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From the terrific democracyos of Argentina, a piece fronted by Pia Mancini, commissioned by BBC Newsnight in the run-up to the UK election:

Here is DemocracyOS in BBC Newsnight, in case you missed it. 

“Technology alone is not going to do the trick. And so to get real change we decided we had to hack the system from the inside”

democracyos.org

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This groundbreaking new book presents the most important examples of world-changing journalism, spanning one hundred years of history and every continent. Carefully curated by prominent international journalists working in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East, Global Muckraking includes Ken Saro-Wiwa’s defense of the Ogoni people in the Niger Delta; Horacio Verbitsky’s uncovering of the gruesome disappearance of political detainees in Argentina; Gareth Jones’s coverage of the Ukraine famine of 1932–33; missionary newspapers’ coverage of Chinese foot binding in the nineteenth century; Dwarkanath Ganguli’s exposé of the British “coolie” trade in nineteenth-century Assam, India; and many others.

The dictatorship still casts a big shadow, though sometimes indirectly, as in Sobrevivientes (Shipwrecked) by Fernando Monacelli. Twenty-five years after the war in the Falklands, a mother finds the frozen body of a soldier, her son, adrift in a lifeboat near the Antarctic. In other cases it is barely perceptible or merely metaphorical. Soy Paciente (Patient), a novel by Ana María Shua, tells the story of a man who goes into hospital, but its irony and black humour conceals scathing criticism of the dictatorship. Carlos Bernatek operates along similar lines. “The 1970s are lurking in all my novels,” he says. “But I refuse to be over-explicit. I would rather the reader guessed.” He pauses for thought, then adds: “As Argentinians we are still living with people who, though they may not actually have tortured anyone, were accomplices to torture … If you add that to the memory of the [American] Indian genocide, during colonisation, and the fact that towns like Bariloche, in Río Negre province, welcomed Nazis on the run after the second world war, you begin to understand why Borges said that ‘being an Argentinian is an escapable act of fate’!” No doubt in an attempt to escape this fate, some authors have looked elsewhere for inspiration. They have fled in their imaginations to Mexico or France, as with Federico Jeanmaire in Vida Interior (Interior Life) or Pablo de Santis in El Enigma de Paris (The Paris Enigma). Others, such as César Aira and Sergio Bizzio take refuge in absurd, eccentric tales. Rodrigo Fresán and Leandro Avalos Blacha revel in fantasy, whereas Selva Almada moves to the country, in a deeply personal novel. In another form of flight, Damian Tabarovsky experiments freely in Autobiografia Medica (Medical Autobiography), combining a narrative form that defies classification with philosophical inquiry. So there is a lot going on and it is very diverse.

Social media is an irreversible phenomenon of unprecedented scale. It has already affected social behaviour more than many other technological breakthroughs. Social media are everywhere, including in the workplace, in the company’s systems and equipment, but also in the employees’ portable devices. That is why the mere blocking of social media websites by the companies does not prevent the employee from using their particular cellphones to access them while working or even post a comment about the company from the personal computer at any other time. This is an issue of growing importance in Latin America. With its improving internal revenue, the region, and particularly Brazil, is the home of several avid users of the different forms of social media. In 2013, Facebook had 156 million users in Latin America, with 56 million users in Brazil alone. Brazil also ranks second in number of Twitterusers in Latin America, with more than 33.3 million. Moreover, according to Reuters’ Digital News Report 2013, 60% of Brazilian respondents said social media was one of the top five ways in which they view news online, compared to 30% in the US, and 17% in the UK. Brazilians are also particularly enthusiastic about commenting on news stories posted on social networks; 38% of respondents said they comment on news items via social media at least once a week, compared to 21% in the US, and 10% in the UK. Further growth is all but guaranteed, Brazil has a population of around 200 million; this means that more than 30% of the country’s inhabitants have an account with at least one social media platform. Other countries in Latin America also show impressive figures: Mexico ranks second in the social media market, with 35.6 million users; while Argentina ranks third, with 17.4 million users. According to US market research firm eMarketer, by 2017 the number of Mexicans and Argentines using social media will reach 56.3 and 22.5 million respectively; Brazil will have approximately 91 million users. Considering that social media is a relatively new addition to Latin American workplaces, companies are still learning how to deal with the phenomenon in a satisfactory manner. It is perhaps incumbent for businesses, whether they are national or international, and their in-house counsel to consider recent guidance on social media usage in the workplace in these three jurisdictions.