MSN Arabia

Currently managing editorial operation at MSN UAE in its Arabic and English versions at Microsoft, Dubai office.

My journey with MSN started by joining the MSN Arabia team in 2013 in Cairo as a homepage editor for the Arabic and English versions of the site, as well as running MSN Arabia Facebook and Twitter pages, one of the biggest among global MSN websites.

MSN then moved to the Microsoft Cairo office in 2014, where I worked as a content editor, curating and creating content as well as weekly and monthly reports to measure our KPIs.

I left Microsoft for one year to finish my masters degree in Interactive Media in the united states as a part of the Fulbright scholarship program. Upon completing my diploma, I re-joined the MSN team at Microsoft Dubai office, focusing on MSN UAE in Arabic and English, before moving to the managing editor position at Microsoft.

Fulbright

I was awarded the Fulbright scholarship, a merit-based American exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, in 2015 to complete my masters degree in Interactive Media at Elon University, North Carolina.

During my year as a Fulbright student, I got a chance to contribute regularly to the Fulbright MENA blog, as well as travel across the U.S. and attend events as part of and outside the Fulbright network such as the U.S. Politics and Elections: Democracy in Action Conference, as well as doing charity work for Partnership for Children in Austin, TX.

Cairo 360

Cairo360.com is a comprehensive online guide to all that is new in Cairo, it includes features and reviews of hangout places in the Egyptian capital, restaurants, movies currently in theaters, books and more.

I worked at Cairo 360 for 2 years as a writer, examples of published articles below:

Ahmed Shawki Museum: A Quiet Tribute to the Prince of Poetry

Darb El Barabra: Preparing a Party Has Never Been Easier

Cycling In Cairo: Pedal Your Way to a Healthier State

Hanging Church: Ancient Hallmark of Coptic Cairo

Cairo Traffic: Bey2ollak and Wasalny Can Save Your Day

Another Year: Slow-Paced Family Drama

Anne-Marie Drosso: In Their Father’s Country

 

UN Women


Media documentation volunteer, 2012

– Monitoring daily Egyptian independent and government-owned newspapers while focusing on certain stories related to Egyptian Women, UN activities in Egypt, and important events happening on the Egyptian political scene. This was during the first Egyptian presidential elections after the revolution.
– Compiling daily and weekly reports.
– Working on separate special files on timely important events and characters, gathering news stories that mention their achievements and updates.

Elon University

Projects for the iMedia program 2015-2016 in various new media fields such as interactive media writing, visual design, SEO and more.

Allied Churches of Alamance County (ACAC)
Allied Churches of Alamance County is a charity organization that helps people in need. They provide basic shelter and food to those in need in Alamance County in North Carolina. This project’s main focus was creating a social media plan and optimizing the Allied Churches website for search engines. During the spring months, our team worked with Allied Churches to better get the organization’s message across to its audience and increase the amount of community support the receive.

M.A. Thesis: Scribblers Hub

My graduation capstone project was to create an online community for writers. Scribblers’ Hub is a website that provides inspirational and motivational content in the form of writing tips and advice from famous writers, relating to what every creative person goes through in the process of writing any sort of material.

Click here to read more.

Audio Slideshow: Culture and Religious Dialogue

My interview with Dr. Janet F. Fuller, chaplain for Elon University and director of the Truitt Center for Religious & Spiritual Life at Elon.

 

 

White Paper: Using the Internet for a Better State of Mind

A previous research paper I worked on titled Consumption of Social Media and Anxiety Among Teens and Young Adults reviewed literature that studied young adults’ usage of social media, instant messaging apps and other online networks, and discussed the effects of the internet and social media on anxious and lonely people. The paper revealed that the Internet can sometimes help users feel less worried and more connected, but it also revealed some of the downsides of being always connected and constantly in the know.

Manuscript: Is Extended Consumption of Social Media Linked to Anxiety Among Teens and Young Adults?

Interacting on social media has changed how people communicate and form relationships, consequently altering the social structure of the new generation. This literature review seeks to clarify the possibility of a relationship, whether a correlation or a causation, between social media usage and anxiety. What motivates young users to interact online, as well as the effects researchers observed on their samples showed that the main reason people use this method of communication is to connect and feel included, even though they are often exposed to more worry and anxiety. However, almost all studies found that the increase of either anxiety or happiness level was tied to personal attributes. Thus, social media as a platform has no tangible effect on individuals by itself but can help predict certain psychological patterns.

 

 

 

Abair Leat

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During winter term at the iMedia MA program at Elon University, students fly to different locations around the world to work with non-profit organizations and groups on a project for the public good.
This year, our team went to Ireland to work with our client Mícheál Ó Foighil to help develop Abair Leat, the first Irish language messaging app.
Together our team created a website, a social media plan, wireframes, screen designs and promotional videos for Abair Leat, creating something that Micheal can pitch for funding to make the app a reality.

Abair Leat – Commercial from Salma Tantawi on Vimeo.

The most motivating part of this project is the role the app will play in solving a wider cultural problem; Irish teens have no convenient way of using Irish on social media. Their words always get autocorrected to English thus discouraging them and their peers from communicating in their original language, which use in the community has been drastically declining.
My role in the project was the video/photography lead. Together with Micheal, we made the best of our visit to Ireland by getting footage that represented the culture in the towns and cities we visited, as well as talk to experts in the communication field about the language use. During our visit to a school in Tullamore, we also heard from high school students, Abair Leat main target age range audience, about how they use social media, and what are their thoughts about Abair Leat after testing the app.

Abair Leat – Promotional Video from Salma Tantawi on Vimeo.

What we heard while being on site was different from what we were expecting preparing for our project. Irish is not only an old language used in official settings, teenagers actually yearn for a way to use it more, they love their language and they wish there was a way to always use it, and more people to speak it with.
As one girl we interviewed said “I always say my hellos and goodbye in Irish, even when I’m in the city and when no one understands me. It’s the way I connect with my culture.”
Hopefully many will be able to text and chat in Irish soon not only learn Irish in school.
In addition to the videos above, we created a video that shows part of our experience as a team which was a great and a rewarding opportunity for us to work on a real project in a challenging setting.

Ireland Fly-In 2016 Team video from Salma Tantawi on Vimeo.

Inverin, Galway & Tullamore

Photo Essay: Shopping Arabic

Brand names are what companies all over the world use to achieve recognition for their brand in consumers’ minds, and to create a character that stands out among a sea of competition. You don’t read the word McDonald’s while driving on the road, you don’t even need to see the word, all it takes is a glimpse of a yellow M to know that this is a McDonald’s.

That’s why I unknowingly took it for granted that the letters that make the brand name were the most important part of the branding package…until I saw it in Arabic. Translating brands have never crossed my mind before, even though Arabic is my first language. Again because I’ve always thought of brand names as more of shapes than English letters. Also it might be important to note that brand names are not really “translated” in meaning, but rather written in Arabic letters.

Dubai is one of the biggest shopping destinations in the world, and even though expats make up more than 90% of its population, the city is equally in Arabic as it is in English. It’s interesting in what this fact represents in many translation aspects, especially in its many malls.

Some stores are instantly recognizable in Arabic, without needing to read the word. Maybe it’s the collection of how the word is written, the font, the colors, the background…etc. But just think of how hard it must be to keep it original and communicate the same visual in an entirely different language (and a right-to-left one).

Below are examples of Arabic branding (with their English names) of some of the most recognizable brands.

Dior
Dior

 

Swarovski
Swarovski

 

MAC Cosmetics
MAC Cosmetics

 

Dolce & Gabbana
Dolce & Gabbana

 

Gap
Gap

 

Bloomingdale's
Bloomingdale’s

 

Burberry
Burberry

 

Diesel
Diesel

 

Payless Shoes
Payless Shoes

 

Next
Next

 

New Look
New Look

 

Prada
Prada

 

Clarks
Clarks

 

Just Cavalli
Just Cavalli

 

Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton

 

Pull & Bear
Pull & Bear

 

TGI Fridays
TGI Fridays

 

Claire's
Claire’s

White Paper: Using the Internet for a Better State of Mind

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Introduction and Background: 
A previous research paper I worked on titled Consumption of Social Media and Anxiety Among Teens and Young Adults reviewed literature that studied young adults’ usage of social media, instant messaging apps and other online networks, and discussed the effects of the internet and social media on anxious and lonely people. The paper revealed that the Internet can sometimes help users feel less worried and more connected, but it also revealed some of the downsides of being always connected and constantly in the know.

Such negative outcomes were observed by studying teenagers’ and young adults’ internet time spend and how they felt afterwards compared to how they generally feel. Participants of a number of studies revealed that constantly browsing the internet makes them more anxious as they often waste time and it affects school or work time. They experience a fear of missing out (FOMO) on what their friends were doing at any time of day. Some participants expressed how hard it is to take a break and log off social media for even a week. That, among other reasons, counters the idea of having the internet as a social connection tool.

However, the internet can actually alleviate some of the stress everyday life causes. In a recent Pew Research study, women especially were found to feel less anxious or stressed after using Twitter, even if they are not heavy users of the micro blogging site themselves. It provides the tools that, if used right, have a great potential in helping people mentally prepare for the day and be motivated.

This white paper aims to fill in some gaps I found while researching the topic from a positive and negative stand points, as well as introduce some of the solutions that can use the skills I’m learning in the iMedia program to tackle some of those issues and make the internet a better space for users who might feel something is missing to make their browsing process more useful.

 

Target Audience: 

Possible interactive media solution for these problems will mainly target teenagers and young adults (15-25 years old). As they are the main age range that were studied in my literature review, so information on how they think and feel about social media have backup scientific data.

This age range also represents the heaviest users of social media and who are more likely to be affected by that heavy use.

 

Approaches and Possible Solutions: 

A More Productive Space

Social media directly affects productivity. Brooks (2015) argues that no matter how participants could demonstrate their multitasking skills, social media affected task performance and contributed to the decrease of the level of happiness. Brooks also uses the term “technostress” to refer to the stress caused by the use of technology throughout the day. The heavier the usage of social media, the more technostress the sample suffered.

Consequently, the Internet is sometimes viewed as a time waster, usually because of the limitless things you can find there which can encourage procrastination if the user is not careful.

Social media also fall into the category of huge time-wasters. Even though it provides a great tool for networking and connecting, spending many hours posting updates on Facebook or tweeting is not a good sign of using it to its utmost potential.

With the great tools the internet provides, the users need to feel they are being assisted. That’s what technology were created for to begin with.

 

Possible solution:

A daily online assistant hub for tasks, inspirational ideas and timelines. This website would provide a workspace with settings to help the user focus as much as possible by eliminating any online distractions. It would provide ways to block social media, calculates actual time spent working and remind the user to take breaks to rest eyes and exercise.

The website would target college students, writers and users who want to focus on a certain task and not risk stumbling on the many distractions of the internet.

 

The Culture of Complaining Vs. Searching for Inspiration

The idea of sharing anything with a large group of people is linked with how users can sometimes feel pressure to say something on social media, which in turn results in complaints or trivial oversharing, which leads to more stress in young users.

There’s too much negativity the average social media user is greeted with when they first open Facebook or Twitter. Complaints about products, behaviors, other people, and a different spectrum of things that don’t go right. And post by post, it can get friends on social media contagiously stressed just by reading the posts. The motivation behind such posts is often boredom, the need to share something but not knowing what.

Users find themselves usually straying in their search for ideas, which causes more time to pass by without a good amount of work accomplished. Instead of using the vast amount of information and content available on the internet, users become bored of the search and the click baits, and sometimes not inspired as often as needed, yet always busy.

 

Possible solution:

A website that allows you to select a number of websites to search from upon logging in. The site remembers choices and shows the user related search results from their sites.

Once the user searches on a specific topic, they’ll see results following the specific type of content they set. It could be courses from Lynda.com and Lifehack articles, Wikipedia entries and YouTube videos, or any other collection of resources. That way, the user can select their resources and get less unrelated or distracting results.

 

Relaxing Online

Being distracted multiple times a day by social media and internet browsing is a common problem. However, the internet can have a relaxing and calming effects if used smartly.

A study found out that employers who take internet browsing breaks between tasks perform better than employers who don’t take these breaks. Moreover, with high-end technology and virtual reality becoming more popular and affordable, there’s more reason and potential for the internet to help people become more mentally prepared for a busy day.

 

Possible solution:

An online relaxing hub that offers tools to help a user relax and disconnect.

This hub will be a go-to website for anyone seeking a break whether they are in the office or home after a long day.

Some of the feature may include and not limited to:

  • Relaxing exercises: Yoga, breathing exercises and meditations with categories varying from weekend mornings to short work breaks.
  • Virtually visiting the world’s most relaxing beaches via Google Street View and having a 360 experience within the site.
  • Relaxing music and calming talks.
  • Guided breaks between study or work.

 

What is social media anxiety?

Another problem is how the target age range users might not be aware of the problems the overuse of social media causes, which usually leads to missed opportunities and multiplying the negative effects of the problem while it can actually have positive effects on teenagers and young adults.

 

Possible solution:

An informative website that lists information on the different kinds of anxiety, the social media roles in highlighting/helping teenagers and young adults with social anxiety and loneliness, as well as suggested ways to help users cultivate a healthier online routine. All in an interactive way.

 

Conclusion: 

The right internet tools can be used to bring users to a better state of mind. Taking a break doesn’t need to mean shutting off the internet, on the contrary, it inspires to work more on getting the positive potential more popular among its heaviest users who are, according to studies, experiencing its strongest effects as a negative and positive medium.

This capstone project will involve a website that would be of assistance to a young adult in achieving a goal, whether it is to do more work, smartly and in less time, or help them relax and take a break. Both approaches acting as motivation for the user to create more and become more productive.

 

Sources: 

  1. http://abcnews.go.com/US/web-browsing-makes-workers-happier-productive-study/story?id=14362815
  2. Brooks, S. (2015) Does personal social media usage affect efficiency and well-being? Computers in Human Behavior, 46, Pages 26–37. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.12.053
  3. http://www.businessinsider.com/productive-ways-to-spend-time-online-2014-8
  4. http://www.cmdconf.net/2014/pdf/36.pdf
  5. http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/latest-columns/20140228-how-can-we-change-the-culture-of-complaint.ece
  6. http://www.healthline.com/health-news/venting-emotions-facebook-contagious-031414
  7. http://www.incomediary.com/how-to-be-more-productive-online-5-proven-tips
  8. http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/take-a-break-10-websites-to-help-you-relax-for-two-minutes/
  9. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/15/social-media-and-stress/
  10. Repetto, C., Gaggioli, A., Pallavicini, F., Cipresso, P., Raspelli, S. & Riva, G. (2013). Virtual reality and mobile phones in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorders: a phase-2 clinical trial. Pers Ubiquit Comput 17, 253–260. doi: 10.1007/s00779-011-0467-0
  11. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305048398000280
  12. Wang, Y., Niiya, M., Mark, G., Reich, S. & Warschauer, M. (2015) Coming of Age (Digitally): An Ecological View of Social Media Use among College Students. Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing, (CSCW ’15). 571-582. doi:10.1145/2675133.2675271.

Ireland Fly-In: Project Reflections

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During winter term at the iMedia MA program at Elon University, students fly to different locations around the world to work with non-profit organizations and groups on a project for the public good.
This year, our team went to Ireland to work with our client Mícheál Ó Foighil to help develop Abair Leat, the first Irish language messaging app.
Together our team created a website, a social media plan, wireframes, screen designs and promotional videos for Abair Leat, creating something that Micheal can pitch for funding to make the app a reality.

 

Abair Leat – Commercial from Salma Tantawi on Vimeo.

 

The most motivating part of this project is the role the app will play in solving a wider cultural problem; Irish teens have no convenient way of using Irish on social media. Their words always get autocorrected to English thus discouraging them and their peers from communicating in their original language, which use in the community has been drastically declining.
My role in the project was the video/photography lead. Together with Micheal, we made the best of our visit to Ireland by getting footage that represented the culture in the towns and cities we visited, as well as talk to experts in the communication field about the language use. During our visit to a school in Tullamore, we also heard from high school students, Abair Leat main target age range audience, about how they use social media, and what are their thoughts about Abair Leat after testing the app.

 

Abair Leat – Promotional Video from Salma Tantawi on Vimeo.

 

What we heard while being on site was different from what we were expecting preparing for our project. Irish is not only an old language used in official settings, teenagers actually yearn for a way to use it more, they love their language and they wish there was a way to always use it, and more people to speak it with.
As one girl we interviewed said “I always say my hellos and goodbye in Irish, even when I’m in the city and when no one understands me. It’s the way I connect with my culture.”
Hopefully many will be able to text and chat in Irish soon not only learn Irish in school.
In addition to the videos above, we created a video that shows part of our experience as a team which was a great and a rewarding opportunity for us to work on a real project in a challenging setting.

 

Ireland Fly-In 2016 Team video from Salma Tantawi on Vimeo.

Inverin, Galway & Tullamore

The Art of Title Sequence

Memorable scenes from the show accompanied by the cheesiest music the director could find (maybe it was a challenge for a prize?) and credits rolling and rolling and rolling, from the guy who stopped by the studio to fix the air conditioning to the producers. No, thank you. That’s not what a title sequence is, at least not since the 1980s.

A title sequence is the cover of the book in a visual, moving sense. It’s what gives you an idea of what you’re about to see, set the stage while being interesting itself; an important part of the production not just something you skip through.

I personally can’t be talking about title sequences without mentioning The Simpsons, for 26 glorious years and still kicking, the show has done a new “couch intro” every episode. The creativity that goes into working with something so limited: a shot of a couch, the back of a TV, a side table, a lamp and a crooked painting and five characters, is something to pause and ponder on.

Taking it a step further, French animator Yoann Hervo plays on the familiarity of the intro by remaking it in such a way that is the same but isn’t, activating those parts of our brains that really stopped thinking about the details of the clip we’ve seen more times than we can remember.

Such commentaries are thought provoking in how they sometimes are a “what if” questions. What if an intro to a CAMP festival wasn’t an energetic beat accompanied by b-rolls of mountain hiking and smiley people looking up at rainy skies with the words DO IT or GET OUT THERE or something that would make you drop your remote control and go running in the streets? This seems to be the tone of most of the them and they seem to work, so why not?

Instead, they did this:

If a title-sequence or introduction that can be missed is a waisted resource that can easily grab the viewer’s attention and convince them to start, and stay longer watching the production. The choice of music, typography and the progress of the sequence all play into how much value the makers think their work has.

To watch more interesting title sequence, check out Art of the Title and/or Forget the Film, Watch the Titles.

Beauty and Brains

Once you start reading on art and graphic design, you get (other people’s) perceptions of what is beautiful and what isn’t visually attractive. Is a design successful when it’s so mind-challenging to a point that makes us feel stupid for not getting it at a first glance or the exact opposite, when it fits so perfectly with everything else it goes so easily into our minds?

I take it as a little bit of both. While the simpler the design the longer it will live, it’s refreshing to see a clever design becomes popular, and usually those have one kind or another of an ‘aha!’ factor. Gestalt principles of perceptions are a great intro to how these factors can be defined.

The human mind can see more than the sum of parts to make a shape. Sometimes it adds parts on its own to complete a figure that doesn’t really have a meaning otherwise. For example, you can understand that the below logo is a panda, even though it really isn’t, your mind completed the missing parts in order to see it that way.

panda

Same goes for grouping things together based on shapes, line weights, colors or other features. Things are perceived in a way that makes the most sense using this amazing default brain power.

Other examples of Gestalt:

g4

g2 g1 g3

Thirty Conversations On Design

30 designers; two questions:

1- What design inspires you the most?

2- What problems do you think design can solve?

Designers take on answering the questions in short videos which you can see them all here, some agree on transportation as a problem design should start revolutionizing by now. Be it the mapping aspect of it or many of its tedious processes, like long security check lines at the airport.

Personally, I don’t think it needs to be this totally impressive new feature to design a solution, the simplest forms of design are the ones that outlive everything else to the point that challenges people to remember the original problem years later.

John Militello who happens to be the Creative Innovation Team Manager at Google (as well as sitting too close to the camera to the point where we only see half of his nose, talk about the design mind!) also mentions the different transportation system as a problem to solve. However, he says that we don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel. Inspiration can be in everything; nature, a pen, a spoon….anything!

Kit Hinrichs on the other hand is inspired the most by typography. Agustin Garza by a centuries-old piece from Central America because it combines the elements of meaning and aesthetic design. Juke box coins, a rubber band ball, an eraser, the Internet are few of the answers the designers provided.

These types of answers is what makes it interesting to get designers’ perspective on design. Since design is the most successful when it’s not noticed, it’s hard to answer such questions as a viewer. If you remember a design, it’s either because you really loved it or you really hated it, the in-betweens are what we see everyday, and what could be inspiring us everyday without us ever noticing, and that’s the beauty of it.