Digital Inclusion, Crowdfunding, and Crowdsourcing in Brazil: A Brief Review

Digital Inclusion, Crowdfunding, and Crowdsourcing in Brazil: A Brief Review

Beatrice Bonami (University of São Paulo, Brazil) and Maria Lujan Tubio (University of São Paulo, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8740-0.ch006
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Abstract

In the present chapter, we map and characterize crowdsourcing and crowdfunding platforms that promote social entrepreneurship in the online universe. We first analyze relevant theoretical concepts and the existing literature on entrepreneurship, digital inclusion, information and open culture, digital culture, and social technologies to better understand the genesis and development of initiatives that promote social entrepreneurship in the online universe. Then, we map and describe the platforms that tried to encourage this type of entrepreneurship around the world, especially in Brazil. Finally, we examine some important aspects of the panorama of crowdfunding in Brazil. By exploring the current development of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing platforms at international level, we expect to contribute to the creation of new projects and policies that respond to the current demands of the network society.
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Introduction

The use of information communication technologies (ICTs) around the world has increased dramatically over the past 20 years. ICTs affect all aspects of everyday life. They allow users to access, store, transmit, manipulate, produce, and publish information, thus providing a wide array of opportunities for education, professional development, and lifelong learning.

According to Cardoso (in Passarelli & Azevedo, 2010), the world is not only going through financial, political, and environmental crises but also through a communication crisis. This phenomenon, as Cardoso (2010) explains, can be seen in a series of events and habit changes. It can be seen at the sharp fall in newspaper sales; the proliferation of P2P audiovisual content distribution; the increase in Internet advertising; the role of social networks in the daily coverage of events; the Open Access, Open Source, and Open Science models; or the case of media production destined to online sharing. The communication crisis transforms, or at least questions, all dimensions of information production, distribution, and consumption. It also affects the way we approach entertainment and knowledge. As Cardoso points out, we moved from a system of schemes and matrices of mass-communication based media to a model based on networked communication.

This new model coincides with the emergence of a new set of skills, attitudes, and behaviors that are necessary to participate in today’s network society. Passarelli (2007) explains in Interfaces digitais na educação: @lucinações consentidas (Digital interfaces in education: consensual hallucination), the globalized world is typified by intense capital, product and information flows and has started to require new competencies from its citizens. These competencies are what we call today “emerging digital literacies” (2007, pp. 40).

Digital literacies are a new set of habits, attitudes, and behaviors that are necessary for full participation in today’s media-saturated society. They affect the way people learn, work, socialize, and use their free time. They also increase their access to education, employment, entertainment, and health. Their development constitutes a necessary step to adapt to the fast-changing world of information and communications technology.

In 1997, Gilster (1997) coined the term “digital literacy.” According to Gilster, digital literacy is a “logical extension of literacy itself, just as hypertext is an extension of the traditional reading experience” (pp. 230). The author defines digital literacy as “the ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers” (pp. 1), and he sheds new light on the concept by stating that “digital literacy is equally about context” (pp.35). Warschauer (2003) later developed a concept of literacy to address the various social, economic, human and digital resources that affect the “effective use of ICTs to access, adapt, and create knowledge” (pp. 47). Jones-Kavalier and Flanningan (2008) argued that literacy is characterized by the ability to use information effectively and creatively. Finally, Jenkins (2008) discussed the emergence of a media convergence culture, characterized by nonlinearity and interactivity.

In recent years, the development of ICTs and the emergence of new digital literacies have opened up opportunities that used to be restricted to a very privileged sector of society. In fact, ICTs have favored the genesis of an online social entrepreneurship phenomenon that has led to the creation of online platforms that attempt to develop a taste for entrepreneurship in its users. These platforms help people to identify opportunities that can be transformed into projects to promote community development. The objective of this type of platforms is simple but challenging: to make entrepreneurship accessible to everyone. The initiative “Social Good Brasil” is a notable example of this recent trend.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Crowdsourcing: Crowdsourcing is the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers. This process is often used to subdivide tedious work or to fund-raise startup companies and charities. It combines the efforts of numerous self-identified volunteers or part-time workers, where each contributor of their own initiative adds a small portion to the greater result. The term “crowdsourcing” is a portmanteau of “crowd” and “outsourcing”; it is distinguished from outsourcing in that the work comes from an undefined public rather than being commissioned from a specific, named group.

Social Entrepreneurship: Social entrepreneurship is the process of pursuing innovative solutions to social problems. More specifically, social entrepreneurs adopt a mission to create and sustain social value. They draw upon appropriate thinking in both the business and nonprofit worlds and operate in a variety of organizations: large and small; new and old; religious and secular; nonprofit, for-profit, and hybrid. Business entrepreneurs typically measure performance in profit and return, but social entrepreneurs also take into account a positive return to society. Social entrepreneurship typically furthers broad social, cultural, and environmental goals and is commonly associated with the voluntary and not-for-profit sectors. Profit can at times also be a consideration for certain companies or other social enterprises. Social entrepreneurship practiced in a world or international context is called international social entrepreneurship.

Social Inclusion: Social inclusion aims to empower poor and marginalized people to take advantage of burgeoning global opportunities. It ensures that people have a voice in decisions which affect their lives and that they enjoy equal access to markets, services and political, social and physical spaces.

Means of Production: In economics and sociology, the means of production refers to physical, non-human inputs used in production; that is, the “means of production” includes capital assets used to produce wealth, such as machinery, tools and factories, including both infrastructural capital and natural capital. This includes the “factors of production” described in classical economics minus financial capital and minus human capital. They include two broad categories of objects: instruments of labor (tools, factories, infrastructure, etc.) and subjects of labor (natural resources and raw materials). If creating a good, people operate on the subjects of labor, using the instruments of labor, to create a product; or, stated another way; labor acting on the means of production creates a good.

Digital inclusion: Digital inclusion is commonly defined as the incorporation of information technologies into the community in order to promote education and improve the quality of life.

Social Technology: “Social technology” is defined as applying the use of social science theories and methods implementing related technologies for specific purposes especially social ones: to ease social procedures via social software and social hardware, which might include the use of computers and information technology for governmental procedures. It has historically referred to two meanings: as a term related to social engineering, a meaning that began in the 19th century, and as a description of social software, a meaning that began in the early 21st century.

Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. One early-stage equity expert described it as the practice of raising funds from two or more people over the internet towards a common Service, Project, Product, Investment, Cause, and Experience. Three types of actors fuel the crowdfunding model: the project initiator who proposes the idea and/or project to be funded; individuals or groups who support the idea; and a moderating organization (the “platform”) that brings the parties together to launch the idea.

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