Social Media


Culture, Conflict and Cyberspace: Towards a Bodo Digital Identity


The Death Valley (2012) is a multilingual short film by Rajiv Saikia that aims to capture the 2012 ethnic conflict between the Bodos and Muslims, highlighting how innocent civilians from both sides are caught in the crossfire. This fictional account tells the story of a Bodo man and a Muslim man who are on friendly terms. Their peaceful existence is disrupted when ethnic conflict erupts. The Bodo man is chased by a group of Muslim men before being brutally murdered while his Muslim friend is killed as he tries to save him. Afterwards, the women of the two families leave with their children because of the unsafe environment…

Morality, Illegality and Crime in Download Culture.


This is the third and final research note from Shiva Thorat, one of the researchers who received the Social Media Research grant for 2016. A Khandeshi album producer, who is also a politician, complained against me to the police. They gave me strict warnings on why I should not do download work. One of the policemen told me, “People involved in the production of the song cannot get any money when the transfer process is free. The product should be making profit to pay everyone who is involved in the production. They have copyright over the song and it is illegal. If someone is not paying for their produced song it is the case of copyright infringement and transferring them is a crime, we might arrest you”.

Fans without Borders: Tracing Transnational Digital Fandom on Television


Televisual fandom is an amalgamation of multiple dimensions that include the televisual text, TV stars, corporate machineries of marketing and promotions and most importantly the fans. Fans are a significant parameter in analyzing the popularity of a television programme or a TV star; and fandom, therefore, is an important scholarly paradigm that redefines star studies on the small-screen. While the earlier forms of television-audience interactions were limited to sending letters to the broadcasters/producers, it is with the emergence of digital media, that this interaction has taken “one of the most intimate and far-reaching forms of sociability” in contemporary times…

Decree and Devotion: Sacred Property on Internet


I took a murky turn between the Sunday market on Biplabi Rash Behari Bose Road and the Portuguese Church that is called the Portuguese Church Lane. Behind the white church, in the lane teeming with resting pushcarts, small shops and old shabby buildings, I found my address – 10, Portuguese Church Lane, Kolkata 700001. It was a typically dilapidated building whose façade could not be fully seen from where I stood, it overwhelmed my field of vision. There was an A3 sticker on a closed part of the door that spoke about martyrdom and I was sure that it was the front gate of Haji Kerbalai Imambara…

Context is King: Contextualisation of Models and Simulations


“Models and simulations, both, represent certain reality in an abstract form…we are essentially trying to represent reality in some sense. [It is an] abstraction of reality – it could be a mathematical model, simulation model, or a physical model. When we develop a model there are a lot of parameters that need to be tuned, such as vehicle distribution, speed profile… Generally the software would have default values for these parameters and they have to be tuned based on Indian contexts. This becomes much more complicated in our traffic conditions because of the heterogeneity and non-lane-based movement. All this has to be replicated well in the simulation model…”

Daily Mobile Recharges to Water Tankers: Deconstructing the Infrastructure of Insecurity


Packets of Diamond chips strung from store fronts are a common sight in Delhi’s peri-urban areas like Savda Ghevda or its dense informal settlements, but not in its formal colonies where larger brands such as Lays chips are found instead. The ‘pocket internet’ that thrives on small data recharge amounts for mobile phones that my previous posts have covered is marketed similar to the ‘sachet marketing’ of Diamond chips. Moreover, economic trends indicate that at least in rural India, these small but regular amounts being spent on internet have even begun to eat into the profits of consumer items such as chips and cold drinks…

Embalming the Obscure: Unpacking Cinephilia Undead


The more I explore the cinephiliac circuits of obscure small budget films manifesting itself through networks of social media, the more I am reminded of an old curiosity shop stuck in the corner of a street with all kinds of valuable junk. In this room, the gathered and the collected, the scattered and the discarded, in this room the past and the present, the lost and the found, in this room the dead and the undead. This work of collecting and preserving the past is marked by the increasing importance of the fragmentary (the clip, the tribute, the ephemera etc) where many different pieces fit together, like in a puzzle, where the ludicrous, the ugly, the obscene, the erotic and the horrifying come together to construct a universe of the obscure…

The Quest for Bodoland: Social Media in the Time of a Separatist Movement – Part Two


This is the second part of my two-part exploration of the Bodo community and its engagement with social media and the online world. This post builds on the first part where the focus of investigation was on the insurgency and the presence of reports, pictures, discussions, videos on social media pertaining to this.[1] This post will explore the presence of Bodo entertainment content, VCD films and music videos on websites like YouTube, and shared via social media. The focus will be on the kind of content that is shared as well as on specific content, exploring the links and connections that go into the production of a Bodo identity through the medium of the Internet, and the ways in which media today aids in the scattered explosion of such ideas and beliefs…

Mapping Sharing Networks and Cyber Corners in Informal Settlements


I missed it the first time I passed by it. As if by Rowling magic, the game parlor appeared before me the second time I looked for it because this time I knew where to look, thanks to the two boys who enthusiastically kept pointing at it from their end of the street. One moment I am in the narrow, sunny lane of the Bhoomiheen camp in Govindpuri and the other, in a dark and dingy room filled with young boys exchanging expletives who are as surprised to find me in the midst of them as I am at first. After convincing them I am not lost, I am able to strike up a conversation with them on their favorite games…

Digital Ghosts: Spectral Presences on YouTube


Geert Lovink made it clear that we have started watching databases rather than films and TV. 2015 YouTube statistics seem to be in serious agreement with that statement with over 4 billion videos viewed every day, between three to four hundred hours of video uploaded every minute. The vast unregulated folds of the internet has created infinite avenues of accessing cinema by way of easy exchange, transfer, uploads and downloads which in turn has created a new cinematic culture. Everybody is contributing to this growing archive of films- fans, cinephiles, production houses, DVD labels and such. In this post I track the creation and sustenance of B-movie YouTube channels operated by fans…