How have you experienced the evolution of technology on the front line during these 22 years in góTIC?
I would say that it has been a total evolution! When we installed the first Òmnia point, in the open center of Tàrrega, it was an innovative technology space. In perspective the equipment was nothing out of the world, but at the time it was unique in our local context. Today, most of the activities we do at góTIC are done on an empty table, the devices have taken a back seat. The biggest revolution we are practicing is learning technology by putting it aside, focusing on paper and this support for people.
Has your audience also changed over the years?
In the beginning we were in the open center of the city offering activities for groups from social services and they were focused on improving employability. At the beginning of 2006 it opens the resource to everyone and we contribute to the naturalization of that space that until then was used by people at risk of social exclusion. That's when we had great success, especially because there was only one space like that in Tàrrega and l'Urgell. They came from adult school users, non-formal educational spaces, organizations, social and occupational resources, etc. Apart from our own activities, we also leased space and collated. It created a very interesting dynamic, so much so... that we died of success! We couldn't take on more demand. At the end of that year we moved to where we are now and took advantage of the move to bet on our own name (for góTIC, which means "go" in English and "TIC" Telecommunications) to increase the number of computers and staff and coincided with the consolidation of the ICT Point Network.
Economic and social changes are now closely related to digital needs. How has góTIC been adapted?
Precisely, in 2008 came the economic crisis and then a new definition of the ICT Point. In 2012 we were making a new diagnosis of our environment: if in 2001 we were the only public and free space that offered this access to new technologies, ten years later, the offer was wider and there were already other resources that did the same thing as us. As a result of the decrease in resources, we reconsidered góTIC and concluded that perhaps instead of focusing on expensive technologies - which we could not afford at the time - we bet on finding a way to involve the public by bringing their own device (computer, mobile...) and also to start talking about mobile technologies and digital citizenship, such as use technology positively and safely.
"We have gaps in our digital city that prevent people of age or disability from being able to use it normally"
What digital gaps have you detected in your area of action?
There are as many loopholes as there are people. But we have identified three: access, use and accessibility, which affects me personally. In the same way that when we walk down the street we encounter barriers, we have gaps in our digital city that prevent people of age or disability from being able to use it normally.
Elderly people live with fear and uncertainty of technological advances and every time they have the feeling that they are in a territory that is not theirs and that brings them problems, risks and threats. From the góTIC we work with the gaps in use and accessibility without forgetting rural areas, gender gaps, etc.
How do you reach the public considering that it is a user that is not digitized?
It used to be an audience that came to us as a referral, but of course 22 years later that has changed. We now have digital literacy and digital education in most schools and have focused on older people and people with disabilities and functional diversity.
What seriously worries me is that it is difficult for me to reach certain people who live on the fringes of our city or who have freely decided to live on these fringes, many times because they do not have this social and technological competence. Just today a person who lives 300 meters from the GóTIC approached me to tell me that all these years he had seen the posters, but until now he had not understood what we were doing here. Despite the fact that I participate in a weekly program on the local radio, I write for different media about digital education and technology issues, we spread through local billboards, we have a whole network of allies and people who help us spread the activities what we do here at góTIC, these people continue to exist.
Now with the good weather I want to recover the walks on the street to use the mobile phone and thus be more visible. This will make them approach me if they don't know me or talk about GóTIC, if they already identify me.
"At góTIC we try to listen a lot. We are attentive in the accompaniment and in our regular meetings»
I guess having a variety of activities is a good hook to attract female users...
Sometimes we organize an activity that we consider any citizen should be competent in that area and we punch. On the other hand, the ones we offer because it's our turn are in high demand and we have to schedule new editions. What we at góTIC try to do is listen a lot. In the accompaniment we have attentive ears and also in the micro-spaces, in our regular assemblies. Here we invite people who have participated in góTIC to come to share their experience and this allows us to validate whether expectations have been met and we can also detect new needs or interests.
"If in 2001 they wanted to learn how to operate a computer, in 2023 they want to know more about mobile phones"
And what are the most popular activities?
If in 2001 they wanted to learn how to operate the computer, in 2023 they want to know more about mobile phones. Users want to make more social and playful use of specific applications. Once they understand this ecosystem of applications, concern for security and privacy appears, for example how do I make a secure purchase, how do I protect my digital identity... and it's like an expansive wave of needs.
What do you value most about your work as a facilitator?
The people. They have helped me become who I am through all of this shared history from day to day. In the assemblies we do a dynamic presentation and there are people who say "I've been coming to góTIC for 17 years" and at that moment you realize that during those years you've been through that person's life and they've been through yours. I am also grateful to the political leaders who, despite the changes in mandate, have defended what we are doing here and have invested resources in difficult economic times because they deeply believed in the social contribution by giving it recognition.