The Sarai Programme is committed to developing a public architecture for creating knowledge and creative communities. In keeping with this commitment, we seek to develop a community of scholars, writers and practitioners who are motivated to make the materials and outcome of research available for public access and circulation, with the understanding that an imaginative engagement with social experience will be best fostered by a sharing of information, ideas, research materials and resources. We see our system of Short Term Research Projects as a resource that will be built on by many people working whether individually or in groups, but with a sense of collective endeavour and public purpose.
The Call for Proposals for the Short Term Research Projects in Social and Digital Media attracted over 75 applications from all over the country, and it took a careful scrutiny of all the applications to reach our decision. We received applications from scholars as well as practitioners, young researchers and older, and proposals looked at a wide range of themes. The applications testify to an emerging research interest in developments in the last decade, as researchers and practitioners strive to reflect on the contemporary histories and techno-material practices opened by social media in India. Due to limited resources, we were unable to support many interesting proposals. We encourage those interested in the field to keep track of lectures and workshops and other work Sarai is planning to develop in the area of social media.
Please see below excerpts from selected proposals for this year’s Short Term Research Projects in Social Media.
Circulation, Consumption and Construction of the Nineties Romantic Imagination: Afterlife of the Nineties Romantic Film Song in the Virtual Public Sphere
In this project, I am interested in observing the popularity of nineties romantic cinema and music across several internet media streams such as video sharing platforms, online radio music channels, nineties fan sites and lists in order to map the registers of popular memory, affect and pleasure that mark an emerging cultural afterlife of this decade of Hindi cinema.
Imago Aevitas: Engagement with Net Art Projects
Imago Aevitas is a research project aimed at understanding the changing implications of web- based artistic projects. The research will analyse (inter)net art projects to draw together the changing image aesthetics in digital technology as well the participatory nature of these projects. The intention of the research is to be able to analyse the contemporary net art projects in order to bring into focus the conditions of living in the post-digital age.
Khabar Lahariya: Rural Empowerment Goes Digital
In May 2002, a New Delhi-based NGO ‘Nirantar’ began India’s first-of-its’s-kind, rural newspaper ‘Khabar Lahariya’ from Bundelkhand district of Uttar Pradesh. Their self- proclaimed aim is to bring rural women into the sphere of journalism, information and technology. In this project, I intend to look into the transformative impact the internet has had on the rural landscape. As my case study I would look into the working of ‘Khabar Lahariya’ and how internet helped to further its cause. This includes exploring the use of media in the region and the news gathering process of the newspaper prior to the introduction of internet. I also aim to document the personal stories of its reporters, most of who come from underprivileged backgrounds, changes in their lives and the way they report. Since the stories by the newspaper have created an impact and helped raise and solve issues concerning villagers, the perception of the villagers towards the newspaper is worth exploring and so is the attitude and views of the administration. It is also interesting to note what men of the region think about an all-women newspaper. Lastly, I will explore the possibilities of similar initiatives in other rural areas of India.
Forensics and Truth Labs
Other than being a platform of internet mediated community experiences, social media today has become the site of fierce battles over consumer data, intellectual property rights and private records. Even as the terms of these debates are still forming, websites like Twitter, Myspace, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Youtube and Web 2.0 have become repositories of evidence in criminal proceedings involving individual users, corporations and governments. Further, there is a worldwide proliferation of litigation where these social networking sites are themselves infringing the privacy of their own users. This project will unpack the questions of crime and evidence via cyber forensics. It will look at two major sites-A government helmed agency, The Central Forensic Science Laboratory and a conglomerate of private forensic labs, ‘The Truth Labs’- with the aim of tracing the methodologies through which digital data and information from internet based media is surveyed and presented as evidence.
Lovely* Interfaces: The Many Lives of the Item Number in Social and Digital Media
I propose to trace the life of the item number through social and digital media and the affective landscape transmitted through multiple interfaces (Galloways, 2012). Item numbers travel through an intricate media network of ringtones, digital star posters as wallpapers on personal gadgets, live shows telecast on television and recorded and sold on DVDs or buffered on YouTube, iTunes, apps and the online portals as the item number effect. In the process, digital and social media’s interaction with the item creates a haptic sensorium for the spectator/user producing a feedback loop between the production economy of the film industry and the fan community
Law’s Role in Development of the Internet
I propose to study the relationship between law and the development of internet as a technology. Early pioneers like John Perry Barlow saw the internet as the beginning of a new world, away from the power of States and something whose very architecture resists the application of legal and regulatory frameworks to the medium. Since those heady days, the understanding that internet like any other media, can be shaped and governed by law has made an incursion into popular minds thanks to the work of scholars like Lawrence Lessig, Jonathan Zittrain and many others. Today as jurisdictions around the world deliberate governance frameworks for this new media, it is well understood that there is nothing “inherently ungovernable” about the internet, as was thought earlier. My proposal hopes to add to this understanding by analysing the mechanisms through which law understands the internet.