Closing Celebrations Scheduled

An important part of the workshops is the closing program, where the participants get the opportunity to invite friends and family to hear about their experiences with Voces Bolivianas. On Tuesday, March 18 the closing program will be held in El Alto for the participants of the 2nd round of workshops. Later in the month, the closing program for the Santa Cruz project will also take place.

In addition to sharing a meal with fellow participants, friends and family and other local bloggers, the Voces Bolivianas participants each say a few words and show off their blogs on the overhead projector.

However, there will also be a special announcement made at the closing ceremony on March 18 in regards to the next plans for Voces Bolivianas.

What Constitutes Success?

What makes a participatory media project successful? Reviewing the original Rising Voices application, we wrote:

How will you measure and evaluate your project’s impact – on your main participants? other contributors? on the larger community? How many participants do you expect to be involved in your project? How will you seek and sustain their involvement? (200 words)

According to unofficial estimates the city of El Alto currently has 10 blogs, many of which are maintained by the same author. The main evaluative measure will be the number of blogs and blog entries that are created and maintained over the course of the two-month project. Follow-up after the project ends will be essential to ensure that the blogs continue, which will be encouraged through additional opportunities for internet access. For selected participants, the digital cameras and voice recorders will be awarded, which will be an incentive to produce high-quality work and making it easier to create content in the future.

Some of the participants will be encouraged to be part of future outreach programs and help continue to teach others about these tools.

Another evaluative measure will be participants’ attitudes towards these new technologies. A pre and post-test will be provided to measure the participants’ attitudes towards the ability to express themselves, as well as their comfort using internet tools.

This has been a topic of discussion internally, as well as some observers and supporters of the project. The Bolivian blog community site Blogs Bolivia took a look at the 23 new participants blogs and indicated which ones were still writing 3 months after the final workshop took place. They found that 25% of the blogs were still writing in the blog and observes:

Sadly we find that the majority of the (new bloggers) have stopped publishing between the months of October and November. This means that even though they learned the new technology, there are still reasons related to costs, interest, or habit, which caused them to stop writing. Or maybe the teaching methods have not found the right group.

The article goes onto say that when looking at it from a more optimistic viewpoint, one could say that there are six more blogs in El Alto that there were before. Since this is the first project of its kind in Bolivia, would some be happy with these results or would a perfectionist like me feel like we didn't do enough. I offered up these possible remedies for this number, with the hope that the numbers will increase after the second project in El Alto:

1) During the registration, we should find those with more of a commitment. There will always be people that love to blog and others that will say, ‘this is not for me.’ Maybe we can charge a small registration fee and if they complete all of the workshops, then they will be refunded in full. (This is a little complicated, because we want to ensure everything remains without cost.)

2.) More support during the week. If they are not writing, then there should be calls or text messages to see if they need help or additional personal help. The lines of communication have always been open for those with questions, but maybe this should be increased.

Is it simply a question of raw numbers, i.e. an increase in the number of sustainable blogs? We also sought to measure attitudes and acquisition of knowledge. A pre and post test was given to the participants to ask them about their knowledge regarding the use and familiarity of blogs. For the pilot project, on a scale of 1-5, we found that the participants felt that they increased their knowledge in the use of blogs from 1.5 to 2.6. In addition, we also asked them about their knowledge of the advantages of having a blog, i.e. their utility. This also increased from 3.0 to 4.1. This may not be entirely scientific, but it does show that these workshops do help in some way in regards to the participants’ knowledge and attitudes towards the use of blogs.

Nevertheless, it is still a learning process in seeing what works and what should be scrapped altogether. Some things cannot be measured, but can simply be observed, such as when Bolivianas, who had no previous knowledge of these new tools, become excited to write and share their stories. It can also been seen in young people, who continue to share their traditions handed down from generation to generation, as well as write in their native language of Aymara.

It is still a work in progress, and hopefully the percentage of new bloggers that continue will begin to rise more and more.

Voces Bolivianas Begins in Santa Cruz

Welcome to Jessica Olivares, the new Santa Cruz Coordinator and Enrique Canedo, project assistant. They wrote this description of the first day of Voces Bolivianas – Santa Cruz, our newest iniciative.

The crazy weather in Santa Cruz played tricks on us, as it began to rain very early in the morning, and as we came closer to our destination, the streets and avenues beyond the 4th Ring of the city truly became rivers.

After 25 minutes of an eventful journey in a small taxi, we heard the continuous complaint from the taxi driver. He talked about his theory of the phenomenon “La Niña” that it was not the result of global warming, rather it was due to human consequences: according to him, human sin was the cause. In the middle of his whining, he spouted, “Repent, heathens because the water will wash away our sins..” in that moment we realized that we were finally arriving to our final destination, Paurito Avenue in the area of Plan 3000 near the neighborhood La Ciudad de la Alegría.

The rain was beginning to cease, and 11 individuals were waiting to begin the first class of digital literacy through the use of blogs… 11 individuals that were transformed from real-life to virtual and became part of the Bolivian blogosphere.

It was satisfying to see the commitment from the attendees, and it was also surprising to see the variety of backgrounds in this heterogeneous group. There were young people, professionals, students, commercial vendors, and novices. Most were brand-new to the world of blogs, but they had the complete interest to learn how to create their blogs, and express themselves through words to the world what they live on a daily basis.

Here are their new blogs:


Prof. Miriam Vidal- – Miriam Vidal
Capuletos- – José Armando
Eufenisimos – José Luis Alanoca
Travieso - – Kevin Ayllon
Reciclaje – Edmundo Vaquila
Turismo en Bolivia – Deisy Díaz
Crucenhito – Sergio Gutierrez
Litoraleño – Pedro Velásquez
Mi Cofre Musical OK – Silvana Salvatierra
La Docente de Siglo XXI - Elsa Muruchi

To visit their page: Voces Bolivianas – Santa Cruz

When the clock struck 2 pm, the rain had stopped and we had finished providing answers to the rainfall of questions from our new students. Once more, they demonstrated the commitment to learn and we showed our commitment to teach them. We would appreciate if you visit their new blogs!


Voces Bolivianas 2.0

Voces Bolivianas is pleased to announced that the next round of citizen's media workshops will begin this Saturday, January 12th in the city of El Alto. The project titled El Alto II will improve upon the experiences of the first pilot project in 2007, as well as continue the successes experienced by the Voces Bolivianas team. As one of the main goals of Voces Bolivianas is to work with underrepresented groups, a concerted effort to recruit female participants was made in the past couple of weeks. In the pilot project, nearly 75% of the participants were male, and the goal is to reverse that number with the approximate percentage being female.

In addition, the organization's first expansion is scheduled for January 19th in the city of Santa Cruz. A local blogger, Jessica Olivares, has agreed to become the Voces Bolivianas coordinator in Santa Cruz. She is busy making arrangements for recruitment of participants.

More news soon.

Featured in OH! Weekly Magazine

Voces Bolivianas was recently featured in the magazine OH!, which accompanies the Sunday edition of the Los Tiempos newspaper in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Javier Méndez Vedia writes in Ciudadanía Virtual Democracia en La Bandeja de Entrada (Virtual Democratic Citizenshp in the Inbox)

In El Alto, this curiosity is still young and uses blogs as tools. One of the most interesting projects is called Voces Bolivianas and involves 25 participants. A workshop was held to teach how to create blogs and in January there will be another one, held especially for women. “In the first workshop the majority were women,” explains Dora Romero, a participant from El Alto. One of the most enthusiastic is Mario Duran, who, tired of being ignored by the larger media, decided to publish his own articles on his blog. Now he is well-known, and it is easier to publish in the regular press, but the project also takes time. “We must create dialogues regarding what is happening. We want people in Santa Cruz and from all across the country to visit us and begin to dialogue and look at us as complementary realities. We may have different cultures, but at the end of the day the codes in Santa Cruz can also be read in El Alto,” said Duran.

Fortunately, this network of young citizens has the support of Global Voices, an organization in the United States that foments participation through personal blogs. A Bolivian is responsible for Latin America. When he responded to the interview, Eduardo Ávila Bustillos was in Uruguay coordinating his work for Global Voices. “It is a way to connect people without filters. From the places underrepresented in the Internet (starting with El Alto), people can tell their stories. There are many people represented by very radical people and I think that many think that everyone in El Alto is how they are shown in the media. However, there is a lot in common with the rest of Bolivia.” In, one can read what is happening in areas like Sierra Leone, India, Colombia and Africa. United States and Europe are not included, because, as the website states, they are already well represented in other networks. A ‘collateral’ effect of this initiative is that there is a blog written in Aymara ( There are few people that habitually read this language, but the flame has been lit.

Voces Bolivianas Participant

David Sasaki recently interviewed Cristina Quisbert about her experiences with the project Voces Bolivianas. In fact, Cristina's first contact with the project began when she applied and received a travel scholarship to attend the first gathering of Bolivian bloggers in the city of Santa Cruz. Here is a short video where she talks about her experiences at the conference (with subtitles thanks to dotSUB).

Cristina's blog can be found at Bolivia Indigena [es].

Internet Cafe for Workshops

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="335" wmode="transparent" /]This internet cafe is located in El Alto. We negotiated a price with the cafe owner to allow us full use of the cafe for the Saturday morning workshops. It is centrally located in an area with a lot of foot traffic. The video shows the surrounding area, as well as the space that will be used for the four workshops.