Weekend in the Beirut Digital District

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This weekend, I live-tweeted for the Beirut Service Jam, a part of the Global Service Jam event that took place around the world in 135 cities. The idea of a “Service Jam” is to get excited individuals from all disciplines to come up with a project that can serve the community* – and to do so in 48 hours. Participants have to go through all the steps including brainstorming, prototyping, as well as putting together a formal proposal of the idea. This year’s theme for the GSJ was “GROW.”

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The event was held at Berytech in the new-and-still-in-it’s-preschool-phase Beirut Digital District. Most tech-savvy know it as the home of Geek Express, a café/shop/workspace open for those who want to experiment with technological DIY projects and attend weekly workshops. For those who don’t speak geek, it’s in Falafel Land – the street parallel to Falafel Sahyoun going towards Bechara El Khoury intersection. Some may wonder why it was decided that this would be the best location for the BDD – I couldn’t figure it out – but based on their brochure, the area, known as Bachoura, was chosen because it’s logistically close to major landmarks, shopping centers, and is a 15min drive from major educational and health centers. Plus, it said all this nice fluffy stuff about it being historically relevant to Lebanese heritage and scars of the war. Apparently this area used to house many public libraries – where’d those go?

The BDD’s aim is to “create the right environment for companies to invest, create jobs and grow our GDP.” They want to create a hub where the ICT sector (Information & Communication Technologies) can grow and entrepreneurs can get something started. Architecturally, there are still 3 projects to be completed in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

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The Beirut Service Jam participants were split into 5 teams and directed by mentors specializing in different fields. Mentors included TedxBeirut 2012 speakers Chris Littlefield & Hani Asfour, and MENA Design Research Center’s Doreen Toutikian. Other mentors focused on the art of storyboarding (Krystel Kouyoumdjis, also a participant in the BSJ), film (Rabih Ibrahim), role play (Elyssa Skaff), and set design (Rami Dalle).

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Projects touched on many topics like public space, social interaction, CSR initiatives in the agriculture sector, and recycling. You can check them out here.

Interesting Interaction for me as a designer:

  • Rami Dalle, a set designer, designs window displays for some shops in Beirut Souks. He specializes in embroidery, crochet, wool works, taxidermy, willow weaving, and attends workshops abroad to acquire new skills.

His #1 rule: there is no basic rule.

Highlight of the Event:

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  • A Skype call with fellow Jammers in Dundee, Scotland

The Beirut Service Jam was organized by Mirada Madrid’s Joumana Mattar and Riccardo Musolesi in collaboration with the Beirut Creative Cluster.

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* “Jammers are simply challenged to design and prototype a service. While many choose to do something which is community oriented, this is not compulsory, or even suggested. Jammers are equally welcome to design a purely commercial service, for example.” – from Adam, Co-Initiator of Global Service Jam

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7 thoughts on “Weekend in the Beirut Digital District

  1. It was great to Skype with you all in Beirut and get to see how all the projects were coming along. Just been catching up with all the final concepts on planet jam. Such exciting ideas!

    The Beirut/Dundee skype link was one of my highlights for the weekend too!
    Thanks for taking the time to talk to us!

    Ross, Jam Organiser at Dundee Service Jam

    • It really was a great experience overall – quite inspiring to see what can be done in only 48 hours. It’s a great effort and connecting with others around the world doing the same thing was just a bonus!
      Happy Jamming 🙂
      See you next year!

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  4. Thanks for the write up, and thanks for Jamming!
    Just one thing I should point out – Jammers are simply challenged to design and prototype a service. While many choose to do something which is community oriented, this is not compulsory, or even suggested. Jammers are equally welcome to design a purely commercial service, for example.
    All the best, and see you at GovJam,
    Adam
    Global Co-Initiator

  5. Pingback: The 10-Year Project: Beirut Digital District | Bambi's Soapbox

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