Volume 43, Number 171,
October-December 2012

The Collaborative Construction of Knowledge, Gunnar Wolf and Alejandro Miranda (coordinators),
iiec-unam, 2011.

Gunnar Wolf and Alejandro Miranda coordinate this academic effort, which explains the diverse digital processes that currently exist to construct and diffuse general knowledge, regardless of what branch it belongs to, whether it is social sciences or hard science.

In eight chapters grouped into three sections, the book The Collaborative Construction of Knowledge defines the importance of information in a society that is trapped in a process of globalization from which nobody is excluded. The individual is obligated not only to be aware of what is happening in his environment, but also to contribute to building knowledge and the multiple ways to spread it.

In the first part, entitled “Software and Free Media,” Alejandro Miranda and Gunnar Wolf, in “Free Software and the Democratic Construction of Society,” precisely explain the historical processes that the construction of knowledge and technological advancement have undergone, what software has represented since its inception and the general background of knowledge. The explanation of what a “democratic society” is and what it implies is important to properly develop and understand this chapter, if we consider that software and other advances of the digital age are used by the individual. Lila Pagola, in “Permissive Licensing Schemes in Artistic Creation,” gives a broad explanation of the rules that the diffusion of knowledge is currently subject to, once it is transmitted through modern technologies in the framework of the software era. She covers the background of the history of art, explains the copyleft effect, and ends with the result of all intellectual efforts on cultural production.

In chapter three, Sergio Ordóñez Gutiérrez defines the concept of the “knowledge economy.” It is important to point out that in developing this chapter, the author addresses the importance of the information and communication revolution, keeping in mind the capitalist stage system in which we exist. The explanation of the effects of the neoliberal process and the rise of knowledge embryos is thus fundamental to properly understand the author’s idea.

The second section, “Communities,” once again has Gunnar Wolf, with the work “Motivation Factors and Elements of Recognition,” where he proposes one of the principal tenets of the book by demonstrating that advances in creating and diffusing digital tools that play a role in the construction of knowledge matter little if the individual is not familiar with new technologies and these tools are thus not used. He provides a broad explanation of using the internet and its impact, as well as the socioeconomic factors that play a fundamental role in this area.

In chapter 5, entitled “The Collaborative Construction of Knowledge from the Optics of Free Software Communities,” Héctor Colina insists on the need to rethink technology, on how valuable it is to possess knowledge, but also on how important it is to understand it as a social event. At the end, he explains what free software is, as well as the communities and the elements to understand this software.

The third and last part of this book, “Society,” precisely addresses the close relationship between new technologies to diffuse information and the individual. These last three chapters provide an in-depth analysis to explain the transformation towards the much desired, and at the same time feared — according to the book’s coordinators — “Knowledge Society.” That is how Marko Txopitea merges the terms “policy” and “web 2.0” into “Policy 2.0”: policy is understood not as an exclusive activity of political parties, but rather as “the activity of the citizen who participates in public affairs with his opinion, vote or in any other way,” and web 2.0 is the system of pages interconnected through hypertext links, but with the level of sophistication seen in recent years. In this way, “policy 2.0” is thus “the activity of the citizen who participates in public affairs with his opinion, vote or in any other way, making use of the capacities offered by new technologies in general and specifically, the web 2.0.”

Beatriz Busaniche, in “Information Illiteracy, or Why Exclusive Programs Foster Illiteracy” questions the statement that the person who does not know how to use a computer is a digital illiterate. The author’s work is a rich critical analysis that presents diverse conclusions on how to motivate an individual to use new technologies and when to do so.

Finally, the chapter by Carolina Flores and Ericka Valverde, “Constructing Methodologies for Info-Inclusion,” contributes by including psychological ideas and concepts linked to developing new technologies. This explanation principally lies in understanding that is the human being who creates knowledge, uses technological advances and is at the center of the digital era. Concepts such as the digital gap and gender approach are presented and their explanations enrich the debate that rests upon how to build a methodology for info-inclusion.

There is an appendix at the end, which is a series of articles mainly related to the central theme, and a more thorough explanation of some of the concepts.

This book is highly recommended, especially if we consider that the diffusion of knowledge currently goes beyond a printed book or its physical existence: knowledge, information and research are spread in many ways all around the world in the framework of a digital era where the individual’s need to create and communicate continues to be foremost.

Santiago Hernández
Institute for Economic Research - unam
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Published in Mexico, 2012-2017 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 193, April-June 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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