Published in El Pais, November 23rd 2019. / Los Tiempos, November 24rd 2019.
Information is a key tool for making decisions. We know that there is information asymmetry and therefore, it is important to have a lot of information to review, filter, analyze and from this information decide. Information and communication technologies, or ICT, whose main component is access to the internet, today plays a key role for information and expression showing through this human diversity, social inclusion and equity. In Bolivia, by 2018, for every 100 inhabitants, there are 100.82 mobile phone subscriptions and 44% of the population uses the internet. These figures for other countries are Argentina 132 and 74%; Cuba 47 and 57%; Chile 134 and 82%, Paraguay 107 and 65%; Uruguay 150 and 68%; and Venezuela 71 and 72% respectively. These figures have been improving greatly, but access difficulties persist in rural areas or population groups such as children, older adults, etc. Many small communities in Bolivia have access only to one radio or television channel which is normally managed by the government.
With ICT, in times of conflict, you can have the news immediately. A story, a thought or something else can be transmitted through smartphones and this possibility removes the monopoly from the press or governments. Almost everyone can see the information from different angles and perspectives, which, in turn, democratizes or distorts the information more. In general, it gives us the opportunity to collect, filter and analyze for ourselves what is really happening. We must not forget, too, that each one has personal filters based on culture, economy, politics, which can simultaneously make us have a partial or complete position of the situation.
There are some strategies to try to maintain impartiality in our analysis. Be aware of our biases, listen to information from both sides, add information (numerical, context, historical, normative), question more what we read and see, get away from fanaticism and build on facts. Today, many verify the information before transmitting or publishing it. Lies have been unmasked thanks to ICT.
Let’s not forget that we have a great opportunity to have and make our thoughts and information known through ICT. Thanks to ICT, the actions of a country in times of conflict are transparent. Even though governments can try to manipulate information, we can have access to a greater variety of information that will eventually give the truth. Hopefully, access to ICTs will soon reach populations with less access so that they can also generate their own thoughts about a situation.