about in an ordinary book or an ordinary news piece.
Global Voices gave me a lot of things. To get along with people from all over the world. Getting to know friends in the Global Voices community from many backgrounds and at the same time like minded in the basic set of values. Global Voices gave me the opportunity, directly and indirectly, to go more than 20 countries in the last 5 years.
Global Voices satisfies the feeling to be connected to a movement that is doing some good to a large group people, and to give some influence even if it sounded small at the time of contributing.
Global Voices showed me as first-hand experience how can experts in all fields of life can dedicate their time and energy to a greater goal.
Finally, I would love to say a big THANK YOU to all Global Voices community, you make my day every single day. And for anyone who didn’t do that yet, I urge you to check out profiles of our amazing community by visiting us here.
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England’s overthrow.
But, by God’s providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake!
If you won’t give me one,
I’ll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!
Global Voices is celebrating 10 years and as part of the celebrations, we are presenting a series of interviews to introduce some of the contributors that make Global Voices great. In this installment, we get to know the busy Mohamed ElGohary, Global Voices board member, Lingua coordinator, Advocacy author, Arabic Lingua editor, Web 2.0 preacher and blogger.
Global Voices (GV): How and when did you learn about Global Voices?
Mohamed ElGohary (MEG): I began to check out Global Voices as Eman AbdelRahman began contributing and sharing GV posts, as well as asking me if I wanted to contribute. Back then it was just a year since I began blogging, and partially I didn’t think I was capable enough to write in English. In the same time GV began to mention blog posts I wrote, as I was active then in covering court sessions where policemen were tried for human rights violations, blogging under the nickname IRC President.
In February 2009 I joined GV as a volunteer translator from English to Arabic, afterwards I became author and Arabic Lingua editor. In 2011, during the Arab Bloggers meeting in October 2011, I was offered the job as a Lingua Coordinator, after I left my post at AlMasry AlYoum newspaper, where I used to work as a Social Media Consultant.
GV: What are your specific tasks as coordinator for Lingua, Global Voices volunteer translation project?
MEG: The role of the Lingua Coordinator is a large set of small tasks. Community management, to ensure the spirit of motivation, cohesion and sharing of information, across Lingua Editors as well as Lingua Community. Tracking stats of different Lingua sites, as well as social media networks. Assisting Lingua Editors and Community tracking their own stats, setting up new sites. Helping Lingua Editors identify the best ways to maximize the impact of Lingua. Arranging regular Lingua Editors meetings, and whatever issues arose by editors that I can help with.
GV: And as the staff representative to the board?
MEG: As a staff representative, and definition of staff here is all Lingua and Regional editors, as well the core staff, is primarily communicating closely with them, tackling any challenges that might arise either within the volunteer community or staff with other staff, and giving feedback on the short and/or long term depending on what I’m working on. So if anyone in the community have any question or challenge, please contact me by any way you like: e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or Skype at ircpresident.
GV: What’s your day job outside of GV?
MEG: I contribute most of my time to GV. Before GV I switched careers from telecommunications, as I majored in Biomedical Engineering, to social media. After joining GV Staff I co-founded a startup called The Workshops where I manage technical issues like web administration.
GV: How familiar are you with web tools and how much of it is because you are a GV member?
MEG: I spent most of the year 2008 blogging about web 2.0 in Arabic, writing tutorials on how to use Internet tools targeting Egyptian and Arab activists. I gave many workshops focusing on web 2.0 use for digital and labor activists, teachers as well as journalists. Arabic Lingua gave me the first playground to exercise social media on a professional level. It was also the main reason I got my job at AlMasry AlYoum.
GV: How do you manage to stay up-to-date with all the Lingua communities?
MEG: By keeping up to date with Lingua Editors. I think the larger email groups are getting less functional as a community to community communication platform, comparing sub-community groups where Lingua Editors are more knowledgeable about their own communities. So via the Lingua Editors google group, as well as the monthly meetings, I think I’m getting to be up-to-date with the Lingua communities. I’m also in several Lingua Google groups, using google translate to follow the general idea of conversations happening.
GV: As an Egyptian citizen based in Egypt, what was January 25, 2011, the date of the Egyptian revolution, like for you?
MEG: Right now that’s a very tough question to answer. Before the 25th I was certain that a revolution was going to happen, though maybe after 20, 30 or maybe 50 years. I was hoping to witness it, but I think it happened too fast, though not too soon. I joined the marches in the 28th, when the most clashes during the 18 days happened, and afterwards Images of what happened never leave my mind.
But now, with the extreme politicization between two groups that are both, in my opinion, responsible for the deterioration of economical and civil liberties states, it is hard to see the revolution without a broken heart, as secular activists opposed to both military and religious fascism are either dead, jailed or out of the country.
The 25th of January is still a victory to me, whatever happened. As Mubarak is now in jail, military personnel idiocy is exposed. The short term will be a miserable time, but I think on the long term things will get better, although with a very high price in blood.
GV: Anything else you’d like to add?
MEG: I want to add that as a board member I invite all the Global Voices community to come to me by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), Aparna Ray and Jillian York, for any question, consultation or comment. We are here for you and we represent you. Thank you for reading :)