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Bolivia: Day 2 of the Conectándonos Gathering

Part of the summary of the Conectándonos event. Read about Day 1 here.

The second day of the Conectándonos (Connecting) gathering held in Cochabamba, Bolivia, was devoted to hands-on workshops in a BarCamp-style format. During the closing part of the previous day, the facilitators asked participants what skills they wanted to learn and what techniques they wanted to improve. Based on their answers and feedback, the workshops were prepared for the next day with additional flexibility should additional needs arise.

BarCamp session. Photo by Juan Espinoza.

Participants chose from among three different workshops that took place simultaneously in the breakout rooms, where they were able to connect via wi-fi or in the available computer lab. Some of the workshops included:

  • Editing Video using Free Software
  • How to Write for the Web
  • Using your Mobile Phone to Tweet
  • Creative Commons and Licensing your Content
  • Citizen Media Tools to Promote the Use of Indigenous Languages
  • Streaming Live Events over the Internet

For example, in the workshop about how to begin to use citizen media as a way to promote native languages, Ruben Hilare of the Jaqi Aru project began the discussion with some of the new Bolivian laws that call for greater promotion and use of all 36 indigenous languages in Bolivia. The participants present at the workshop represented five of these languages: Aymara, Quechua, Chiquitano (Bésiro), Guaraní, and Guarayo. They shared their own experiences whether or not they have used their language online and about the current status of these languages.

BarCamp session. Photo by Juan Espinoza

Most of the participants described their digital media skills as beginner or intermediate, so for many, they had not been using these tools to their fullest potential. Being able to hold the workshops with between 10-15 participants allowed for greater interaction and more opportunities ask questions. In some cases, they were able to receive individual help during the breaks and during the lunch hour.

In addition to these workshops that heavily focused on the use of specific digital tools, there was also a workshop about the importance of an entrepreneurial spirit called “Self-promotion is not necessarily a bad word” in relation to implementing a citizen media outreach project. In many instances in Bolivian society, talking about one's ability or qualities is a difficult task, as some do not want to come across as arrogant or conceited. However, when trying to organize a project, it is extremely important to be able to articulate the project's goals and why one is the right person to implement it. The workshop leaders focused on helping the participants improve their marketing skills through exercises such as the elevator pitch and writing a classified ad about one's skills.

These BarCamp workshops were a good first step towards strengthening the participants skills in the use of digital media, but also in project development and implementation. Many expressed that they would have wanted to attend all of the sessions, but due to time constraints only five workshops were able to be held throughout the gathering.

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