Fellowships

Cell Phone Videos, Mobilizing Shame and the Image collisions


More cell phone videos have been shot, edited and uploaded online in the last 16 hours then the total number of films and TV shows produced in India in the year 1989. Cell phone videos in particular have had definitive impact in shaping much of recent history. From the ‘Arab Spring’, to Abu Ghraib to the Kajieme Powell killing to innumerable videos capturing mundane violence or corruption worldwide, cell phone videos are the dominant visible template of the real today… In this post I look at some recent ‘citizen videos’ and try and nudge towards changing relationship between the (sting) video document and issues of ‘truth’, ‘shame’ and transparency.

Deconstructing Black-Boxes: Notes from the Field


This post contains a detailed summary of the secondary research component and an early stage analysis of the three interviews that were completed as a part of the primary research component of this project. Two of these Interviews were conducted with data scientists working with large scale public data. The third Interview was with an Image processing expert now active in the field of data sciences… The Interface as discussed collects the user data actively (through forms/text boxes, affordances) and passively (tags tracing user footprint on the site)… Data is far from being structured; it contains a lot of noise. It gets generated in high volumes and does not leant itself easily to analysis.

The Medium is the Message? Gossip and Hybrid Televisuality of Malayalee House


In McLuhan’s view the emergent televisuality of the time was marked by an intricate structural relationship between the new forms of media such as television and their function as social carriers of messages. In this post I look at ‘gossip’ as a formal constituent of Malayalee House and as an integral part of the cultural and social content contained therein… The incessant repetition and replicability of the information as it is relayed across digital social media also in many ways resembles the circuits of gossip… I argue that the use of gossip as a framing device in Malayalee House is analogous to the ways social media operates in assembling scattered bits of information…

Understanding Rural Techno-Culture and Social Media


The ethnographic studies on ICTs in rural areas, including my own earlier work, have often focused only on those factors which seem to most directly affect success or failure of technology led development. This was perhaps for a good reason, given the millennial euphoria of ICT4D. Moving forward however, one needs a broader understanding of socio-technical changes in rural life, which have outpaced scholarship. In this final research note, I would like to introduce some important features of the ‘rural’ socio-technical context by presenting a comparative picture of my two field sites, briefly discussing the emerging discursive practises of social and digital media access and uncertainties which characterise ICT ecologies in the villages…

#KashmirFloods: Communication in the Times of Deluge


In second week of September, when floods created havoc in Kashmir, thousands outside the Valley wanted to know whereabouts of their dear ones – family, friends and acquaintances. However, there was no way to communicate. With no communication network and no access, there was no news about the majority of the Valley. Concerned, a group of Kashmiris in Delhi and many well-wishers decided to meet at Nehru Place in South Delhi. Meanwhile, back in the Valley, a few of those whose cellphones were still functional, were working 24×7, receiving calls from all over the world from concerned people…

Toward a History of Consumption and Circulation of Media Content – Part Two


In this post, I map out major practices of consumption and circulation of video to arrive at the contemporary moment of its consumption and circulation via mobile phones, flash drives, SD cards, etc. among the users of limited technological access and economic means. My objective in mapping this history is to show how socio economic dynamics of access changed with the arrival of each media technology and form, and how the techno-social practices associated with the reception of each media form fed into and fused with the emergent practices to constantly change the social profile of media consuming public.

Writing, Reading, Digitising, Interviewing: Postmemorial Engagement with Histories of Partition


I am interested in reversing the gaze to explore the importance of ‘our’ personal subjectivities – the stories of the writers, researchers, artists, digital archivists and volunteers working on Partition – in order to further complicate our understanding of the postmemories of Partition. The myth of distance from our topic of interest that has traditionally been used to signify the objectivity of the writer has always been problematic, especially when the topic in question is a traumatic event that has shaped modern South Asia…

Social Media Research Workshop, October 11, 2014


Since March this year, seven short term research fellows have been involved with The Sarai Programme and carried out various studies on digital and social media. On Saturday, October 11, we are organising a research sharing workshop for the fellows to present and discuss their works with a selected group of discussants.

Santosh Pandit Hate Groups and Memes: Online Ethnography of Social Media


In the interaction with members of hate groups, what became evident was that memes served multiple purposes, depending more on the viewer’s prior knowledge of the person/event spoofed.At the same time, no one identified the term “meme” or “meming” (a relatively new term for many of my respondents) in our conversations. On the other hand, they described the act of meming as an extension of their everyday Facebook activity where it featured as what they called padam (picture) with “dialogues”… The intensity of circulation of these memes was such that even the fan’s groups widely shared memes brought out by the hate groups…

On Public Secrets, Forensics, and the Sting Fearing Virus


Corruption as many have pointed out, is a classic template for the ‘public secret’: that which insists on being commonly coded but cannot be enframed within official public narratives. The video sting short-circuits this logic – by hyper-playing the secretive act/gesture in loop ad nauseum across media platforms. The mundane act of corruption, otherwise part of one’s everyday, gets immediately recharged into an active moment of desecration. Institutions that aren’t routinely sacred suddenly get charged and re-sacralized when faced with the crisis of defacement. It is this ‘drama of revelation” that activates outrage (and subsequently the media event)…