How Ecuador is designing a Free/Libre Open Knowledge Society.
I was surfing the ‘interwebz’ when I saw a Tweet mentioning that Michel Bauwens (founder of P2P Foundation) had just arrived in Ecuador to work on a project that would help change the economic system of the country. That piqued my curiosity so I tweeted to my friend Rafael Bonifaz (the guy who introduced Stallman to Correa) asking if they were working together and what project was that.
Rafael pointed me out to floksociety.org or @floksociety and I started reading. But before I jump into that, let me give you some background history. Back in 2003, when Brazil’s president Lula da Silva created a law mandating the use of Free Software by the government and therefor sparking a whole different approach towards technology but as well as knowledge sharing that served as a model for many countries in the years to come. Since then a lot of work has been done by many countries, specially in Latin America, to defend the use of licenses that allows the free distribution and sharing of knowledge — from technology to culture to seeds. This debate spread out towards all different sectors of society, we had to re-educate ourselves in relation to certain concepts that we were used to and realize that things did not necessary had to be by the way we were told they were.
I remember when we introduced the concept of Copyleft and Creative Commons, how the Brazil justice system had to accept a different type of license. Remember when in the federal government we realized that the software we were producing should be public, accessible by the people, just like education or health care are public. So we built the public software portal that hosted all free software we were developing or adopting inside the federal government so any citizen could download it, use it, read the code, improve the code and share it. How the Ministry of Culture created a program to sparkle the creation of ‘Free Culture’ (free as in freedom not as free beer) and supported the use of open licenses by artists. How it was clear that to achieve such goal the technology used for production of culture (editing a video, or recording a song) must be free as well — so anyone could have access to it and culture production would be decentralized and accessible by all.
Since them this has become an ongoing debate and struggle in Latin America (specially). Many governments has passed similar laws and have directly supported initiatives that disseminate these ideas and put them into practice. And one of these governments is the Ecuadorian government of President Rafael Correa, his program is called the National Plan for Good Living which is in process of implementation since 2009 and will continue (now with his re-election) till 2017 at least. If you can understand Spanish I would strongly recommend reading it because the Plan goes beyond what I will be discussing in this article and its very inspiring.
Anyways, the quote I would like to share is from the section ‘New ways to produce and co-exist’:
The accumulation, distribution, and redistribution strategy, in agreement with the 2013-2017 Government Program, proposes the development of an “open commons of knowledge”. This development model includes the creation and adoption of creative ideas, as well as the potential production of new goods and services and the distribution of their benefits. The management of knowledge — seen as a public common and open good- is a constitutional principle and is more efficient economically than other, closed models. (national Plan for Good Living 2013-2017, p. 67)
This is a huge step on adopting the 4 freedoms concept of GPL into the way a society its shaped. Think about when other constitutions were built and how we as society advanced with those moments. This is what is happening in Ecuador right now, they are starting the process to design this constitution. If this constitution is supposedly to ensure the freedom to access information and share it, the open participation on the creation process is almost mandatory. So back to the FLOK Society — what they are doing? Quoting them:
The objective is to coordinate and develop a global participatory process, of direct application at the national level, aiming at changing the productive matrix of Ecuador towards an open commons of knowledge economy. The summit will ultimately result in the creation of 10 foundational documents for the development of state legislation and public policies aimed at the creation of Ecuadorian Organic Code for the Social Knowledge Economy — and the reinforcement of the productive knowledge networks that already exist in the country.
This started in August and we should expect the summit in March next year. It reminds me of the Marco Civil (Internet bill of rights) in Brazil, although I have more hope that the one in Ecuador won’t take as long. Meanwhile I would like to invite you all to read more about this topic, visit their website and keep an eye on it. This is definitely an important step into history — independently of becoming real or not, the attempt already teach us a lesson. That is possible to try.
PS: If you know Spanish, I would recommend watch Rafael Correa speech at Campus Party in Quito last year: