Right to the City - Brazil 2

Revealing Rio Website

Sarah Thompson
During our 10 day trip in Rio, we met with many people and organizations, and toured many different places (downtown, favelas, beach-side areas, and public spaces). We found that there is a lot going on in Rio: the city's preparation for hosting two big mega events, 2016 Summer Olympics and World Cup 2014, the issue of Favela integration, pacification, and gentrification.  We heard many stories regarding these issues and quickly learned that these topics aren’t one sided.  There are many views, opinions, and explanations on each issue.  We felt that each view has importance and should be shared.  When we arrived back home in Boston, we decided that these stories and issues that we learned about would be easy for US citizens to view through a website.  The goal of our website is to tell the story of Rio to a US audience.

Rio is undergoing a grand makeover especially after winning the Olympic bid, but there is debate over who exactly will benefit from this makeover. With so many different interests at play, it is important to learn about Rio from many different angles.  To show the different interests at play, our goal was to create an interactive website, "Revealing Rio," that allows people to pan through a cross section of Rio that spans from Cantagalo to Vila Autodromo.  By scrolling over different pop-ups, the user learns about a range of topics from pacification to favela tourism. When reading about a topic, the user has the option to learn about it from at least two different perspectives. We decided to view these topics from the perspectives of: a favela resident, the government, big business, and foreign tourists. The opinions of these groups are often conflicting and broadcasted only by select groups. It is our hope that a US audience will leave this website having learned not only about the current issues of Rio, but also be motivated to further understand the complexity and multi-sidedness of those issues.

Origin of Idea

Grace Bucking

Our project went through a lot of ups and downs to get to where it is today. We started out with a completely different idea, and it has been developed into something else entirely, but hopefully much more effective! Our original idea was to create essentially an altered version of Twitter that has different features designed to be more helpful to residents of favelas. As we were evolving this idea, however, we realized that it was not necessary to basically recreate an already perfectly suitable website. We went back to the drawing board and started brainstorming with Adam, Saba and Alison about what characteristics of Twitter we were so intrigued by, etc. As we were discussing these things, we went back to our notes from the trip. Specifically when we were in Vidigal, we talked a lot about Facebook and Twitter during our meeting. As we were flipping back through our notes, both Charlee and I noticed that one of the people we were talking with, Felipe, had mentioned something about how it would be useful to have instruction on how to use these social media networks better. In my notebook, I had starred and underlined this piece of information because it stood out to me at the time. We all agreed that this idea was something worth pursuing, especially because it had specifically been mentioned by one of our colleagues in Rio. We redirected our brainstorming based on this new concept, and generated the idea of creating a website designed to help new Twitter users, and, more importantly, give strategies on how to use Twitter to your advantage. There are so many things that Twitter can be used for, and it can be a very effective tool for getting information out. Unfortunately, many people do not know how to best go about using it for this. The goal of our project is to help favela residents use Twitter to benefit them in ways more than just for social or personal reasons.