Stories about online

Dear NADRA, your failure to recognise Pakistan’s undervalued regional languages is not surprising

I recently came across a disheartening news article which stated that the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) failed to recognise a degree attained in a regional language. This applied to all the areas and provinces of Pakistan and not just Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). Now, let us take in the severity of this statement. In effect, this means that those who have done their Bachelors or Masters in Pashto or any other regional language cannot enter their education data for their national identity cards (NIC) at NADRA. The premier regulatory authority’s online forms only contain and recognise a master’s degree or Doctorate in English, Urdu and Persian. But ...

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Cyber love, Skype affairs and affection that kills

“Hi, would you like to become friends with me?” “Well, you are a stranger and I am not allowed to talk to strangers.“ “If we talk, we can get to know each other, then we won’t be strangers anymore.” And that is how it all begins… just some ‘harmless fun’. Stories of rape, blackmail and abuse have become quite frequent of late. These tales are not limited to any particular class or strata of our patriarchal society. To quote just one personal incident, my maid’s daughter, a girl who was hardly 17-years-old at the time, eloped with a relative’s acquaintance and was recovered from another city. The ...

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Is your online life more ‘real’ than your reality?

Your online identity has seen you do a bunch of crazy things from naming yourself after your favourite Star Wars character to putting up highly fantasised pictures of your human self on Bitstrips.  Bitstrips has become a craze among the young and old, with people creating pictures of their human selves online. Photo: Bitstrips (Facebook Page) However, what started as fun and games has long since existed to be only that. You are now as much of an amalgamation of your online experiences as your real-life ones and who is to say which one is what? With phone alerts punctuating ...

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Can’t afford to go to Stanford or Yale? Don’t worry, the internet will take you there!

Internet hype prevails globally and world renowned universities are taking advantage of this by offering education online for free, using Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Universities such as Stanford, MIT and Yale are inviting students to attend their courses without any charges, regardless of any boundaries and these courses are available anytime, anyplace and almost anywhere with internet access. I can register myself for round the year courses from different universities in different fields of study, irrespective of what my ethnicity or nationality is. My journey with the MOOC began almost half a year back. I was carrying out a research on cryptography ...

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Are nasty comments distorting reality?

The online landscape in Pakistan is not unlike the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) at its current scale. There are almost no laws that govern this space. For better or worse, individuals and groups online act with near impunity, with only the slightest fear of heavy-handed retribution from a largely disinterested, clueless government and its associated agencies. In this space exists the potential – both good and bad – for the shaping of public perception, particularly on many thorny issues that traditional media dare not touch. It is also here that the greatest potential exists for measurably changing a person’s opinion ...

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Can online activism lead to any real change?

Slacktivist me? You have got to be kidding me, answered a self-declared cyber activist. I feel the real pain of anyone suppressed anywhere in the world, and it is my duty to highlight issues on Facebook, Twitter, and any online discussion forum; my moral duty to speak for the rights of the oppressed. Such are the thoughts and ideas of a typical self-proclaimed cyber activist who may cross any online boundary to get across his/her point. It is said that societal norms can determine how individuals utilise digital technology for activism. There are certain expectations regarding how we act, speak, and dress ...

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What exactly are we teaching our children?

I opened The Express Tribune’s online edition this morning and read a news report saying that an eighth grader shot himself. Out of habit, I then opened the online news version of Deutsche Welle, a German national radio channel and found a report on how an increasing number of juveniles in India were being implicated in cases as serious as murder. With instances where there have been juvenile terrorists, and in a time when children decorate the first rows of protests and young ones attack cars and burn tyres, there is little hope for these kids to grow into sane human ...

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Use or abuse: How far will social media activism go?

On 26 February 2012, an unarmed African American teenager Trayvon Martin was shot in the chest by George Zimmerman. Minutes before the shooting Zimmerman called 911 and allegedly said – as has been proved by the release of dispatch tapes – that Trayvon “looked suspicious.” He claimed self defense and no charges were filed, however when police arrived on the scene all they found with Trayvon was a can of iced tea and a bag of candy. This incident did not explode on  mainstream American media for a while. But the uproar was loud and clear on social media platforms. It became big on Twitter, Facebook ...

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What is the worst thing about Pakistan’s media?

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) deserves a pat on the back for its bold move towards greater transparency in their online complaints section – they’ve given the public access to the complaint log. To be frank, a pat on the back for Pemra and a cold shiver down one’s spine is unfortunately the order of the day. Let us delve into this treasure trove of the Pakistani complainant’s mindset. First of all, the top 10 list of offenders: No Name Complaints 1 Samaa TV 450 2 Geo News 147 3 Geo Ent 95 4 Express News 32 5 AAG / Geo Aur 26 6 ARY Digital 21 7 HUM TV 13 8 Dawn News 11 9 Dunya TV News 11 10 AAJ News 8 That is a total of over 800 complaints; again, an ...

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When Twitter gets it wrong

I spend an average of 14 hours online every day. During this time, I monitor stories on different news sites, wires stories, Twitter and various other sources. Being in the news business, you can gauge where the news is wrong and where factual inaccuracies are coming from, which (newsflash) happens often. From politicians to opinion makers to senior journalists, factual errors and incorrect news is nothing new but it isn’t only media folk who are to blame. The online community itself is also part of this phenomenon. While ordinary citizens are never short of spreading rumors or incorrect news online ...

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