Monday, June 25, 2012

A CLICK From Afar

A CLICK From Afar / Yoani Sánchez
Translator: Unstated, Yoani Sánchez

As I write this brief text the clothesline seems to be protesting under
the weight of the laundry, the dog scratches at the door begging for his
food, and my son asks me if there will be lunch today. After several
days of neglecting the house the domestic routine calls me, pulling me
away from the dream of kilobytes and returning me to everyday life. But
it was worth it. Since last Thursday I have lived a preview of the
future, a piece of tomorrow in the midst of this Havana trapped in the
past. The CLICK Festival was just a foretaste of the topics that Cubans
will discuss in the year 2020, and my restless grandkids in 2050. Three
days to "think about technology, plan for it, and make it ours…"
developing an inclusive and plural atmosphere. The issues addressed
ranged from discussions about artistic production in the digital age to
the outline of a possible bill of rights for Internet users.

It proved to be very difficult to organize this event through
alternative channels, in a society where each action is surrounded by
obstacles and impediments, much more so if it is undertaken
independently. So, several times, someone invited to be on a panel was
not able to arrive in time due to transportation problems, the rustic
audio equipment deafened us with its feedback, and the frugal snack was
delayed longer than our stomachs could bear. But that was just the
stage, the improvised physical context where the transcendental took
place. With material simplicity, the CLICK Festival managed to exceed
our expectations. The frank and open debate, uncensored, the great
participation by the audience, and the success in pulling off a
technological and futuristic event, were some of the major achievements.
More than 200 people passed through the doors during the three days of
the meeting, and on Thursday, in the afternoon, 102 of us, interested in
social networks and Web 2.0, gathered. All the planned workshops took
place and even the heavy rains falling over the city didn't manage to
dim the enthusiasm, although several people came down with colds thanks
to wet shoes and the damp.

We could not, however, achieve as diverse as representation of
Internauts as we desired. And not because we imposed an ideological or
group filter, but because many of those invited preferred not to come.
Fear of exchanging opinions, fear of the embrace, continues to dominate
the Island — including the virtual scene. An editorial in Cubadebate —
threatening and extremist — must have scared off some who would have
liked to join us. Thanks to us the Cuban government hastily organized a
"Knowledge Festival" for the same days, to teach people how to create
blogs and Twitter accounts. Which to me is one of the best outcomes of
our little CLICK Festival. If pushing the wall forces them to move it a
few inches… then… then we have achieved part of what we want.
Girls playing with an iPad for the first time at the CLICK Festival

Next year the CLICK Festival will have to improve the level of its
panels, create a WiFi network for the participants to download event
materials, shed a certain level of seriousness in favor of making it
more interactive, and manage to attract those journalists, bloggers and
Twitterers who, this time, preferred not to join us. We need to reach
younger people for whom the cellphone, keyboard and mouse are like
extensions of their own bodies. Although — and it makes me happy to say
so — several of them gatecrashed this edition. As a brief tweet on the
#festivalCLIC said, "We are not only an event. Today a community is
born." So we see again, with the collaboration of Spain Blogs Event
(EBE), the clumsiness of the official editorials and the playful and
rebellious spirit of our internauts.

24 June 2012

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