The Politics of Information: Access, Excess and Articulation

Ms. Tripta Chandola
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Availability of newer technologies with their inherent potential to permit non-hierarchical, inhibited participation has led to a utopian frenzy about the democratizing impact of these technologies as well as the empowering influence of the information(s) accessed through these. In the recent years, the discourse of ICT4D has prominently focused on the need to make available information(s) to the masses by adopting innovative and existing channels and technologies. `Access’ to `information(s)’ has become the new mantra to create and sustain new democracies. The paper will discuss the practices and politics of creation, circulation and articulation of information in the local context. It will address the questions of, what constitutes information in a particular context. What are the detrimental factors in the construction as well as consumption of information? What factors determine the articulation and appropriation of information across individuals, groups and communities in a specific context? What are the social, cultural, economic and political influences in the same? What are the communication tactics and patterns within the context? What (and how) are the technologies employed to do so? Who controls these channels? Does access equitably translate into articulation? It will also examine the `excess’ issue. By `excess’, it is implied the presences of information(s) circulated through the varied technologies but not consumed in the immediate and effective communicative ecologies. The question of inquiry will be, is the presence of the `excess’ zone symptomatic of potential means of access and articulation to evolve or alternatively does it suggest stagnation and contestations within these means and channels? The paper intends to make the point that technology, formal and informal, is not a neutral entity situated within the power hierarchies of the local contexts and therefore, the access and articulation of information through these has to be evaluated within the politics of control.

Keywords: Ethnography, Development Communication, Politics of Access, Control of Information
Stream: Knowledge and Technology
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Ms. Tripta Chandola

Doctoral Candidate & Research Associate, Queensland University of Technology

Presently, I am associated with the Queensland University of Technology as a research associate on a DFID funded project, `Emerging Technologies In the South’ and a Doctoral Candidate in media and cultural studies faculty. For the last five years, I have been extensively working across research organizations around issues of urban and technological cultures. Prior to undertaking this research project I was affiliated with Sarai,, where I was involved in the research of everyday life of technologies and the cultures of copying. I undertook research of the `Free Software’ cultures in India. Part of my eagerness to articulate the circulation and consumption of
technological cultures in everyday led me to Nehru Place where I was looking at piracy networks and the second hand hardware networks. However, the persona of Nehru Place was too stark to ignore and I extended my research to understanding the urban-cultural spaces in Nehru Place, its history and the markings in the present. Nerhu Place is, indeed, a very dynamic space where the policies (both at the local and global levels) regarding creation of new urban-public spaces, technologies and the globalization processes have an immediate and effective impact with digressing and diverging articulations in the
everyday. My research interests involve technological cultures, ICT4D within the globalization discourse, city spaces and urban cultures. I am particularly keen on exploring the materiality of sites (technologies and urban scapes) through intensive ethnographic research.

Ref: T06P0018