Impact 2.0: Experimenting with social networking for policy change in Latin America

Impact 2.0 New mechanisms for linking research and policy

“The number of blogs have doubled every five months for the last two years; social networking Web sites usage is multiplying year on year; peer-to-peer has become the largest source of traffic on the Internet in three years,” says a recent study]. While policy-makers are busy trying to react to and anticipate these changes, how are they using this new tools and ways of interactions in their work?

This Comunica project, implemented in partnership with APC, looked at how social networking technologies can be or have been used to influence the internet policy debate with research-based in three South American countries: Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay.

The issue

When it comes to ICT policy, even the best arguments backed by solid research can fail to be heard or acted on. Decision makers are barraged with conflicting demands, often supported by contradictory evidence, making it difficult for independent researchers to even be heard. Low levels of public understanding of and interest in policy issues, lack of political will, bureaucratic inertia, and counter arguments promoted by interests with their own agendas in mind further complicate the scenario.

The opportunity

We live in an era in which the use of interactive web-based services and social networking sites, is experiencing an explosive growth worldwide, and Latin America and the Caribbean are no exception. Recent research on these Web 2.0 technologies emphasises the impact they have had on people’s social lives, on political action, as well as on industries such as advertising and media.

APC and Comunica looked at the role these tools can play in linking researchers and policy-makers – a largely unexplored area. The project received financial support from the International Development Research Centre .

The project started in April 2010 and ended in 2012.

The final publication is already available for download .

Photo: Philip Bouchard via Flickr .

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