Liz Henry on Ecuador2.0

Liz Henry – a colleague (and friend) at Socialtext writes on her blog about how President Correa is encouraging web2.0 technologies as a way of liberating Latin America.

International Brigades Flat 2.0On the Socialtext wiki she writes:

Did you know that the government of Ecuador is heavily investing in Web 2.0 as a revolutionary socialist strategy? President Correa is also a firm believer in the Free Software movement. He gives speeches (on YouTube, of course, on his blog) about how free software is crucial to the liberation of Latin America from U.S. and mulitnational corporate dominance. Ecuadorean government workers are “required to use free open source software“. It’s fascinating! His party, the , has a very Web 2.0 (“web dos punto cero”) presence, with “blogs and profiles and youtube video clips” for all its candidates for the Congressional assembly elections. There are clickable maps and photos, and the ballots will also have photos of all the candidates. Correa hates the mainstream media, and is asking that the regular citizens of Ecuador get out there and *become the media*, using internet cafes to upload their own videos and news programs and blogs about whatever issues concern them.

I suggested in my weekly column that the Ecuadorean government use “dotsub”, a collaborative video translation project, for its speeches and debates. That way, they could not only be translated into English but into Quechua or whatever other indigenous languages are spoken in Ecuador.

I’m very curious how long Correa will last in office. Maybe Web 2.0 geeks will start emigrating to Ecuador to help out with these idealistic goals about mass access to the creation of digital media.

Time to launch the Brigadas Internacionales 2.0?


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4th Estate: AWOL?

Reading Hilary Wainwrights book made me realise that although she is a journalist there is hardly any mention of local newspapers, TV or radio in any of the examples she discusses. Where is the press in grassroots democracy?

From Wikipedia’s article on the Fourth Estate:

In On Heroes and Hero Worship (1841), Thomas Carlyle writes:

. . . [T]urning now to the Government of men. Witenagemote, old Parliament, was a great thing. The affairs of the nation were there deliberated and decided; what we were to do as a nation. But does not, though the name Parliament subsists, the parliamentary debate go on now, everywhere and at all times, in a far more comprehensive way, out of Parliament altogether? Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all…

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Shades of Grey

I am just a few pages into Hilary Wainwright’s book but I am already struggling with her rather dated left-right political metaphors. I felt the same about Namoi Klein’s “Big Business Bad, Big State Good” arguments in her new book about Disaster Capitalism. In particular her concepts of what happened in Tiananmen Square and even the Falklands war seem a bit up-side-down… not to mention the results of the tsunami in Sri Lanka. Shock Doctrine is being widely reported in the papers at the moment – including an videos, interviews and extracts published in the Guardian. Glad to see that Jonathan Fenby calls her on her analysis of Tiananmen Square. Very interesting.

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More Reading Matters

Those nice people at Amazon delivered Hilary Wainwright’s book “Reclaim The State: Experiments in Popular Democracy” this morning. Will report back once I have read it, but noticed that they seem to think that the strap-line is “…Adventures in Popular Democracy” rather than “…Experiments in Popular Democracy”.

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Reading matters

I had a strange day’s reading today. I started off by reading the Communalist’s crit of Participatory Budgeting which I found very thought provoking and pretty interesting. I then bought a copy of The Economist – which (because I read it pretty much every week) induced a sense of deja vu (or “deja lu”)… so in a moment of consumerist madness I forked out £5 for a copy of Tyler Brûlé’s new(ish) magazine Monocle. This issue was billed thus:

“Monocle reveals everything you need to build a 21st-century country – from a well-designed passport to an efficient airline – and reports from the world’s breakaway states, failed nations and global powers in need of a thorough rebranding.”

Which sounds just my sort of thing. Flicking through it I assumed that it would be something like the love child of (the late lamented) Marxism Today, GQ and Conde Nast Traveller… (i.e: potentially great) but actually it was a big mess. I hated every page and resented having to pay so much for such lazy, self important and trivial journalism – I particularly hated the featured articles about branding nation states. I went back to reading my copy of the Economist pretty quickly.

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USA Fedral Spending as pie chart

Fedral SpendingWhen I saw this pie chart here it reminded me of the Open Source Governance that Ray Archer and I imagined when we started thinking about NewAthens (broken link). All we need to do is add sliders to each segment that would allow people to adjust the size of a segment, and a slider to adjust the total size of the pie. A wiki to collect data, debate and thoughts would be important too. Double clicking on a segment would allow citizens to drill down into more detailed charts of spending… well a man can dream. (originally posted on my other blog: Links and Anchors)

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Lessons of Porto Alegre

Hilary Wainwright wote an article in The Guardian about Porto Alegre’s participatory budgeting system. Still a bit sketchy on the actual process – I’ll see what I can dig up.

Among the comments below the article is a link to another article about Porto Alegre in

Mark Waters from PB-UK has his reply published in the Guardian a couple of days later.

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Filed under Hilary Wainwright, Participatory Budgeting, PB-UK, Porto Alegre