Cybersurgeons: A community that exchanges useless material to discuss the advancement of technology

Restores the old school of „hobbyism”, but in the era of social networks, many people are in different parts of the country to exchange all kinds of „vintage” devices. They call themselves „cyberhacktivists” and promise to dedicate themselves to predicting a political-ecological way through „cybersurgery.” Its specific purpose is to demonstrate that equipment that the market considers obsolete can be reused and modified. In short, they raise debates focused on the use of technology, networks and devices.

About 40 years ago, the old school of „Hobbiesism” was at its peak. The 70s were rolling on, the careers of artists who marked the history of music like Hendrix and Elvis were coming to an end, dictatorships were being exploited in Latin America, the world was starting to give great relevance to computing, which from the middle of that decade go ahead, it changed social life, especially work/office life forever.

Hobbesism was a movement of people who met and shared computer knowledge, which at the time was not commercial, but still accessible, and they wanted to make it more personal, almost fighting for it to happen. That generation of computer enthusiasts appealed to a human approach that was close to human, so that everyone in the world could learn it easily, even if they were self-taught.

In Argentina, there are many people dedicated to the „Independence Arcade”, and as a result of this massive, events are organized. Bringing together people from different parts of the country interested in „retrocomputing”, i.e. the reuse, preservation and collection of „vintage” computers. (Depending on where you are in the world, maybe 5 years – in Europe, for example- or 10 to 15 years – in South American countries-).

One of their regular meetings is the Montreal Theater, a historic and eclectic cultural space that was slated to close before the pandemic. Among the visitors to this place are the crew of „Replay” magazine, a former history student, a film buff, a „pixel friend”, a frustrated writer, a graphic designer, an illustrator, a screenwriter and a digital publisher. An „Afrokaratega”. publication It is also available in print through its website ( „We decided to set up a space related to retrocomputing but also recycling hardware: we had a couple of old computers, and I said, 'Hey, it would be nice to have these useless computers here—no sense of productivity at work—but to play old platform games, a „cybersurgery” station. Be the part With computers salvaged from junk”, he says Discovery Sergio Andrés Rondán, better known as „soldan” in cyberspace, is a primary school teacher, activist and fighter of free software (a movement created by a non-profit organization headed by the American computer expert Richard Stallman, which proposes the total freedom of cybernetic users from an ethical point of view).

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Four decades after the utopian birth of the hobby and another kind of end of the world, the pandemic forced Rondon and his fellow hacktivists to pick up the handles of their computer ancestors. In 2019 I met a guy on the internet named Nicholas Volovic, who also belongs to the Free Software Suite. In 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, we saw how people without computers are doing.It was difficult to approach, especially since I come from teaching, and with Nicolas, a professor at the National University of Córdoba who teaches computer science. It was when I revived this idea of ​​cybersurgeons that we started to move a little bit in the networks about repurposing equipment and free software that the market considered obsolete. Virtual and each from our location, we first tried to raise awareness and then get the computers and start recycling them; Fix them up and give them to those who don’t have them and those who need them,” Rondon recalls.

Hacktivists and gender gaps

As the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) explains, '4 out of 10 women in the region are „not connected” and/or cannot afford effective connectivity (internet access, availability of devices and basic skills to use them)’. This is another site of cyber surgeons: “Most of the people who ask us for computers are women, many are single mothers; We see a clear gender gap in what we do”, highlighted the hacktivist.

There is also another type of gap: the federal one. In the category 'Households with access to ICT products and services (computer and Internet)’ published by INDEC at the end of 2021, the area with the greatest access to PCs is explained as the Patagonian region (72% of its population). own) and access to „cyberspace” (nearly 93% of the Internet), at the same time Although almost 92% of residents in Santiago del Estero, La Rioja, Salta, Catamarca and Jujuy own at least one computer, only 54.6% have access to the Internet. This is another reason why Rondon and his team continue this computer recycling: „Nicolas is in Córdoba, I’m in Buenos Aires, we contact people in Rosario, people in Santa Fe, acquaintances from La Plata… and we each come together differently. Cybersurgeon cells that operate in a completely anarchic mannerBecause everyone contributes what they can where they can, and the idea is to try to help those closest to us, so that everything doesn’t get concentrated in one province or city.

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Towards „Technological Empowerment”.

On the other hand, the advice Sortlist points to it Argentina is the fifth most used cell phone country, with an average of 10 hours per person per day.Or, a total of 147 days per year; As Rondán defines „technological empowerment”: „Technology passes us by as it always has, but we can’t find a place in relation to how we think about it: from hacktivist extremism, around Raise discussions focused on technology, networks and devices. We like to think that people are empowering themselves around their electronic devices, because feminism has taught us so much that if we normalize situations, we can say that we’re hiding something under that naturalization. Power relations and that is what happens to us in technology: If we normalize that it’s okay to keep changing cell phones, that’s because we’re doing it wrong: we’re normalizing a completely insane consumer market. It always creates electronic waste, because the production of a cell phone has a very high environmental cost,” explains the author, and he is right, as a study by the Kantar World Panel (an organization focused on consumption) shows that Argentines change their phones on average every 15. months and „electronic waste”. The so-called constitute almost 3% of the world’s pollutants.

As with entertainment, one of the main foundations of Cybersurgeons is the idea of ​​community: „We are not fully operational, we do this in our spare time because we are not a non-governmental or government agency, We are simply a group of users, enthusiasts and hacktivists. We manage it by creating groups: for example, there is a common Telegram group where everyone chats about various surgeries. As we are very interested in everything related to the decentralization of the Internet and trying to think about different communication platforms, we don’t want to be married to one platform, that is, we don’t want to manage everything we do with Instagram or send messages on Twitter/Facebook, because it’s free software and self-hosting,’ We believe that is the opposite of the philosophy of 'self-hosted things’ – who host web services at home and offer those services to their friends or friends. Do so – and the way to contact us is via email or a forum or the web, because if you search for „cyber surgeons” you’ll reach us. From there we manage, what they are going to send us, if it works for us, if it doesn’t work for us, if what they offer us is in AMBA or Córdoba, how do we indicate it,” the author explains. .

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Hacktivists all over the world

Argentina is not the only country with such initiatives, as Colombia and Cuba have similar programs, albeit without the „cybersurgery” in particular. In Europe, the gender and age difference is more noticeable than directly related to the economy (even those with less purchasing power can access the Internet and computers), but the social inequality is more noticeable in the educational computer, about 44% of the population does not have so-called „digital skills”.

“Cyber ​​surgeons” were summoned to the area: “We were at the University of Glasgow and it’s hard for Europeans to understand this because it’s very difficult for them to recycle something., but not this question of functionality, because they don’t have the computers we have, and it’s kind of strange to them. There, ironically, too much is thrown away, because because of greater consumption capacity, people buy more and throw it away, and they don’t have that intention; For them, an old capable computer is a computer from 5 years ago, for us, an old computer is one from 15, 16 years ago that we can refurbish and it works perfectly for them. For me it is very sudakara, in a good way, in the pride of sudakara to do something about all this happening, to act politically. „These are initiatives that speak to the Latin American vision of what the tech world is like, and for some reason it’s happening here and not in London,” underlines Rondon.

A meeting will be held on May 20, where you can see a fair, samples of demos of retrocomputers, the popular hardware pod and a presentation of the new Cyber2Sirujah, developed entirely with Connect Equality and open source games.

Human capital may be the key to reversing the problem they observe: „I describe myself as a cultural rebel, very restless, very curious and very hands-on. It has a lot to do with computers, alternative electronic art, and education. I love teaching, I love teaching, I love being in the classroom, and part of what I do at CyberSurgeons goes well. I think because the classroom gave me a lot of experience to convey messages in a simple, comprehensible way. Passion, it’s important for a teacher to be passionate and passionate, passion and learning motivates me, above all”.

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