Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Roba, and I’m a designer/lover of the web/marketing person. Female. Twenty-something. Jordanian of Palestinian origin. Born in Amman. Bred and raised in the compounds of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Moved back to Jordan in 2003 to take up a degree in Fine Arts and Design at the University of Jordan. Currently making a living exploring, expanding, and enjoying the first love of my life, the World Wide Web.
When was the exact moment that made you want to start a blog?
I created AndFarAway in 2004 to create a personal space for creative thought. I had just finished my first year as a Fine Arts and Design student and my mind was full to the brim with colors, images, and concepts. I initially started blogging because I needed a place to sort of “store” anything that inspired me, and blogging was, and still is, the perfect tool.
To put 2004 in perspective, that was several years before Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube came to be. There weren’t many spaces available online. It was a different world then. A world where Iraq was just messed up by America. The Amman bombings still hadn’t happened and you didn’t have to go through security to enter every single damn venue in town. Abdoun Bridge was under construction. George Bush was just reelected. Rainbow Street had a total of two places; Al-Quds Falafel and Batata. Dubai was still nothing.
In 2008-2009, I lost my interest in personal blogging and started blogging mostly about design, technology, internet culture, and gadgetry.
Is there a certain message you’re trying to convey with the posts in your blog?
Not directly, but I guess given the person I am, everything I write reflects my own values of openness, acceptance of others, embracing differences, and all other sorts of unicorn ideas. I guess that reflects in the posts about music, art, design, etc.
Do you people identify you when you walk down the street?
Sometimes, and the usual reaction is that “Roba, you’re not wearing the red cons!” Amman is small.
What’s your impression of the blogging scene in Jordan?
Dead and almost buried. We were like 5 bloggers or something when I started blogging. A blogger found my blog a week after I started it (it was such a rare occurrence that it was news… someone joined the cult of five people). She commented on a photo of Amman, citing that she was really [glad] to see some photographs of Amman as she really misses it. I felt like I did someone good by making someone feel a small amount of pleasure, and so I blogged some more.
This had a snow-ball effect. My blog was then added to Jordan Planet, an aggregator that existed at that time, and I discovered the community-feel of blogging. My blogging friends of those years changed my life. They took me in, this random bunch of Jordanian bloggers whose ages ranged from 19 to 45, and who lived all around. We had the first Jordanian blogger meet-up in the winter of 2004, which took the blogging experience offline. Many of us became really good friends, and I am still good friends with bloggers I met back in those early years.
Then blogging came popular, and Jordan Planet became bigger. I then became a part of Toot, the first Arab blog aggregator. Blogging became too popular, and Jordan Planet shut down. Other aggregators were attempted but I think the blogging trend died in 2009. People would rather read Twitter updates. They’re shorter.
People in Jordan also seem to believe these days that the Internet has magical abilities that can make you filthy rich. This, I would like to point out, is a myth. Yes, if you work hard, passionately, and intelligently, you can make good money from the Internet by adding value. Stop throwing your money left and right and attacking it with your stupid get-rich-quick ideas.
What motivates you to keep on writing?
The love of words; their shapes, the way they sound, the way they merge, the way they pull meaning out of nothingness. The constant monsters in my head yelling to be let out. The beautiful visuals and ideas I see around me that I feel must be shared/documented/archived in my blog for my own purposes. Plus, I’ve been blogging for soooo long now (almost ten years!) that writing has become a part of who I am.
Are you friends with other bloggers from Jordan? Who is your favorite Jordanian blogger?
Yes, many. Blogging introduced me to so many people who literally changed the course of my life, both wonderful and not so wonderful, some of who have become my closest friends and others who have taught me a lot. It gave me many amazing experiences, and taught me about things I would have never learned about otherwise. I can’t give favourites!
What advice would you give to young bloggers who are just starting out?
Do it because you love it and not because you want people to read what you have to say.
By OC Staff- Walid Dib