Why use free software and how it can support the activities developed by communities?

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February 15, 2022 / Education, Culture and Communication / Community Networks

Beá Tibiriçá spoke about the culture of free access and the importance of encouraging its use”

One of the basic principles of this culture is to allow the user to be free to reconfigure it according to his or her needs. This modality is a lifestyle for Beatriz Tibiriçá, director of the Digital Collective of São Paulo. The specialist is one of the School’s board members and brings in her experience in information technology and digital culture projects in various spheres: universities, governments, civil society organizations, and the private sector.

Tibiriçá, a teacher for 17 years, works with Free Culture and Digital Inclusion. An important part of all the work she does is in the use and encouragement of free software.

In a conversation for the Alô Comunidade program, Beá spoke about the impact of software use by rural, indigenous, and quilombola communities, and the need for access in remote areas. Check out the interview:

Beá, what is free software and what is its importance for society?

Think about it like this: You have to find a way to have a cake to eat at snack time. You can buy a ready-made cake, slice it, and eat it. Or you can make yourself a cake with the recipe your grandmother taught you. Bake it and slice it to eat. Of the cake you bought, you don’t know the recipe, what’s really in the cake, or if you are being cheated. And you will pay a lot of money to eat a cake that you can’t even add your own touch to make it tastier.

With free software it is the same thing. You can buy a computer program or an application from the big corporations, which are proprietary. You will pay to use it, without knowing how it is, how it was made, how it gets into your computer, what to do if it stops working. With Free Software you have a program that you know what it does, what’s inside, you can change, more subject to what you need to do, adapt to your use, and you can share with other people.

How can Free Software support the activities developed by community leaders in their territories?

From the moment you choose to use free software, you have a community around the world that is around that project, to improve it to make it work as well as possible. Based on what you are going to do in your territory, adapt it so that it works in the best way possible.

Beá, it is very important to talk about digital inclusion. Here in the Amazon there is a significant portion of the communities that live in a context of exclusion. Do you think it is possible to reverse this scenario?

After the pandemic it became quite evident that the issue of lack of access to the world wide web, many people had to find ways to be able to follow classes, like the the student who had to watch the class from the tree to get internet signal. This is not a problem for each one of us. We have the right to have access to the internet, to develop our skills in the digital world. It brings a new world, puts other instruments and possibilities for action. And we have to fight for digital inclusion, access to the internet. It has to be like a basic food basket, it is your right.

Finally, I would like you to talk a little bit about your expectations for being part of the network.

It is a great joy, an enormous honor to be part of the board of the School of Community Networks of the Amazon. This proposal puts forward an idea that we have always promoted, that we have to have our networks. To control everything that is disseminated and accumulated as knowledge.

Listen to the interview:

The School of Community Networks of the Amazon

The School is part of the global initiative “Connecting the Disconnected”, promoted by the organizations APC and Rhizomatica and executed in Brazil by the Projeto Saúde e Alegria.

The objective of the project “Connecting the Disconnected”, of which the school is the training pillar, is to connect disconnected communities through the development of models, capacities and forms of sustainability for populations with a focus on technical assistance, training, advice for advocacy, and community mobilization.

The school, which is in the planning stage, will have 21 students in three states of the Legal Amazon (Acre, Amazonas, and Pará). Classes will start in June 2022, based on thematic contents collectively designed to strengthen the community networks involved.

The selected communities that have members who will participate in the training are: in Pará, the projects Ciência Cidadã in the Aldeia Solimões and Guardiöes do Bem Viver in PAE Lago Grande – both in the municipality of Santarém – and the Rede Águas do Cuidar/ Casa Preta in the Ilha de Caratateua, greater Belém. In the state of Amazonas, the Marajaí Village, municipality of Alvarães – Middle Solimões; the Formigueiro Group of Vila de Lindóia in Itacoatiara; and the Wayuri Network in São Gabriel da Cachoeira. In Acre, the Puyanawa Village in Mâncio Lima.

The board of experts is formed by Beatriz Tibiriçá (General Coordinator, Coletivo Digital), Georgia Nicolau (Director of Projects and Partnerships Pró Comum), Jader Gama (Researcher – UFPA), Doriedson Almeida (Professor – UFOPA), Karina Yamamoto (Researcher – USP and Jeduca), Guilherme Gitahy de Figueiredo (Professor UEA – Tefé – AM) and Carlos Afonso (Executive Director – Instituto NUPEF).

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