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A Missed Opportunity for Bolivian “Quipus” Laptops?

Quipus

Image of a quipus. Image on Flickr by user Phil Dokas (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

The Bolivian government recently announced a new program where high school students attending their final year will have access to a new laptop. These computers, called “Quipus,” are being assembled in the city of El Alto. The term comes from a traditional Andean form of record keeping on a series of knots.

Blogger and software developer Fernando Balderrama applauds the initiative and sees the benefit of providing access to technology to more sectors of society. In his blog, he examines the comparative costs of the assembled computers to those that can be obtained in stores. However, he is puzzled why the new laptops will arrive with installed proprietary software. He writes:

Supuestamente el Gobierno promueve el uso de software libre, y buscan que Bolivia tenga soberanía tecnológica en base al software libre. Pero parece que esto es solamente en palabras, ya que los hechos dicen otra cosa. Las laptops quipus ensambladas en Bolivia vienen con Windows, el cual además de ser software privativo, encarece el costo final por el pago de licencias que deben hacer a Microsoft.

Supposedly the Government promotes the use of free software and seeks technological sovereignty through the use of free software. However, it appears that these are just words, because their actions send a different message. The quipus laptops assembled in Bolivia come with Windows, which in addition to being proprietary software, increases the final cost due to the payments to Windows to obtain the licenses.

However, in the comments section, Sergio Bowles, General Manager of Quipus, clarifies that the laptops will come with a dual boot option for Windows and Linux, but some others still have their doubts and dismiss the argument that students must also learn Windows because much of the business and academic world still relies on that operating system.

‘A World Where People Are Afraid of Receiving Help From a Stranger’

From Bolivia, El rincón de tu camarada Pepe (The hideout of your pal Pepe) shares what happened [es] to him one day when he saw a guy walking among the cars who “looked homeless, as he talks to a driver, the driver closes the window and looks terrified” and about his own reaction at the moment:

¿Qué puede estar haciendo ese viejo? ¿Será que está ofreciendo droga? O tal vez peor!!! Está ofreciendo órganos!!! No… está vendiendo a sus hijos!!! Bueno no, no veo niños, aunque veo una bolsa…tal vez están en esa bolsa!!

What can this guy be doing? Is he selling drugs? Or even worse!!! He is selling organs!!! No… he is selling his children!!! Well, no, I don't see children, although I see a bag… maybe they are in that bag!!

Then the blogger realizes he is thinking in prejudices, when the alleged homeless tells him:

“Estoy acá tratando de ayudar a la gente, pero todos parecen locos y huyen de mí [...]“. (Dice que) despertó con las intenciones de hacer algo bueno con su vida, ayudar a las demás personas, esa bolsa que vi, donde tontamente pensé que traía restos de personas, era las pocas cosas que poseía y que estaba regalando para ver si podía ayudar a las demás personas [...]. No puedo evitar sentirme triste por vivir en un mundo en el que la gente tiene miedo a recibir ayuda de un extraño, miedo a que alguien sea una terrible persona, miedo a acercarse a otro ser humano, ¿tanto nos hemos condicionado en este mundo que no podemos dejar de tener miedo de nosotros mismos como semejantes?

“Here I am trying to help people, but everybody reacts crazily and run away from me [...]” (He says he) woke up with the intention of doing something good out of his life, help other people. That bag I saw where, silly me, I thought he carried human remains, contained the few things he had and was giving away to see if he could help other people [...] I can't help but feeling sad for living in a world where people are afraid of receiving help from a stranger, fear that someone is a terrible individual, fear approaching another human being, are we that conditioned that we can't avoid being afraid of ourselves as our fellow man?

The Inca Road Is a New World Heritage Site

QhapaqÑam

Somewhere in the Qhapaq Ñam. Photo on Flickr by user Rainbowasi. CC BY-SA 2.0

For the first time in the 40 years of World Heritage convention, six countries united to submit a joint application to designate a cultural site as world heritage. Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru requested that the Incan Road be included as a cultural heritage site.

The announcement was made in the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee in in Doha, Qatar.

The international body highlighted that the Inca Road “represents a very valuable shared legacy, almost 60,000 kilometers long”:

Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru share a new cultural legacy site: #QhapaqÑan, Inca road system. Congratulations!

Culture and Art in Bolivia

“Does Bolivia have culture?”, wonders [es] Eduardo Bowles on his blog, and tries an answer:

Of course it does, but nobody looks at it and very few try to promote it. The Ministry of Cultures pays lots of money to singers who harp upon catchy choruses, but has never tried to rescue the huge knowledge that there is regarding ancestral materials that could be improved or provided them a production and marketing system that allow indigenous people to improve their living conditions.
[...]
Not even art, which is the way the enlightened ones imagine the future, has that kind of promotion and it usually stays in small social circles, as if it was exclusive and prohibitive.

Bolivia's Internet at a Snail's Pace

Digital activists in Cochabamba, Bolivia took to the streets on Saturday May 3, dressed as snails [es] to represent the slow Internet speeds faced by users across the country. The grassroots movement “Más y Mejor Internet Para Bolivia” [es] (More and Better Internet for Bolivia) has been calling for lower prices, faster speeds, and better coverage from all of the telecommunications companies. Follow the protest at the hashtag #OpBabosa [Operation Snail] and in this Storify compilation [es].

Empowering Girls Through Sports in Bolivia

The blog El clavo en el zapato (The nail in the shoe) visited District 4 in El Alto, where the project “Niñas con altura” (Girls with height) is fostering the participation of high school girls in sports. It's funded by the Inter-American Development Bank and the foundation Save The Children:

Fue muy emocionante observar a 200 beneficiarias del proyecto, dialogar e intercambiar con un par de personajes singulares: Maitte Zamorano, atleta y futbolista [...]. La acompañó Iris Uriona, una de las primeras mujeres árbitras de la Liga Profesional del Fútbol Boliviano.

Ambas compartieron sus sueños, recuerdos, ilusiones y retos. Para estas niñas alteñas, el tener tan de cerca a dos mujeres que con esfuerzo y trabajo, han logrado romper los moldes que se esperan de una joven boliviana, una de ellas con la capacidad de ser la goleadora del continente y la otra siendo jueza y voz de autoridad ante un conjunto de varones, que sin embargo han recibido poca atención mediática.
[...]
Iniciativas como las de “Niñas con altura” están poniendo las bases para tener una juventud que pueda soñar con llegar muy arriba, incorporando precisamente lo que han aprendido jugando: liderazgo, autoestima y participación en la comunidad.

It was very exciting to watch 200 beneficiaries of the project, conversing and exchanging with two unique figures: Maitte Zamorano, athlete and football player [...]. With them, there was Iris Uriona, one of the first female referees in the Professional Football Bolivian League.

Both of them shared their dreams, memories, excitement and challenges. For these girls from El Alto, having two women who through effort and hard work have been able to break the mold that is expeccted of young Bolivian women, one of them with the ability of being the continent's top goal scorer and the other a judge and authority among a group of men, that nonetheless have gotten little attention from the media.
[...]
Initiatives such as “Niñas con altura” are setting the foundations for having a generation that can dream of being on the top, incorporating precisely what they have learned by playing: leadership, self-esteem and community participation.

The Clock on Bolivia's Legislative Building Now Runs Counterclockwise

The clock on top of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly of Bolivia in La Paz's Murillo Square stopped working and had some defects. So a decision was made to repair it along with making some changes: the old Roman numbers on the face were replaced by new natural numbers.

Another change that was introduced: the hands now go toward the left and the numbers are inverted to “change the poles, so south might be in the north and the north in the south”, as explained by Chairman of the Bolivian House of Representatives Marcelo Elío.

This was noticed by Twitter users:

Now, an inverted clock. Why?

Southern people's clock goes counterclockwise at the legislature.

Now you make fun of the inverted clock, but tomorrow it will be a tourist attraction that everybody would like to take a picture with.

#CarajoNoMePuedoMorir Impacted on Social Networks in Bolivia

#carajonomepuedomorir

Not even death chooses me. Fucking hell, I can't die. Image by Mario Durán, used with permission. [Note: the original Spanish image has a mistake, as the correct form of the verb is ELIGE, with a G).

Mario Duran [es], one of the authors behind the blog TICs para el Desarrollo, [ICTs for development; es] shares his analysis [es] about the meme with hashtag #CarajoNoMePuedoMorir [roughly translated as Fucking hell, I can't die] after Samuel Doria Medina, leader of the National Unity Front in Bolivia, tells how after a plane crash, this phrase came to his mind. The author shows how the phrase became even more popular than the politician who said:

En Facebook, [el meme] tiene un alcance de 52 500 me gusta, superior a la actividad de la fanpage de SDM (17 300 me gusta).

On Facebook, [the meme] has reached 52 500 likes, even more than the activity of SDM fanpage (17 300 likes).

Mario Duran also emphasizes how the virality of the phrase was a lost opportunity for both ruling and opposition parties to spread negative or postiive propaganda, respectively, thus losing an important opportunity. He remembers at the end that he prefers being mocked online to a real activism:

En general, la gente prefiere la comodidad del teclado antes que las acciones en la calle.

In general, people prefer the comfort of the keyboard rather than street actions.

This post was part of the fifth #LunesDeBlogsGV [Monday of blogs on GV] on June 2, 2014.

A Bolivian Drone with Recycled Parts

If you look up at the bright blue sky in El Alto, Bolivia, you may catch a glimpse of a drone flying overhead. This is not any ordinary drone, but a flying aerial device assembled partly out of recycled materials found at one of the city's many bustling outdoor markets. The project, which goes by the name of @DroneBo, is an invention of Alex Chipana [es], and has been receiving the attention of the press for its ability to capture aerial video and for its potential in disaster relief or security monitoring. But it is Chipana's resourcefulness for obtaining parts from everyday items that some choose to discard that makes this drone different than other examples.

Chipana and his team took the drone for a spin on May 1st in La Paz capturing images of May Day celebrations including parades and the festivities taking place in Murillo Plaza.

Coming Soon! Rising Voices Microgrants for Amazon Communities

Amazon Peru, photo by Pearl Vas  (CC BY 2.0)

Amazon Peru, photo by Pearl Vas (CC BY 2.0)

Rising Voices will be launching a microgrant competition next month for digital citizen media projects in the Amazon region which is home to many indigenous communities. Thanks to Avina Americas, Fundación Avina, and the Skoll Foundation, we'll be offering this support with ongoing mentorship from the Global Voices community.

Read more about the project on Rising Voices and register your interest here.

Citizen media has played an important part in many cultural, political, social and environmental struggles in the region. See some of our past coverage of Amazon communities on the special coverage page: Forest Focus: Amazon.

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