Another (long) opinion

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Hi all

It’s been six months since I’ve been to India. Many things have changed since then. I’d like to put my perspective on the last few months.

First of all: you were right about space. In order to create a group identity, territory is fundamental. Two examples make me believe this is absolutely true.

The first example are Tati Wells and Ricardo Ruiz, in Rio. They created an open space called IP. I would use other names, but they call it a media center. I’ve been there last week, and it’s really great. People come over for a workshop and all of a sudden they come back on the next day. Things are being created there, people are gathering and doing things together.

The other example is MetaReciclagem in Santo André. Even though the major of Santo André has been re-elected, he changed all his closer team. As a consequence, the EPAC project, that hosted MetaReciclagem inside Parque Escola, has changed from the education management to the public affairs area. Then we have been forgotten. There’s no more room for MetaReciclagem on public projects in Santo André. We lost our lab, computer donations (okay, we did save some) and access to the infrastructure. Because of that, MetaReciclagem actions in Santo André disappeared.

I mean, right after we were getting through about the end of our relationship with Agente Cidadão, we lost the lab in Santo André as well. Fortunately, the new city administration in São Paulo still did not understand what we are doing down on Olido lab, but we can’t afford to do much there, as everyone who used to work on Agente Cidadão and Parque Escola had to start improvising to make a living. In a given moment, I guess two months ago, Interney, the guy who donated us the hosting for MetaReciclagem website and mailing list, had to put his server down and we don’t have a stable mailing list since then. I’m running the webserver in my home. MetaReciclagem is quiet.

So, it’s true. MetaReciclagem, as a group, failed to succeed without a space of its own. Everyone is running out of money. The ship is broken.

But, as I tried to explain, and I’m not quite sure I succeeded, we don’t want to be a group. We don’t want to become a NGO. We are talking about a methodology. And as such, I really think we were able to do some things:

1) Two years ago, if one talked about a “digital inclusion” project using old computers and FLOSS, no one would buy it. Actually, we did talk about it, and the bigshots on the subject didn’t take us seriously. Nowadays the biggest state bank in Brasil is actually delivering their used computers (maaaaaany computers) to social projects. The landless movement got a donation of over 4000 computers. I’m not saying that they are doing this because of us, but I can assure you that they are paying attention to us, and we were the first ones to prove that free software and old computers were a viable solution.

2) The cultural spots project from the Ministry of Culture has adopted metareciclagem (technology appropriation) as one of its four axis, together with estudiolivre (FLOSS for media production), radiolivre (free radios) and tactical media. They are extending the concept of MetaReciclagem. Me, Dalton, Glauco and Fernando are getting hired as consultants for the project (after two years of promises).

3) The independent metareciclagem spores are growing. There is one on the historical coast of Bahia, that might become a cultural spot. There is one in Salvador, in association with Rui Barbosa University. IP, the media center created by tati and ruiz in Rio, is a metareciclagem spore. There is even one close to Olido, our lab downtonw São Paulo. And there are at least 20 soon-to-be cultural spots that want to become independent metareciclagem labs.

4) We are planning the creation of other metareciclagem labs in the same format as that in Santo André. Of course, we have learned that we have to treat them as temporary labs. But I don’t see that as a problem.

I can’t say MetaReciclagem failed. We’ve been through some deep transformations, deep enough to get us scared about our personal budgets. But MetaReciclagem is independent from us, and is completely successful as: a) a methodology, b) a influence nucleus. We still can’t think of MetaReciclagem as a group, but I’m sure we are helping a lot of people to make better decisions about technology and the use of technology.