The May 2011 “15M” revolution in Spain has been considered one of the most influential popular political movements in recent years in the world. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets of Spanish cities demanding a more democratic political system. Numerous demonstrations and events have taken place since then as a follow up and continue to happen.
There is already abundant literature explaining how social media and open digital practice became instrumental in the articulation of the protests and the creation of new political spaces, both physical and digital. A new political body, the Indignados, with a digital backbone had been born.
The use of collaborative tools and the sharing of contents became widespread in a very organic way. Groups of libertarian activists, who joined other left wing and non-political groups of people in the movement, were thriving in these new spaces that offered a wealth of possibilities for the realisation of anarchist principles of grassroots democracy. Digital literacy through informal learning became an important aspect of this collective experiment.
The political party PODEMOS, created in January 2014 and currently leading the opinion polls for the 2015 general elections, has managed to attract a great deal of the 15M movement, including the (techno)-libertarians. The party immediately institutionalised the digital practices developed during the previous years and it established some of the tools and platforms as standard channels of political participation. Currently, the party uses officially Agora voting, Reddit, Loomio, and Mumble, although members are free to use other platforms in their communication. Titan or Pirate Pads are very common. Appgree is also being used. The party has a special group of activists, who anyone in the party is free to join, dedicated to policy and practice on digital technologies. Hundreds of learning materials on how to use these tools have been produced both by members of this group and by spontaneous activists. There are 265.618 online registered members (1/12/14).
There are many questions that need to be discussed, but the objective of this lightening talk is to look at these issues and challenges:
1) Is PODEMOS a learning community?
2) How can a community like PODEMOS be effective and inclusive of people with very different levels of digital literacy?
3) What is the role of physical assemblies and meetings in highly digital processes?
4) How do PODEMOS combine grassroots and top-down hybrid practice?
5) What can PODEMOS and other learning communities learn from each other?
Flesher Fominaya, C. (2014): “ Spanish Indignados and the evolution of 15M: toward networked para-institutions” by Ismael Peña López, Mariluz Congosto and Pablo Aragón, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies
Stobart, L. (2014) Understanding Podemos (2/3): Radical populism.
Gerbaudo, P. (2012) “’We are not on Facebook, we are on the streets!’: The Harvesting of Indignation” in Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism. Pluto Press