media, information, the contemporary

Sarai Reader 03: Shaping Technologies

Sarai Reader 03: Shaping Technologies Sarai Reader 03: Shaping Technologies


Sarai Reader 03: Shaping Technologies sets out to ratchet our engagement with the contemporary moment a notch higher, in directions that are sober, exhilarating and discomfiting, all at once…

Shaping Technologies brings together a host of original writing and images on these and other themes by a collection of writers, theorists, critics, photographers, philosophers, engineers, activists, artists, media practitioners and programmers from all over the world. It also excavates and connects little known histories with our present reality, finding, for instance, in Rabindranath Tagore’s account of being airborne in 1934, an oblique way of reflecting on the consequences of aerial bombardment, the dehumanising mindset that implodes when the pious do battle, and the prospects of a war that threatens to break over Iraq, even as this book goes to press…


Editorial Collective: Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula, Ravi Sundaram, Ravi S Vasudevan, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, and Awadhendra Sharan (Sarai); Geert Lovink and Marleen Stikker (Waag Society).

Design: Pradip Saha, Renu Iyer, and Monica Narula.


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




The Possible Futures of Technology in China – Andrew Feenberg

Lowtech: Escape from the Tyranny of the Leading Edge – Simon Griffiths

E-Waste: Computers and Toxicity in India – Gopal Krishna

Governing Technology: The City in the Age of Environmental Crisis – Awadhendra Sharan

The Engineer in the Information Age – Arun Mehta

Resisting Technology: Regaining a Personal Ecology – Ravi Agarwal

Subterranean Labour – Srinivas Kuruganti


New Visual Technologies in the Bazaar: Reterritorialisation of the Sacred in Popular Print Culture – Kajri Jain

Taking Pictures: The Early Days of Photography in Bengal – Siddharth Ghosh (Translation by Debjani Sengupta)

The Home and Beyond: Domestic and Amateur Photography by Women in India (1930-1960) – Sabeena Gadihoke

Panchlight – Phanishwarnath Renu (Translation by Ravikant)

Airborne: (from “In Persia”) – Rabindranath Tagore (Translation by Debjani Sengupta)

Sadhanbabu’s Friends: Science Fiction in Bengal from 1882-1961 – Debjani Sengupta

Acoustic Excavations: Soundings in the Ranigumpha Caves – Uma Shankar

Old Scar – Shahid Datawala (photographs) and Parvati Sharma (text)


Technologies of Self: Poverty and Health in an Urban Setting – Veena Das

Intensive Care – Sumit Ray

Stolen Rhetoric: The Appropriation of Choice by ART Industries – subRosa

Reproductive Technologies in India: Confronting Differences – Rupsa Mallik

Uncanny Bodies

Shaping Technology / Building Body(Nets) – Ana Viseu

Black Magic, Biotech & Dark Markets – Eugene Thacker


McLuhan’s Pendulum: Reading Dialectics of Technological Distance – Mike Hunter

Becoming Mobile: SMS and Portable Text – Suzy Small

Gadgetry and Subjectivity: The Making of the Tamil Brahmin Self – Uma Maheshwari Kalpagam

Excelsior 3000: Bowel Technology Project – Ian Haig

Disruptive IT in South India – Nimmi Rangaswamy

Call Centre Calling: Technology, Network and Location – Raqs Media Collective


Transformer, Clock, Telephone, Cable, Generator, Tubelight – Naseem Bano, Babli Rai, Mehrunnissa, Dhirender P. Singh, Yashoda Singh (Translations by Shveta)

Metro Nights – Monica Narula


Dreams of an (Un)Certain Future – Steve Dietz

Reading Technology: Curling up with a Good Information Appliance – Linda Carroli

On Software as Art – Andreas Broekmann

Waste Net, Want Not: Art and New Media in 90s Britain – Pauline van Mourik Broekman

Creative Encounters: The Art/Science of Collaboration – Amanda McDonald Crowley

Beyond the Apocalypse: An Unfinished Meditation on Ethics – Rana Dasgupta

The Typewriter of the Illiterate: Interview with János Sugár – Geert Lovink

The Way Home: Kattas as Navigation Aids – Bharti Kher

Pet Architecture: And how to Use it – Yoshiharu Tsukamoto

Colliding Soundscapes: Conversation with Hildegard Westerkamp – Lex Bhagat


Beyond the Computer – Gabriel Pickard

APP.lying Software: A Reader-List Discussion – edit + design Are Flågan

“No Other Hand will Scratch My Back”: Interview with Arash Zeini – Ravikant

Indic, Especially Hindi, Computing: An Index of Choices – Ravikant

Jal Chitra: Water Map – Software for Rural Water Management – Vikram Vyas

The (Copylefted) Source Code for the Ethical Production of Information Freedom – Biella Coleman

The Ghost in the Machine: The Legal Capture of Technology – Lawrence Liang


Technology, Trust and Terror – Langdon Winner

Social Sorting in the Early 21st Century: Video Surveillance and Governance – Volker Eick

Resistance is Futile: Peer-to-Peer File Sharing and Big Media – Robert X. Cringely

The ‘Darknet’ & ‘Trusted Computing’ – Rana Dasgupta

Free as in Air: An Interview with Vortex – Saul Albert

The Language of Tactical Media – Joanne Richardson

Alternative Radio: A Personal Testimony – David Barsamian


The Concise Lexicon: Of / For the Digital Commons – Raqs Media Collective

The Wireless Commons Manifesto

A Hacker Manifesto: Version 5.7 – McKenzie Wark

Notes on Contributors