Ecuador's newest province created in 2007, Santa Elena, was the site of the third BarCamp to take place in the country in 2009. On August 29, 2009, participants from across the country arrived to the Equator Technological University – Salinas Campus [es] (UTE of its initials in Spanish) to take part in the event. These types of “un-conferences” are becoming the norm in a country where it is estimated that 20% of the total population has internet access [es], which represents about 3 million people according to the most recent census.
Tania Tamariz of Comunicación Corporativa y Nuevas Tecnologias [es] was pleased that the BarCamp was held in Santa Elena, a city near the sea and famous for the popular Salinas Beach, and not in the traditional larger cities like Quito and Guayaquil. This gave the chance for a new audience to learn and share experiences about these subjects, which were especially focused on technology applied to education, business, and innovation [es]. Some of the specific topics [es] included the use of open-source educational technology, web 2.0 tools for secretaries, and a topic on “breaking myths” regarding the use of the internet in Ecuador.
José Sandoval of Dourmond's Blog traveled 12 hours from his city Loja, in order to attend the BarCampSE [es]. He is an expert on management and information technology, but his reason for visiting the Santa Elena Peninsula, was primarily to meet others, who he only knew from online interactions:
Encontrarse, físicamente, con todas las personas con las que día a día compartes por medio de la Red de Redes, le da ese toque de presencialidad necesario mediante el cual dejan de ser desconocidos de quienes sabemos mucho por sus twits, blogs, scrobblings, etc. y pasan a ser personas de carne y hueso con quienes compartimos nuestro Geekismo y pasión por temas en común.
To physically meet those people with whom you share with on a daily basis through the internet, gives one the feeling of being there, where one goes from being unknown to those who we only know through their tweets, blogs, scrobblings, etc. to become flesh and blood with whom we share our “geekism” and passion about these common themes.
Alfredo Velazco was one of the participants at the BarcampSE and he spoke about the internet penetration in Ecuador [es] He said that 23% of Ecuadorian users visit the web to check out social networks, followed by a minor percentage who navigate the web to read news, and the pursuit of educational activities. Statistics also show that most users are between 20-34 years old. The percentage of people using Facebook is concentrated in the main cities: Quito (45%) and Guayaquil (51%).
Another blogger, Pablo Rosero of Original P [es] is frustrated because the participants in the last 3 BarCamps have been, in his opinion, misusing the term web 2.0. He writes that these individuals are following the current tendency to label everything produced on the internet as web 2.0, and he explains:
2.0 no significa el WWW2 o una super evolución de la infrascructura del Internet. Fue una lenta transición en la adoptación de otros códigos para el desarrollo de sitios web, nada más. No es que está por venir, ni nunca realmente se lo sintió llegar como una transformación instantanea de toda la “red de redes” (Lease: Internet). Ya se sabe que el Internet es parcipativo, exponencial y se seguira desarrollando continuamente.
Conferences or “un-conferences” of this kind are not a surprise in Ecuador. More and more communities are continuing the trend in Latin America to organize these types of BarCamp, and as Lina María Ceballos of Pulso Social [es] notes that these events are becoming more decentralized and appearing in smaller localities. The next BarCamp is scheduled for November 28, 2009 and will be hosted by the Technical University of Loja [es] during the city's anniversary month.