In order to give you a full understanding of what is currently taking place across North Africa and the Middle East, allow me to first give a brief background on why the Middle East is politically the way it is today. The history may seem boring but stay with me and it should hopefully pay off.
It has been theorized that in order for a nation’s citizens to live at peace together they must have at least two points of commonality with each other. In the case of the United States, while we are of different races and different religions, we have a shared language and shared ideologies and values — honoring the self-made man, promoting tolerance, rooting for the underdog, a desire to right our wrongs, etc.— which has created a shared culture and makes each of us American. While I feel this is eroding and will present future problems for our country, I will have to save that for a future blog post.
In the Middle East and across much of North Africa, until roughly 1920, the vast majority was of the same religion (Islam), everybody identified themselves as part of the same nation or empire and the key differentiating factor was that of tribal and cultural differences. Suffice it to say that for the most part, everyone got along very well and the Middle East was a world power under Ottoman rule.
However, a faction of Arab (non-Turks) from what is present-day Saudi Arabia felt that they should be the rightful rulers of the Arab lands and should be autonomous. And why shouldn’t they? The Hashemite Sharifians had ruled Mecca and Medina since 1201 and the Muslim holy book, the Koran, is believed to have been divinely given to the Prophet Mohammed directly from the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) in the Arabic language. To make the case even stronger, Sharif Hussein bin Ali who was the ruler of Mecca and Medina (the two key locations of the Muslim Hajj and thus the two biggest tourist destinations and wealthiest cities in the middle east) did not like the Ottoman’s constantly looking over his shoulder. To his credit, his bloodline had done a pretty good job keeping it under control since 1201.
So, to speed things up a bit, the Ottomans formed an alliance with the Germans during WWI and thus became an enemy of the French and the British. Sharif bin Hussein conspired with the French and British to overthrow the Empire and found very willing accomplices. In 1916, the Arab revolt began and with the help of their new found western allies was very successful. King Hussein requested a single unified Arab state and asked the French and British to help him establish it. This was not to be the case.
Fearing such a powerful unified force and desiring access to spice trading routes. The British and French divided the Middle East into the countries that exist today. When Sharif Hussein protested, the Saudi Tribal leaders were approached to plot his overthrow. He was taken out by the Saudi tribal leaders and they were given control of Mecca and Medina which has made them extremely wealthy as a result (they are now the current Saudi Royal Family).
The final loose-end for the French and British was figuring out what to do with the sons of Sharif Hussein. Their family had been the rightful rulers of those lands since 1201 and desired their father’s inheritance. So, in lieu of giving them Mecca and Medina and fighting the newly formed Saudi Royal Family, the British and French gave his sons the countries they had newly drawn up. Faisal bin Hussein bin Ali al-Hashemi became the ruler of the Arab Kingdom of Syria and later the Arab Kingdom of Iraq. Even today Hussein’s sons’ legacies can be seen in King Hussein of Jordan and the legacy of Saddam Hussein of Iraq.
So, now that we have run through that long history, what does that have to do with Egypt, Tunisia, Lybia, etc. today? The answer is a lot.
The current populace of the Middle East desires a return to its Ottoman past, not under Ottoman rule but under one Muslim/Arab banner. They wish to have the commonality that they once had and they desire strongly for the reunification of the Middle East. [I can’t blame them. In my opinion, they deserve it as much as we deserve a unified United States. However I have to clearly and emphatically state that I do not agree with the tactics that have been used to date and I do not agree with them targeting specific ethnic or religious groups as enemies of this process. This also needs to be a slow process that respects the new state of the world and respects the rights of each nation state.] In getting back to the history, the fingerprints for this desire to be a unified Arab nation can be seen all over any major event that has taken place in the Middle East in the past 80 years: this led to the six day war in June of 1967 (a lot of Arab leaders wanted to be seen as the first to kick out who they viewed as the imperialists and thus be the leaders of the reunification), this is why Saddam Hussein attacked Iran and later Kuwait and this is the motive driving Osama bin Laden, Al Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood and countless other political groups.
The problem is that from the very beginning arbitrary country lines were drawn to create a nation of people that had already formed an identity as something else. As soon as Tunisia or Egypt or Libya was created, these people had to ask themselves: Am I Tunisian? Am I Egyptian? What is the Kingdom of Syria? What does that mean? Am I still Arab? Am I still Muslim? Am I still loyal to the Ottomans? Does my tribe matter? All of these questions become very difficult to figure out in a world that doesn’t draw the same boundary between religion, culture and politics that we do. As a result, people lost their points of connection and began quarreling. Despotic regimes took over, profited off their populations and kept their people at bay out of fear.
Enter Wiki leaks: Corrupt economies are exposed, people realize that they are poor because their government is profiting off of them, their leaders are dirty dealing and thus we have revolution.
Is this revolution good? My initial instinct would be to say yes. Yes in the sense that it may be good 100 years from now. But, is this good for their people and for the world now? I don’t think so.
The toppling of these regimes, the nostalgia for a unified Middle East and the poverty and lack of infrastructure that is to come will create a deep need for support and rule from the people in a power vacuum that will most likely be filled by the current powerful parties: Al Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood, etc. As these organizations with money, resources and a violent agenda step forward, we will not see the Middle East grow into the Intellectual light that it once was, we will see it descend into very dark times: dark times for its people and for our global economy.
In my mind this is something to be concerned about and something to be prayed about. I honestly hope we all take some time to offer up our prayers for the individuals in these countries, for the soon to be leaders of these countries and for the world’s leaders trying to make sense of a very messy situation. Let us hope that as was the case with Eastern Europe, the Orange Revolution and others that saw leaders pulled directly from their populace to work towards peace and economic renewal, we see the same thing across the Middle East and North Africa.
Hey all, I posted this on the IAWTV forums in response to a question someone asked and thought it would be of use to everyone…
As a potential candidate for the IAWTV board and an economics minor in college, I wrote my thesis on the institution of the FCC and an economic analysis of wireless spectrum allocation. The paper landed me a job at a wealth management firm and emerging markets hedge fund right out of college. The issues learned from that study have many parallels to the current Net Neutrality debate.
As things stand, the internet pipeline is privatized (different from spectrum, wherein bandwidth is allocated for government, non-profit, private and public use). Spectrum is allocated based on frequency, which in spite of certain difficulties is easier to allocate because nobody can claim to have built a frequency as it is a scientific term that ascribes value to how radio waves operate and radio waves were eventually deemed to be a public good. Cable systems are comprised of pipeline that took decades to develop, bury, connect and maintain. Because we live in a free market system where legal entities are allowed to own property without fear of the government seizing it from them, we are now faced with an issue. The cable companies have invested billions to build out and own these pipelines. It is their property. So what we are really faced with is an issue of eminent domain.
In order for the government to give us a free internet, they basically have to seize the cable companies rights to their property if not their property outright. Herein lies the problem. This is against the general ethos of the American people and capitalism itself (though, i don’t know if I can honestly state that the American people operate from a capitalist ethos any longer, there is still a substantial segment of the population that understands the value in protecting ones right to property). In addition, The cable lobby is huge. Independent content creators are not. Finally, cable is soon to lose money as TV transitions to the internet. It knows it will lose money from the programmers and subscriptions and it plans to increase revenue from the internet or from charging premiums for bandwidth (To be completely transparent, I did PR for a technology company that enabled cable companies to allocate bandwidth from the head-end back in 2003 - so I understood this issue, before it became an issue). This is why the cable companies are currently hedging their bets. Comcast purchased NBC and through that has a stake in Hulu. Canoe (some of the top minds in the industry) are working behind the scenes to make sure this all works out in cable’s favor. So, it goes without saying that cable is investing substantial amounts of money to make sure that they maintain control of this revenue stream. Needless to say, the cards are stacked against independent Web creators.
If you are an independent content creator, get educated! Wearing ribbons helps but needs to be more focused in supporting a free internet. As a board member, I would suggest we establish an open internet working group. The goals of this working group will be two fold. First: education (panels with economists, cable execs, and web creators) - This is something we can get substantial PR around. Second: tactical plans for getting the word out. We need to educate not just web creators but tax payers as well. In the end it is the tax payers who will have to pay the billions of dollars to tell the cable companies what to do with their property and we need them to understand the expense they may have to stand behind.
Anyway, that is my two cents on this. And, in light of everything, the goal should be education and evangelization towards an equitable solution that serves the greater public good.
After reading through the Audience Development section on the IAWTV forum, I thought this case study would be of use to the members. While I understand that it is a step by step case-study using a global athlete, and most web series creators do not have access to global athletes, I think it will still be of help from a strategy and process standpoint. As a matter of full disclosure, both myself and Maria Gonima (IAWTV members) worked on this on behalf of a joint client of ours.
The launch of Cristiano Ronaldo’s social Web presence…
Leading up to Cristiano Ronaldo’s participation in the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, B/HI Buzz was approached by Digital Artists to strategically reclaim and relaunch Cristiano Ronaldo’s social media presence with the end goal of aggregating and activating his global fanbase on a few select platforms and using that fanbase to crowd-source reality TV show concepts, cast directly from fans and distribute content exclusively to the fans.
B/HI Buzz worked with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace and others to strategically reclaim and re-launch the athlete’s social media presence. In addition, B/HI Buzz worked with Digital Artists to develop exclusive video assets for sharing from the athlete’s profiles and with key media outlets. Finally, a social Web hub at www.CristianoRonaldo.com was created to aggregate the athlete’s fan conversations in one location.
Within two months, B/HI Buzz’s efforts placed Cristiano Ronaldo as the premier global athlete on the social Web with more than 11 million Facebook fans, 830,000 Twitter followers and more than 2.5 million YouTube views.
Traditional and Social Media Coverage
It’s official. After months of hard work, Gabriel del Rio, Jacob Rhodes and myself have seen the fruits of our labor pay off. Through the development of the TV Academy Foundation’s Rising Professional Committee, we hope to enhance access to the Academy for the wide spectrum of television professionals by opening new in-roads to members through mentorship opportunities and mixers as well as a series of hosted panels.
On the evening of March 17, we will be hosting the inaugural launch event. In addition to revealing the calendar of events and formally introducing committee staff, the night will identify a crowd-sourced pilot that will serve as a central theme to each of the four panels planned for 2010. Each panel will represent a pilot’s life cycle and will provide insight to the entire television programming experience.
Date: Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Time: 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Location: Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Headquarters
Street: 5220 Lankershim Blvd.
City/Town: North Hollywood, CA
Please RSVP’s via Facebook: http://bit.ly/drXqwI