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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…
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.
Of all the progenies of contemporary technological development, Digital Divide fascinates me the most. Its iatrogeny — problem inducing ways of problem solving — and capacity to reinvent is matched only by a few other problems of our age. Many scholars have tried to reconceptualise digital divide as a socio-technical problem, by pointing out the continuum of gradations between the information haves and have-nots, still there are several nuances left to be grasped…
[W]e first need a language to entertain the thought of entertainment as a valid if not serious use of technology which is worth studying… [M]y preliminary findings have convinced me that the potential banality of terms like development, e-governance, digital literacy, technology adoption, innovation and even Jugaad, does not allow one to grasp the wider cosmology in which digital media is being appropriated in the village.
While the problems of technological determinism, digital divide and the larger politics of knowledge and development are multifaceted and evoke extreme opinions ranging from technophilia to dystopia, there are some key ideas like interpretive flexibility of technology and context sensitive appropriation and access, which could help us engage in a nuanced debate on the relationships of society and technology. In case of ICTs, the interpretive flexibility is further problematized by their ability to liquidate space and time.
The Call for Proposals for the Short Term Research Projects in Social and Digital Media attracted over 80 applications from all over the country, and it took a careful scrutiny of all the applications to reach our decision. We got applications from scholars as well as practitioners, young researchers and older, and proposals looked at a wide range of themes. Please take a look at the excerpts from selected proposals for this year’s Short Term Research Projects in Social Media.