Makerspaces and Digital Literacy in Rio de Janeiro

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This report results from a partnership between the Institute for Technology and Society of Rio (ITS Rio) and the Mozilla Foundation, and has the objective to promote digital empowerment of community networks, based on the transformation of Lan Houses into decision-making spaces.

In face of the emergence of a new culture permeated by the spread of mobile and disruptive technologies, it is fundamental to insert effectively the country in this panorama in order to allow the entire population to benefit from the numerous opportunities that these changes arouse. In this sense, the present project foresees the use of Lan Houses as embryonic spaces for digital empowerment, capable of mobilizing networks of citizens with the purpose of recreating the webmaker culture that Mozilla encourages in their communities.

Recognizing the importance that Lan Houses exerted for digital inclusion and the challenge they face today when it comes to surviving in a context of increasing digital mobility, the project aims to rescue the potential of Lan Houses as agents of social transformation. To revitalize, in this sense, means to bring education as a starting point for the promotion of the maker culture – or the “culture of doing” – in order to empower citizens of decentralized spaces and to promote their effective participation in the knowledge society.

In order to achieve this goal, the project carried out numerous initiatives in six Lan Houses in different regions of the city of Rio de Janeiro, which comprised workshops, events led by the Lan Houses, as well as a field research with both owners and users of these spaces.

The following report presents an introduction to the emergence of the maker culture in the 21st Century and its impacts on the world. Then, we address the results of this action in Brazil, whose methodology based on a qualitative research conducted with the owners of the Lan Houses and with the attendants of the workshops of Mozilla, in order to evaluate its result and to assess whether the Lan Houses would regard themselves as potential makerspaces.