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Putting a Social Spin on ICT with SocialTIC



[Links are to Spanish-language pages.]

SocialTIC [Social Information and Communications Technology] is an initiative by a group of young Mexicans who combine extensive experience in a variety of fields such as citizen journalism, social media, multimedia content, and open data. SocialTIC defines itself simply as “a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and empowering social groups by helping them enhance their activities through the use of technology.”

The initiative was launched at the beginning of 2013, and since then its members have undertaken a number of activities worth highlighting. Here are a few examples, based on the fields of activity SocialTIC targets specifically. 

Research into putting ICT to work to attain social objectives

Under this rubric, Juan Manuel Casanueva discusses how creating video and radio content is as an effective means of introducing children to digital media and its uses. 

además de ser divertidos, la expresión multimedia desata una condición humana que culturalmente vemos que en gran parte de América Latina está dormida: la expresión individual y colectiva. Uno de los grandes retos para las nuevas generaciones de nuestro continente es ver el uso de los nuevos medios digitales como la posiblidad de que dejemos de ser consumidores de conocimiento y nos volvamos creadores de información, mensajes y conocimiento.

In addition to being fun, multimedia unleashes a human urge that, culturally speaking, is dormant in much of Latin America: individual and collective self-expression. One of the great challenges for the new generations on our continent is to see how, using new digital media, we can stop being passive consumers of knowledge and become creators of information, messages, and knowledge.

During Aldea Digital 2013 [a digital culture expo], the team from SocialTIC and a few volunteers gave themselves the goal of demonstrating how the Internet can facilitate civic engagement to people with no previous experience of social networks. Faeriedevilish recounts:

En uno de nuestros talleres, Bryan, chavo feisbuquero, le ayudó de la manera más experta y paciente a la señora Josefina, que usaba una computadora por primera vez.

In one of our workshops, Bryan, a young Facebook users, showed expert teaching and patience in helping Josephina, a senior, to use a computer for the first time.

Developing ICT skills for civil society, citizen activism and the public sector

Mexflow explains the eight good practices that ensure digital security for all. An example below describes how to backup information on your devices:

Podría parecer básico pero es común escuchar historias de personas que perdieron toda su información por una falla de algún componente de sus equipos. La mayoría de las personas no lo toma como una actividad importante, pero en un momento de falla o descompostura sabrán de su importancia. Un respaldo no tiene que ser algo complejo, realmente debe de cumplir unas reglas básicas:

  • Debe estar lo más actualizado posible, de preferencia no mayor a un mes
  • Debes respaldar lo más valioso o indispensable que consideres dentro de tus archivos.
  • Un respaldo es una copia de información, por lo tanto no es para uso diario de consulta.
  • Mantén el dispositivo de almacenamiento en un lugar seguro de robo o percances (agua, temperaturas variables, caidas o mal uso)

It may seem obvious, but we often hear stories about people who have lost all their information because one of the components in their equipment failed. Most people do not consider it an important activity, but when equipment fails or breaks down, they soon find out just how crucial it is. A backup does not have to be complicated; there are just a few basic rules:

  • The backup should be as up-to-date as possible, preferably no older than one month.
  • You should back up the file content that is most important or valuable to you.
  • A backup is a copy of your data, so it is not something you consult on a daily basis. 
  • Keep your storage device in a safe place where it cannot be stolen or damaged by water, variable temperatures, falls, or misuse. 

In the context of increasing government surveillance of communications, JM Casanueva talked to Luis Fernando García, a lawyer specializing in digital rights, about the debate over Mexico's Federal Code of Criminal Procedure (#CNPP). A few of the questions raised included:

  • ¿La intervención de tus comunicaciones se debe hacer en base a una orden de un juez basada en las pruebas de sospecha que presente la Procuraduría o sólo con que “lo considere necesario?
  • ¿La Procuraduría debería poder localizarte mediante el uso de tu celular cuando quiera o sólo bajo orden de un juez?
  • ¿Los concesionarios y servicios de telecomunicación deberían retener tus datos personales?
  • Should interference in your communications be based on a court order stemming from reasonable suspicion presented by the Attorney General's office or just on the fact that “it is considered necessary”?
  • Should the Attorney General be able to locate you at will using your cellphone or only on orders from a judge?
  • Should telecommunications providers and authorized dealers be able to store your personal information?

Supporting civic groups and organizations in the use of ICT to promote and increase the impact of participatory citizenship

In a workshop given by SocialTIC on ICTs and democracy at a UN regional conference for young people, the following topic arose: What would the Web be like if you took part in it?

A pesar de que coincidimos que nuestra primera reacción ante nuestra propia curiosidad y necesidad de obtener “conocimiento” es googlear, hubo un ligero descontento en cuanto al universo de la información en Internet. La pregunta que hicimos después fue: Si ustedes compartieran su conocimiento en Internet, qué temas abarcarían? Y así se ven las respuestas del grupo:


Despite the fact that we agreed that our immediate reaction to our own curiosity and desire to acquire “knowledge” is to turn to Google, there was some dissatisfaction about the universe of information available on the Internet. The question we followed up with was: “If you shared your knowledge on the Internet, what topics would you address?” And this is what the answers looked like.

[Tag cloud includes: Rights, Art, Indigenous peoples, Internet, Culture, Rural, Expression, Dance, Peace, Technology, Values, Discrimination, Abortion, Education, Environment, Sustainability, and more]

In another post, Faeriedevilish explains a basic truth that is often overlooked when it comes to supporting online campaigns: technology itself is useless until it is efficiently directed towards an objective.

¿Qué prácticas humanas, más allá de la tecnología, hay que considerar al acompañar una campaña online? Les compartimos las enseñanzas principales de nuestras experiencias:

La importancia de los sistemas de gestión. Resulta a veces que los mayores problemas de adopción de tecnologías poco tienen que ver con código, y mucho con temas de administración. ¿Qué pasa si el community de la campaña también tiene que contestar el teléfono y pagar las nóminas? ¿Cómo logramos que todos contribuyan a la página web? Hay que pensar en estrategias para lograrlo.

What human practices, beyond technology, need to be considered in support of an online campaign? We share some key lessons from our own experiences:

The importance of management systems. It turns out that sometimes the biggest problems in adopting new technologies have little to do with source codes and much more to do with administration. What happens if the campaign's community manager also has to answer the phone and pay salaries? How do we ensure that everyone contributes to the webpage? We have to think about strategies to accomplish this.

Advocating an ICT ecosystem for social purposes

JM Casanueva writes about the increased collaboration between traditionally distinct ICT communities and those involved in social projects. The following diagram “shows the purpose of different types of technology that are required depending on the degree of technological proficiency of a civic organization and the social action it performs.”

Si bien, es complejo determinar los niveles precisos de manejo tecnológico y acción social, se identifican tres áreas tecnológicas de oportunidad:

  • Básica: abarca el apoyo en la adopción e implantación de infraestructura para comunicación unidireccional y procesos transaccionales
  • Media: abarca el apoyo en la adopción estratégica, el desarrollo y customización de herramientas para la comunicación focalizada, la vinculación social y la lectura de la participación de usuarios en relación a las actividades de las organizaciones sociales.
  • Especializada: abarda el apoyo en la adopción estratégica, la innovación tecnológica y customización de herramientas para el acceso, respuesta y visualización en tiempo real de información, datos y reacciones de usuarios bajo contextos sociales y de interacción inducida.

Although it is difficult to determine the precise levels of technological proficiency and social action, three areas of opportunity can be identified:

  • Basic: covers support for the adoption and implementation of infrastructure for unidirectional communication and transactional message processing
  • Intermediate: covers support for strategic adoption, development and tool customization for focused communication, social links, and reading of user participation levels in relation to the activity of social organizations.
  • Specialized: covers support for strategic adoption, technological innovation, and tool customization for access, response, and visualization in real time of data, information, and user reaction in contexts of social and induced interaction.

One of the best known projects is the School of data, “an open site where all of us can contribute […] we will be sharing experiences about the use of data in different Spanish-speaking countries as well as recounting the efforts of those of us who have taken on the mantel of spreading the mystical practice of using data.”

And it was during one of these open-data events in 2013 that I was able to speak to Sergio Araiza of SocialTIC about these issues:

You can learn more about SocialTIC's publications and follow their activities on their blogTwitter and Facebook.

The video in this post was transcribed by Fernando Rodríguez and subtitled into English by Tiago Miller.
Post originally published on the blog Globalizado.

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