Friday, August 10, 2007

Brazil Network Society

Brazilians are natural networkers. Brazilians usually know where to find the people that might be able to help them, how to approach them, and how to connect with them. When Brazilians are outside of Brazil, they usually keep track of their compatriots. Not because it is a particular close group, but they need to know just in case.

Claudio Prado, coordinator of digital policy of the ministry of culture of Brazil argues this is what Brazil has been for centuries. In his words: "In a Brazilian favela, that's the way it works. You go and help your neighbor build their house. (…) That's what you do when you don't have money. You collaborate."

It is no coincidence Internet social network service Orkut is mostly a success in Brazil. Orkut was launched on January 22, 2004 by Google. It is named after its creator Orkut Büyükkökten, a Turkish software engineer who developed it as an independent project while working at Google. Orkut was designed to help users meet new friends and maintain existing relationships and is similar to Hyves, Friendster and MySpace. Orkut goes a step further by permitting the creation of easy-to-setup simple forums (called "communities") of users. Of its currently about 60.000.000 users, the number of Brazilians participating is an estimated 55 to 72 percent.
In Brazil, this collaborative aspect of society was intentionally just part of the collective subconsciousness, until it was formalized recently by the decision of the Brazilian federal government to be the first country in the world to use open source software for governmental institutions. Although this decision was partly taken on economic grounds, the real argument was the acceptation of a development model of which a large part of the population can take profit.

As it seems, this decision was nothing more than a logical step in the Brazilian tradition of collaboration.


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