Friday, 15 October 2010

GeekFest – The Not Gitex Edition

We’re rolling it back a little this GeekFest and not having so much stuff going on. You can try too hard, you know and I, for one, had stopped enjoying it because of the pressure to make all the new stuff happen. The whole idea is that stuff happens because it happens so we’re going back to that a little.

It nearly didn’t happen at all – Saadia Zahid has left The Shelter and I realised that the event was more about working with Saadia than it was working with The Shelter. Her successor, Oliver, has been great but it was with Saadia that the whole scheme was co-conceived and it just seems odd without her.

Strangely enough, it was the other GeekFests that provided the impetus to carry on: Beirut is being driven by Lilliane Assaf (@FunkyOzzi) and the Maniachi and they’re going for it again early November. Last week the first GeekFest Damascus took place and it looks like there might be another GeekFest Amman under new UNmanagement. One thing that is becoming clear is that there is no fixed schedule to GeekFests – they’re happening as they happen and most of the UNorganisers are simply too irresponsible to do things like fix dates in advance and stick to them. Which is fine, no?

I hope we’re going to have some amazing GeekFest news for you on the 21st October, which is when the cycle closes and we finish a year of GeekFests – the sixth bi-monthly Dubai event.
So what’s planned for this GeekFest Dubai?


We’re going to try and squeeze in five GeekTalks. I know, I think it’s mad too, but if the speakers (and they’ll be the first if they do) stick to their 15 minute slots, we’ll be fine...

To Nablus by Cam
Blogger Sara has won numerous hearts with her delightful accounts of life as a volunteer teaching in Nablus. Her blog, UssaNabulsiyeh, instantly gained a wide readership that has grown steadily day by day. We’re going to talk to Sara over videochat and listen to what she’s made of the Nablus experience so far. If this works we’ll try and do other cam link-ups in future.

The GigaPan Man
Gerald Donovan’s videos of the Dubai fountains have gained him over two million views on YouTube, while his speeded up Dubai Metro video was hosted by Gizmodo and CNN. His GigaPixel images of Dubai have been similar smash hits. How does a man who seems to have the knack of ‘going viral’ view the phenomenon and what’s he going to get up to next? One answer is a stunning Gigapixel image of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed mosque, unveiled especially for GeekFest!

New Music Nation
DJ RoneJaxx is one of a burgeoning band of Middle East based hip-hop artists who are finding a growing audience around the region as young people take to the musical form to find expression. With catchy tunes and smart videos, he’s a leading member of a regional scene that’s finding its feet – but does the Arab World need to ape US rap and hip-hop or does it need a musical identity of its own? And how is technology affecting artists with something to say and no deal with ‘the man’ to help them say it? (A name-check here to Hass, whose Re-Volt Radio hip hop blog led to us discovering Monsieur Jaxx!)

Where are we going to go now?
Needing no introduction, Yousef Tuqan Tuqan comes from a long line of computer nerds and is one of the most respected figures in the world of Web Development in the Middle East. Online agency Flip Media have carved a niche as the go-to guys for web stuff, from sites to apps – even if they command a premium in return for a ferocious reputation for quality work. So who better to ask where the Internet is actually going next? Yousef’s promised to tell us...

The New Entrepeneurialism
There’s more talk of innovation, funding and the like these days than ever before. There’s more concrete reality taking place as well, with funds like Jordan’s Oasis500 and angel investors popping up to support new online businesses. One of the team behind the amazingly successful, and arguably first, entrepreneurial event in the region, ArabNet, Samer Karam Founder and CEO of Seeqnce, the first startup catalyst in the Arab World, will be outlining some of the initiatives in the region that are driving a new wave of online entrepreneurship – taking from similarly risk averse cultures: their challenges, opportunities, threats, solutions.


Popular gamer site LochalArchade will once again be bringing the best in mind-numbing violence and awful heart-rending action to GeekFest. The gamers have long been a feature of the event and have generally been well behaved, haven’t bitten too many people (only two Geeks have required rabies jabs in all the months we’ve been doing GeekFest Dubai) and have generally just confined themselves to ‘fragging’ each other.
GeekFest Dubai remains the only GeekFest with a strong gamer element and I’m not quite sure why, but the LochalArchade guys are going to be ramping it up this time around and getting jiggy with the multiplayer mayhem. We deny everything.

Samsung are all over this one. They’re demoing some amazing new stuff, bringing some people, doing some other things. There’s a really, really cool preview thingy going on (only slightly ruined by the fact that they pre-previewed it but, hell, that’s the technology biz – today’s preview is tomorrow’s discounted item) and the Samsung guys, as all present at last GeekFest Dubai would likely agree, ‘get it’ and are showing some cool things to those wot is interested and leaving the rest of us pretty much alone. Which is nice!

Dubai TV are NOT filming tonight.

That’s all folks!
The Bean Bag Workshops idea was nice but takes too much organising. The ArtStuf is a lovely idea, but not enough artists are pushing themselves. Without the community jostling for a place, it’s not worth trying to ‘drive’ stuff. GeekFest is organic – if you want it, then you make it happen!

New Look
The tear-jerkingly talented Naeema Zarif has come up with yet another funky design for GeekFest as you'll see from the above. If you want to see more of her work, it's here.


Anonymous said...

Hi Alexander,
Thanks for the post. I’d like to know if the event is open to the public.
Does one need to register?

alexander... said...

GeekFest is most certainly open to one and all!

Register? Oh no! That'd require organisation...

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