Play of the dayPosted: April 18, 2011
I spent a very productive Saturday in a dilapidated building on Puyerredón in barrio Once. It’s a kind of awesome hipster hangout/artspace/greenspace/organization headquarters. Amazing folks, all–as far as I could tell.
I was there visiting a workshop for Buenos Aires Libre. They are a group of technophiles and generally interested parties building their own autonomous network–apart from ye ole interwebs. All who care to participate can put up their own node in the network, or link in, or just generally support as they are able. Among the activities on Saturday was a little how-to demonstration on building your own directional antennae out of recycled materials, a discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of an autonomous network in the urban environment, and the activation of a site specific node.
It was a glorious day for many reasons: One, I was mistaken for a journalist. Two, I showed-up the Canadian fellow who was there (and also writing a thesis) by speaking Spanish–said Canadian didn’t even try to understand or utter a word in the local language. Three, I was invited by a few senior members of the group to help put up a node in one of Buenos Aires’ villas this week. Villas are the porteño equivalent of favelas. They are extremely impoverished neighborhoods lacking in basic infrastructure and, if my experience in this city serves, are generally ignored or avoided by the better-off classes. Even the cab drivers will tell you they’re dangerous and not worth visiting. Without this organization or, at the very least, a local resident to guide me there is no way I could wander in and explore such neighborhoods. I am very much looking forward to this iteration of the BAL (and my own) project.
I can’t say it didn’t help to be a particularly anti-capitalist, American woman in the exchanges I had on Saturday. Nor would I say that they weren’t pleased with my (only mildly successful) attempts to use the local dialect. But hey, in field work, one takes the advantages one has access to.
Hopefully all of you, dear readers, will benefit from these newly made connections. The longest-standing member of the organization, who goes by ‘Vampi’ and very much looks the part, advised me to bring, albeit discreetly, a camera to the visit.
So: onward goes the exploration. Wish me luck. Pictures soon if all goes well.