This post was originally published on Rising Voices. We collaborate with Rising Voices to feature offline resources for integrating technology into social change advocacy – many of which are featured in the Social Tech Census. Note: All links lead to Spanish language web pages, except where otherwise noted. Imagine a space that is all at once a hackerspace [en], a place for coworking [en], an initiator of art and digital culture projects, and a transmitter of all kinds of collaborative and technological ideas. This space is called Diferencial CAC. In May 2013, I had the opportunity to meet Juan Carlos León, the creator of Diferencial, and learn more about the initiative. Created in 2011, the project is now located at the Contemporary Art Center in Quito, where it continues to develop. The original blog for the project explained that Diferencial Media Hub (as it was then called) would be an:
…independent, non-profit space, dedicated to the connection, promotion and production of projects that favor the development of a digital culture by means of productive dialogue and creative learning about art, technology and culture.
They went on to add:
El Diferencial Hub Medial tiene como objetivo principal la circulación, investigación, archivación, y presentación de prácticas y productos culturales vinculados al desarrollo tecnológico en la sociedad contemporánea. Se enfoca en la práctica colaborativa y aspira a la creación de redes de socialidad con otros espacios y proyectos afines en la región.
The Diferencial Media Hub’s main objective is the circulation, investigation, archiving and presentation of cultural practices and products that are linked to technological developments in contemporary society. The focus will be on collaborative practices and the creation of links with other spaces and projects in the region with similar aims.
Since then, the project has experienced a number of changes, including a move from the city of Guayaquil to the capital Quito, and an increasing level of participation aroundthe development of technological ideas, helped along by a greater public engagement. Below is what Juan Carlos had to say about Diferencial’s journey:
Despite these changes, the project maintains much of its original concept, and though it remains loyal to those earlier ideas, it is flexible enough for new ideas to flourish. Its aims are now:
- Potenciar y consolidar alianzas a partir de redes de trabajo que permitan el intercambio a nivel local, regional y mundial con instituciones públicas y privadas que mantenga interés en el desarrollo de programas de formación que contemplen el uso creativo, la producción y difusión de proyectos que democraticen el acceso a las tecnologías y a las ciencias informáticas.
- Generar un grupo de usuarios: artistas, programadores y emprendedores en general que compartan conocimientos y estén aptos para el desarrollo de proyectos interdisciplinarios.
- Strengthening and consolidating alliances through working groups that allow for exchanges at local, regional and international levels with both public and private institutions interested in developing educational programs which recognize the productive, diffusive, and creative purposes of projects which democratize access to technology and information science.
- Creating a users’ group consisting of artists, programmers and entrepreneurs in order to share skills and develop interdisciplinary projects.
In the following video, Juan Carlos shows us the space used to house the Diferencial CAC library and the presence of coworking there.
As explained by Juan Carlos, Diferencial CAC is currently housed by and receives support from the Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) in Quito, with Diferencial CAC in turn offering space to other initiatives. One example of this is the online radio station BOOM BAP HC. One the organizers of the station was there during my visit to Diferencial CAC and I was able to talk to him about the project.
The Contemporary Art Centre’s support of Diferencial CAC is mutual, with Diferencial collaborating on various activities at CAC and participating in group projects. Juan Carlos showed me the spaces used for workshops and hackathons [en] and told me about his plans for the remainder of this year. He also recounted a happy anecdote that reflected the project’s open spirit.
This year, Diferencial has undertaken various interesting activities, most notably a Free Software Seminar with Richard Stallman, a hackathon to promote the neighborhood of San Juan, Platform Futugrama, a round table discussion about future projects and its support and involvement in Quito’s edition of SlutWalk, plus numerous workshops, collaborations and other activities. To hear more from them in 2014 you can follow them on Facebook.
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