Thursday, January 1, 2009

Egyptian Generation Y

Generation Y is a term used to describe those who are born in the late 1970's, 1980's and 1990's. They are sometimes referred to as The Net Generation because they grew up immersed in a digital, and Internet driven world.

And since I belong to this generation, I know how the Internet, followed by the revolution of Social Media and Web 2.0 applications has affected us. And in fact, many people prefer to see the negative effect of the Internet on this generation, however I'd like here to focus on the positive effect of it on my generation and the paradigm shift accompanied those new technologies.

Blogging - Beyond Writing
Away from helping me making new friends from withing the Egyptian Blogosphere, the posts published in the blogosphere and the discussion following those posts helped in educating me, and I am really different from me 4 years ago, before being introduced to blogs. The blogs have raised our awareness of the different political and religious views here in Egypt, and I believe we are now more open to different ideas, we know how to disagree with others and are able to discuss our opposite opinions better.
One other effect of blogging, is that it helped many bloggers here in Egypt to take their writing to the next level. Some bloggers are journalist now, some other became writers and they had their own writings being published in books. I know it's hard to have a complete list of them here, but here are few names of those who have their own books being displayed in bookstores now: Rehab Bassam, Mina Girgis, Nermeen Idrees, Dina El Hawary, Ahmed Nagy.
The blogging effect did not stop at the individuals, but it was also able to affect the media here, they cannot hide information from people as they used to do ages ago. The blogs are driving the conventional media to be more transparent and dynamic.

GoodReads - Beyond Textbooks
Ok, let me admit that I am not, or let's say I wasn't, fond of reading. I rarely read books, except school and university textbooks, ages ago. And I believe many others are the same here. But now sites like Shelfary and Goodreads are radically changing this. I think Malcolm Gladwell's theory about "The Power of Context" from his book "The Tipping Point" has something to do with this. I found myself after creating an account on GoodReads, reading more books, now when I am staying at home and bored, TV is an option but not the only option anymore. Away from the paradigm shift here and how such sites are helping in spreading books reading, seeing what others read, and their comments on those books helps in introducing us to new good books. It also helps in promoting books written by Egyptian writers, see my previous paragraph about those bloggers who took their writing to the next lever and started writing their own books.

Books along with sites like Shelfari, GoodReads, et al, as well as blogs are playing a major role in shaping this generation's minds. You may have a look at the lever of knowledge of this generation compared to the previous ones in the different fields of life, may it be sociology, literature, religion, technology, politics, etc, and you will know what I am talking about here.

Flickr - I bought a new camera
I never though of having a digital camera, I used to think that the built-in camera in my mobile phone is more than enough. Later on when I created an account on Flickr, I started to see people doing magic with their cameras. I was convinced then that I have to get my self a semi-professional camera - Olympus E-400 - and start learning photography, especially that I am fond of drawing and illustration and I wanted to start drawing with the light.
I believe Flickr, and similar sites, affected many people and changed the way they see photography. One one hand, being able to share your photos with the whole world and receiving peoples comments on them encourages you to keep taking photos, trying new techniques, and reading more articles and books about this art . And on the other hand seeing others' photos inspires you and teaches you new concepts.
It also has its own groups and discussion forms, which helped me discovering brilliant Egyptian photographers and stunning photos for locations here in Egypt.
I believe the Flickr effect was successful in introducing many people here in Egypt to photography, exposing them to the whole world, and helping in improving their photography skills.

Facebook for Everyone
Facebook has got its own share in all this paradigm shift too. Musicians and Artists are now using it to promote their concerts, and gallery openings. Charity organizations are making use of it's networking power to reach more people who are willing to participate in their charity activities or fund them. Some people are using it to sell their goods and art-crafts.
Although some people who are fond of conspiracy theories may insist that Facebook is a part of a global imperial plan to collect as much information about us, but yet they cannot deny that it is having a positive cultural and economical effect on our society. It's helping people being introduced to new businesses, and opportunities. There are groups there for almost every singly hobby you can imagine, and hence it can help like minded people to get closer and share their ideas with each other.

Few other outlets
I believe other sites and applications like Twitter, YouTube, Odeo, etc, are having their effect too, but I am not an expert here. For sure YouTube for example is helping Egyptian artists to create and promote their short movies and animation films. Music players, singers can also reach new audience via Odeo and Voblogs.

Finally, I believe the Internet and the new technologies are reshaping our society and helping in creating new generations that can push our country further.

Note: This post is my first participation in the "" () initiative. For more info about the initiative plese check this link.