MACBA – February 21st
Xabier Barandiaran, affiliated director of the Council on Participation and Districts of the Barcelona City Council, presented Decidim Barcelona, an initiative by the City Council to promote participative democracy. It was held at the auditorium of the Convent dels Àngels of MACBA, the venue chose for the afternoon session on the 21st of February. The Barcelona City Council has developed an open-access software which is available for other entities to adapt, improve and spread. Furthermore, the structure of the platform tallies the data on all users, voting is anonymous and there are no third-party cookies.
The context has made this initiative necessary, since there is a complex relationship between democracy and communication. Representative democracy is becoming obsolete, and the social media like Twitter and Facebook have become the meeting point for revolutionaries to become sources of data and information on users.
After the presentation, the dialogue entitled “Communication and Democracy: The Truth as a Victim of the Future” got underway, moderated by Karma Peiró, director of Nació Digital newspaper. The conversation included Bani Brusadin, researcher, educator and independent curator; Ramón Sangüesa, professor and researcher; Álex Hinojo, an activist for free knowledge and digital rights; Gemma Galdón, an analyst, research and founder of Eticas Research & Consulting; and Marta Peirano, a writer and journalist.
It was inevitable that at first the conversation would address the crisis in today’s journalism model. Fake News and clickbaiting have jeopardised the reputation of the traditional media. Marta Peirano began by being self-critical of the sector: “We are engaging in fast journalism; we’ve lost the reader because the goal is to capture attention quickly”. But we should not forget that the media are private companies with the mission of being a public service, and she noted paradoxically that “despite the newspaper crisis, today it’s easier than ever to start a newspaper, but it’s not a fast business”.
Then, Bani Brusadin began by defining the current context of global communication, with a crisis in traditional journalism, in which political propaganda has evolved in the form of Fake News and any action or error can end up being a deadly weapon.
So, why is it that when we feel threatened by Twitter trolls or Fake News, we ask for more control over the web? According to Bani Brusadin, this contradicts the original essence of the founders of the Internet. When we decide that the Internet should be fed by advertising revenues, we have lost the chance to consider it a public service.
Next, Alex Hinojo suggested how the Internet has changed the hierarchical ladder, since now not only the big fish can send their messages far; however, when the Internet is centralised, this spirit becomes twisted. If we move towards a scenario without intermediaries, perhaps the knowledge-generators are no longer the media but activists, artists or organisations themselves.
Gemma Galdón stated that the fact that the disappearance of intermediaries in the distribution of information is good, since anyone can send a message to the entire web, but this also brings a problem of the lack of regulation. Therefore, she noted that “technology is fostering algorithmic journalism, which is a rehash of news taken from the Internet”.
To conclude the session, Ramón Sangüesa stated that we have to get away from the obsession with immediacy if we want to restore the values of journalism. In a reminder that post-truth is nothing new, he said that “Goebbels’s propaganda texts have been studied in advertising and media departments in the USA”.
Open programming led the LABs in this district. The creator of these workshops was Martina Mayrhofer, a worker at women’s organisations and IT scholar who subscribes to the open programming philosophy.
“Makers for Inclusion, Successful Cases and Study of the Second-Level Digital Divide and New Professions”, “Digital Manufacturing of Supports for Individuals with Functional Diversity”, “CodeClub, Training of New Volunteers at ELISAVA and “Sound Technology Jam” were the LABS held in this district.
The week began with the first activity of the mWeek LAB, a presentation on the new techniques and technologies which are marked by a socioeconomic bias. This reflective look showed that talent and creativity are going towards an upper-middle socioeconomic level, which is simultaneously creating a second-level digital divide. This LAB was held in the Pati Llimona Civic Centre venue in conjunction with Colectic.
The next LABS were geared towards adolescents. The digital manufacturing of digital supports for individuals with functional diversity entailed learning about 3-D and the solutions it offers people who do not have such ease of movement. It was held in conjunction with the Colectic venue.
Related to the university, a workshop for volunteers was held in conjunction with ELISAVA. It was targeted at students so they could learn how to organise and teach Scratch workshops for children aged 9 to 13. The partners included Code Club Cataluña and Colectic.
The fourth LAB, which was also held in conjunction with the Colectic venue, examined the creation of musical instruments using recycled material and digital manufacturing techniques. This is one way for youths to reflect on the importance of the environment coupled with creativity.
“What do You Want to Play?” was a workshop held in conjunction with the Colectic venue which delighted children as they built a computer game with their own character using visual programming in Scratch, creating a community of educators while also sharing the children’s different visions.
Ciutat Vella offered the guided tour called Mobility Solutions for the 21st Century. This was the name of the tour through Seat Metropolis, where participants could learn about research into mobility, new software programmes and algorithms related to mobility services to create an easier, safer and more efficient relationship between people and vehicles in an urban setting.
A tour was also organised to visit Barcelona Tech City, a non-profit organisation which represents more than 600 companies from the digital and technology sectors based in Barcelona. Its objective is to consolidate Barcelona as an international tech hub and to foster innovation among the different agents in the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Mobile Week Barcelona enjoys the cooperation and support of different entities and institutions to expand its activity programme, spread its impact and encourage the stakeholders in the city to participate more. In the Ciutat Vella district, different talks and workshops were held. The Institut dels Estudis Catalans offered a lecture entitled “Past, Present and Future of Artificial Intelligence: Reflections” by Ramón López de Mántaras. The CCCB also held one of the workshops taught by McKenzie Wark entitled The World We Need. The director Félix Pérez-Hita delivered a talk as part of the Mobile Week Barcelona community sessions entitled “Rescuing Pearls of Audiovisual Rubbish” organised by GrisArt, International Photography School of Barcelona.
The CCCB also offered two workshops. The first one was targeted at a more general public and was called “Documentary Directing Workshop: Stories of the Anthropocene”, while the second one was geared more towards families and focused on a visit to the exhibition “Rains, Deforestation and Ecosystems” and the workshop “Make It Yourself”.
The Maritime Museum also hosted one of the workshops organised by the Fundació Jaume Bofill entitled “Hackathon: Edhackraval” (educational innovation laboratory in the neighbourhood).
The CCCB exhibition “After the End of the World”, “Art Gallery Walk: Galleries in Cuitat Vella”, a film forum entitled “Stories of the Anthropocene”, “Fire and Water” by James Clar, “Guiding the Clouds” by Glenda León, “The Swords” by Pedro G. Romero and “The Magic Lantern VIII” by Magí Puig were the works displayed as part of Mobile Week Barcelona.