Understanding community networks through comics

 

Publication date: 
May 2020
Author: 
Carla Jancz, Helena Prado and Thais Jussim
Publisher: 
IBE Brasil, APC and Fuxico.org

It is not easy to explain the concepts behind community networks, both the technical characteristics of radio frequency networks and the social and human aspects of community technologies.

One of the principles we have developed in teaching technologies with a gendered perspective is language. Teaching a workshop for popular groups using colonising terms and methodologies can increase the existing barrier between people and a technology that was not created for their interests. With this in mind, images and analogies are powerful tools to make it easier to explain a technical term or an idea. We reject the premise that to do so would in any way underestimate people’s ability to understand technical matters. We believe that explaining concepts in a language that brings them closer to people and their realities is a form of resistance to the hegemonic, North-centric and patriarchal language in which technology is often taught.

This material is a partnership between Brazilian women, technologists and artists, with the collaboration of people working with community networks in various countries. Its purpose is to illustrate some of these images by blending technical terms such as "line of sight" and "mesh topology" with reflections on why we make community networks and the often invisible role of women within these initiatives.

This learning resource was developed by Instituto Bem Estar (IBE) Brasil, one of the 12 community network organisations that were selected and granted funding towards activities that create and foster a peer learning community as part of the project "Connecting the Unconnected: Supporting community networks and other community-based connectivity initiatives", implemented by APC in partnership with Rhizomatica with funds from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The text was written by Carla Jancz of IBE Brasil, with illustrations by her and Helena Prado and layout by Thais Jussim.

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