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Saturday, May 9, 2009

“Twitter is about using social media for social change”, Queen Rania tells Tech Crunch

1.Could you tell us how you came to know of Twitter? Did you study it from afar before you jumped in? Is it really you tweeting? And why do you prefer using Twibble and TweetDeck over other applications?

I guess I first heard about it following the US election campaigns; there was quite a buzz around the creative use of social media in mobilizing people behind a common cause. Since then, I’ve seen Twitter evolve into a dynamic and diverse medium for action as well as communication. Whether it’s raising money for malaria nets or promoting your company brand, Twitter answers much more than just “what are you doing?” It’s expanded to “what is the world doing, and what can the world do?” Of course, I tweet. Tweeting is a very personal form of expression. Who else could talk about my son refusing to wear a suit to meet the Pope, my husband flying a helicopter, or take a twitpic from our home? Tweetdeck was recommended by a friend, and that’s what I’m used to. And the same with Twibble; it works for when I’m on the go.

2.My wife is still (grudgingly) coming to terms with my tweeting about our family... I'm curious as to how your husband, King Abdullah II, accepts Twitter now being fused with the everyday life of your family? Is your daughter, Princess Salma, aware of it?

Well, my husband is supportive of my work, like advocating for dialogue between cultures on YouTube. Last summer he was really proud of the millions of views my YouTube channel was receiving. He’s a bit of a techie himself with his gadgets and gizmos, so he’s very intrigued about all my twittering. Like me, he knows we’re just like any other family and so opening a window into our world shows people that, regardless of titles, we’re human, too. Ever since YouTube, my children aren’t surprised by me joining Twitter and Facebook. Really, as part of the digital generation, they’re probably wondering what took me so long!

3.Do you view Twitter solely as yet another social medium to use for spreading your message, or will it replace an existing tool? Who do you have in mind when you're tweeting? Jordanians, or an international audience?

Twitter’s a great way to tell people across the world what I care about and, hopefully, motivate them to join me in furthering my causes. It’s also a fantastic medium to hear the ideas and opinions of people I might not otherwise get to meet. I want to tell people more about Jordan, about my life and work, but also to campaign for quality, global education. Not many people know that there are 75 million children out of school in the world…and two thirds are girls. And there’s just no excuse for that. We know what to do, we know how to make it happen, but we lack momentum from the masses to push politicians into action. It’s only when we have a critical mass of supporters behind this issue that we will put every child behind a school desk. Twitter’s one way we can do that. It’s about using social media for social change: creating a community of advocates who can use their voices on behalf of the voiceless, or leverage their talents, skills, knowledge, and resources to put more children into classrooms, or pressure their elected representatives to get global education top of the agenda. Who am I tweeting? Anyone who wants to learn more and help make a difference.

4.You have a very progressive approach, even by Western standards, to transparent communication. How do you view restrictions imposed on the Internet in Middle Eastern countries?

Just to clarify, not all Middle Eastern countries have restrictions on the internet. Some do, but I’m not in a position to comment on policies in other countries. I can tell you that in Jordan we don’t impose restrictions on the Internet.

5.Do you foresee the use of the Internet in education to become as pivotal as it is in Western countries?

Absolutely. Jordan is committed to ensuring that every child in our schools has access to, training, and proficiency in ICT. I believe that if we want our children to understand the world beyond their classroom, we must bring the world into their classroom. And teachers are also part of this equation. We’re using the internet in schools to upgrade their skills, mobilize resources, and encourage joint learning through online communities. With a youthful population, we know the importance of a strong and innovative education sector, one that prepares our young people for the 21st century’s global marketplace and equips them with a 21st century skills’ set. By inspiring, engaging, and igniting their imaginations, we’re encouraging our children to be life-long learners.

6.Do you see technology as key to the advancement of women's rights? Is there a conscious effort on your part to become a role model in this sense?

Social media are a catalyst for the advancement of everyone’s rights. It’s where we’re reminded that we’re all human and all equal. It’s where people can find and fight for a cause, global or local, popular or specialized, even when there are hundreds of miles between them. It’s not about me being a role model, but about empowering people and making them believe that they can be role models and leaders for change.

7.Have any of your tweets gotten a particularly large or surprising response?

Well, I’ve only been tweeting for a week or so, but the Pope’s visit got quite a large response. I noticed people were quite interested in this one: @QueenRania: Hoping he cn get both sides 2 recognize their common humanity, then we cn start building frm there.

8.Did your son end-up watching "Ghosts of Girlfriends Pa