Information Discovery in Chile

Sometimes even in our own countries, looking for information can be a challenge. Imagine the experience of living in another country – where even your assumptions about where to look for something are dead wrong.

You go one place – the internet, for example – only to discover that a website isn’t at all how people store and share info – business websites are few and far between, massively out of date, and hold information that is mostly incorrect.

This is what we have discovered while living in Chile.

When faced with the fact that our assumptions about where to go for info were completely wrong, we had to rethink our everyday inquiries. We had to put ourselves in the mindset of a Chilean and think, where would I go to find that out?

Here’s the rundown of what we’ve discovered and what we’ve experienced. We’ve listed the methods of information dissemination in order from most common to least common.


How Businesses Advertise (mostly service-oriented businesses)


  • Hand-lettered signs – very prominent, stapled outside businesses or on nearby walls, even on makeshift poster stands beside the road
  • Stenciled ads – very prominent, on walls, barriers on the highway, even civil furniture (bus stop canopies, benches)

    2018-01-23 16.20.55
    A business dealing in cast iron has stenciled their contact info onto the bus stop canopy.
  • Signage – only official businesses
  • TV/Radio – big brands only
  • Facebook – pages for businesses (although don’t expect to always find up-to-date phone numbers or hours of operation)
  • Fliers – rarely delivered to your door (in fact, there’s no junk mail in Chile because you are expected to tip your postman for each and every piece of mail he delivers, and Chileans don’t like to spend money if they don’t have to do so), mostly handed out nearby businesses 2017-11-28 20.28.58
  • Vehicles – taxis, buses, car wraps

    2018-01-26 18.48.26
    The same business that stenciled the bus stop also advertises on top of taxis

Buying & Selling

  • Hand-lettered signs – most prominent for this this type of business (including places to eat), stapled outside businesses or on nearby walls, even on makeshift poster stands beside the roadart
A woman selling snacks from a shopping cart


  • Signage – only official businesses
  • TV/Radio – big brands only, no mom n’ pop businesses
  • Facebook – pages for business, groups for buying and selling of used items (very popular)
  • Billboards – big brands only





  • Broadsides – posters pasted to walls, poles, concrete barriers, buildings, etc
  • WhatsApp – groups sent out mass information through this phone app

    Olivia’s school had created a WhatsApp group for each school level. This message was sent a week before the end of the school year – detailing the end-of-year celebrations and events. Classmates’ birthday party invites are also sent via WhatsApp.
  • TV/Radio – again, only for large scale events and big brands
  • Billboards – only for large-scale events with big brand names
  • Facebook – pages and group listings
  • Stenciled ads – very prominent, on walls, barriers on the highway, even civil furniture (bus stop canopies, benches)
  • Neighborhood “newspapers” – We’ve gotten two of these in the past year while living in Chile and they are usually tossed through our gate and onto the ground (certainly not delivered by post)


Civic Inquiries


  • Websites – nearly all government departments have an official website and these tend to be pretty good quality

    This is the website for DIBAM or the directorship of libraries, archives, and museums.
  • TV/Radio – sometimes you will see commercials paid for by the government advertising tourism in specific regions of Chile
  • Billboards – the government makes generous use of billboards, even in the middle of nowhere along a road you might see a billboard advertising the government agency responsible for maintaining that road or region
  • Facebook – some departments have a page, but not all



  • Waze – almost universal use in Chile (because roadways and intercity expressways are extremely confusing and never intuitive)


Everyday Communication

  • WhatsApp – used by everyone, businesses and government included, neighborhoods and specific communities have WhatsApp groups that they use to share listings


Counter Culture / Civic Engagement

2018-01-27 17.41.26
A plethora of information signs – most notably the encouragement to vote sign hand-lettered and pasted on top of the circus broadside. These appeared all over the city two weeks before the presidential election.
  • Graffiti, stenciled slogans, & murals – very common and eye-catching
  • Broadsides – bills and hand-lettered signs




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