Talking about Brazilian Digital Culture at the IGF-Hyderabad

A2K@IGF Dynamic Coalition
A2K@IGF Dynamic Coalition

Here goes text and slides of my presentation on the A2K Dynamic Coalition panel “Access to Knowledge and Freedom of Expression Policies for the Development of a Global Information Economy”, at the 3rd Edition of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), in Hyderabad, India.

Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil

Brazilian Digital Culture
A case of public exercise of culture as a tool for progressive change in the global networked society

Digital Culture is a term that have emerged from the passage of Mr. Gilberto Gil as the head of the Brazilian Ministry of Culture. He used to puzzle the media by calling himself a “Hacker Minister”, in the sense of studying the government mechanisms in order to customize it according to the dynamics of the present time.

Cultural Hotspots

Cultural Hotspots

His reflections on the radical use of new possibilities brought by the Internet were soon translated into action through the Cultural Hotspots program. The idea of the program was to empower established cultural groups or initiatives with the ability to digitize their content through open source audio and video editing software, and also foster the exchange of this content among the network of hotspots. The program would also encourages the use of alternative licenses like Creative Commons and Copyleft, allowing the remix and the open collaboration on the content with the other hotspots and the whole of society.

Openness on Cultural Production

Openness on Cultural Production

The success of the Cultural Hotspots program in facilitating the understanding of the new cultural dynamics offered by the global network was an important input to the ministry’s policies and actions from then on. It became clear that one important and powerful feature of the networked environment was the possibility of open collaboration. In this model, ideas are put out much earlier and less completely formed, so others are able to access and participate further developments in their own ways.

In a sense, we are talking about the same ‘release early, release often’ principle that all of the derivatives of the open source movement. But the real hack proposed by Gil was to introduce these concepts into public polices and programs, after translated into cultural perspectives.

Open Source Public Policies

Open Source Public Policies

Another important element is the development of a ‘culture of use’ of the Internet by the government. Here we are talking about exploring the full use of the interactive possibilities to foster collaborative participation of citizens in the development of public policies. This vision impacts in a radical way the patterns of communication between governments and citizens, which can now be turned into a real time conversation.

This perspective is demonstrated in the implementation of the Brazilian Ministry of Culture’s institutional website, which is developed as a blog aggregator. The idea is to use blogs in order to facilitate the understanding of public officials on how to engage in a free flow of conversation with their audiences, and to explore the web 2.0 features that encourages participative collaboration. Here again the principle of ‘release early, release often’ comes to action, but now in terms of the development of public policies.

IGF Blog - Brazilian delegates report about their participation on the 3rd IGF edition in Hyderabad

IGF Blog - Brazilian delegates report about their participation on the 3rd IGF edition in Hyderabad

Rouanet Bill Reform Blog - Debating the Amendements on the National Law for Cultural Incentives

Rouanet Bill Reform Blog - Debating the Amendements on the National Law for Cultural Incentives

Blog do Forum Nacional de Direito Autoral

Blog of the National Forum on Copyright - Holding the debate for the evolution of Intellectual Property legal frameworks.

IGF-Rio Remote Participation Effort

IGF-Rio Remote Participation Effort

It is important also to mention the Brazilian Ministry of Culture’s effort to provide remote participation tools and interactive events to the 2007’s IGF edition in Rio de Janeiro. It was offered technical support for the IGF Secretariat in order to establish interactive channels for the discussions, and in an attempt to bring new audiences to the debate on Internet governance, an alternative IGF venue was set up in the center of the city, at a popular place know as ‘Circo Voador’ (Flying Circus).

The idea was to bring together artists, politicians, and all people interested in getting to know more about Internet governance from a cultural perspective, and allow them the opportunity to participate in the process. Although it has not worked as planned then, we are happy to see that a similar model is working well here in Hyderabad, and it makes us specially proud that Brazilians are again heading the initiative to turn the IGF into a more inclusive debate on the governance of global network resources.

In a speech made some days before leaving the ministry, Gilberto Gil affirmed that Digital Culture initiatives present a built-in revolutionary device, and are able to play a fundamental role in shaking away the inertia of the traditional politics that has much of society from public life.

He talked about a bottom-up unrest happening everywhere, which he sees as a very positive sign of the emergence of a non-governmental political movement that he believes to be a direct and evolved result of cultural and counter-cultural forces which have been increasing their ability to influence public policies. He talked about ‘Peer-acy’.

(Being a musician and former minister, Gil is indeed also a poet. He likes to play with the words, it’s sounds and meanings. Although the term ‘peer-racy’ may recall us of piracy, it is very possible that this formulation indicates that Gil was thinking about ‘hacking democracy’)

But the important thing to emphasize here is that the exercise of exploring the use of advanced network possibilities teaches governments about the value of free and open acess to knowledge. As any other ‘user’, the state machine must create a ‘culture of use’ on the Internet. This must be the better way to engage governments in the promotion of the A2K agenda, and make them really understand the precious value of keeping the Internet free, open and neutral.

Thank you!

A2K@IGF Hyderabad - Eddan, Bassem, Gitanjli, Stuart, Lea, Jose and Geidy

A2K@IGF Hyderabad - Eddan, Bassem, Gitanjli, Stuart, Lea, Jose and Geidy

2K@IGF Dynamic Coalition Session

Date: 5 December 2008 (Friday)
Time: 16:00 – 17:30
Location: Room 4, Hyderabad International Conference Center (HICC)
Panel Session Title: “Access to Knowledge and Freedom of Expression Policies for the Development of a Global Information Economy”
Moderator:
Ms. Lea SHAVER
Yale Law School Information Society Project
Panel Speakers:
  • Ms. Geidy Lung, Senior Legal Adviser in the Copyright Law Division
    World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Director
    Presentation Topic: WIPO Development Agenda progress update
  • Ms. Gitanjli DUGGAL
    Google India, Attorney
    Presentation Topic: Role of limitations and exceptions to exclusive rights in information economy
  • Mr. Bassem AWAD
    African Copyright and Access to Knowledge (ACA2K) Project
    Chief Judge, Egyptian Ministry of Justice
    Presentation Topic: A2K Initiatives in Africa (lessons learned)
  • Mr. Eddan KATZ
    Electronic Frontier Foundation, International Affairs Director
    Presentation Topic: Threat to IPR Multilateralism Norm-Setting from the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)
  • Mr. Jose MURILO
    Brazilian Ministry of Culture, Advisor
    Presentation Topic: The Brazilian Digital Culture Experience & Democratizing Knowledge
  • Mr. Stuart HAMILTON
    International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), Senior Policy Advisor
    Presentation Topic: Needs of libraries in an electronic information society


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