Last month, I had the incredible opportunity to visit Arcata CA to speak about Latin American experiences in technology and community development. The keynote was part of the Awesome Business Competition, an event focused on agriculture, energy and water projects in California.
This was a great personal experience due to the fact that it gave me the chance to reminisce on my personal work over the past five years, as well as the great things that my colleagues have done in this time. The main thread of my professional experience is, basically, that you don’t need to be successful from a personal perspective in order to create impact in the world; perhaps that is even better.
Please take your time to enjoy the keynote and let me know your thoughts over Twitter.
This past month I had the opportunity to organize a workshop in Boston for makers, based on a workshop that Mario Gómez and I we did in Colombia back in 2016, this time with support from people at the Fab Foundation and Fab@CIC. The premise off which we based it was simple: since in El Salvador we don’t have access to a pick-and-place machine to do our electronics, our friends at the Hackerspace San Salvador have worked on simple methods to manufacture the pieces by hand. This proves to be an interesting yet difficult task, as components can be super, super tiny.
One of the main discussions that we had at the end of the workshop with participants had to do with the fact that you can indeed use machines for this type of work, but whether it was necessary to experience the process in a personal way. I would argue that indeed, it is important since one of the basis of maker culture is the idea, supported by constructionism, is that knowledge is built by experience. The more a person interacts with a process, the more they will draw from it.
One of the comments we received from a participant was that despite having made PCBs before, they had never realized that the process was simple enough to do by hand for simple pieces, and that they may attempt to try something like this at home for other projects. Furthermore, a few comments on how alternatives for expensive pick and place machines can bloom from projects like Reacción. On our side, the big question is how can we manufacture high-end electronics through simple procedures that can be implemented in rural communities, and going simple is one way to get the discussion started.
As a result from the workshop made at Fab13 in Santiago, Chile, I worked with Mario Gómez with the design of a proof of concept for a model of visualization of data for people who mobilize in the city. For this, sample data from the Transantiago system was mined and visualized for further analysis. The concept is the feasibility of implementing Internet of Things devices to measure pollution in the city, in order to have more accurate environmental readings of the city in real time.
This platform was completely developed by Mario Gómez and presented at the #DatosYCerveza event organized by Escuela de Datos and Cadejo, in San Salvador. You can view the platform here.
This past August we had the chance to work as part of the Fab13 Conference alongside Habitat for Humanity Chile and women from La Florida, a community in Santiago, with help from makers from different countries in a participatory workshop of diagnostics of environmental issues in Santiago. The workshop intended to develop in participants the abilities to work alongside people from local areas on identifying possible projects to be tackled with Internet of Things (IoT) projects.
The workshop took place at a local middle school in Santiago, with support from Fab Lab Aconcagua, from which some project ideas will be further developed.
This Saturday, we had an amazing experience up in the mountains of Ahuachapán, El Salvador. As part of the continuing work done alongside Habitat for Humanity El Salvador, we invited some of the people from the communities that were part of the first pilot test for Red de Acción Comunitaria to a workshop that used digital fabrication to teach about disaster response in their region, and to generate commitment from their local neighborhoods to improve their communities.
Last month, the team of Red de Acción Comunitaria was invited to San Juan de Pasto, Colombia, to develop the 2nd Design Makerthon, focused on two main components. The first one, directed towards experts in electronics, used the Reacción-Mínimo, a low-cost, programmable and customizable version of the original Reacción Kit (link to reaccion.net) designed specifically to teach participants about the basic protocols of communications needed for communities in case of natural disasters in vulnerable regions. The second component was directed to designers and consisted in the uses of digital fabrication tools in order to analyze environmental variables and to design community-based monitoring solutions in short time. Both teams participated simultaneously in the design process and generated feedback for the creation of more complex solutions.