Final Reflection

This course was one of the most interesting courses I’ve taken since I joined AUC. If I were to choose the most important three things that I learned they would be:

First, putting myself in people’s shoes and respecting people’s opinion no matter how much I disagree with them; without being judgmental… I learned that people perceive things differently and that is so natural since each one of us is raised differently. To be honest, I’ve always tried to give people reasons for who they are and what they do; and tried to put myself in their shoes but never actually have been through the experience of having to take decisions on their behalf and think of their situations as if they were my own situation. I was able to go through this through playing the game “Spent” which I really liked and advise everyone to try it. Also, the class activity we did where we had to take the personality of someone who we were assigned made me learn more how to put myself in someone’s else’s shoes……the discussions we went through during class time and the feeling that the Dr Maha gave to each one that his/her opinion matters made me know that no matter how much you think that what you say is ridiculous it may contribute in changing one’s mind and make him rethink some things and most of all it is not ridiculous at all. Also, her persistence to listen to each and everyone’s opinion, even though some of them we all disagreed about, made me learn to respect each and everyone’s opinion without thinking twice or giving a wrong perception on the person in front of me because of him giving an opposite opinion than me. Also, the class activity we did where we had to take the personality of someone, we were assigned made me learn more how to put myself in someone’s else’s shoes.

Second, I learned the art of blogging. It was the first time for me to be introduced to blogging where at first, I felt that it was a heavy thing to do especially that I hate writing articles. But having to blog each and everything in the course made me realize how easy it is where I really loved how every time, I tried to be deeper and reflect what I felt to make people relate more to what I’m saying. It turned to be totally different from writing articles.

Third, I learned to communicate with people from different cultures trying to break the barriers and come up with any new ideas to keep the conversation going; although I am not a sociable person at all. I was able to learn this through the Soliya experience where I had to communicate with different people of different cultures and different backgrounds where some of them where too shy. I always tried to have the initiative to ask questions to those people who were shy and tried to make them talk more and feel more familiar and warmer with the conversation through showing them that I am very interested to know more about their cultures. I was really glad to push myself and try to be engaged in the conversation as much as I can although this is really opposite to my personality and opposite to what I am used to.

Finally, I believe that the course is perfect but if I were to eliminate anything it would be the readings, however, it is a personal opinion where maybe some of the people love reading but I always prefer videos where I really respect that most of the time the Dr gave us options between reading and watching videos. Also, another thing that I believe would be helpful is to assign each two persons to the 4sessions of Soliya where each one of them should attend a minimum of 2 sessions and a maximum of 4 where they can attend them together or divide them among each other (it is up to them) since it is really hard to have to attend 2 hours each week at the same time where I had to sacrifice really important things that I wouldn’t want to miss in order to attend the Soliya meetings on time.

Contribute assignment

I suggest using a Ted Talk video about the online privacy called “How Data Brokers Sold my Identity”. In this talk, Madhumita Murgia was revealing how much of our personal data is held by companies to be traded for profit. In addition to this, she provided interesting examples of certain companies and institutions which used people’s personal data to generate profits.

link to the talk:

Soliya’s experience

Before participating in Soliya’s online communication program I was not interested at all, I thought to myself like why would I waste 2 hours talking to strangers about things that I though I will not be interested in. But after the first session things completely changed where I started to recognize how interesting it is to communicate with people in different cultures and get to know more about themselves. I found out that I am very interested to know more about how those people are different from us in Egypt and how they behave differently and think differently according to their norms and traditions. It turned out that it is not a waste of time at all but instead a way to get to know more about things you don’t know or you didn’t get to discover yet.

I believe that Soliya is totally different from the online platforms that I tried before (facebook, WhatsApp, ..etc); the first thing is that it forces you to communicate with people that are not alike you and are of different cultures unlike facebook and WhatsApp where you get to talk to people you want to talk to and people you already know. In other words Soliya takes you outside your comfort zone of the people you know which is a great experience. Although we were communicating with people we didn’t know but still I felt that I can communicate freely without any hesitation or fear due to the fact that I’m not going to meet those people again anyways. . Another thing that makes Soliya unique is that it has a facilitator who is always making sure to keep up the conversation without anyone getting bored.

As a digital communicator, I felt that I have an obligation to make other participants know more about my country and how great we are as a community through sharing different situations and norms that take place in Egypt. At the beginning I wasn’t that comfortable but every session all the participants were getting to know each other more and were able to open up and share their thoughts freely and that’s what happened to me too. As the sessions passed I was more and more active where I tried to share all the possible thoughts that came into my mind to make them know more about me. However, I feel that my online identity differs a bit from the offline one since I discovered that I don’t go through arguments with people I don’t know well thus when someone online suggests and argument opposing my idea I either say that I respect your opinion and be silent or continue to say me opinion and why do I believe in it but without debating much. I learned to be an active learner and tried to put myself in each and everyone’s shoes to try to understand them when they had different point of views than mine.

In the third session we played a game that I really liked a lot; the facilitator asked as to look around the room and pick something brown then he asked us to close our eyes and pick something blue where most of us didn’t remember anything blue in our room. This one made me realize how people tend to focus more on things that they want to focus on and neglect what can be real. Another similar game that taught me a lot is where the facilitator asked us to draw an animal that has very long nose and is grey where it has relatively small legs and big ears and is found in Africa….definitely all of us went for an elephant where the right answer was not since the elephant didn’t have small legs….This one made me realize that we listen to what we want to listen to and expect what we want to expect where it is easy to anticipate what others say when it can be wrong thus it is very very important to focus when listening and respect the person who is talking. One more lesson I learned is to be an active listener by trying to ask good questions to know more about others but at the same time ask them with respect and don’t pick questions that might be embarrassing to others.

I believe that to foster constructive communication both online and in face-to-face interactions we need to teach people not to be afraid of difference and make them aware of how to engage in dialogues. We should give people lessons about the importance of putting themselves in others shoes and the importance of being curious about different cultures to increase their knowledge and their communication skills as well. Most importantly, we should teach them to get out of their comfort zone because that’s where life starts.

Finally, I want to thank soliya and my professor for giving me the chance to participate in such a great experience. If there was anything I could change it would be that I would provide more options for the meeting timings because some of us had to compensate really important things to attend the meeting at the required time. Another possible improvement I think is to make sure that the network is working well before meetings as on my first meeting we were late for an hour due to a problem in the soliya’s program as a whole. However, the experience was really great that it compensated all the negatives.




WritingAssignments, WritingAssignments1910

Ten years from now I’ll be 31, I have no idea how my life will look like…I hope I would be a mother who is a role model for her children; being able to manage between them and her career but definitely giving her children the priority. I hope I would’ve found something that I’m passionate about to inspire people with it. I hope I have achieved my goals and dreams aspiring people that it is always possible. Most importantly, I imagine myself to be a better person than today fearing nothing in life because fear steals the happy moments in your life. I imagine myself to be a happy person with no regrets.

WritingAssignments, WritingAssignments1637

My last words before I die would be to advice each and everyone to live the life they wish to and try to enjoy each and every moment without having the fear of what others will think about you because seriously no one cares. I would tell everybody that you can achieve everything you want in your life if you have the courage to dream it, plan it and see it happen…Just stay focused! Most importantly, believe in yourself and be sure that you are good enough and even more.

There is no definite story that made me write those words but I’ve been recently noticing people surrounding me who are really passionate about their dreams but do not have the confidence of chasing them just because they believe that people will think it’s a silly idea or that it’s no good enough. I’ve been watching people losing chances they dreamt of just because they believe that they are not good enough. For me, I have recently realized that I need to enjoy every moment in my life without having to fear any uncertainty regarding anything whether it’s exams, career..etc because at the end of the day things will be as they were meant to be and my fear won’t change anything except that it will make me not enjoying my life to the max.


The Problem with Delete Facebook (April Glaser)

This article emphasizes how people are mad at facebook due to it extracting our own personal data and info through the time consuming games and the pointless online quizzes. That’s why a hashtag on twitter called #DeleteFacebook emerged to try to stop the hassle of them invading our privacy. However, the article suggests that leaving facebook is not the solution since facebook is now the core of the internet where “facebook is becoming the internet and the internet is becoming facebook”; thus instead, the solution lies in facebook changing its service so that its users can feel safe or blowing a whistle to the government on the business model of facebook. In my own view, I believe that facebook has its importance where even some startups can depend on it to become known and it has a very important role in the business world as a whole. Thus, I agree that leaving facebook is not the solution too, but we can still be cautious through trying to avoid playing the online games and quizzes that facebook provides, perhaps also not to click on unknown links and not to share private info about ourselves to be in the safe side.

Do Not Track

For me this assignment was the most interesting, it made me realize a lot of privacy issues I’ve been hearing about and couldn’t relate to. It made me see how we are being tracked by almost all technological devices and apps.

To start with, the first video I watched was the “The Spy in My Pocket” ; it explained how our mobile phones are  literally SPIES on us in every step we take….they can access your contacts to suggest your friends and anything on your mobile phones through apps you visit or the games you play. One of those games that I was surprised to know is the Angry Birds. This really sounds scary but I could relate to many many situations that happened to me. One month ago I parked my car at the gym and I was turning off the location service; but when I entered the gym I found google maps sending me a notification telling me where my car is parked and showing it on the maps…How did google maps know that this is my car? and how did it track my location when the service is turned off in the first place??

The second video that I watched is the “the Daily Me” where it showed how cookies track our likes and previous articles we read to make suggestions for us. They even use Collaborative Filtering to make automatic predictions about the interests of you through collecting interests of other users as well. I could relate to this because every single time I google a brand for bags or shoes or whatever, I find sending me an email suggesting that thing that I googled making me an offer to buy…this really is so annoying.

The last video that I watched is the “Like Mining”  which shows how facebook can analyze your personality better than anyone can. It can determine your age, gender, personality, your reactions, your mood…etc. This can be done through tracking the likes on facebook.

These videos made me realize how disturbing and annoying technologies are. One experience that happened to me 2 weeks ago was me finding a youtube suggestion for a practical exam for a course that I have been taking….I never ever typed on youtube the name of the course, I only registered through my email which shows that they are spying on our emails too! Another situation is that one of my friends was showing me a bag and when I got home I found suggestions for bags provided by amazon which is so weird because while I was talking to her I wasn’t accessing my mobile phone so are they spying on us using the MIC as well?? This needs to be further investigated.

Fake News Curation

We are surrounded by fake news almost everywhere but sometimes we tend to believe them (or at least me) even though some of them are really obvious that they are fake…we were first introduced with the concept of fake news when the professor showed us a video called “Sea of Love” where Trump was pointing at a picture and SUPPOSEDLY praising the Kaaba when it turned out that he was praising his own inauguration. If I was skeptical for a second I could have definitely known that it is fake but actually it didn’t even cross my mind that it is fake because I though “Why would the professor show us something that is not real?” and this taught me a lesson that I should always be skeptical about the knowledge I get from anyone and anyplace and always make sure that it is REAL.

Later on in the semester, I was assigned with 2 of my friends to do a presentation about Mozilla Internet Health Report where we introduced the topic of fake news and started to show the class different pictures where some of them were real and some were fake; we then asked them to tell us if they are fake or real and I noticed that literally no one got out his/her phone to check for the reliability of the photos we showed them where they trusted their own instincts which is not enough in this case.

During the preparation for our presentation we tried to play a game called  “Fake It To Make It” that made me realize how it is very easy to create fake account and make it appear reliable with a very high percentage in very easy steps. This game is mainly designed for you to make your fake account to share fake news and gain money out of it. All you have to do is to share 1 or 2 articles to make your website appear to be rich with knowledge where I was able to get a score of 70 points for the appearance of reliability of my website when at the end it was fake… This game left me thinking about the thousands and thousands of websites that we tend to believe to be real when they are fake in reality. This sounds pretty sad that almost everything surrounding us is turning to be fake.

This presentation made me discover the reasons behind which people create fake news….sometimes it’s for political issues to create a propaganda for a certain candidate, sometimes it is to create money where ads pop up while you are reading fake news and u click on them without paying attention…One more reason may be to promote certain products as marketing elements.

when we were to start our fake news topic discussion in class, one of our colleagues suggested watching a video for an AUC student called Sarah Abou El Khair who was testing a social experiment. I will leave it to your expectations for whoever is reading this should really go and see it here is the link….This experiment made me realize the huge trouble we are in sharing and spreading fake news without even thinking about it.

The most important thing I believe I have learned for this not topic is the “Four Moves” where it helped me a lot to assess and differentiate whether the web-site I am reading from is fake or real and whether the news itself is real or fake. All you have to do is:

  • Check for previous work: Look around to see if someone else has already fact-checked the claim or provided a synthesis of research.
  • Go upstream to the source: Go “upstream” to the source of the claim. Most web content is not original. Get to the original source to understand the trustworthiness of the information.
  • Read laterally:  Once you get to the source of a claim, read what other people say about the source (publication, author).
  • Circle back: If you get lost, hit dead ends, or find yourself going down an increasingly confusing rabbit hole, back up and start over knowing what you know now. You’re likely to take a more informed path with different search terms and better decisions.

To apply the 4 moves we practiced them on an Arabic articlewhich stated that Ireland is the most country that sticks to the moral of Islam where Saudi Arabia is in the 128thplace while Egypt is in the 91….For me I was sure that this info was wrong based on common sense but when trying to apply the four moves I figured out that this article was published in “the Journal” which now made more sense that I shouldn’t trust my instincts.

After grasping those 4 moves the Dr gave us an activity to do in groups of 4 where we were asked to figure out the reliability of some questions …My group had the question of “is the Sun “going to sleep” in 2020? We kept on searching and digging and tried to follow the 4 moves but actually the answer to this was to simply put the questions on a fact checker website called  Snopes or another one called Hoax Busters where they are designed to check whether the title of the news you typed is real or fake. These websites made me notice that it is now easier to check for the reliability of news but indeed people need more awareness as for myself I never thought there was a website like this.

The question here that I asked myself is “can computers automatically be developed to spot fake news?”  after surfing a lot of web sites I came to a conclusion that no matter how good computers are in finding fake news they still didn’t get to the point where they can totally replace humans in fact checking.(

To wrap it up, awareness should be raised towards fake news where people should stop spreading info if they aren’t 100% sure about because this leads to un-equality from my point of view where sometimes it may lead to a real loss for a company or a person even if it is not true …as what happened to Heinz around 2 years ago where there appeared to be rumors about them using rotten tomatoes in their ketchup production process, thus people boycott them ( and I was one of them) but after 1 year it turned out that the rumors weren’t true. This made them lose a lot of customers due to someone sharing this fake news.


Privacy and Algorithms Class Reflection

After reading the slides of the last class, I realized that we are starting to discuss a new theme which is privacy and algorithms. This theme is very interesting since it shows the different levels of invading privacies, and different security tools as well.  I started by watching the first video on the class slides called “Our Friends Electric”which gave me two different impressions. At first, I was amazed with the development of technology and how people were able to create such intelligent machine that makes real full conversation with humans; as it gets everything done for you, makes life easier, and saves time. However, still it has its drawbacks such as making people lazier and dumber, and most importantly invading their privacies. To illustrate, “Eddi” the machine which appeared in the first part of the video was intelligent enough to detect that the owner might have had health issues and so it made an appointment with a doctor, but the annoying part about this is that it had access to change the owner’s meeting time without referring to him. The fun fact about the privacy theme is that people who want to keep their lives and accounts safe and private are the ones who invade their privacies themselves. For instance, most of the social media and mobile applications users agree on the privacy terms and policies without reading them, so they basically allow these applications to collect and use their personal data with their own agreement. The “Karma” device which appeared in the same video also is a privacy invading tool which invades whoever agrees to live with it. Any Karma owner is just giving a machine his identity to use it, and then he will be responsible for what this machine said. Although people can control this machine setting, still there are some situations where human interactions are the only thing needed to solve a problem. Also, the last part in the video “Sig” was the creepiest machine that any human can own, because having a deep conversation with a machine instead of having it with a friend or a psychiatrist, in my opinion, might lead to real mental problems. After that, I watched the Mind Readervideo which made it straight to the point.  I knew that there must be a trick and that the man wasn’t really reading people’s minds, but I was shocked with the type of information he was telling them. For instance, the negative balance on the bank account of a woman. However, when the magic was revealed; as it appeared in the video that all the information gathered about the people are taken from their social media accounts, I had one thought in mind which is why do people share such important information about themselves on the social media platforms. Finally, I watched the Platform Capitalismvideo by Chris Gilliard which was discussing the surveillance capitalism issue and how can people have the ability to be free from being surveilled. Gilliard was mainly trying to address in his video how do people enable surveillance capitalism and that people should understand the definitions of open in terms of freedom so that they would be free from being capitalism surveilled.

“know Yourself” Final Draft

Me and my friend, Yasmine made a game called “know yourself” that is designed to make people realize their unconscious judgmental doings that they are used to do or even do rarely to help them point out and be aware of this part in their personality that they might want to improve. It is designed for both males and females with different random scenarios that they might face on normal days.

Here are our previous blogs for the game:

After publishing our first draft, a lot of people tried it and some pointed out several comments that we tried to improve:

  • We changed the name of the game from being called “judgmental people” to “know yourself” in order to try to eliminate the manipulation done by people to make themselves non more sense to make them react more freely according to their personality
  • Our professor Dr Maha Bali pointed out some comments that we took into consideration…First, she asked us to revise the English and flow of the words of the scenarios as it was not clear enough; we did this through adding the question ” What would you do?” after some scenarios as the professor suggested, and through fixing the wording of the scenarios and choices, so that they match each other. Second, she pointed out that there is a scenario where there was a woman driving to Sahel and there were three young men standing beside a parked car waving for her to help which might be unfair to judge this situation in Egypt as it is dangerous for a girl to stand alone for three men which is somehow a biased situation. Therefore, we replaced this scenario with another one. Third, there were titles called “untitled” in the scenerios where we removed them as the scenarios are random and don’t require titles. Finally, she pointed out that some branches lead to wrong places thus we fixed this issue making sure they point to the right place.
  • One of the comments we received from our colleagues was suggesting an addition to the options of a certain scenario which was “A student in your class keeps complaining about the course and tells you that he will be failing the course. However, the grades of the first midterm are out and you find that this student got 100/100 in the exam. What would you do?”. Our colleague’s comment was that when she read the scenario she thought that this student is smart and wouldn’t fail the course but he is a bit nervous so he keeps complaining about the course. However, assuming that the student is complaining because he is nervous about the course is still a judgement that should not be made. Another comment that we received about the same scenario was “I just have one comment on the student who got 100%. I chose the option of asking him to help me for the coming test, and the comment after the question said that I shouldn’t prejudge him as a liar, which I didn’t at all with the option I chose, so maybe add 2 comments to this question in particular, one for those who chose options that imply judging, and another for those who didn’t judge”. After reading this comment, we fixed that through changing the option mentioned by the player to make it much clearer.
  • Another comment pointed out by another colleague was about the scenario having the a guy crash into your car and damaging it where by mistake we didn’t include an option of being not judgmental and having your car fixed at the same time because it is your right to get paid for the damage or to have the one who damaged your car fix it for you, thus we added this option.
  • We added a conclusion at the end of the game which was not included in the first draft in order to ensure that the players get the aim of the game.

If I had more time to design this game I would’t have done much actually, but perhaps I would’ve thought about more deep situations and would’ve considered more different aspects of personalities not only the judgmental side like bias for example to give more room for people to discover themselves and make positive changes to their personalities. Other than that I feel that it is good and needs no more changes.

Last but not least, the most important thing I’ve learned through this game is that I kept watching my reactions and found out that even me although I don’t like judgmental people but unfortunately it turned out that I am unconsciously one of them. Thus I will definitely focus on changing this aspect in my personality. Another thing is gaining the experience to try to expect how different minds would react towards different scenarios with many different actions which actually mad me realized how diverse our human nature and personalities are.

Equity and Bias Theme Reflection

The very first thing that I believe all of us should really know and grasp very well is the difference between equity and equality which is how we started this theme in class. Basically, if you give all people an apple to eat that’s equality however, some people might be still hungry that they will need more than one apple so by giving them all a single apple doesn’t ensure that they are in the same level of hunger which is not fair. So at the end of the day it is better to focus on being fair (equity) than being equal because if you were to be put in any strict situation you would prefer to be treated fairly and not equally.. I believe.

One great activity we had to do is that in pairs we had to think about something that annoyed us and then think of 5 excuses that would make us forgive the person who does it. This game actually was a great way for everyone to start feeling what others feel by putting themselves in others’ shoes and trying to think of what are the things that could possibly be for a person to do so and so… After listening to what annoyed people in my class, this put me on to keep thinking about how we are so judgmental as human beings where we tend to dislike some people for only their actions or behaviors without giving them the sufficient reasons behind that behavior. Even most of the people in class didn’t think about all the 5 reasons, some got only 2 while some got 3 and 4 where I was one of them which made me feel that I really need to change this habit and give people millions of reasons for doing anything that bothers me or that I dislike.

Finally, one last thing that made me kind of nervous is trying to do the Implicit Harvard test where in the result I found out that I am biased towards light skinned people over dark skinned people which was a never ever expected result because I do never care about skin color; where I believe that everyone is beautiful the way they are whether they are dark skinned or white skin it really doesn’t matter. This made me think of two things…its either the game had something wrong or that we are unconsciously biased towards some things in life that we don’t realize. I even tried doing that test several times and I always got the same result which made me really annoyed.