A View from Erica Naone

Humanizing Digital Technologies

Brazilian minister of culture Gilberto Gil Moreira speaks on the transformative power of digital technologies.

  • September 27, 2007

This morning at the Emerging Technologies Conference, Brazilian minister of culture Gilberto Gil Moreira talked about how his country is leveraging digital technologies to create social change. “Technology and culture have been wrongly placed in separate fields, particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries,” he said.

Gil said that his ministry’s digital-culture department has formed more than 650 “cultural hot spots” by giving free, open-source hardware and software to grassroots groups to use for purposes both artistic and political. For example, he said, Amazonian indigenous tribes are using the technology to record traditional songs.

Gil feels that digital realities represent an opportunity to make access to information more democratic. “Today, the mobile phone is a fetishized item of consumer design,” he said. “Potentially, it can be a tool of activism.” He said that he envisions grassroots groups one day using mobile phones to connect local content to the larger world in real time.

The One Laptop per Child (OLPC) program also fits in with Gil’s vision. After relaying that he was deeply moved by the sight of 400 Brazilian children interacting with laptops in a pilot program, he added, “It’s the whole process that matters, not just the first item.” Gil said that he is pushing the Brazilian president to add infrastructure, such as broadband connections, that will provide a national backbone to support OLPC.

Gil is passionately optimistic about the power of digital technologies. “I wish digital culture may become one key in building our utopia,” he said.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.

Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.