The story of a photo: the opening of the Constitutional Convention

The image that immortalized the constitution of the Constitutional Convention in Chile on July 4, and that quickly went viral on the Internet, has already accumulated almost 40,000 visits on Wikipedia. Behind that image there is a history of collaboration, teamwork and motivation for the dissemination of content of public interest, where the Wikimedia Chile community, which brings together free knowledge enthusiasts in the country, was a key piece.

“This is the Historical moment when the elected President of the Chilean Constitutional Commission Elisa Loncón asked for a minute of silence for all the people who lost their life fighting to make Chile a better place” – Cristina Dorador CC BY-SA 4.0

It was a matter of minutes and the power of social media. On Sunday, July 4, 2021, a single image filled the networks and became the visual insignia of the process that was inaugurated, not without problems, in the gardens of the former National Congress. The image that shows the elected president of the Constitutional Convention, Dr. Elisa Loncón, and her vice president, attorney Jaime Bassa, facing the assembly against the light, immortalized in a very sensitive and powerful way the inauguration of a process highly anticipated by an important part of the country: the writing of a new constitution for Chile.

But what many do not know is that this image was not taken by the press or by a photographer hired for it; the image was captured by Cristina Dorador, biologist, researcher, and conventional constituent elected by District 3, who only with her mobile phone and a very good photographic eye captured the precise moment, also accounting for the wide social, cultural and territorial diversity of this assembly. It was Cristina Dorador herself who uploaded the image to her social media and due to its power, it became massive in a matter of minutes, reaching more than 10,000 likes on Twitter to date.

The photography also aroused the interest of the partners of Wikimedia Chile, the local chapter of the Wikimedia movement. At the initiative of these editors, Cristina Dorador agreed to donate her image to the Wikimedia audiovisual repository, leaving this crucial photograph at the disposal of the Chilean community and the world, with the rights fully released.

But that process was not easy. Within the Wikimedia community itself, the authorship of the image was doubted, even marking it for deletion for mistrusting that it was a personal work and assuming that it was a professional image with reserved rights. Here the role of the Chilean wikimedians was crucial; it was they who managed the permits, parliament with the global community and managed to defend the image that today illustrates the article of the Constitutional Convention on Wikipedia in Spanish, but also in its versions in English, French, German and Catalan. The photo is also part of the article History of Chile, something that only supports its value as a historical and symbolic record of the conjunctural moment that we live as a society.

Currently, one month after the start of the Convention, the photograph of its inauguration reaches almost 40 thousand visits on Wikimedia, with an average of more than 1200 visits per day. And it is worth noting that this impact is the result of the collaborative gear so distinctive and typical of the wiki universe, where thousands of people work together and with the certainty that knowledge is collaborative and its construction is collective.

Our social environment is made up of thousands of looks and thousands of people who are interacting, contributing, collaborating with each other; following the analogy with the story in this photo, all our actions complete the great image that is our society and where we are all one more pixel in this great painting. The history of this image and the ability to tell each step taken to ensure its dissemination and liberation towards the community crystallizes precisely that each one, fulfilling their role -from Cristina who took the photo to the one who contacted her, the person who uploaded it, the ones that managed the permit, even the person that defended it, up to Wikimedia Chile that disseminated it – all of us contributed to a piece of this story; we all help shape that visual memory that we will transmit to the world and the generations that follow. That is the virtuous circle of Wikimedia, the one that we as an organization are committed to fostering, facilitating and encouraging.

In its 20 years of life, Wikipedia and the Wikimedia community have installed a new paradigm both on the Internet and in society: anyone is capable of building relevant content for the community, from their context, from their experiences. And in the images this is even clearer: we are all seeing something that may be of interest, that may be useful, even that may be historical. It is only a matter of daring, capturing it, and sharing it; even better if it is done through the various wiki platforms, which are free and collaborative. And the rest is history.

Originally posted by Patricia Díaz Rubio, Executive Director of Wikimedia Chile to WMCL website on August 9, 2021 and to the Newspaper “Bíobio” on August 23, 2021.