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Letter from the editor | 217

Contemporary phenomena

The beautiful and sweetly melancholic image on the cover of this issue of Pesquisa FAPESP, from the perspective and sensibility of German photographer Thomas Hoepker (Magnum Photos), invites readers to become briefly immersed in scientific, rather than poetic, waters: the project known as Green Ocean Amazon, or simply GOAmazon. Officially launched on February 18, 2014, with funding from FAPESP, the Amazonas Research Foundation (FAPEAM), the US Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a budget of R$24 million, the program is mobilizing some one hundred Brazilian, American and German researchers in an effort to confirm and analyze the mechanisms of rain formation in the skies over Brazil and the effect of pollution in Manaus on climate in the Amazon. The article points out that from one region of Brazil to another, and even within a given region, there are distinct ways in which water and ice crystals accumulate in the clouds that will eventually bring abundant precipitation. It’s worth learning more about this topic from the capable hands of Carlos Fioravanti, our special editor and author of the cover article beginning on page 16. He imbues his writing with poetry when possible, yet never abandons rigorous journalistic reporting. The eloquent photos, taken for the launch of GOAmazon, are by Eduardo Cesar.

I cannot resist the temptation to mention here that the volume of rain that falls over the Amazon Basin is a veritable ocean (hence, “Green Ocean”)—27 trillion metric tons of water each year. “Viewed in more concrete terms, were the rain to accumulate instead of filtering into the soil, it would form a sheet of water 2.3 meters deep along the 6.1 million square kilometers of the Amazon Basin, which extends through Brazil and several neighboring countries,” Fioravanti writes. The average volume of rainfall throughout Brazil is 14 trillion metric tons of water per year—a figure nearly unimaginable, especially for anyone viewing the televised images of the water at the Atibainha Dam that has dropped below the minimum safety level in this frightfully hot, dry new year in the Southeast. If the average yearly rainfall accumulated, it “would submerge the entire country under a layer of water 1.7 meters deep,” says Fioravanti, bringing me an involuntary flashback of the unforgettable, flooded Buenos Aires in Fernando Solanas’ fictional film, El viaje (The Trip).

From among the other outstanding articles presented in this issue, I’ve chosen to devote the remainder of this space to comments on a report about an extensive study of the phenomenon known as net-activism. And I do so while bearing in mind the enormous challenge—both to our simple understanding of the citizenry and to the more refined developments in the field of humanities—posed by the large-scale mobilizations and street demonstrations that have sprung up in several parts of the contemporary world, in every case catalyzed through digital social networks. The study in question—headed by Professor Massimo Di Felice of the São Paulo School of Communications and Arts (ECA-USP) in collaboration with respected thinkers in the field of communications in other countries such as Michel Maffesoli—offers one of several possible interpretations for digital activism. It examines the phenomenon at three different moments in time between the 1990s and the present day, and covers events ranging from the Cyberpunk movement, for example, to the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and the June 2013 protests in Brazil, among many other such demonstrations. With a basic focus on the forms of interaction among activists, digital networks and territoriality, rather than on the different political motivations behind these movements, the study offers two principal perspectives from which to view this phenomenon:  Zapatismo as a formal source of inspiration, and the advancement from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 as the real key—the infrastructural gateway, shall we say—to the boom in such broad-based, diverse movements. It is well worth pausing for a while to read this article, written by journalist Juliana Sayuri, beginning on page 70. Enjoy!