Light Within

Making sense of Social Media

Dr Senta Siller is back in Pakistan after eight years

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Read  more here: Standing ovation for Dr Senta Siller

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Friday, March 30, 2018, ,

Pakistan Army should blog as a policy

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I remember days when army soldiers were told not to disclose their locations where they happened to be serving. I also remember seeing those silly signs on bridges saying ‘photography is prohibited’. No more. Things have changed now. Advent of technologies like GPS or cellular phones has changed the way we work and also our priorities. It is in this milieu that I say blogger outreach and social media influence can be of great advantage to any organization including Pakistan Army. Why else other armies have dedicated army blog networks where soldiers, family members, friends and supporters can post video, images and written stories.

By getting into blogging and other social media channels, army can pick up useful insights to successfully and directly connect with people. Blogging can encourage authenticity and transparency to build credibility. Social influence is very much relevant to any army today, more so to Pakistan Army that derives its strength from masses. This may also help army to actively listen to those strong opinionated advocates and those “realist, liberals, progressive, revolutionaries” that are present out there in blogosphere.

It is about time that Pakistan Army should include blogging in its communication strategy and fill the huge void that exists. Army need to update policies and encourage solders to engage meaningfully. And I know soldiers are good at it (I still remember those public speaking lessons that I had during my training in Pakistan Military Academy - one of the best training institution anywhere in the world - and later those Method of Instructions tutorial I had to attend).

Army has great opportunities to offer to its people. They need to tell this to people it serves. Internal as well as external army bloggers can do this better than anyone else.

Can influential bloggers help army in present context? Shoot down if you don’t agree.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Tuesday, March 27, 2018, ,

Why blog?

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Why do you blog? I asked bloggers this question. First, I posted the question on my own blog Light Within and then emailed the post to bloggers soliciting their comments on the post. Earlier, I have been scouting blogsphere in an effort to find out different motives for blogging.

Some 20 bloggers posted their comments and almost same numbers replied through email, pointing to posts on their own blogs answering my question.Here is a kaleidoscope of opinions from bloggers that I was able to contact and read their posts.

Some bloggers blog for themselves, for sheer joy of it. For some others blogging is a source of expression of their egos, for venting out frustrations, for getting noticed by others, for admiration and affirmation or simply for meeting people - hoping for intimacy with those whom they are unlikely to meet in real life.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, March 15, 2018, ,

Pornography on the Internet - Perspective

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Pornography on the Internet is a new king of plague that has spread all over the world. It is seamlessly tearing apart the fabrics of societies, visibly corrupting the public morals and damaging the institution of family. It is also here in our society and every Web user is aware of its presence. More than 60 percent of the country's Internet users are visiting porn sites, BBC reported quoting Pakistani telecoms officials. But many local users are still unaware of its impact and hence are indifferent about the need to combat this threat; some has simply chosen to ignore its presence. Even talking about pornography on any forum is considered a taboo.

Like it or hate it, explicit images of naked flash on the Internet are popular. Free and easy access to naked flash engaged in various acts is extremely popular. Let me hurry to add a disclaimer that the Internet cannot be blamed for this because it is merely a tool; neutral. Restricting access to the Internet is also not a solution. Similarly, Playboy, Penthouse, or Hustler cultures overseas cannot be held responsible for exporting the trend here. Dr. Irfan Mahmud Chaudhry, a psychotherapist in Lahore says, Viewing nudity is a personal penchant that may lead to addiction and many other negative behavioural changes.

Pornography began spreading with the advent of the Internet as a new medium of communications in the middle 1990s. Earlier, like the video cassette recorders and even earlier like printed material, the Internet has been effective because it allows viewing pornography anonymously in an absolute privacy, without fear of being pointed out as a sex starved or a perverted psychopath. And, now cyber space is littered with porno websites for any one with a computer and a modem to access. Experts predict that tech advancements like use of cable modems and DSL connections will fuel even more growth in the trend. No wonder some people in the world have not only accepted porno but playfully heap it with high brow attention and defend it?

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, March 12, 2018, ,

Mai Bismillah

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I believe in “mothers” as an instruction. They are always there for granted. I had to say fare well to another great mother on Saturday, June 18, 2011. I feel the pain, sadness and void within on two accounts; one she was my mother in law and second she was a great person – an anjuman in herself.

I will always remember her for many things. Best one that I liked is that she would say Bismillah with almost each sentence in her conversation. Starting everything with the name of Allah had visible effect on her persona and I could see blessing of Allah almighty in her worldly affairs. Anyone could see that. Due to this I very fondly used to call her Mai Bismillah.

Another of her distinct trait was her generous hospitality. She was very hospitable. Anyone going to her house (and many people used to go to her house) would have food or whatever was suitable and possible at the time. She would go a long way to make sure that any guest has food before leaving. And this act too brought in more blessing in her life.

Looking back, I can say that what she did for her off springs and what she accomplished would not have been possible without uncounted blessings of Allah almighty.

You were a great mother and great person Mai Bismillah. I will miss you for ever. May your soul rest in eternal peace.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, March 12, 2018, ,

Malka Hans

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I was posted in Okara when I did this journey in 1999 with my good friend Husain Qazi. Lately this journey came up in Literature Festival Islamabad. Good memories. 

Punjab is a gold mine for history seekers and curious travelers. You may find much more than what you hear or read. It pays to get out into the countryside and talk to ordinary people. What is more, people of the area are eager to help – on their own expense - when you ask anybody. One finds volunteer 'guides' who were forth coming with wealth of information. The distances in the hinterland are short but the landscape is so enormous that it had to be studied in parts like a large mural seen by a child.

Given the history and heritage, it is easy to fall in love with ‘out of the way’ town like Malka Hans. Once an abode of Waris Shah, who stayed here and composed universal romance Heer Ranjha, malka hans is still serene, tranquil and pollution free. Legend has it that Malik Muhammad (alia Malka) who was a member of Hans tribe founded the town some 700 years ago. Hans became powerful when Mughal King Alamgir conferred a vast land around Malka Hans on Sheikh Qutab Hans. In 1764, Muhammad Azam who was the descendant of Qutab Hans became head of the clan. Ran Singh Nakka treacherously took Muhammad Azam prisoner where he died in confinement.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, March 10, 2018, ,

Business {Blogging} Proposal

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A strong online presence is important for businesses in today's high-speed and competitive world. Blogs have already become a new are a new buzz marketing. Marketers are blogging for organizations, products, ideas and or for other organizational goals and achieving.

That has not started happening in Pakistan yet. An overwhelming majority of local consumers who do not (or cannot) use the Internet and even marketing professionals still ask what is Blog?

To understand blogging as a corporate communications tool, we must understand the nature of blogs . Here is a short definition, "Blogs - an abbreviation of 'weblogs' - are published on the web, typically as microsites standing by themselves but today also as parts of traditional web sites. They reflect the interests, thoughts and opinions of the person, sometimes persons, publishing the blog. Blogs are characterized by frequent updates, an informal tone and many links to other blogs and web sites."

A business blog is a blog published by or with the support of an organization to reach that organization's goals. In external communications the potential benefits include strengthened relationships with important target groups and the positioning of the publishing organization as industry experts. Internally blogs are generally referred to as tools for collaboration and knowledge management.

Blogs can drive visitors to existing web site and help find new customers and engage the ones organizations already have. Blogs are prevailing and cost-effective marketing tools. As far as businesses is concerned, there are clients and potential clients. A blog will create a dialogue between the business, present client base, and potential buyers. Communication has never been easier and user friendly.

Once an organization has a blog, it offers immediate and high impact interaction with its target audience. As more people have online access, they'll want more than the standard online newsletter or typical PR response (we are so averse to existing PR stereotypes). Long gone are the days when companies simply fed information to their customers. Now everyone asks for a dialogue - a meaningful exchange of information. People also want to know that organizations are listening to them and paying heeds to what is being suggested, and blogs allow just that -- responding quickly and openly.

From a business point of view there are several potential reasons to blog particularly in less connected country like Pakistan. But, as always, it depends on what businesses want. Blogs are no different from channels like video, print, audio, presentations and even word of mouth marketing. They all deliver results - but of varying kind. The kind you can expect from blogs is mainly about stronger relations with important target groups.

Who should blog for the businesses? Ideally, front line people who know the business in and out should blog about it. Marketing professionals can also use this powerful tool. Organization can hire professional writers to blog for them under company's name or blog under their own. Depending upon the feedback and information provided by audience, an inside blogger can develop the ability to write in his or her own voice and create content for business blog. Outsider bloggers can view business with an objective eye and offer fresh marketing ideas and strategies.

Outsider blogger can study company's marketing materials, reports, other collateral information, and meet key people in organization to learn about what organization does and how best to market the product through blogging.

In developed world, blogging is being taught in most business school as a part of business studies and or part of mass communication courses.

Bloggers can post material written in editorial style and voice, updating at least once a day, three-to-five days a week. The content may also include company news, events, and information about new products and services relevant to your business.

Earlier, online marketing and web sites never picked up in Pakistan because of obvious "digital divide that exists due to individual disparities in levels of income, education standards, psychological reasons, age, gender, rural urban divide, and quality of life or collective deprivations like lack of physical infrastructure."

Pakistan corporate world should look at blogging as an opportunity to reach out but sadly, this has still not started to happen.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, March 07, 2018, ,

Connect and Network - Pakistan’s First International Social Media Summit

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Blast from the past

Social media tools like blogs, twitter and facebook are being widely praised for helping to bring change. The best thing about social media is the way it brings openness and shared environment. It is unlike mass media where only a few have a control over information industry and they are the ones who decide what to tell the world and when and they do it on need to know bases. We can see some powerful examples of social campaigns in the recent past.

Network!: Pakistan’s First International Social Media Summit is being held in Karachi (June 10-11, 2011) to accelerate this change by everything and anything that can create a social positive change through an integrated open approach using the social media. It feels good be a part of this change; sounds good. Lahore bloggers (Mubeshir Ali, Mehreen, Raza Rumi, Yasser Latif Hamdani, Shiraz Hassan, Ayesha, Nabiha Meher, Shamreez, Darweesh, Amara Javed, Shemrez Nauman Afzal, Ale Muhammad and your truly) are eagerly gearing up to join their colleges and some like-minded friends from all over Pakistan and abroad.

What am I expecting from galaxy of bloggers (social media starts) meeting in Karachi? In addition to learning about Education and Good Governance: Going Digital, Women and Social Activism in the New Media Era and Monetizing Social Media Spaces, I am looking forward to connect and network with those seeking similar. Connect with people who are proximate geographically. Connect with like-minded people who are thinking to be together into a movement. It is only this connection that can start a change. No?

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Sunday, March 04, 2018, ,

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