HoloulXHakkerha offers solutions to promote digital innovation, literacy

HoloulXHakkerha offers solutions to promote digital innovation, literacy
(Photo: Handouts from Search for Common Ground)
AMMAN — HoloulXHakkerha Project, an initiative exploring the means to finding innovative solutions to misinformation and disinformation through youth empowerment and tech-based solutions began in October 2021 with a group of 35 people. اضافة اعلان

The summit, held on Thursday at The Space by Ferras, shared the nine findings and solutions of a four-day bootcamp conducted by TechCamp Jordan through immersive dialogues and panel sessions. Bootcamp participants (aged 18–35) were young leaders already working on tech-based initiatives.

Supported by the US Department of State and implemented by Search for Common Ground in collaboration with Tech Tribes, the summit was split into two panel sessions — each focusing on different solutions — and an open discussion with Salam Katanani, a science content creator.

“At Search for Common Ground, digital peace building is something we have been investing in. A lot of our programs are youth focused. … This project allowed us to support young people to understand and utilize their skills, while also building on these skills to come up with digital products that address issues that they face themselves, and their communities face as well,” Search for Common Ground Country Director Aya Abu Sitteh told Jordan News.

The program model adopted feasible approaches, according to Khaled Hijab, the executive director of Tech Tribes. “We adapted it (the program model) to something that really works, to something that the youth actually understand and want to consume, and it fits the local market.”

“This program is unlike traditional approaches that try to engage youth through governance or the labor market at large. This one (HoloulXHakkerha) came in with knowledge and education that participants need to own responsibility for how they want to develop their own ideas and understanding,” he said.

Digital literacy and content creation
The first panel session, moderated by Hijab, focused largely on the importance of enriching Arab content creation and the necessity of improving digital literacy, alongside the discussion of two initiatives created at the camp.

Literacy Specialist and Trainer Bayan Al-Tal discussed with participants the importance of the national strategy that offers a comprehensive educational curriculum for schools in digital literacy from KG2 till Grade 12.

Saja Abu Zaideh, representing “Cyber Clinic”, a HoloulXHakerha startup, discussed the importance of practicing cyber security and the role of the startup in promoting these practices. Through Cyber Clinic, five awareness videos were created. These videos were largely targeted towards children as their use of the internet is more “random”, said Zaideh.

Alongside Zaideh was Sewar Taweel with the “Ask a Doctor” startup. Ask a Doctor is a four-episode video series that addresses the wide medical misinformation found online. The videos starred two puppets Hadi and Hala, a married couple who both notoriously use the internet to diagnose issues and find untested herbal solutions and mixtures.

“The reason we used dolls is because they feel closer to people,” Taweel told the panel. “The use of puppets allowed us to simplify the content to reach as many people as possible.”

Also during the panel, Thair Kisswani a digital activist and content creator with Peace Geeks, addressed the importance of invigorating social media and other digital platforms with Arabic content. “Many people in the Arab world only speak Arabic,” he said, emphasizing that the lack of Arabic content gives them a disadvantage of restricted access to information online that bilingual speakers might not face.
At Search for Common Ground, digital peace building is something we have been investing in.
On the importance of Arabic content, Hijab, the executive director of Tech Tribes, told Jordan News: “Tech Tribes, right from the start was a good fit for the project because we as an organization that focus on supporting young entrepreneurs, with a focus on social entrepreneurs, have took it on our behalf to contribute to the creation of Arabic content that supports youth.”

“The issue of overflow of information in English has already been addressed. We wanted to create curricula and support in the form that suits the context and is understandable and easily digestible by people in the region,” he added.

Youth participation, and well-being initiatives
The second panel, moderated by Journalist Ghada Al Sheikh, discussed working towards a more responsible digital media space and discussed the ethics and practices of such space. Discussions on the importance of innovative youth participation and flexibility in journalism was also a key discussion point.

Rawan Jayousi, director of Madraj Foundation for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, discussed the creation of a new digital ecosystem where journalistic ethics are changing due to the large change of engagement amongst youth.

In light of restrictions on journalistic freedoms and the lack of accurate information outlets, Jayousi emphasized that “there is a new generation that is able to use the new tools to break these barriers and is capable of presenting sensitive and new content.”

Zummoruda, a HoloulxHakkerha startup that focuses on menstrual education through digital (QR codes) and printed knowledge guides supplemented with videos, photos, and infographics. The startup focused on addressing stigma and misinformation around the menstruation cycle, especially in Mafraq governorate. The startup also included an initiative to distribute sanitary products in the governorate.

While discussing content creation, especially productive content creation, Bayan Sabra from Zummoruda, emphasized that social media, especially for youth, is a place “they escape to, so it is no surprise that the content they consume is not high in value.”

“When we went to Mafraq we tried as much as we can to ensure that the session was not purely informational. … We need to try and find a balance and create content that is engaging,” she added. 

Expanding the emphasis on well-being, Ruba El Shoushi launched the “No filter” startup, which targets 12–18 years old. The startup seeks to target misinformation and disinformation circulated by influencers on social media platforms.

“No Filter is no longer just a need, it is a must. … Influencers are lacking fact checking tools, and audiences are also lacking these tools. Through this initiative we are trying to empower youth to be able to distinguish fact from deceptiveness while also engaging in content creation,” said Shoushi.

“Through engaging influencers with content consumers, influencers are able to share their struggles with the consumers, which is important since they are usually seen as though they are living an easy life and their lifestyle is great. When in reality they might be facing struggles,” she added.

The summit concluded with an open discussion with Katanani and Abu Sitteh, Search for Common Ground country director, emphasizing that the summit and its startups were “just the beginning”.

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