Communication. Mapping agro-food consumption groups in the city of Barcelona

By Ismael Peña-López
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #143, August 2015

 

Cover of Espelt, R., Peña-López, I., Losantos, P., Rodríguez, E., Martín, T. & Pons, F. (2015). “Mapping agro-food consumption groups in the city of Barcelona”
Cover of Espelt, R., Peña-López, I., Losantos, P., Rodríguez, E., Martín, T. & Pons, F. (2015). “Mapping agro-food consumption groups in the city of Barcelona”

My colleague Ricard Espelt is these days at the XXVI European Society for Rural Sociology Congress, in Aberdeen, Scotland. The motto of this year’s edition of the congress is Places of possibility? Rural societies in a neoliberal world and this is just what Ricard is presenting on behalf of a small team he put up to analyse and map agro-food consumption groups in the city of Barcelona.

The communication he just presented, Mapping agro-food consumption groups in the city of Barcelona, is but a part of a major research project that Ricard is doing and that I have the luck to be a part of. Following can be found the abstract, slides and downloads of our communication, signed together by Ricard Espelt, Pere Losantos, Enrique Rodríguez, Toni Martín, Francesc Pons and myself. Mind that it is only a short paper and, thus, only a small part of the information produced is available. Comments (and/or requests) will definitely be welcome.

Abstract

“Consumption groups” (or “consumption cooperatives”) is one of the types of short circuits of food consumption. They are organized to create an alternative to the dominant model, the agro-food big chain. Breaking the barriers between consumers and producers, this model of organization strengthens the possibility of stimulating social and economic local development.

In this article, we show how consumption groups take advantage of the traditional cooperative move-ment rooted in the XIXth century, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the context of Barcelona.

We analyse how the Social and Solidary Economy (SSE) measurement indicators are achieved by agro-food consumption groups, the nature of the networks made up by consumers and producers and the rele-vance of ICTs to maintain the business activity. Using geolocalized data and social network analysis we highlight the significance of local economical connec-tions among the actors involved.

Even though consumption groups stimulate local business and correlate with SSE indicators, they are not represented in the design of public policies. This article wants to draw a different point of view in the promotion of alternative food futures as emerging social and economic actors, and the public policies to promote them.

Slides

Dowloads

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Short paper:
Espelt, R., Peña-López, I., Losantos, P., Rodríguez, E., Martín, T. & Pons, F. (2015). “Mapping agro-food consumption groups in the city of Barcelona”. In Places of possibility? Rural societies in a neoliberal world. Proceedings of the XXVI ESRS Congress, Aberdeen, Scotland, 2015. Aberdeen: The James Hutton Institute

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Slides:
Espelt, R., Peña-López, I., Losantos, P., Rodríguez, E., Martín, T. & Pons, F. (2015). “Mapping agro-food consumption groups in the city of Barcelona”. In Places of possibility? Rural societies in a neoliberal world. Proceedings of the XXVI ESRS Congress, Aberdeen, Scotland, 2015. Aberdeen: The James Hutton Institute

Book chapter. The double edge of technology: an opportunity for inclusion and a risk of exclusion

By Ismael Peña-López
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #140, May 2015

 

Portada del Informe FAROS 2015
Portada del Informe FAROS 2015

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.

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Download the chapter(PDF):
Peña-López, I. (2015). “El doble filo de la tecnología: una oportunidad de inclusión y un peligro de exclusión”. In Roca, G. (Coord.), Las nuevas tecnologías en niños y adolescentes. Guía para educar saludablemente en una sociedad digital, 123-133. Barcelona: Hospital Sant Joan de Déu.

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Download the full report (PDF):
Roca, G. (Coord.) (2015) Las nuevas tecnologías en niños y adolescentes. Guía para educar saludablemente en una sociedad digital. Barcelona: Hospital Sant Joan de Déu.

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2015) “Book chapter. The double edge of technology: an opportunity for inclusion and a risk of exclusion” In ICTlogy, #140, May 2015. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=4313

Book review: Networks of Outrage and Hope

By Ismael Peña-López
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #138, March 2015

 

Cover of the book review: Redes de indignación y esperanza
Cover of the book review: Redes de indignación y esperanza

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.

Download:

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PDF download:
Peña-López, I. (2014). “Redes de indignación y esperanza”. In Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, 1-4. New York: Routledge.

Bibliography:

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.
Barlow, J.P. (1996). A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. Davos: Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Castells, M. (2004). “Informationalism, Networks, And The Network Society: A Theoretical Blueprint”. In Castells, M. (Ed.), The Network Society: A Cross-Cultural Perspective. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.
Castells, M. (2009). Communication power. Cambridge: Oxford University Press.
Castells, M. (2012). Redes de indignación y esperanza. Madrid: Alianza Editorial.
Corsín Jiménez, A. & Estalella, A. (2013). “The atmospheric person: value, experiment and ‘making neighbours’ in Madrid’s popular assemblies”. In Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 3 (2), 119–139. Manchester: University of Manchester.
Corsín Jiménez, A. & Estalella, A. (2014). “Assembling Neighbours. The City as Archive, Hardware, Method, and “a very messy kind of archive””. In Common Knowledge, 20 (1), 150-171. Durham: Duke University Press.
Echeverría, J. (1999). Los Señores del aire: Telépolis y el Tercer Entorno. Barcelona: Destino.
Gibson, W. (1984). Neuromancer. New York City: Ace.
Neale, M. (2000). William Gibson: No Maps for These Territories. Los Angeles: Docurama.
Stephenson, N. (1992). Snow Crash. New York City: Bantam Books.

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2015) “Book review: Networks of Outrage and Hope” In ICTlogy, #138, March 2015. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=4296

New paper. Spanish Indignados and the evolution of the 15M movement on Twitter: towards networked para-institutions

By Ismael Peña-López
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #131, August 2014

 

Cover of the paper Spanish Indignados and the evolution of the 15M movement on Twitter: towards networked para-institutions
Cover of the paper Spanish Indignados and the evolution of the 15M movement on Twitter: towards networked para-institutions

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:

(more…)

Open social innovation: the political organization as a platform

By Ismael Peña-López
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #128, May 2014

 

Book cover for Comunicació pel Canvi Social

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:

logo of PDF file
Preprint:
Peña-López, I. (2014). “Innovació social oberta: l’organització política com a plataforma”. In Costa i Fernández, L. & Puntí Brun, M. (Eds.), Comunicació pel canvi social. Reflexions i experiències per una comunicació participativa, emancipadora i transparent, 59-75. Girona: Universitat de Girona.

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2014) “Open social innovation: the political organization as a platform” In ICTlogy, #128, May 2014. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=4176

The future of libraries, if they have any

By Ismael Peña-López
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #127, April 2014

 

Idescat — the Catalan national statistics institute — published in late 2013, the update to the 2012 Library Statistics where it stated, among other things, that in 2012, “the number of users grew up to 4.5 million [the Catalan population is calculated to be 7.5 million], 18.3% more than two years ago”. Almost a month later, Professor Xavier Sala-i-Martin stated at the national television that “when the Internet comes, librarians lose their jobs”. This statement was later on developed with more depth in his blog post Internet, Librarians and Librarianship.

Can both statements be true at the same time? Or is someone plain wrong?

Probably the best explanation for these apparently opposing statements, and one explanation that makes them fully compatible, has to do with the present and the future of libraries.

In recent years we have been witnessing how Information and Communication Technologies turned everything upside down, especially (but not only) knowledge-intensive activities. And, among all knowledge-intensive institutions, libraries are no doubt part of the leading group. The Public Library Association explains the whole matter: an increase in the demand for library services, an increase in the use of WiFi networks, in increase in the use of library computers, an increase in training on digital skills. In short, most users are not only going to libraries asking for borrowing books — which they of course do — but they increasingly go to libraries looking for a means to gain access to the Information Society.

But not merely physical access but quality access: what in the arena of digital inclusion has ended up being called the second digital divide. That is, once physical access to infrastructures has “ceased” to be an issue, what is needed is training in digital skills, and guidance in its use. Using an extemporaneous metaphor, once one has a new car, what she then needs is a driving licence.

So, we see there is more demand. But what about staff cuts?

It turns out that, unlike many of the traditional roles of libraries, when it comes to overcoming the first (access) and second (skills) digital divide, many different actors come together to work in the later issue. Both inside and outside libraries. These new actors simply are a consequence to the change (or enlargement) of the roles of the library, a consequence that has now found competitors both in the market as in the public sector itself. A recent study by the European Commission, Measuring the Impact of eInclusion actors shows how, in addition to libraries, many other actors work in the field of e-inclusion (each one in their own way), such as telecentres, Internet cafes, some schools, fee WiFi access points, some bookstores, bars and cafes, etc.

These new actors, indeed, also often operate inside libraries: libraries many times subcontract the services of telecentres or other “cybercentres” — or their personnel’s — either for managing the public computer network or to impart training related to digital skills.

So, summing up, this is what we have so far: the growing need for digital competence does increase the use and demand for training in issues related to information management (and therefore fills libraries with people) but the diversity of functions and (new) actors means that, in the end, it take less ‘librarians’ but more ‘experts in information management and digital skills’.

Yes, some concepts are written between quotation because, most likely, they already are or will soon be the same thing. And thus we enter the topic of the future of libraries.

Empirical evidence tells us that information, the Internet, is increasingly ceasing to be a goal in itself, a differentiating factor, to become a generally purpose technology. If getting to the information ceases to be a goal to become a tool it is because it a (usually ad hoc) tool to be used “passing” in the pursuit of another task. Whatever that is: today it is practically impossible not to find a job, whatever trivial may be, that does not incorporate a greater or lesser degree of information, or of communication among peers.

Thus, beyond getting information it now becomes mandatory learning to learn and managing knowledge: it is not, again, about gaining access to information, but about taking control of the process of gaining access to information, of knowing how one got to a specific set of information so that the process can be replicated it in the future.

Finally, and related to the previous two points, access to information ceases to be the end of the way to become a starting point. Thus, the library and other e-intermediaries become open gates towards e-Government, e-Health, e-Learning… almost everything to which one can add an “e-” in front of it.

That is, information as an instrument, the quest for information as a skill, and getting to the desired piece of information to keep looking for information and be able to perform other tasks also rich in information. And begin the beguine.

Tacitly or explicitly, libraries are already moving in this direction. If we forget for a moment politeness and political correctness, we can say that libraries and the system working in the same field are already leaving behind piling up paper to focus on transferring skills so that others can pile their own information, which most likely will also not be printed. Fewer libraries, but more users.

It’s worth making a last statement about this “system working in the same field” because the formal future of libraries, especially public ones, will largely depend on (a) hot they are able to integrate the functions of the “competition” or (b) how they are able to stablish shared strategies with this competition.

If we briefly listed before telecentres, cybercafés, schools, free WiFi access points, bookshops, bars and cafes as converging actors in the field of e-intermediation, we should definitely add to this list innovation hubs, co-working spaces, fab labs, community centres and a large series of centres, places and organizations that have incorporated ICTs in their day to day and are open to the public.

This whole system — libraries included — is not only working for access but for the appropriation of technology and information management; they have make centres evolve into central meeting places where access to information is yet another tool; and they have become areas of co-creation where the expected outcome is a result of enriched information resulting from peer interaction.

The future of the library will be real if it is able to cope with these new tasks and establish a strategic dialogue with other actors. It will probably require a new institution — not necessarily with a new name — that allows talking inside the library, or cooking, or printing 3D objects or setting up a network of Raspberry Pi microcomputers connected to an array of Arduinos. Or mayble the library — especially if it is public — should lead a network of organizations with a shared strategy so that no one is excluded from this new system of e-intermediation, of access (real, quantitative) to knowledge management.

I personally I think that libraries are already at this stage. I am not so sure, though, that is is the stage where we find the ones promoting a zillion e-inclusion initiatives, the ones promoting modernizing the administration, educational technology, smart cities and a long list of projects, all of which have, in essence, the same diagnosis… but that seemingly everyone aims at healing on their own.

Originally published on March 28, 2014, as El futur de les biblioteques, si és que en tenen at the Fundació Jaume Bofill blog at El Diari de l’Educació). All the articles published in that blog can be accessed at the original site in Catalan or here in the English translation.

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2014) “The future of libraries, if they have any” In ICTlogy, #127, April 2014. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=4171

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About Me

    I am Ismael Peña-López.

    I am professor at the School of Law and Political Science of the Open University of Catalonia, and researcher at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute and the eLearn Center of that university. Since november 2013 I am on a partial leave to join Open Evidence as a senior researcher and analyst. I am also the director of the Open Innovation project at Fundació Jaume Bofill.