Ecuador holds many similarities to its Andean neighbors in terms of its use of the internet, such as the fact that there are many sectors of society less represented than others in this digital space. However, the Ecuadorian context is unique and warrants a closer look at what can be done to ensure that this participation gap becomes smaller and smaller.
Following the organization of the event “Conectándonos” (Connecting) that was held in Cochabamba, Bolivia in December 2011, a second version was held in the city of Loja, Ecuador. The focus of the gathering “Conectándonos” (Connecting) was to provide support and training to up to 35 participants from underrepresented communities and those working closely with these groups to examine how they can play a role in ensuring that the Ecuadorian digital space can become more inclusive with greater participation by all sectors of society. Through this support and networking, the hope is that the participants can return to to their home communities and become an active resource for others wanting to learn how to use these digital tools for social change.
With the support of HIVOS, IBIS, and the Technical University in Loja (UTPL for its initials in Spanish), Rising Voices organized a three-gathering in Loja, Ecuador on May 24-26, 2012.
The format of the gathering included 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 were experienced bloggers who shared their own experiences and provided assistance through the workshops. Finally, there were also small-group activities where the participants developed their own ideas on how to be resources in their own communities to encourage others to begin to use these digital tools.
The event also took place on social networking sites with the hashtag #ConECU, on their Facebook Page and blog. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we'll have detailed summaries of the course of events during the three-day gathering.