Oct 14, 2009

Watch your steps online!

This post has already been published here. However, I added some more words, more analyses, and I did a bit more research on it. So, here is what I have come up with.

“Do not do something in private that you are ashamed of demonstrating it in public,” Said the 14th century Persian poet, Hafiz Shirazi. Hafiz has many moral maxims, in his poems, about honesty. However, if Hafiz knew how to search Google to get information about a person, would he still put his time in inviting people to be honest?

Thanks to the Internet, we can find information of any kind. Just type a few words, and click. Online networking, as a phenomenon on the Internet, has created many opportunities in expanding social relationships. On the other hand, the more you are networking, the more you are decreasing your privacy.

Social networking Websites have given us the opportunity to be connected with each other. For instance, I “follow”, and am being “followed” by, Barack Obama and Britney Spears on my Twitter account. Twitter is a “social networking and micro-blogging service” that allows to post your status within 140 characters. It is a convenient way of getting information about everything. It has also created potential opportunities for businesses to build relationship with their customers. By using Twitter search engine, businesses may find their customers’ concerns about their products, or seek opportunities to develop new products. Since the “tweet” (the so-called status updates) is limited to 140 characters, you need to use the words as efficiently as possible.

On my Facebook account, I am a “friend” of Dr. Barnett Rubin. He is an expert on Afghanistan. I know he has no time to talk to me in person. However, I have chatted with him via Facebook several times, and taken advantage of his opinions on Afghanistan issues. Thus, I have made many friends, even among celebrities, whom I’ve always had the dream of having a chance to talk to.

In the professional arena, “social networking sites are exploding in popularity, as people look to connect with pretty much everyone they know...” LinkedIn, a “professional networking site”, has provided employment opportunities. According to Site Analytic, the number of LinkedIn’s unique visitors has been doubled since last year, getting 14,241,651 people for the month of August 2009. On LinkedIn, you can connect to people in your field of expertise. Also, you can seek job opportunities through expanding the number of your “connections”.

However, when you look at the other side of the coin, you will understand how fast you are disseminating your personal information to everyone; something inevitable, in online social networking. You post your photos on Facebook, update your status, share videos, news, links, etc. Just imagine how easy it is getting into the depth of your personality, through all this information; it would be terrifying!

Facebook is concerned about the privacy of their users. The Facebook Privacy Policy says, “We understand you may not want everyone in the world to have the information you share…” However, this claim is opposing the philosophy of Facebook’s functions. In its nature, Facebook is a “data mining company… that seeks to open and/or disseminate private information to third parties for commercial purposes…” According to the Privacy Policy:

“… these third party advertisers may […] download cookies to your computer […] to personalize advertising content.”

What Facebook wants is “to make as much information as possible on Facebook public.” On July 01, 2009, Facebook made some changes in the privacy setting of the Website, providing an option as “everyone”. By choosing that, you would allow all people on the Web to access your information. Of course, this is what, not only Facebook, but also any other social networking Website requires; putting your things in public.

Being on the Web is risky. It is not always about inadequate privacy policies of social networking Websites. Sometimes, it’s you who is not careful about what is being said or done. For example, imagine you are applying for a job. The employer does a search for your name on Google. A lot of information, photos, and texts, by your name, are being up. Okay, there would be no problem if they are just good things. But, what if, you’ve, someday, shared a porn photo or video? Or, after applying for the job, you blog that you “hate the job and you just have to get that!” However, “Google never forgets.” Then, can you imagine what the reaction of that employer would be towards you?

Online networking is a gift by the Internet. Yet it has its own advantages, and disadvantages. It depends on us as how we want to use it. However, one thing should never be forgotten: You need to be careful in your online life, as if, there is always an eye watching you!

Oct 11, 2009

Teens become entrepreneur

Who says age matters in the age of Silicon Valley? Read how kids become entrepreneur.

Oct 8, 2009

The Shadow of Skirts

“The shadow of Queen Soraya Tarzi Hanim’s skirts still haunts Kabul policy circles more than three-quarters of a century after her sartorial ensemble shook Afghan society.” (Jacinto, L. (2006). Abandoning the Wardrobe and Reclaiming Religion in the Discourse on Afghan Women's Islamic Rights. Journal of Women in Culture & Society, 32(1), 9. Retrieved September 29, 2009, from Academic Source Complete (EBSCOhost Research Databases)) Queen Soraya, in 1927, accompanied King Amanullah on a great trip to Europe, Egypt, and India. After returning to Afghanistan, she appeared in the Loya Jirga (grand assembly) in Paghman with the King. A history had begun. August 29, 2009; Afghan presidential election: Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the presidential candidate, appears in public to give his vote, while his wife is accompanying him.

For Afghans, it has always been a unique experience to see their president’s wife in public. On the other hand, some of the most considerable momentums in the last century of Afghanistan’s history have been or related to this experience.

Soraya Tarzai Hanim was born in Damascus, Syria, in 1899. In Damascus, she learned modern western values. In 1913, Prince Amanullah met Soraya Tarzai and married her. Soraya Tarzai became the Queen of Afghanistan, and the only wife of King Amanullah, breaking the centuries of tradition of polygamy.

King Amanullah campaigned against the veil. "Islam does not require women to cover their bodies or wear any special kind of veil," said the King to Afghan elders, in the Loya Jirga in Paghman. Then, Queen Soraya, who was present in the speech, tore off her veil in public and the wives of other officials present at the meeting followed this example. “Thus, he struck at the roots of conservative Islam by removing the veil from the women…” (Dupree, L. (1997). Afghanistan. Karachi, Pakistan: 1997.) The Queen took part in hunting parties, military parades and other official ceremonies, with the King. During the War of Independence, she visited the tents of the wounded soldiers. She went with the King in rebellious provinces. “Do not think… that our nation needs only men to serve it,” she said in an Independence Day address to Afghan Women in 1926. “Women should also take their part as women did in the early years of Islam.” (Jacinto L., pp. 13-14.)

After eighty years from the time Queen Soraya challenged Afghan traditional society by unveiling in the historic Loya Girga, we were about to experience it once more. Dr. Abdullah is participating in the election with his wife. After the communist rule and about three decades of war in Afghanistan, this is the first time that an Afghan leader shocks the public by showing up to vote with his wife and his son. “Men and women in this country have a responsibility and it's the destiny of everybody, not just men in this country,” said Dr. Abdullah, after he voted.

‘Wearing an Iranian-style scarf, a green coat and black pants, Dr. Abdullah’s wife came up with a more politic response: “Women make up 50 per cent of Afghan society and [my presence] is to give a message to Afghan women to take part in the elections.”’

Queen Soraya and King Amanullah started the reform process in Afghanistan. They put themselves and their kingdom into danger with their beliefs. Finally, when the reform programs “increased in momentum”, in 1928, tribesmen revolted against the King, and burned down the King’s palace. (Dupree L., p. 452.) The kingdom of Amanullah collapsed, and he remained in exile until he died in 1960 in Zurich, Switzerland.

Queen Soraya lived when just two decades of the Twentieth century had passed. Afghanistan had not yet experienced many modern thoughts, ideologies, and technologies. Although, we are in 2009, if I want to know the name of Dr. Abdullah’s wife, I search the Internet and find nothing! I ask some people: “Nobody knows, and those who know wouldn’t tell you,” a fellow classmate said.

When Journalists ask the presidential candidate why he had not brought his daughters to the polling station, Dr. Abdullah said, “I have brought my son to give him the impression of democracy and voting for the presidency in our country I haven’t brought my daughters because they were not at home.”

For about eight years, he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs for Afghanistan; he knows well how to diplomatically respond to such questions.

Oct 5, 2009


It's 7:45 at office. I am not alone. Chopin is talking to me.

Oct 4, 2009

Persia in The Story of Civilization

One of the books, which I have been always dreaming to conquer, is The Story of Civilization. For me, it is unbelievable how a single person can start and finish writing such a huge book; a book, which is even a great task to be thoroughly read. Will Durant, the writer of The Story of Civilization says,
“I wish to tell as much as I can, in as little space as I can, of the contributions that genius and labor have made to the cultural heritage of mankind—to chronicle and contemplate, in their causes, character and effects, the advances of invention […] the development of science, the wisdom of philosophy, and the achievements of arts. I do not need to be told how absurd this enterprise is, nor how immodest is its very conception; for many years of efforts have brought it to but a fifth of its completion, and have made it clear that no one mind, and no single lifetime, can adequately compass this task.”(Will Durant, The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage, New York: Simon and Schuster 1954, p. vii.)
However, he succeeded. The Story of Civilization is in 10 volumes: (1) Our oriental Heritage; (2) The Life of Greece; (3) Caesar and Christ; (4) The Age of Faith; (5) The Renaissance; (6) The Reformation; (7) The Age of Reason Begins; (8) The Age of Louis XIV; (9) The Age of Voltaire; (10) Rousseau and Revolution.

Durant in the first volume, Our Oriental Heritage, has paid attention to many primary people and civilizations that lived, invented, made, conquered, and left many things we are, today, heirs to. One of these civilizations is Persia. A chapter (VIII), comprising of 35 pages has been allocated to it. (Durant, pp. 350-385) Comparing to the role of the Persia in the history of civilization, this 35 pages, of course, cannot be considered so many. Particularly, when we compare it to the whole of the first volume, which is about to 1000 pages.

Durant starts from the Medes. Then, he follows the chapter with Cyrus, his policies, and the creation of one of the strongest empires throughout the history. Durant talks to us about Darius the Great, the people, their culture, their religion, Zarathustra, Ahura Mazda, trades, industries, and much more. In the end, like every civilization in the history, we reach to a point that the Persia has to enter into a period of decline. Darius III, the last of King of Persia, is defeated, through a several wars, against the young Macedonian conqueror, Alexander the Great. Thus, the great civilization of the Persia, which has become old enough to die, replaced with the Macedonian Empire, and becomes one of its provinces. (Ibid, p. 328)