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Text sent to Unesco's IFAP Success Stories website.

Written by Felipe Fonseca


MetaReciclagem is an open network created in 2002 in Brazil. It has been the result of intensive exchange through the internet of over a hundred people from different sectors in a mailing list. At first a collective in São Paulo proposing the reuse of donated electronic equipment with free and open source software, soon MetaReciclagem turned into a network of multiple identities working towards the deconstruction of technology, taken in a broad sense, and its re-purposing and re-signification in different contexts aiming at social change. While opting not to follow the common path in Brazil - creating an NGO and earning lots of money from the government by repeating the same practices over and over again-, MetaReciclagem has established distributed and deep dialog with projects in the government and civil society, universities and businesses, proposing a participatory approach to collaborative exchange between people and institutions. Members of MetaReciclagem have been, in an emergent way, an important influence to plenty of Brazilian projects related to subjects such as digital inclusion and technological appropriation; free and open source software, knowledge and culture; media and technological education; open innovation networks and media arts; and many others.


It has emerged as a typically Brazilian yet globally replicable way to think and do human-centered technology development, supporting ethical principles such as collaborative production and social uses of technology. After five years, the network has become a reference in technological appropriation in Brazil, counting hundreds of collaborators, as well as being used as key methodology for the elaboration and implementation of large-scale governmental projects such as the Pontos de Cultura, Casas Brasil and others. More than a technology project, it has aggregated educational perspective, artistic experimentation and the development of alternate economic cycles, having received honorary mentions on Prix Ars Electronica Digital Communities in 2006 and on APC Betinho Communications Prize in 2005, and being listed a finalist for the APC Chris Nicol FOSS prize in 2007.


The evolutionary and maturation processes of MetaReciclagem started with a group of people in São Paulo who proposed the re-use of second-hand computers, with the objective of creating informational spaces in communities which did not have yet access to that kind of infrastructure. Based on the perspective of technological de-construction to create inclusive processes, not limited to offer only access, but also foster the forging of networks of social mobilization and distributed learning.


Over time, MetaReciclagem could no longer (or did not want to) be understood only under the generic and opportunist definition of digital inclusion, and its members started to look for more ellaborate levels of critical action and the understanding of technology as social phenomena. Concepts such as collaboration, collective knowledge production, re-signification of technology and critical appropriation became the fundaments for other levels of experimentation and creativity. MetaReciclagem has transformed the way of defining itself plenty of times, and that is one of the factors that allows it to survive scale and still be creative and productive.