The Best of LATAM Infoactivism 2013


(Translated by Blanca Vargas from this post in Spanish)

After many hours of traveling listening to the end-of-the-year talking about the usual “the best of the ending year“ list which usually saturates communication media, among SocialTIC’s team, we decided that there was one more list missing: “The Best of Latin American Infoactivism of the Year”.  In this list, we hereby express in a subjective way, a sporadic brief of that which inspired us to use the TIC to generate social impact this year. Enjoy!

We hope the projects highlighted here may be an inspiration for the continent as a whole and that by the end of 2014 we can replicate this process in a broader and plural manner. Every comment, project and reflexion are welcome and we will gladly propagate all inspiring projects through our network systems.  

The Best Advocacy Campaign for LATAM 2013

It gives us infinite pleasure and emotion to declare a winning campaign and two historical mentions. In Mexico, Alianza por la Salud Alimentaria launched the campaign “12 tablespoons” alerting about the excessive risks in the consumption of sugar by drinking sugared beverages and their efforts transcended in propelling taxation on sugar beverages and junk food. The following combination of street action, displays in public spaces and activity of virtual communities was key for the now important citizen presence favoring nutrition.  

In Uruguay, Proderechos reached its goal after years of direct advocacy and stimulating dynamic digital communication, together with other actors in society, legalisation of marijuana in this country has set an international historical precedent.  We also give a special mention to the ONG Derechos Digitales whose leadership has propagated information and actions against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Open TPP. Unfortunately, this cause remains alive and the challenges will continue to reinforce informative efforts establishing the threats represented by the TPP for Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile during 2014.  

The Best Citizen Construction Campaign

No doubt, Revolución Jigote has provided a lesson in infoactivism and society construction this year. From Santa Cruz, Bolivia, the Jigotes have inspired thousands of young Bolivians to assume a civic stand, that of being jigote (translation: cool) by becoming citizens involved in city problems and having active involvement in their communities. Within six months of planning and tactical definitions, Revolucion Jigote rapidly meets its objective with actions online and offline. They now have 30,000 followers in their network forming and creating actions among young people in Santa Cruz.

The Best Combination of Online-Offline Actions

This year, the campaigns from Argentina and Costa Rica inspired us to combine actions online and offline in order to contribute in social problematic. Martes Rojos is named for the organization of brigades of people which get together every Tuesday in Buenos Aires to remove propaganda related to sexual commerce. This civil action has increased by strengthening links among social network participants, closing the year with a betain a platform for denouncing exploitation and sexual commerce.  

Costa Rica reached a good end with their citizenship actions of resistance against the concession for the west highway. A group of neighbors organized themselves to argue the deficiencies found in the project and motivating popular support for this cause. With an example of organization, strategy and focus, they were able to make a stand and create enough pressure to stop this project.   

The Best Linking Project between Government and Citizens   

A Latin American project able to break established outlines is El Partido de la Red. Motivated by “hacking democracy” this young group of Argentineans aim to create a political party which will function based on direct representation and once they have a local representative in Congress in Buenos Aires, he or she will vote according to the citizen’s indication in a web platform.  Currently, this platform DemocracyOS is a beta version and has served for citizen group discussions on this theme and decisions to be made in the city.  

The Most Inspiring Technology Project

In a refreshing and propositive manner, Rhizomatica initiated a project among Mexican rural communities aiming to articulate autonomous nets for mobile  phones. Achieving connection in their first community at Talea de Castro, Oaxaca, Mexico, they have shown that society and groups of hackers can provide the infrastructure of mobile phones for people in most disconnected areas.  This network is now being replicated with a group of voluntary technologists to reach other communities and to also, maintain a close look towards adoption of new technologies under the autonomy of the communities.

Also, we have a special mention to all the cycle-activists in the region. These cyclist groups are transforming people’s habits, fostering public policy and engaging directly with the inhabitants of complicated latin-american cities. Their energy, citizen engagement tactics and discourse-action congruency should inspire us all.

The Best Event in Latin America

2013 hosted events which will become a breaking point for TIC communities and social change. Highlighted is the dis-conference on open data AbreLATAM which had a basic horizontal format stimulated the exchange of experiences surrounding open data among dozens of technologists, representing civil society and public functionaries from Latin America.  AbreLATAM not only inaugurates a space that will be replicated every year, but it also raises a dynamic for reflexion between those who work on data so it may have a more propositive format aiming to the community, instead of the traditional conferences,

A special mention goes to Media Party of Hacks and Hackers Buenos Aires on their 2013 edition, which besides having high level data references, have launched civic and journalistic projects of great potential. On the north region, the 1st. Encounter of video for Change #V4C took place, joining video-activists from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

The Best Video for Change

The year had many examples of audiovisual production and protest. Note that many of those considered as reference for activism and which populated the internet, were produced in the second part of 2012 (let’s recall the campaign Don’t be Afraid of Internet in Chile or No te Engoriles (curve your anger) in Venezuela).  However, facing the Energy Reform in the Mexican context, the video Frack U is not only an entertaining parody but it is also a didactic explanation of fracking and it makes evident the stance of some members of Congress in Mexico.

The Best Electoral Tool

In the electoral context, digital media are key to encourage informed voting and electoral vigilance. This year, we highlight the consolidation of electoral products from Ciudadano Inteligente (intelligent citizen) used in Argentinean elections (Democracy in the web) and Chilean (Intelligent Vote) enabling users to compare candidate’s declarations and to visualize their financing, identify voting sites and reveal information on key issues for the election.

A special mention is made for the involvement of the project Chequeado (checked) in the Argentinean elections to verify the veracity of public declarations.  Also, in a pre-electoral context, it is startling, the Costa Rican site Ojo al Voto (an eye on the vote) for the next elections in 2014.

The Best Data Visualization

We must admit it was complicated to locate high impact data visualization and use of technology for visualization provided by civil society and groups of citizens. We hope this tendency will be reversed during 2014.  Outstanding was Mr. Andy Tow’s work, who had a prolific data year and who engraved in Argentina the phrase “one more project from Andy Tow”. With CIPPEC, Andy elaborated the section CIPPEC Data where one can see analyze data associated with Argentinean public policies, making evident the comparison among provinces.  Andy also is consistent with data performance for many years with “Linea Votada” (voted line) a visual over the last 10 years of nominal voting by representatives and senators from Congress in Argentina.  

Special mention is made for two Argentinean projects due to its data management and themes become an inspiration for Latin American infoactivist: “Cargografias” makes a visual timeline of public representatives in Argentina and complements it with a provocative statement: “It is not a story, but it is a path. It is not an accusation, but it is a fact.’ We must also mention the mapping for relational data about “Financial Repression and Terrorism of State”.

The Best Civic APP (prototype)  

After a year with the most numbers of hackathons and apps challenges in Latin American history, there are tenths of prototype civic apps searching adjustment of details so they may be used by citizens and groups of actors for change whose goal is to improve and solve many of the distressing situations currently experienced in our region.  It is most complicated at this point to distinguish a civic app and we hope that each one of them will generate the value and social impact proposed to accomplish from its origin.

However the competition, the most inspiring app based on its concept and prototype is the one launched this year by Bikestorming in Argentina, looking to hook the bicycle users to participate in the web, combining gaming and useful information regarding urban mobilization.  We trust Bikestorming will have important citizen contribution in 2014, plus further learning for this cross-road we face, to improve life and civic interaction relying on new technologies.