Stories from Quick Reads and Latin America
During the economic and political crisis in Argentina in 2001, people shouted in the streets, “Go to hell, everyone (rulers)!” More than a decade after these events, this popular cry was transformed into a digital tool that allows voters to learn about the political background of their candidates. On Infoactivismo, there is a piece about the project Cargografías (roughly translated as Position-ography):
El objetivo es brindar información a la ciudadanía para la toma de decisiones durante periodos electorales y ser un recurso de utilidad para periodistas e investigadores, quienes a partir de la herramienta podrán construir sus propias historias y apoyar sus proyectos de investigación.
The aim is to give information to the constituency for decision making during election periods and serve as a useful resource for journalists and researchers, who will be able to build their own stories and support their investigation projects using the tool.
The tool allows to analyze the political career of public officers in the last 30 years and document situations that might not be found in a regular Internet search.
Project founder Andrés Snitcofsky explains his intention was to show that many officers who were in office in 2001 are still there in spite of people's complaints. Although the information already existed, until now it wasn't collected in one place. So, Cargografías began with a Google Doc and a group of friends who organized the available information that was available on their own time. That database is now available on Popit.
The International Center of Research in Communication for Latin America (CIESPAL, by its name in Spanish), the Association for Progressive Communication (APC), Association of Free Software of Ecuador (ASLE), Infodesarrollo Network, the organization Free Libre Open Knowledge Society (FLOK) and the Latinoamerican Agency of Information (ALAI) are hosting the National Conference on Internet Governance with the purpose of discussing the situation of Internet governance in Ecuador, regionally as well as globally. A number of national and international experts are part of the meeting:
— CIESPAL (@ciespal) noviembre 19, 2014
National Conference on Internet Governance – Ecuador > November 27, 2014.
According to the schedule, during the event there will be discussions about Internet access, infrastructure and content with the participation of experts such as Pilar Sáenz (Fundación Karisma) and Carlos Correa (Creative Commons Ecuador and Technical Private University of Loja), among others. The moderator will be Pablo Escandón (CIESPAL). The second session, moderated by Valeria Betancourt (APC), will be about surveillance, privacy and security on the Internet, with experts such as Renata Ávila (Web We Want) and Pilar Sáenz. Marcelo Branco (Free Software Association, Brazil) opening the event. Julián Assange will close it with a reflection about the implications of governance on the Internet for Latin America.
The event is free and will take place on November 27, 2014 at Av. Diego de Almagro N32-133 Andrade Marín, Quito. You can sign up here.
Yes, now it's possible! Thanks to Lumera, after two years of hard work as a result of a project by Open Hardware, from Hackbo, Bogota's hackerspace. It's all about a small device that gets integrated into your reflex photographic camera, transforming it into a “smart camera”. Using Lumera, you can handle your camera from your cell phone, save your photos in the cloud, share them on social networks or edit, among other possibilities.
Lumera cuenta con conectividad Wi-Fi y Bluetooth LE, un display LED, doble puerto USB, batería integrada y varios botones para compartir y transferir archivos de manera rápida y sencilla. El accesorio se ancla a la cámara mediante la entrada de tornillo universal y por el puerto USB se conecta al de la cámara. Y se vinculará con su celular mediante una app que estará disponible para Android y iOS. Con esta app, podrán configurar la antena para conectarla directo a las cuentas de Dropbox y Google Drive, haciendo el respaldo digital mucho más sencillo.
Lumera has Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth LE, a LED display, double USB port, integrated battery and several buttons for quickly and easily file sharing and transfering. The accessory is fixed to the camera through the universal bolt input and through the USB port gets connected to the camera. And it will be linked to your cell phone through an app that will be available for Android and iOS. With this app, you will be able to set up he antenna to connect it directly to your Dropbox and Google Drive accounts, thus making digital backup way much simpler.
LumeraLabs is a Colombian-origin hardware, software and application firm that participates in a campaign by Kickstarter to raise funds to launch Lumera. So far, the project has raised $41,903 out of the $90,000 they have set as a goal. There is still time until December 12 for those photographs or amateurs that want Lumera to reach its goal.
Paddington Bear, the lovable fictional character in children's literature popular in the United Kindgonm, arrived in Peru, the land of his forefathers. According to the character's story, Paddington was found at Paddington Railway Station in London by the Brown family. Because, apparently, “no one understands his Peruvian name”, he becomes known as Paddington after the railway station in which he was found.
In a press release from the Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, a campaign by Promperú, which is part of the ministry, was made public:
[...] para promover a nuestro país como uno de los destinos más fascinantes de América del Sur y del mundo, incluye esta visita durante la cual el Oso Paddington pondrá en vitrina nuestras culturas vivas, historia milenaria, biodiversidad, gastronomía y celebraciones.
[...] to promote our country as one of the most fascinating places in South America and the world, during this visit Paddington Bear will highlight our lively cultures, millenary history, biodiversity, cuisine and celebrations.
So, Paddington Bear was seen all around Lima:
— Marca PERÚ (@marcaPERU) noviembre 17, 2014
Paddington Bear in our capital city Main Square. Go ahead and meet him!
Paddington Bear attends First International Fair President of the Republic Scholarship
— RUF (@rafaelurfle) noviembre 13, 2014
I came across Paddington Bear and I can only conclude he must be boiling under that costume.
— Agencia Andina (@Agencia_Andina) noviembre 13, 2014
Today, Paddington Bear visited our newsroom.
The tragedy of the students from Ayotzinapa in Guerrero, Mexico, has started a wave of solidarity among Mexicans and people throughout the world, so much so that students from at least 43 counties are demanding justice for their missing peers.
But to explain the sentiments of families and locals engaged with security and good living, let's listen to what a Mexican has to say. Fernando Vázquez Rigada, in a sensitive article, is harsh in his criticisms of passive society and of his government as well:
El estado llegó tarde y llegó mal. La desaparición de más de 50 seres humanos hubiera accionado los resortes de seguridad nacional de cualquier estado decente. Pero éste no lo es. Y llegó mal: porque, titubeante, no ha atinado a tomar el control de una crisis que hace que las instituciones se desmoronen y que la irritación social sea contenida. La esposa de Abarca está arraigada, porque no se pudo acreditarle ningún delito que ameritara orden de aprehensión del juez. La mujer que los escondió salió bajo caución: porque no se le considera cómplice, encubridora, de un crimen que ha conmovido al mundo entero.
The state arrived late and in bad shape. The disappearance of more than 50 human beings would have unleashed the national security mechanisms in any decent society. But this one is not. And it arrived in bad shape: because being hesitant, it has been unable to take control of a crisis that makes institutions crumble and that social irritation gets restrained. No crime could be proved to Abarca's wife, so there is no judicial order for her arrest. The woman who hid them was bailed out: as she is not considered accomplice, accessory to a crime that has shocked the whole world.
Vasquez Rigada concludes: “The sea is rough. The vessel creaks. The crew can't control the vessel. The passengers have fear and hate. And the helm is loose.”
You can follow Fernando on Twitter: @fvazquezrig
Today, it's not enough to just talk about the Internet. This concept has broadened and it's a good challenge for those who want to become electronic engineers. César Viloria Núñez, a professor at the Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla, Colombia, explains what the Internet of things is:
Consiste en que las cosas en general estén conectadas y que no solo las personas ingresemos información a la red, sino que las cosas mismas generen información, la compartan entre ellas y tomen decisiones con el fin de automatizar distintos procesos.
It's about things in general being connected, and it's not only people feeding data to the web, but the things themselves generate information that they share it amongst themselves and make decisions with the aim of automating different processes.
Viloria Núñez tries to explain the concept with the example of a ‘smart refrigerator', but he also mentions smart crops. He wonders:
¿Qué tal una red de sensores en el terreno cultivado que identifique qué tan húmedo o seco está el suelo para activar automáticamente el sistema de riego? Tal vez dependiendo de qué tan maduro esté el producto cultivado se requiera más o menos agua, o más o menos fertilizantes, o los sensores pueden identificar si el cultivo está siendo atacado por alguna plaga para activar el suministro automático de insecticida.
What about a network of sensors in a cultivated piece of land that identifies how irrigated or dry the soil is to automatically activate the irrigation system? Maybe relying on how mature the cultivated product is, it will need more or less water, or more or less fertilizer, or the sensors might be able to identify if the crop has been attacked by some plague to activate an automatic supply of insecticide.
Welcome to the Internet of things.
Political activism is not exclusively reserved for young people and adults. This was demonstrated by Sofia, an 11-year-old Mexican girl who decided to collect signatures calling for the resignation of the president of her country, Enrique Peña Nieto. These are her reasons.
Peña Nieto has not responded as he should have to the families of the missing students, he went to China and he has a house costing 80 million pesos (approximately 5.88 million dollars).
This initiative caused many positive reactions. For example, some decided to sign in order to demonstrate to Sofia and other Mexican children (as well as adults) that having a better country is possible, and to remind those who govern that people placed them there and that the people can remove them. Sofia's mother said:
Yo no tengo idea de cómo se destituye a un presidente. Pero ojalá pueda de verdad llevar esas hojas a alguna parte que ayude a Sofía a sentir que su esfuerzo vale la pena, que lo intentamos a toda costa. Fui incapaz de decirle que no lo hiciera, que era casi imposible. No puedo cortarle las alas. Esta generación viene con fuerza, con fe y determinación, y con un concepto de lo que es decente y justo que ya quisieran muchos para un fin de semana.
I don't know how to dismiss a president. But, hopefully one can take those papers somewhere so that Sofia can feel that her efforts were worth it, that we tried at all costs. I was unable to tell her not to do it because it was almost impossible. I couldn't cut her wings. This generation is full of strength with faith and determination, and with a concept of what is decent, something that many want for a weekend.
The petition was placed on the Change.org platform and already has 10,500 signatures at the time of this post.
On a review of what is going on with Colombian economy, Daniel Bustos writes on his blog Trayectoria Económica an analysis of what he calls ‘skinny cows’ or lean times.
Although the economy is still standing thanks to public and private investment and the construction industry, the oil barrel price is lower and tax evasion hasn't stopped. Enough problems, as to wonder: ¿Is the government aware of this situation? Bustos answers:
Parece ser que no, o por lo menos quieren disimular la cuestión a cualquier precio, [...] ¿Que pasa en la economía colombiana si el precio del petróleo sigue cayendo? El país depende demasiado del petróleo, eso se puede observar claramente en las proyecciones de ingresos para los próximos años donde se situaba el precio del petróleo cercano a los 100 dólares para lo cual, con base en esto se realizaron las proyecciones de presupuesto para el mediano plazo pero con las recientes fluctuaciones del precio del crudo dichas proyecciones deben ser re-diseñadas, y los ingresos faltantes deben ser buscados de alguna parte; aunque por otro lado si el precio del dólar sigue subiendo como lo esta haciendo en este momento, sería interesante saber si este aumento de alguna forma ha amortiguado este déficit o incluso los lograra cubrir, desafortunadamente esto solo lo dirán los mercados.
Apparently, it isn't so, or at least they want to hide the issue, whatever the cost [...]. What will happen with Colombian economy if oil prices keep going down? The country relies too much on oil, as we can clearly observe on the income projections for coming years, where the oil price was close to 100 dollars, and over that base, budget mid-term projections were made, but with recent fluctuations in the crude oil, those projections should be redesigned and the income shortage should come from somewhere else. Although on the other hand, if the dollar keeps increasing as it's doing, it'd be interesting to know if this increase has somehow softened the deficit or will even cover it. Unfortunately, only market will tell.
Villa de Merlo, in the province of San Luis, was home of one of many indigenous communities that settled in the territory of what we now know as the Republic of Argentina. Wenceslao Bottaro tells us about the Theme Park Yucat Land of Comechingones, which teach us about this culture:
[el parque] es un emprendimiento familiar basado en una investigación histórica. La idea del parque es poder dar a conocer a los visitantes la historia humana de las sierras de los comechingones, rescatando la cultura, las costumbres y los saberes del pueblo comechingón, antiguos habitantes de la región del valle donde en la actualidad se asienta Villa de Merlo.
[the park] is a family undertaking base on historical research. The idea of the park is to make visitors know human history in the highlands of the Comechingones, rescuing their culture, customs and knowledge of the Comechingon people, who used to live in the region of the valley where Villa de Merlo is located today.
The park is named after Yucat, one of the caciques (chiefs), and has 18 stations that can be visited with the assistance of audio guides in Spanish and English. Thus, tourists are able to find out different historical and cultural aspects of the Comechingones’ life. Aside from learning about their culture and customs, visitors can enjoy nature and typical flora, such as carob trees, chañars, iguana Hackberry, espinillos, piquillines and molles, all part of the natural scenery there. The region also provides other leisure opportunities, such as zip-lines.
You can follow Wenceslao Bottaro on Twitter.
Mujeres construyendo (Women building) reports about the Campaign Beijing+20 de UN, a small contribution in the fight against gender-based violence. Violence against women isn't just about physical violence, but sexual and psychological violence as well.
According to data provided by UH Women, 120 million girls have been victims of sexual abuse, 700 million women were married while they were still young girls, and 4.5 million of the victims of sexual exploitation are women and girls. In the 21st century, violence against women is still a daily reality:
Esto no es vida, es el infierno. Mientras tú y yo estamos aquí leyendo este post, una niña o una mujer está siendo víctima de violencia en alguna de sus muchas formas, algunas sutiles, otras brutales, pero la realidad sigue siendo esa: la violencia prevalece.
This isn't life, this is hell. While you and me are here reading this post, a girl or a women is becoming victim of violence in one of its many forms, some are subtle, some others are brutal, but the reality remains: violence prevails.
What can we do to fight back?
First, be informed. Second, look for support and report the violence. Third, put pressure on our governments so they comply with laws that protect women. We should also educate younger generations within a culture of peace, put pressure on the media and politicians to raise awareness about this issue, and (why not?) produce our own content, using the digital tools we have at hand.
You can follow Mujeres Construyendo on Twitter.