media, information, the contemporary

Sarai Reader 01: The Public Domain

Sarai Reader 01: The Public Domain


A Sarai is an enclosed space in a city, or, beside a highway, where travellers and caravans can find shelter, sustenance and companionship; a tavern, a public house, a meeting place; a destination and a point of departure; a place to rest in the middle of a journey…

The Sarai Reader (which is the first of what we hope will be more such collections) can be seen both as a navigation log of actual voyages and a map for possible journeys into a real and imagined territory that we have provisionally called the “Public Domain”. This republic without territory is a sovereign entity that comes into being whenever people gather and begin to communicate, using whatever means that they have at hand, beyond the range of the telescope of the merchant, and outside the viewing platform of the microscope of the censor…

The patchwork that this collection represents is the result of an e-mail correspondence that has sometimes been more sporadic than it should have been. But both of us (Shuddha@Sarai, CSDS, Delhi and Geert@DeWaag – Society for Old and New Media, Amsterdam) believe that it heralds a sound foundation for the collaborations that SONM and Sarai have entered into and which mark the very inception of Sarai. Now we are an open space, eager for travellers. Welcome.


Editorial Collective: Raqs Media Collective (for Sarai) and Geert Lovink (for Waag Society).


The entire book can be accessed and downloaded from the Sarai archive.


ENTERING THE PUBLIC DOMAIN Discussing the Public Domain

Quotes – Dipesh Chakrabarty & Sudipta Kaviraj

Martin Chautari in Kathmandu: Ideas Unlimited and Thoughts Unrestrained – C.K. Lal

Frequently Asked Questions about the Public Domain – Erik Kluitenberg

The Topoi of E-Space: Global Cities and Global Value Chains – Saskia Sassen


Quotes – Partha Chatterjee & Ashis Nandy

CityScapes – Awadhendra Sharan

Dislocating Delhi: A city in the 1990s – Aditya Nigam

Post Colonial Towns Called Deoria – Shahid Amin

‘Our’ Media City – Jeebesh Bagchi & Ravi Sundaram


An Imperfect Public: Cinema and Citizenship in the ‘Third World’ – Ravi S. Vasudevan

On Mushtaq Gazdar’s ‘History of Pakistani Cinema’ – Rehan Ansari

Who’s Afraid of Radio in India? – Frederick Noronha

FM Radio and the New Urban Public in Nepal – Pratyoush Onta

The ‘Daily’ Reality of Partition: Politics in Newsprint, in 1940s Kanpur – Saumya Gupta

The ABC of Tactical Media – David Garcia & Geert Lovink

Recycling Modernity: Pirate Electronic Cultures in India – Ravi Sundaram

New Media: A Users’ Guide – Lev Manovich


The Rise and Fall of Dotcom.mania: Cyberculture in the Internet Economy – Geert Lovink

Internet Nation: The Case of Cyber Yugoslavia – Tomislav Longinovic

On Search Engines: Excerpts from an Interview with Mongrel – Matthew Fuller

Stop Big Brothers! – Supreet Sethi

A Chronology of Media and the State (in India) – Jeebesh Bagchi

Policing the Net: The Dangers of India’s New IT Act – Siddharth Varadarajan

Re: Covert Censorship – Seema Kazi

Hindi Web World: Tentative Steps in an Optimistic Direction – Ravi Kant

Why Activists Cannot Afford to Neglect the Internet – Arun Mehta


Touch: Wetware, Ubicom and Nanotech – Julianne Pierce

New Maps and Old Territories: A Dialogue between Yagnavalkya and Gargi in Cyberia – Monica Narula & Shuddhabrata Sengupta

On the Shopfloor: A Personal Account of Work in the IT Industry, India – Joy Chatterjee

South Asian Workers in Silicon Valley: An Account of Work in the IT industry, U.S.A – Raj Jayadev

Bodyshopping – A Story: An Account of an Emigre Indian Programmer in America

Entry Permitted / Access Denied – Ruchika Agarwal


Why Software should Not have Owners – Richard Stallman

What is Copyleft?

Some Confusing/Loaded Words + Phrases (that are Worth Avoiding)

Piracy is Your Friend – Jaron Lanier

Interview with Richard Stallman

The Hacker’s Ethic

The Hacker Anti-Defamation League

Free Science Campaign

The Free Music Philosophy (v 1.4) – Ram Samudrala

Free Software as Collaborative Text – Florian Cramer

Cooking Pot Markets: Gift Economy – Rishabh Iyer Ghosh

On Hacking, Free Software, etc. – Pankaj Kaushal and Supreet Sethi

Fire, Work with Me – L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg

Copyrighting Fire! – Ian Clarke


The Manifesto of January 3, 2000 – Bruce Sterling

The Net and the Web – Hakim Bey


How Sarai Happened

Notes on Contributors