In comparison to the results, in the text below Mohammad Ahmad's seemed humble. "I had made my first video blog about a street in al Rasheed neighborhood in Al Rasifeh because it is so bad that you can't tell where the road begins or ends. And after a long wait and continuous demands, the last of which was my video blog, relief arrived as the road has been finally paved." The video that Ahmad is referring to shows huge vehicles and workers working on the said street, followed by footage of a well paved road, the frame then flashs back to show what the street looked like a few months earlier.
Ahmad's success came after he participated in a citizen journalism video blogging project. He applied for the project organized by AmmanNet, a Jordanian media NGO that received support from USAID's Jordan Media Strengthening Project implemented by IREX, a Washington based international foundation. Participants were given basic journalism training, as well as the technical know how of how to film, edit and post simple video.
Twenty cameras were distributed to citizens wishing to improve their communities through training as citizen journalists. Ahmad's blog is named min waqina (from our reality) and is posted on www.orange.ammannet.net . In his March 29th video, Ahmad shows the unpaved street and tells us the neighborhood's ten-year old problem. "The municipality simply ran out of asphalt when it reached this street leaving it the shape you can see."
The min waqina blog produced 28 comments all critical of local governments and demanding a change. Two months later the city appears to have responded and Ahmad and his community were able to celebrate the paving of the road in a May 30th blog which also elicited comments of congratulation and was chosen to be placed on Ammannet's home page.
Raed Nesheiwat the project manager says that citizen journalism and blogging is a new phenomena in the Arab world. "Whereas most blogs have been done with words, this new blogging project provides web surfers with hard to deny video footage," he said. Nesheiwat who is the CEO of Tamamtech, a Jordanian web design company insists that video blogging would not have worked a few years ago. "When Ammannet was established in November 2000 as the Arab world's first internet radio the average speed for most home internet connections was barely enough to follow radio web casting without buffering. Today high speed internet has made viewing video on line a possibility.
In addition to Ahmad, nineteen other Jordanians including a taxi driver, teenage girls and university students, are video blogging at least twice a week. Videos of hospital escalators not working, cars going the wrong way on a one way streets, fruit bearing trees cut down, remote villages needing basic services and smoking bans unheeded are just some of the hours of footage posted on the internet.
Vblogging has empowered individuals and is slowly creating a generation of active citizen journalists who are fighting to prove that they can use technology to change their own lives and those of their communities. AmmanNet staffers has said that they hope to continue with this project and even expand it to nearby Arab countries.