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Are fake news the problem?

Fake news, fake news everywhere. Fake news, or that type of content especially generated by sites that seek to take advantage of the capacity of viralization that social networks provide, are the ultimate trend. The plague of fake news was considered one of the factors that helped Trump win the election, a result that was totally unexpected. Although  a research recently stated that it had not been as important as it may have seemed, this type of viral content certainly sets an alarm about our ability to discern false information from real.

So, what is Fake news?

While some websites earn money with quizzes  (one I did a few days ago told me that I look like Ariana Grande, which nobody believes here, do you? Fake news!), the real business today is political “news”. You probably have read the economic reasons behind these sites. By simply getting a domain that looks serious, a basic news template and a creative and incredibly viral title, even a young person from a lost village in Macedonia could influence the most relevant election in the world with the main goal of paying their weekly expenses.

This type of fake news is easily set apart from others because although some of the information they present seems plausible, a brief search on the internet can destroy any of the statements they contain.

 

Another problem is the poor reading these texts get. The title and a small description are enough for my granny, your brother and my former classmate to share it right away. Personally, I prove it every time my friends share my articles without having read them (seriously, they get more shares than views).

But if we bring this analysis to our Latin American context, we may find that  there are no teens interested in generating income through traffic monetization. Perhaps (a theory I fear, makes sense), what the creators of this content pursue is to weaken the opposing political positions and delegitimize the adversary, sowing doubts in many people, and reinforcing the previous beliefs of several more. The bots that create and reinforce Twitter content, for example, or phone campaigns that impose agenda, are also part of this phenomenon.

In contexts with increasing polarization, with discredited media outlets and abundance of information (or content), whatever our contacts decide to share on Facebook or on their networks becomes a much more appreciated and “legitimized” source than traditional news sources. We validate what we think or what we do not yet have an opinion on based on what our peers decide to endorse in their profiles. Social networks incorporate this activity into their algorithmic calculations and voila! The bubble is filled with content that no serious publisher would even consider reading.

To make matters worse, the critical capacity of readers is poorer than ever. And what is even more disturbing in this context is that there are researches that postulate that, against information that contradicts the original beliefs, these are more likely to be reinforced. Then, in this “backfire effect”, readers not only did not incorporate that information which corrected that wrong idea, but reaffirmed the last. So the task of informing gets even more complicated and the whole journalism is questioned.

Now, how can we stop this?

Fact-checkers from around the world are working on different alternatives. Pedagogical perspectives, for example, seek to provide tools for the analysis of information at schools or in learning environments. When we are trained to detecting data in speech, the task of verifying it is much simpler.

Fact-checkers also join efforts with Facebook and Google to identify true information and veto the false, which are just beginning. It is undoubtedly a work that takes time and the results are still difficult to predict.

In the meantime, I would recommend you that as a reader and also resposnible for this phenomenon to take advantage of the contents of the International Fact Checking Day at http://www.factcheckingday.com/ and help us get more people to incorporate data verification into their daily news routine. Putting an end to fake news is a collective task. So please, triple check before sharing!

 

European crossroads: enlargement and Brexit

The process of incorporating a State to the European Union is complex and lengthy. The exit is equally complex although there is no precedent. Admission requires the application of the Copenhagen criteria summarized in stable democratic institutions, rule of law, market economy and acceptance of European law, such requirements do not seem easily met by many of the candidates. As obvious as it may seem the admission of a new state requires that it be European. An example of this is the failed application of the Kingdom of Morocco in 1987 to the European Community.

In the current universe of candidates, to access as members, we must make a difference between the official candidates who are under negotiation or awaiting launch, as is Turkey (which meets few of the requirements of the commitment and that is why his candidature moves at glacial pace since 2005. Given the current political situation we do not see a change in the short or medium term), Montenegro (since 2005), Serbia (since 2012), Macedonia (since 2005) and Albania (from 2003) and potential candidates with or without formal request presented as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

The European Union has had a long and complex path, from the European Union of Coal and Steel in the 50s to the Lisbon treaty, creating strict and necessary regulations for its continued expansion. But this should not be the only thing to consider.

We should not miss the funding values of the Union whose bases constitute the real soul of Europe today. The European Union was conceived beyond economic integration from a moral criterion and from the ashes of two world wars that changed history and shaped the world. They are the humanist and democratic principles of Konrad Adenaeur, Jean Monnet, Alcide de Gasperini, Robert Schuman among many others that should guide the future of the Union.

The European Union represents a unique case of integration in world history that has established peace and prosperity in a continent that took the blows of dominance and hegemony over the last 500 years.

Brexit is also a new opportunity to advance towards fuller integration and a more comprehensive concept of Europe. The mission of the Union should not be limited against the criteria of incorporation of members nor diminished in terms of objectives based on the lack of commitment of present or potential members.

The European Union is open to European states entity but it does not have an ecumenical mission in the old continent. Those who can commit to the funding values of the Union and want to run the risk of full integration will be those who enjoy the benefits and virtues that 50 years of integration have harvested.

Europe’s future depends on it. The EU should not be lost before the paradigm of believing that more is better but those who can commit willingly with the European principles and values are those to be called part of the European integration.

What was a utopia today is a reality. Its future depends on the integrity within the principles of its funding spirit, those sown in the ashes of World War II, and present in the minds of all Europeans long before.

A day will come when there will be no battlefields, but markets opening to commerce and minds opening to ideas. A day will come when the bullets and bombs are replaced by votes, by universal suffrage, by the venerable arbitration of a great supreme senate which will be to Europe what Parliament is to England, the Diet to Germany, and the Legislative Assembly to France.

A day will come when a cannon will be a museum-piece, as instruments of torture are today. And we will be amazed to think that these things once existed!

A day will come when we shall see those two immense groups, the United States of America and the United States of Europe, facing one another, stretching out their hands across the sea, exchanging their products, their arts, their works of genius, clearing up the globe, making deserts fruitful, ameliorating creation under the eyes of the Creator, and joining together, to reap the well-being of all, these two infinite forces, the fraternity of men and the power of God.”

Victor Hugo. Discours d’ouverture, congrès de la paix, [Opening address, Peace Congress], Paris (21 August 1849)

Superficial Social Progress

What if all of our progress in the last decades regarding human rights, racism, gender equality and homophobia was a big filthy lie. Why do I say this? Well it occurs to me that maybe it is. I always considered myself as a guy who sees the glass half full, which always saw our race in constant progress for the better. That may be right, but on a very superficial level.

Real change is not made on what we see, and express. Real change is something more complicated, is not measurable by statistics made by NGOs or private or governmental entities. Real progress is something intangible.. Real progress is only measurable in our own consciousness, is our inner voice who tells us what is right or wrong. It is what we truly believe, is that inner voice that really makes us accept or love a person of a different race, gender or sexual preference no matter what, because they are a human being just like yourself.

This is why our progress is superficial in a big degree. I don’t say that real progress hasn’t been made, of course it has. But certain events show us the degree of shallowness. These events show us how we only changed the ethics on our societies, the code of ethics that says what is right or wrong on a superficial level. If you are racist, people will look down on you, if you hit your wife or you sexually harass your secretary you will go to jail for it. But that is not real change, the mindsets are not changed, only the idea of what is right or wrong for society changed, and that is the big issue.

So Donald Trump won. Yes a racist, misogynist, homophobic, and probably a guy with lack of critical thinking because of denying climate change. Not only this, the Brexit happened, the neo nazi party entered the parliament in Greece and in Austria, and Le Pen is the favourite candidate on France. These events happened because of the geniality of the people behind them that understood what I explained before and used that in their advantage. They attacked the big crowds which only changed and progressed on a superficial level in their minds. This people made the unethical, ethical again.

All the people who believed in something but couldn’t express it because of our superficial progress, could rise their voice again thanks to this characters. So racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia and xenophobia flooded our societies and streets again.

My mother once told me that there is a famous phrase which says “ People get the government leaders they deserve”; but she corrected it and told me “People get the government leaders they look alike”. And she was right. Brexit and Donald Trump showed us that a big percentage of our current societies never stopped discriminating and is still full of hatred towards others. All this events shows us how nationalism is still a great way to win elections, how hate is such a powerful tool to move big crowds.

Another issue that feeds the idea of far right extremists having such an amount of power all around the globe is the apolitical crowd. For example, in the US 43℅ of the voting population decided not to vote. In the UK 28℅ of voters also chose not to vote. This can be analyzed as having a huge amount of adults not caring about their country’s future. The huge differential of 15℅ between the UK and the US it’s because as it is said the US suffered the phenomenon of voting “between the lesser of two evils”, making a bigger margin of non voters. So how can this happen in the 21st century? Where we have internet and information at our fingertips, we can easily search which candidate aligns better with our interests and model of thought. We can see their statements, their political agenda, their political team, even what they have stated 10 years ago and how they changed their point of view and why.

It is known as a fact by many statistics entities that the rates of discrimination at schools, and messages of hate towards muslim and LGBT communities peaked during Trump’s campaign. Yes, during the campaign, before he won. This shows the great impact a candidate and even more a president has with his speech over the population. The economic instability and recession takes some political leaders to create escape goats. This escape goats are an illusion, an imaginary answer to very complicated problems. This is not monday’s new’s, populist speakers around the twentieth century generated hate in many countries creating imaginary enemies which the people could hate to forget about other real problems. Hitler had the jews, Chavez had the US. So why Trump couldn’t have muslims, mexicans and China? Who wouldn’t love that all of our most complicated problems would be solved by these easy solutions these populist speakers bring to the table? But the world doesn’t work that way sadly.

Only 492,306 from 3,806,471 of people between 18 and 24 years old voted for the EU referendum for the Brexit. That’s only a 36%! Ideas are crucial for making a real change, but execution is the key aspect. People between 18 and 29 cover a 20% of all the amount of votes, that’s a big number in the spectrum.  We should definitely use our power to vote. We were raised in a more advanced society, with less xenophobia, racism and homophobia. Youngsters need to understand how they can make a change by only showing up. So why lose this big 20% who can fight against all these negative aspects, we just can’t keep sitting around.

So are we doomed? Should we surrender our ideals of real progress, and embrace this wave of hate that is crashing in to our foreheads? Absolutely not. This is the best moment, more than ever before, to remind ourselves of a key thought. No presidential candidate, no newspaper, no anti immigration law, no far right extremist party can really determine the way we live our lives. They do not represent us as a whole, these are just laws and people who got voted, on a fraudulent system, that in no matter of years will change. We live in a representative way of government which is often confused with the real democratic system which was stated 2500 years ago in ancient greece, but that will be a subject for another time. This Hate is only reflected on our daily lives if we let it pass through, if we choose to neglect it when it’s around us. So remember you can always chose, to embrace what is thrown to us, or to fight it with empathy.

It is now more than ever that we should push our minds for a real conscious change in order to achieve real progress. We should fight against this past of facism and hate that is coming to haunts us once again. I think that human history is not cyclical as many may think, and this wave of hate can be left behind as old news well buried, for a more prosperous and bright future. A famous psychologist, Steven Pinker, wrote a book called “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined”. This book studies that the greatest variable that marked our success as a race was collaboration between ourselves. The human mind found out thousands of years ago, that it was easier to understand, to collaborate, to love than to hate and discriminate. So… why bother ourselves in this nonsense?

The Entrepreneurs and Willpower

There is only one person capable of limiting your own growth: yourself

Every venture begins from a vision, a purpose, a dream, a desire. This is what motivates us, what put us in movement. But, what is the motivation? From the linguistic point of view it is an abstraction, it is not tangible at all but we can translate it by saying it is the fuel, the energy we need to cover the distance between your present and where you want to go, your journey toward that vision, dream or desire.

What do we need in addition to motivation to start this journey? WILL.

The will is closely related to the motivation.

The will is the capacity of human beings that makes us do things intentionally, in spite of the difficulties, setbacks and mood.

Continue reading…

SABF 2014 – Conclusions

The third day of the 10th conference edition begun with a group activity in charge of Ricky Pashkus, who took the participants out of their formal structure and made them move loose. Together, the 100 participants sung and danced small choreographies to reinforce the international and collaborative character of this group. The morning was summarised in fun and a relax audience.

After having joined the participants during the three journeys, interacted with them, and been a great asset in each debate, Rob Britton begun the closing ceremony of the South American Business Forum

His review of the different dissertations and talks stated clearly the importance of the topics approached during the conference,cierre and the quality of the debate initiated by the participants. “I saw so many hands up in each occasion, with enquires that could not be answered that I hope to have a future chance to make it up to everyone.”, he joked. He delivered his gratitude to the organisers, participants and speakers for having helped in the making of this experience, and decided to review his impressions on each talk he attended. He reminded the audience of the definitions given by some of the orators, highlighting the concepts that defined the SABF’s central topic the best.  He then opened some questions for the audience, specially focused on the changes that generate the opportunity to participate in this kind of experiences. “This is a gift that you must thrust to the future, where you will see it come true in projects and challenges” he stated, to then call the audience to share what they would be encouraged to do differently from now. Besides, if “the massive social problems can be solved with the practice of the collaborative economy”, he invited everyone to practise this idea to start changing.

When the participants answered Britton’s call to take the floor, it was clear how many and how deep the concepts of the different activities became triggers for personal projects. Some mentioned the need to stay in touch with this network of young people, who know they are the ones that can lead the change – because of their conscience of this role and its success probabilities – to collaborate and boost each positive activity in the World. “It is a difficult journey that is not taken by most people, but it is the only one that can make things happen”, highlighted Britton, who encouraged the audience to follow their vocation.

“Es un camino difícil que no es el que usualmente la gente toma, pero que es el único que puede hacer estas cosas posibles”, destacó Britton, quien además animó a la audiencia a seguir su vocación en este sentido.

Subsequently, the directors of this edition, María Laura Varela and Florencia Ravenna took the stage to thank each participant, collaborator, speaker, sponsor and – very specially – the members of the organising team. They reminded the phrase by Walt Disney that Diego Luzuriaga quoted on the first day: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”, and everyone was invited to put in practice each idea that this new SABF edition brought to their minds.

New Team

Dear South American Business Forum Community,

 

March begins with high expectations. It begins with good will, emotions and changes. As for today, the entire content of this organization’s blog will be integrally managed by a group of collaborators very close to the SABF. Trying to give a firmer identity to those who write and frequently generate posts, it has been decided to put together a human group that, based on a strong commitment with the organization, seizes the coordination of what is published in this medium.

 

As many of you already know, up to the last edition a large party of collaborators (mainly ex-participants) gave life and grace to this blog, through a network of writers and a group of editors. We thank all of them for their outstanding and successful contribution of energy, ideas, questions, answers and comments. At this new stage of this blog, we would like to openly invite you all to continue supporting and submitting material whenever you feel like it, the way you feel like it. Without a doubt, it has been the community itself the one who continued creating more community, generating fascinating thoughts and readings.

 

Yet, it is a year of changes and new goals. This year’s blog content will be coordinated by a reduced group of people; which does not mean – and I re-highlight – that no one else can contribute with interesting material. On the contrary!

 

This new group is made up by:

 

–        Nicolás Berneman, SABF 2010 participant

–        Ana Paula Valacco, SABF 2013 participant

–        Facundo Calvo, SABF 2011 participant

–        Cristian Tenuta, SABF 2011 & SABF 2012 participant

 

To them goes my special gratitude for having accepted this challenge.

 

As General Coordinator of this blog, I invite all the Community (and all of those who would like to join in), to periodically visit this medium, so as to create a space of debate and back-and-forth dialogue about current Argentinian, South American and worldwide issues. And, very specially, to be part of one of the most attractive student forums of South America, applying until May 4th 2014.

 

If you are interested in contacting this Team, please feel free to write to prensa@sabf.org.ar

My best regards to all the Community,

Juan M. Maffi

General Coordinator – SABF Blog

Interactive Classes

By midmorning the participants enjoyed very intense debate in an atmosphere of lectures by distinguished speakers.

Wayra

Lorena Suarez is the Business Development Manager at Wayra. She has extensive experience in marketing, communication, and positioning strategy in the internet market. At Wayra they analyze more than 3.000 projects and finally invest in less than 1% of them.

During the class the participants introduced themselves and briefly told their studies and entrepreneurial interest/career. After that, Lorena presented the key aspects that must be included during a business project presentation, including: Business Model, Team Definition and Communication Skills.

Finally the class took a game dynamic where participants arranged themselves in groups and played to be entrepreneurs and investors. During the activity each group select a company, wrote a elevator pitch and presented to the rest of the class.

Continue reading…

CONTINUITY, SUCCESS, Continuity, Success, continuity, success …

“Compromiso Joven” is a project led and created by students from the University of San Andrés located in the district of San Fernando, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The project was born as a result of the negative social impact that led to the economic and political crisis of 2001. In that year a million Argentines were restricted of the extraction of cash from deposits, accounts and savings triggering a situation of lack of a permanent president and a social upheaval. Every since that time, the main objective of the organization has been to contribute to the development of a responsible and committed to their reality society, creating spaces for reflection and interaction that involved actors of the university and the community in which it is inserted.

For more than a decade “Compromiso Joven” has been promoting a social responsibility commitment in UdeSA and in its area of influence, as well as a mutual learning between the parties involved. “Compromiso Joven” seeks to connect diverse realities that would otherwise remain isolated from each other, and seems to be succeeding in its work.

Continue reading…

SABF 2012 has started!

The 8th edition of the South American Business Forum started this morning. The SABF directors, Paula Montaldi and Lucas Diaz, started the conference by congratulating the participants because of the quality of their applications. The directors highlighted that the purpose of this edition is to transmit the central theme: “Global Objective, Collaborative Actions”. At the end of these three days, participants will know how they can take action in order to lead change.

In addition, the directors thanked the board of trustees, sponsors, juries, ITBA and ex-organizers for helping to make this edition a reality. Finally, they addressed once again, the participants: “This opportunity is up to you, we hope that this will be an unique experience”.

After the directors, Molina Pico, ITBA´s Dean, remarked that the SABF team has been working in this forum since the 7th edition, last year. Furthermore, he stated that “The organizers have been working very hard and have done it well. This SABF strives to answer the defying questions that the future is giving us.”

Nowadays, the challenges are the changing problems with growing velocities. “The necessary elements are ready, you need to raise the guidelines to achieve a positive change”. His intention was to transmit the participants that they have the responsibility to take part in the solutions of all the actual and the future problems of the world.

Later, Guibert Englebienne, CTO at Globant made a summary of the story of his multinational company and how he managed to create it in a country where weren’t companies that big before.

He also mentioned that “there is a change from an industrial economy into a knowledge economy”. Nowadays, companies use old structures, with people that have to control and supervise other people. There is competition between a “Peer to Peer Vs Hierarchical” culture and he also remarked that now companies should use dynamic and flexible structures.

Companies with the old model don´t understand the motivations of the new generation. This new generation loves feedback, but the companies take, at least, one year to give this feedback. How can we be competitive in a difficult environment, with a 19th century structure without understanding the new generation of employees?.

Finally, he shared his thoughts about the motivations of the employees. Globant developed a motivational model based on the Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. The managed to use a methodology focused on objectives, creating challenges to encourage the pursuit of excellence and aligning employee goals with those of the company. They created an environment in order to make the most of today’s generations.

Letter from a South African participant about SABF 2010

Today, we are pleased to publish a note sent via Facebook by South African participant Tascha Terblanche some days after the forum. We wanted to preserve its original emotive touch so we have not made a single change in it. Gestures like these show us that, one way or another, we managed to make SABF a possible experience to participants from all around the world, no matter where they come from. So, with you today, a letter from Tascha Terblanche.

My SABF Experience:

“I realise that sharing my experience of the SABF two weeks post-summit may strike some as being a bit late… But I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on the experience during this time and I have come to the conclusion that time brings us many things, but the most valuable is perspective. Continue reading…