Bassel Safadi at the CC Arab World workshop in Doha, Qatar. Photo taken on 24 October 2010.
Bassel has been detained in Syria. From the Free Bassel website :
On March 15, 2012, Bassel Khartabil was detained in a wave of arrests in the Mazzeh district of Damascus. Since then, his family has received no official explanation for his detention or information regarding his whereabouts. However, his family has recently learned from previous detainees at the security branch of Kafer Sousa, Damascus, that Bassel is being held at this location.
Bassel Khartabil, a Palestinian-born Syrian, 31, is a respected computer engineer specializing in open source software development, the type of contributions the Internet is built upon. He launched his career ten years ago in Syria, working as a technical director for a number of local companies on cultural projects like restoring Palmyra and Forward Syria Magazine.
Since then, Bassel has become known worldwide for his strong commitment to the open web, teaching others about technology, and contributing his experience freely to help the world. Bassel is the project leader for an open source web software called Aiki Framework. He is well known in online technical communities as a dedicated volunteer to major Internet projects like Creative Commons (www.creativecommons.org), Mozilla Firefox (www.mozilla.org), Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org), Open Clip Art Library (www.openclipart.org), Fabricatorz (www.fabricatorz.com), and Sharism (www.sharism.org).
Since his arrest, Bassel’s valuable volunteer work, both in Syria and around the world, has been stopped. His absence has been painful for the communities that depend on him. In addition, his family, and his fiancée whom he was due to marry this past April, have had their lives put on hold.
Bassel Khartabil has been unjustly detained for nearly four months without trial or any legal charges being brought against him.
We, the signees of the #FREEBASSEL campaign, demand immediate information regarding his detention, health, and psychological state.
We urge the Syrian Government to release the community member, husband-to-be, son to a mother and father, and celebrated International software engineer Bassel Khartabil, immediately.
Sign the letter of support here.
The Kardashian is a unit I proposed a few classes back as a measure of attention. Conceptually, the Kardashian is the amount of global attention Kim Kardashian commands across all media over the space of a day. In an ideal, frictionless universe, we’d determine a Kardashian by measuring the percentage of all broadcast media, conversations and thoughts dedicated to Kim Kardashian. In practical terms, we can approximate a Kardashian by using a tool like Google Insights for Search – compare a given search term to Kim Kardashian and you can discover how small a fraction of a Kardashian any given issue or cause merits.
(I choose the Kardashian as a unit both because I like the mitteleuropean feel of the term – like the Ohm or the Roentgen – and because Kardashian is an exemplar of attention disconnected from merit, talent or reason. The Kardashian mentions how much attention is paid, not how much attention is deserved, so naming the unit after someone who is famous for being famous seems appropriate. Should the unit be adopted, I would hope that future scholars will calculate Kardashians using whatever public figure is appropriate at the time for being inappropriately famous.)
(Poster by Matt Jones on my office wall)
After 7.5 years at Al Jazeera, I’ve decided to move on to explore further opportunities. Having worked at the intersection of media, technology and entrepreneurship, I’m interested in exploiting the structural changes in the media industry to build solutions at internet scale.
My time at Al Jazeera has been nothing short of epic. Together with many co-conspirators, we’ve accomplished much. As the Head of Online at Al Jazeera English for the past three years I’ve led the team that produced the award winning coverage of the Arab revolutions in 2011. Prior to that I founded the New Media group at Al Jazeera, which built some of the most innovative products in the space.
Arriving in Doha in 2004 I started banging on doors talking about how blogging and online video was going to change the way we do journalism. I had the naivety of someone who had not worked in the media industry but the determination of someone who had been building stuff online for over a decade.
It was out of this that Al Jazeera’s New Media group was born. I recruited and led a scrappy group of geeks who started building and playing with tools and techniques that are now commonplace in the industry. We were contrarian in our outlook – while other media companies were suing YouTube, we were uploading everything. We built mobile reporting toolkits for our journalists years before the iPhone was released. We instinctively started using Facebook and Twitter as a means to connect and converse with our audience. And we became the first broadcaster to launch a Creative Commons repository using the most permissive license.
It is hard to think of a more exciting job in the media industry than leading a New Media group that was free to build, deploy and iterate constantly. I was offered just such a position in 2009 when I was asked to run online for Al Jazeera English. We were a young channel that was producing exceptional journalism but did not have the quantity of viewership to match the quality of our product.
I took over a website with a remarkable group of journalists and editors. Since 2009 my team has constantly impressed me with their dedication and commitment to our audience, always putting them at the heart of what we do.
It would not be an overstatement to say that since then, we have moved from a fledgling news website to a major online player. The Online News Association recognized us for General Excellence in Online Journalism for a Large News website and judged that we provided the best breaking news coverage of 2011.
Our audience during the last year grew at a ridiculous rate. Through this time we’ve built up a sizable audience in America, with at least 40% of our traffic US based. According to my friends at Chartbeat, for a point in time during the Egyptian revolution we were the most important news website in the world.
Over the last three years we’ve dramatically increased the number of online journalists we deploy into the field, built a new opinion section that featured world-class analysis and comment, introduced open source technology, pioneered new forms of micro-journalism through always-on liveblogs and brought social media into the heart of our journalism. Most importantly, we covered the stories that mattered.
I cannot think of a more exciting place to have spent the last seven years. We operated with the swagger of a startup and built something that millions of people have come to rely on.
Now its time for me to move on to build the next big thing. Follow me on Twitter and you’ll be the first to know the details.