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The Best of Latin American Info-Activism in 2016 (Part II)

Imagen de difusión de la campaña "Revolución violeta en internet", publicada para la circulación por SocialTIC y usada con permiso.

Image from the campaign, “Purple Revolution Online” published for circulation by SocialTIC and used with permission. Sign reads, “I want a feminist Internet.”

What follows is the second installment of a reprint in two parts. This text was originally published by the organization SocialTIC on its main website. Global Voices publishes this piece with permission from the original authors. The original text and this adaptation present a selection of the best info-activism projects in Latin America, as well as parts of the social and political contexts in which they are developing. 

For SocialTIC, this collection of civic-technological projects and sacrifices inspires us to resist, and above all to take leading roles in changing our own societies, in order to be more effective in our info-activist tactics, to tell profound stories in an empathetic manner, and to influence groups outside of our own ideological bubbles.

The first installment of SocialTIC's review (available here) highlights the work of citizens who are looking for more transparency, who want to lead social movements, and who fight online and in the street to protect their participation and security. In this second installment, the group highlights inspirational projects fighting for equality in representation, and the importance of citizens in group projects and electoral processes.

Most Inspiring Technological Project

In early 2016, the Nicaraguan “Open Street Map” community mapped transportation routes in Managua and Sandino City, in order to make the information available to the public, both online and in print. The project was possible thanks to cooperation between local entrepreneurs in the design-and-printing industry.

MapaNica represents the civic spirit of many technological communities that operate in the absence of support from the state. This activism also shows the high potential such projects could have, if the government did cooperate more often with technical communities.

SocialTIC also highlights the work of the Morlan team, whose members analyze and visualize data in their off time. This talented team shares its discoveries, projects, and tipster recommendations all the time on social networks and on VISceral's YouTube broadcasts, which is presented as the home “of the only show in Latin America that covers data journalism, data science, [and] data visualization.”

Best Video for Change

The Movement to Help Breast Cancer (MACMA in Spanish) challenges Facebook and Instagram's terms of service and politics with a video that is impossible to forget. Its video #TetasxTetas (#TitsxTits) evaded the social networks’ censorship of women's bosoms by showing a man's chest, demonstrating how women can examine their own breasts for preventative healthcare.

Subtitles on video image: “With the hands on the waist and on the head, look for changes and lumps.

In 2016, the power of online videos grew, as multimedia adapts to viewers’ consumption habits. Short 90-second videos exploded in online activism (see work on Ssexual violence in Mexico by Amnesty International) and in digital news (see #InformeAyotzinapa or #AyotzinapaReport by AJ+). Opinion influencers also leveraged this developing technology, as demonstrated by the work of Sofía reflecting on nutrition and others like Yaser Morazán.

Special mention also goes to El Poder del Consumidor and Cacto Producciones, which in addition to producing the documentary “Dulce Agonía” also experimented with music for social causes in Dulce Veneno's music album.

Best Electoral Tool or Project

The platform Bancada Ativista unites different individuals from across the political spectrum who share an interest in engaging politically in order to effect changes in the real world. Projects like this one promise to identify future citizen leaders with the integrity and dedication necessary to working effectively for social change.

Debate with the candidates gives #activistsstand

There were also efforts by the media, civil-society organizations, and technological groups to encourage informed voting and hold officials accountable for campaign promises.

In Chile, Espacio Público launched #LupaElectoral (#ElectoralMagnifyingGlass), encouraging citizen vigilance. Ciudadano Inteligente then applied this electoral platform in Vota Inteligente at the municipal level. In the Costa Rican elections, the Voice of Guanacaste adopted the Argentinian platform Yo Quiero Saber, allowing users to weigh their sympathy for the different candidates. In Colombia, La Silla Vacía created a microsite about elections with a test aimed at undecided voters. In Nicaragua, VotoNica lobbied to make the demands of the country's youth more visible to political parties and candidates.

Best Civic Application or Platform

As always, hackathons and civic brainstorming leads to dozens of promising activist ideas, but few of these proposals ever becomes something ordinary people can use.

ContratoBook was one of those few projects that made it, uniting efforts between SpaceshipLabs and others, like PODER, Gobierno Fácil, and Transparencia Mexicana. The results is a service that makes it quick and easy to find and analyze public procurement data from the Mexican government.

SocialTIC also emphasized the great importance of civic technological programs and stimulation funds, since it is these incentives that encourage new generations of Latin American techies to engage in civic technology.

Best Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) and Gender Project

In Argentina, a small group of specialists, journalists, and volunteers created the project Argentina Discusses Sexist Violence, an anonymous survey of hundreds of Argentinian women identifying 15 dimensions of violence that occur in different aspects of their lives. This compilation of information is already available as the first national index of sexist violence.

Another project in 2016 was Tiempo Fuera, created in Mexico by the Simone de Beauvoir Leadership Institute (ILSB in Spanish) and Virk. This web application has helped hundreds of women learn more about the different support options available in Mexico, in case they experience sexual violence.

In Latin America, women are a growing presence in the tech world, which is becoming more diverse and more collaborative. In 2016, initiatives like “Editatonas” — edit-a-thons for women only — popped up in Argentina, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Brazil, capturing the knowledge of female authors within a wide variety of subjects on Wikipedia.

Video title: Editatona on Women Writers, 2016

Best Narrative Based on Data

In spite of some regrettable closures and reductions of data units, many Latin American media and NGOs that work rigorously with data kept up their work in 2016. With a new year underway, SocialTIC expects big things from groups like SOS Riachuelo, Fondos de Papel, Geografía del Delito, and Niñas Madres, which are busy using data in innovative ways to tell compelling and grounded stories.

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