The past month and a half has been very busy for us at Poderopedia. We settled into a large office space in Ariztía Lab, a building with a cultural heritage in the heart of the immigrant area in downtown Santiago, with our friends from Urbz Chile. We hired Rodrigo Guaiquil and Mónica Ventura, two great and experienced journalists who have been hooked on the Internet since 1996, working on news and data-based projects. And we’ve outlined the milestones and road map to the first alpha release of Poderopedia, a project that aims to promote greater transparency in Chile by creating an editorial and crowdsourced database that visualizes the relationships among the country’s political, civic and business leaders.

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A Poderopedia meeting.

With all that said, I’d like to share what we’ve learned from the results of our Future Users Survey (a great idea we shamelessly stole from our friends from PANDA):

CONTENT VS. FORM

The survey was conducted November through December and distributed online via Twitter and our Facebook page, and was sent to Chilean journalists and the 904 people who were subscribed to our newsletter at the time; 463 people answered the questionnaire.

A summary of profiles and likes and dislikes showed two type of users very clearly: a) journalists interested in the content and b) developers and designers who are in it for the data visualization and how the site will be built.

In the first group of users who are on-board for the content, we discovered that only 26% work in media and content development. Meanwhile, 43% work on strategic communications agencies and PR agencies that are hired by private companies and do lobbying and monitoring of legislative work and government regulation. This could mean that they want to: 1. See what we publish about their clients. 2. Read what we publish about their clients’ competition. 3. Find what information we publish about their agency or their agencies competitor. 4. Check information about elected government officials. 5. All of those combined. (That’s gonna be fun).

TYPES OF USERS

As you can see in the slides above (in Spanish):

  • 90% of our users are from Chile.
  • 80% of them are men; 20% are women. They come from two big user segments: 54% are between 30 and 44 years of age, and 38% are between 18 and 29.

  • Most are working (83%) and educated: 41% have completed university studies; 20% have a master’s degree; 14% have enrolled in graduate studies; and 5% have a Ph.D.

  • Most work in communications (24%), followed by technology (14%), consulting and advisory services (14%), education and training (12%), and government (6%).
  • If you break it down in the communications sector, 43% work in communications & PR, and only 26% work in media and content development.

HOW THEY FIND DATA ABOUT PEOPLE, ORGANIZATIONS

  • Most use Google (99%), followed by Wikipedia (80%), Facebook (69%), and LinkedIn (58%). This is followed by digital archives of news websites (50%), global databases (22%), government databases (20%), and private databases (10%).

  • Of those who claim to obtain information from government databases, 37% said they use “Gobierno Transparente,” a section in each one of the Chilean government websites which list the names of public officials and their salaries and purchases made by each agency.

THEY WANT IT ALL

We learned that for most users, all of the features proposed by Poderopedia are important: 97% want faceted search and advanced filters; 97% approve of the idea of having profiles; 96% want to view relationships; 70% say they want to collaborate with crowdsourcing, want more transparency, and to understand social networks and possible conflicts of interest; 63% want an API (application programming interface) for developers. And, here is a nice surprise: 88% want Poderopedia to publish journalistic special investigations.

SCHOOL DATA

Asked about which kind of data would be the most important to include in a Poderopedia profile of a person, most of the users said everything. But where a person studied was the most important thing for them (81%), followed by income (67%), family (67%), friends (65%) and classmates (54%).

Schools are relevant because they impact everything else. According to a 2008 study by La Tercera, 50% of Chile’s top CEOs and executives come from five private schools: Verbo Divino, Sagrados Corazones, Saint George, San Ignacio and Tabancura. Three of the 15 richest families in the Forbes ranking studied in Verbo Divino, where Chilean President Sebastián Piñera and many members of his cabinet studied. In total, those five schools represent Chile’s 18.5% GNP (gross national product) and 0.04% of total country’s schools.

Social, business, religious and political membership data is also key to our users: 94% want to know about a person’s links to public offices and NGOs (non-governmental organizations); 92% are interested in the data of business partners and companies; 81% about social private clubs; and 80% about think tank relations.

All this reflects something that we see every day in countries like Chile and many others in the region: Where you’re born, your last name, and where you went to school and with whom, very much define your chances in life and reflect on who becomes part of the 0.1% who call the shots in Chile.

PERSONAS

The user answers also allowed us to create Poderopedia’s first “personas“ and to conduct several user observations for more insight (as you can see from our messy white board pictured below) in order to start paper prototyping.

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In this whole process, good work methodologies have been crucial, especially those involving user-centered design by fellow Knight News Challenger winner Jesse James Garret, and the agile-development-no-meetings-zero-email workshop we took with the guys at Menlo Innovations, thanks to the Knight Foundation.

We’ll be at SXSW this year, so if you’re there, come see us. Here’s the schedule of our presentation on civic media in Latin America (hashtag #sxswlatino). We’ll have a few surprises. If you want more information or you’re interested in getting involved with Poderopedia, please contact us at info (at) poderopedia.com or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.