Even though the use of citizen media in Bolivia has grown over the past couple of years, the country's digital space still lacks fuller representation from voices of all sectors of society. Some of these underrepresented groups include members of indigenous communities, residents in rural parts of the country, and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Part of their absence can certainly be attributed to poor internet connectivity in these areas, but can also be traced to a feeling of not being connected to the wider Bolivian digital community.
However, this is not to say that these voices are not developing during this rise in digital participation, as there are more and more people from diverse backgrounds taking part in various training initiatives or simply learning on their own. Yet, this participation can be be greater and more far-reaching.
With the support of HIVOS and IBIS, Rising Voices is organizing a three-gathering in Cochabamba, Bolivia on December 12-14, 2011 with some of these emerging voices and other creators of digital media. The focus of the gathering “Conectándonos” (Connecting) is to provide support and training to 35 participants from these underrepresented communities and those working closely with these groups to examine how they can play a role in ensuring that the Bolivian digital space is more inclusive with greater participation by all sectors of society. The site of the gathering will be the mARTadero, an arts and cultural space located in South Cochabamba.
The format of the gathering will include the sharing of case studies on citizen media outreach projects around the country and around the world, as well as hands-on training workshops in a Bar-Camp-like format. On hand will be five experienced Bolivian bloggers who will share their own experiences and provide ongoing assistance through the workshops. Finally, there will also be small-group activities where the participants will develop their own ideas on how to be resources in their own communities to encourage others to begin to use these digital tools.
In addition, there will be an event open to the public to be held on December 13th to discuss this need to help bridge the participation gap in citizen media in these underrepresented communities. Follow along on Twitter at @conectandonosBO [es] and please visit the website Conectándonos [es] during the course of the three-day event. We'll publish articles translated into English on the Rising Voices blog.