FAROS is the childhood and youth health observatory of the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital, one of the most renowned hospitals specialized in children and youngsters in Spain.
Every year they publish a book — the FAROS report — which deals about a topic of especial relevance for families and carers, helping them to understand it and to address it.
The 2015 edition of the FAROS report its entitled Las nuevas tecnologías en niños y adolescentes. Guía para educar saludablemente en una sociedad digital [New technologies in children and youngsters. Guide for a healthy education in a digital society]. As it can be inferred from the title, the report deals about minors accessing technology, the use of devices, online and videogaming, social networking sites, privacy and security, socialization, etc.
I was kindly invited to write one of the final chapters about the pros and cons of digital life. Unlike the preceding co-authors, my approach is not about one specific point of view or technology, but more panoramic. It tries to bring to the debate that the use of technology is a matter of socialization. And, as such, it does carry embedded the very same advantages and risks of interacting with others. Without fully digital inclusion, one will not be in risk of e-exclusion, but in risk of sheer social exclusion. On the other hand, an inappropriate digital inclusion will be very much like inappropriate socialization, putting us in risk of being abused, be an abuser (or a criminal), lack education opportunities and so on.
My chapter is called El doble filo de la tecnología: una oportunidad de inclusión y un peligro de exclusión [The double edge of technology: an opportunity for inclusion and a risk of exclusion] and can be downloaded as follows.
Lots of gratitude to Olga Herrero for counting me in and making it possible.
The Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies has just published a book review that I did on Manuel Castells’ Redes de Indignación y Esperanza (Networks of Outrage and Hope in its English edition).
Unlike most reviews — not my words, but someone else’s — my review is not just a description of what is in the book, but an actual review or, better put, a critique. Not necessarily negative one, mind you, but a reading with at least a critical eye.
In my review — which, by the way, is in Spanish — I begin by telling why the book is relevant and comes at a perfect timing.
Then, I go into debating on of the most important (to me) subjects of Manuel Castells’ trilogy on the Information Society and that the author revisits in his by now latest book: the question of space (or of spaces). Unlike what he did in The Information Age, though, his approach to the concept of space is somewhat changed here, and goes more in the line of what other authors have stated, like John Perry Barlow, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Javier Echeverría or Marc Augé.
The paper can be downloaded at the following link, and the bibliography that I used can be accessed after the download section.
Alcazan, Monterde, A., Axebra, Quodlibetat, Levi, S., SuNotissima, TakeTheSquare & Toret, J. (2012). Tecnopolítica, Internet y R-Evoluciones. Sobre la Centralidad de Redes Digitales en el #15M
. Barcelona: Icaria.
Stephenson, N. (1992). Snow Crash
. New York City: Bantam Books.
My colleagues Mariluz Congosto, Pablo Aragón and I just got a paper published. It is the final, improved version of a research that had already been presented thus:
In the last months I have been reflecting — especially in my blog in Spanish, SociedadRed, but also here — on the impact of ICTs on political institutions, and how these institutions are — or, in my opinion, should — adapting to new forms of participation and citizen organization.
I have especially addressed the highly innovative environment of these social practices, and thus (re)approached innovation, open innovation and social innovation but now under the new light of political extra-representative participation, social movements, political engagement and participation that happens “under the radar” of institutions, etc.
A first result of these reflections was my paper “Casual Politics: From slacktivism to emergent movements and pattern recognition”.
What comes now is the result of merging some partial works:
The result of it all is a new book chapter, Innovació social oberta: l’organització política com a plataforma [Open social innovation: the political organization as a platform], published in the book Costa i Fernández, L. & Puntí Brun, M. (Eds.), Comunicació pel canvi social. Reflexions i experiències per una comunicació participativa, emancipadora i transparent. A preprint version is available for download below:
Imagine an organization you highly and very sincerely respect. Imagine this organization calls you and tells you about their vision and the plans to achieve this vision. Plans about opening research, about making the creation and spread of knowledge very participative and collaborative, about making impact the target and research the instrument put at the service of that impact (instead of research being the goal and impact a casual side-effect). Imagine this organization asking for your opinion and listening to you digress about e-research, personal learning environments, the personal research portal, knowledge management or new ways to use technology and participate in the Information Society.
This happened in September at Fundació Jaume Bofill, a leading non-profit in Catalonia that performs quality research in human sciences in general, and now narrowing its field of action to Education in a very broad sense, with a special focus on inequalities, innovation and social change. And the conversation ended with a
would you like to lead the project?.
Since November 1st I am the director of open innovation at Fundació Jaume Bofill, being my general goal to rethink how knowledge is produced and shared all across the organization. To be able to perform my new responsibilities, since January 1st 2014 until February 1st 2015 I will be on partial leave from my current job, full time professor at the Open University of Catalonia. I describe what I think the main background is in Open Social Innovation. On the other hand, what I believe my main guiding lines will be in the following year was presented in December to my new colleagues. What follows are the slides I used (in Catalan):
All of this has mostly been learning by doing, so I just expect my experience not to be too much wrong.
There is a positive side-effect to this already thrilling collaboration. My University and I found that the best way to channel it was through the recently created Open Evidence, a spin-off from my University working in the field of social sciences research, innovation and knowledge transfer. I will thus be working side by side as a researcher and analyst with my friends Francisco Lupiáñez- Villanueva and David Osimo, whom I highly respect. I hope being closer will make it easier to produce some good things together.
Last, but not least, it is worth acknowledging that things do not happen just because. There is plenty of people to be grateful to. First of all, my thanks go to Ismael Palacín (director of the Foundation), Mònica Nadal (director of prospective) and the board of trustees of the Fundació Jaume Bofill (Carles Capdevila among others) for their trust in me; to some friends and “usual suspects” (Jaume Albaigès, Pau Vidal, etc.) for their priceless help and speaking well of me and my work; to Paco Lupiáñez, Agustí Cerrillo, Mireia Riera, José Miguel de la Dehesa and Enric Vinaixa for their support and making things happen; and to María Salido, Amalio Rey, Julen Iturbe and Ana Rodera for their “notes” on how to leave the nest. And, of course, to Mercè, Muriel and (soon) Jofre for their patience.
At this moment I’m both excited and terrified at the perspective of the new year. The project is huge, both a tremendous opportunity of making great things or falling into deep failures. The team I will be working with is gorgeous and an incredible source of learning. The gods be good to us! Come, masters, let’s home. I ever said we were i’ the wrong if we never tried.
My research on slacktivism has finally been published as a paper both in Spanish and Catalan at two “brother” journals: Educación Social. Revista de Intervención Socioeducativa and Educació Social. Revista d’Intervenció Sòcioeducativa.
This is work that I had already presented at two conferences — 9th International Conference on Internet, Law & Politics; II Jornadas españolas de ciberpolítica — and, thus, is now available in three languages: the former two plus English.
What follows — after the abstract — is a list of the references and full text downloads for the papers. The main idea of the papers is that if we look at slacktivism from the point of view of the “activist”, it is but true that it is a very low-commitment activism. But if we take the approach of the politician or the policy-maker, or if we take some distance and take a look at the whole landscape, what we find is that slacktivism is only a tiny portion of a huge cosmos of people very actively engaging in politics, extra-representational politics though, and that is why most of it flies underneath the traditional political radar.
Politics have traditionally looked at the exercise of democracy with at least two implicit assumptions: (1) institutions are the normal channel of politics and (2) voting is the normal channel for politics to make decisions. Of course, reality is much more complex than that, but, on the one hand, all the extensions of that model beyond or around voting –issues related to access to public information, to deliberation and argumentation, to negotiation and opinion shaping, or related to accountability are based on institutions as the core axis around which politics spin. On the other hand, the existence and analysis of extra-institutional political participation –awareness raising, lobbying, citizen movements, protests and demonstrations– have also most of the times been put in relationship with affecting the final outcomes of institutional participation and decision-making, especially in affecting voting.
Inspired in the concept of «feet voting» (developed by Tiebout, Friedman and others) in this paper we want to challenge this way of understanding politics as a proactive and conscious action, and propose instead a reactive and unconscious way of doing politics, based on small, casual contributions and its posterior analysis by means of big data, emergence analysis and pattern recognition.
In our theoretical approach –illustrated with real examples in and out of the field of politics– we will argue that social media practices like tweeting, liking and sharing on Facebook or Google+, blogging, commenting on social networking sites, tagging, hashtagging and geotagging are not what has been pejoratively labelled as «slacktivism» (a comfortable, low commitment and feel-good way of activism) but «casual politics», that is, the same kind of politics that happen informally in the offline world. The difference being that, for the first time, policy- and decision-makers can leverage and turn into real politics. If they are able to listen. If they are able to think about politics out of institutions and in real-time.