The Digitized Imagination: Encounters with the Virtual World 9780415492867, 9780203150634

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The Digitized Imagination: Encounters with the Virtual World
 9780415492867, 9780203150634

Table of contents :
The Digitized Imagination
List of Figure and Photographs
1 A Brief History of the Internet from the 15th to the 18th Century
2 The Cut and Thrust of Eisenstein’s Montage
3 Academics v. the Rest: Some Questions around the Issue of Plagiarism
4 Inventive Science: The Question of Ethics
5 Whose DNA Is It, Anyway? Expanding DNA Databanks Raise Human Rights Concerns
6 ‘Thank You for Saving Hindus’: Refl ections on Hindu Hatred in the Digital Age
7 The New Politics of the New Media
8 Bebo-ing the South Seas: From Tin Cans to the Internet in the Pacific
9 Weaving an India with Mailing Lists
10 Digital Dreams
11 Architecture in the Era of Digital Imagination
12 Technological Ruins: A Short Essay
13 Nehru Place, or Why the Whole is More than the Sum of its Parts
14 End of Technological Innocence
15 ‘Domasticating’ Technology
About the Editor
Notes on Contributors

Citation preview

The Digitized Imagination

ii ? The Digitized Imagination

The Digitized Imagination

Editor Nalini Rajan


First published 2009 by Routledge 912–915 Tolstoy House, 15–17 Tolstoy Marg, New Delhi 110 001

Simultaneously published in the UK by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, OX14 4RN

Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business

© 2009 Nalini Rajan

Typeset by Star Compugraphics Private Limited D–156, Second Floor Sector 7, Noida 201 301

Printed and bound in India by Sanat Printers 312, EPIP, Kundli Sonepat 131 028, Haryana

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the publishers.

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-0-415-49286-7

Contents List of Figure and Photographs




Introduction Nalini Rajan


1. A Brief History of the Internet from the 15th to the 18th Century Lawrence Liang 2. The Cut and Thrust of Eisenstein’s Montage Sashi Kumar 3. Academics v. the Rest: Some Questions around the Issue of Plagiarism Arvind Sivaramakrishnan 4. Inventive Science: The Question of Ethics Vijaya Swaminath

15 36

43 56

5. Whose DNA Is It, Anyway? Expanding DNA Databanks Raise Human Rights Concerns 67 Sujatha Byravan 6. ‘Thank You for Saving Hindus’: Reflections on Hindu Hatred in the Digital Age Subarno Chattarji 7. The New Politics of the New Media Yuk Hui 8. Bebo-ing the South Seas: From Tin Cans to the Internet in the Pacific Michael Field 9. Weaving an India with Mailing Lists Frederick Noronha 10. Digital Dreams Baradwaj Rangan

75 90

102 115 123

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11. Architecture in the Era of Digital Imagination A. Srivathsan


12. Technological Ruins: A Short Essay Ravi Sundaram


13. Nehru Place, or Why the Whole is More than the Sum of its Parts Aman Sethi


14. End of Technological Innocence Subramanya Sastry


15. ‘Domasticating’ Technology Subashree Krishnaswamy


About the Editor Notes on Contributors Index

165 166 169

List of Figure and Photographs Figure 7.1:

Paul Baran’s Concept of Three Forms of Network in His 1964 Essay


Photo 11.1: Architecture by Vijay Vivek Shankar, St Mark’s Street, Bangalore


Photo 11.2: The Morphogenesis Building, Gurgaon


Acknowledgements I owe a special debt of gratitude to Omita Goyal and Nilanjan Sarkar for giving me the opportunity to work on a sequel to my edited volume, Digital Culture Unplugged: Probing the Native Cyborg’s Multiple Locations, published by Routledge in 2007. I also wish to thank all my contributors for helping me to better understand the various dimensions of digital culture. In particular, I am grateful to Sashi Kumar for allowing me to use in this volume a slightly modified version of his article which appeared in Frontline, Volume 24, Issue 24, December 8–21, 2007, under the title ‘Cinema: Lasting Images’. Nalini Rajan

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Introduction Nalini Rajan

Has the internet changed the way we look at the world? Or does it merely extend our earlier cultural patterns? To find answers to these questions, our forays into the digital world may be compared with other kinds of explorations in the past. Indeed, there are many similarities between 16th-century seafarers’ journeys into the unknown and our own attempts to enter cyberspace. To begin with, four hundred–odd years ago, mariners had very sketchy maps to study and, therefore, little sense of where they were headed on long sea-bound voyages. Today, many of us are equally ‘lost’ with our cyber maps composed in arcane script by UNIX and Java programmers. Those seamen’s discoveries changed the way Europeans and Americans viewed the world; our information superhighway is changing the world of knowledge as we know it. Now that scholarship has opened up digitally, those of us who live in the southern hemisphere have little need to travel to the west for research work in libraries, thanks to the availability of JSTOR on the internet. The internet today operates at many levels, and if we ignore this new technology, some would say we do so at our own peril. The simple question is: Exactly what makes the new media ‘new’? The answer, however, is not so simple. The reason for this is that the new media is neither fundamentally different from nor fundamentally the same as the old media. For instance, search engines are analogous to libraries, e-mail is similar to snail-mail, chat rooms are coffee houses or parks, product-based sites are markets, and downloadable music, games and movies function as theatres and entertainment halls. A few comparisons across time will help us understand the nature of the new digital media. How was study conducted in the old times? We know that the ancient Egyptians and Vedic Brahmins committed long passages to memory and chanted or recited them. Clearly, rote learning was an acquired art. When we learned to write, this ability was lost to some extent. The loss was near complete, with the discovery of the printing press in the 15th century. Nevertheless, there were many gains as well for humanity with the expansion of this new print

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technology. Manuscripts—on palm-leaves and on parchment— previously chained to libraries could now be multiplied endlessly. With the advent of digital technology, reproduction became even more efficient and time-saving. But first, it is important to get rid of the binary opposition of the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ media. There is a tendency for visual communication or new media theorists to draw a facile parallel between visual grammar and verbal grammar and to claim that visual literacy, owing to its so-called holistic character, is better than verbal literacy. The truth is that the new media and the literacies they require are hybrid forms. Therefore, it is important to discard simplistic binaries and embrace the notion of dialogic relationships. In other words, writing—whether on parchment or paper or on a computer screen—is a combination of various activities, since it involves verbal, spatial and visual elements. Second, as already mentioned, the old and the new media are neither radically different nor radically the same. There is such a thing as the mutability of a narrative, whether it is on the printed page or on a digitally recorded disk. This is not to deny some intrinsic differences between print culture and digital culture. In the latter, there is fragmentation, juxtapositioning and interweaving of images and texts. Some may even argue that the linearity of the printed or written text on paper is eroded with the use of hypertext and hyperlinks. The digital page is not fixed, but mutable; its margins expand slightly on the left. What we see here is a complex web of texts and interaction, and a non-linear hypertextual form by using multiple frames, linking strategies and multimedia. A digital image or sound is nothing more than a sequence of ones and zeros stored in a computer. There is continuity between the old and the new media, and the web page inherits the cultural assumptions about ordering a page in a specific way on the basis of the history of print culture. A web page’s non-hierarchical depth, multidimensionality and screen space renders it transparent. It defamiliarizes the audience’s experiences with reading and writing conventions by drawing explicit and playful attention to the discontinuities and the continuities between older and newer forms of reading, writing and viewing information. From the grand architecture of the cathedral or temple to the material or digital library, human beings have adopted different kinds of technology to realize their highest aspirations. Each of

Introduction ? 3

these different levels—architecture, books, cyberspace—is vivid and interactive. It is not difficult to imagine how 16th-century European scholars and teachers must have felt when they saw their beautifully calligraphed manuscripts replaced by uniform, printed books, because a similar kind of trauma is experienced by those who lament the so-called death of the book with the rise of the internet today. Such fears are misplaced, because no technology completely replaces another; rather, it has a symbiotic relationship to its predecessors. In truth, the computer, as a storage device, has relieved us of the burden of keeping the great wealth of human knowledge in the mind or on paper. In earlier times, only a limited fund of knowledge could be stored on paper or in memory. In our digital age, the computer helps us re-conceptualize our relation to knowledge and to organize it, instead of merely accumulating it. Those among us who are suspicious of unlimited technological innovation will ask: Does the computer enhance that which makes us human? The answer is: Yes, it does, up to a point, by transmitting culture to others more efficiently than in earlier times. Examining the transition from the ‘broadly knowledgeable’ 16th-century scholar in, say, literature, to today’s specialist in linguistics, we find that the fantastic speed of knowledge growth also implies that we know less and less of the whole, with each succeeding era. The multidisciplinary minds of Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Rabindranath Tagore are perhaps a thing of the past. As individuals, we can no longer appropriate a cohesive body of knowledge across disciplines. Instead, the computer does it for us. There is, however, a very interesting dimension to the way in which the computer does it for us. We know that the human mind organizes knowledge by association. The problem with the traditional encyclopaedia or indexing method is that words or ideas are catalogued in alphabetical order and not by association. For example, the word ‘blood’ will be classified under the letter ‘b’. But the human mind looks at the idea of blood not alphabetically, but by association with, say, a road accident or a surgical procedure or a gynaecological problem. And that is exactly what the computer search engine does for us. It sorts out hundreds and thousands of contexts and associations connected with the word ‘blood’. In short, the new media may not be all that new, but related to age-old processes in the human brain.

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This idea finds resonance in this volume in at least two contributions—one by Sashi Kumar and the other by Lawrence Liang. In his chapter, Sashi Kumar demonstrates how Sergei Eisenstein’s cinema in the 1920s uses montage—or the juxtaposition of diverse shots—to evoke different kinds of mental associations in the viewer, and how this style anticipates the digital techniques of cinema in the latter part of the 20th century. Lawrence Liang’s chapter focuses on the debate on the indexing of words and ideas in the old and the new media, that is to say, between the printed ‘Authority of Knowledge’ and the web-based Wikipedia. He examines the Encyclopaedia Brittanica v. Wikipedia controversy, by revisiting the early history of the book and the print revolution to argue that the Authority of Knowledge that one presumes for Britannica is not something that is inherent to it. In fact, the early history of the book is filled with conflicts around the questions of how one could rely on something as being authoritative knowledge and what conditions enabled the establishment of the book as a stable object of knowledge. Finally, the chapter argues that it might be more useful to think of ‘Authority of Knowledge’ not as an intrinsic feature but as a transient one. If indeed both authority and knowledge are ephemeral, and there is no such thing as a canon or a classic, what happens to the aura of a work of art today? The work of art in the age of digital reproduction is physically and formally chameleon-like. Digital art—video, audio or photography—can be endlessly produced without degradation; it is always the same, always perfect. The same is true for handmade images or works that can be scanned. Potentially, then, the reader or the viewer is also the author. With digital technologies, the sacred line between the original and the fake has eroded to such an extent, that there is actually an art gallery in New York called True Fakes, Ltd. It would seem that critical theory in our digital age emphasizes mind rather than matter. The actual work of art may have lost its aura, but the discussions around it certainly have not. Pedagogy, therefore, acquires added significance in the digital age. Even in the case of teaching art history, for example, the better and more efficient reproduction of art work is a plus point in terms of pedagogical practice. Each technological advance has helped in this process, from the large lantern slides of the 1940s and 1950s to the development of 35 mm slides, and now, with the internet, in the reproduction of the contents of museums. In theory, every museum

Introduction ? 5

and gallery of the world is opened with a click of the mouse—signally a veritable Magic Classroom. In practice, of course, there may be practical difficulties even with this kind of ‘open sesame’ technology, like limited disk space, slow machines, even slower networks, and copyright issues. But looking at the larger matter of good pedagogical practice in the digitized classroom, we are informed that the following principles prevail—interactivity, mediation, active learning, and collaborative learning. Students who shy away from in-class participation are often active in computer-mediated discussions, which capture discussion and writing elements. With more time on hand and the ability to access graphics and frames, the students’ written online assignments turn out to be more organized and complex than oral discussions in the face-to-face classroom. Moreover, the students learn to write better through peer review. The exercise of working on an essay offers students interactive and multisensory experience, where colour, shape and text combine. Much of the teaching in a digital classroom or of digital media is really selfteaching. We may be changing how we teach and what students learn. In short, the digital classroom allows for active constructions of knowledge, and gives both teachers and students a sense of agency and possibilities for interactive involvement. All the same, there are several drawbacks in this process. Computer-mediated interaction lacks the spatial, physical and temporal cues that are present in all face-to-face communication. Since there is too much dependence on texts in this pedagogy, there is obviously less clarity for students. In the context of developing societies, there are problems of the digital divide and the costs involved in the production of a virtual classroom. And in all societies, there are perennial dangers of students with PCs checking e-mail, playing or surfing the internet within the classroom. Above all, as Arvind Sivaramakrishnan informs us, there is the bogey of plagiarism facing students and teachers, given the instant access to all kinds of information on the internet. Sivaramakrishnan examines a wide array of possible responses by teachers and teaching establishments to plagiarism, and informs us of the superiority of adopting the preventive or educative response over punitive measures, on the part of instructors, when confronted with plagiarism in the classroom.

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To establish a balanced rhetorical approach, we must offer students experiences both in the analytical process of critiquing, which scrutinizes conventional expectations and power relations, and in the transformation process of design, which can change power relations by creating a new vision of knowledge. We can become active producers of knowledge, when designing digital documents, and also see how people use and interpret them. Whenever students look at artefacts such as online games or websites, we can begin by teaching them to ‘read’ critical assumptions about gender, age, nationality, or other identity categories. In other words, the curriculum for the 21st century should teach us new cultures of information, namely, how to use knowledge, and not necessarily how to accumulate it. The next two chapters in this collection are written by scientists about scientists—that is, about those who use knowledge supposedly to benefit humanity. For men and women of science, there is simply the pleasure of opening nature’s secrets, breaking seemingly impossible codes and fitting together small pieces in the giant mosaic of life’s jigsaw. This is the presupposition. Vijaya Swaminath points out that in reality the scientist’s motivation to open nature’s secrets appears to be in direct proportion to the quantum of money and fame to be gained at the end of the process. The bigger the prize, the higher the motivation—at any cost! It would seem, then, that it is not only students in schools or colleges who succumb to the temptation of plagiarism or of cooking up results; scientists do not lag far behind. If we take the dictionary definition of ‘fraud’—intentional deception for gain—there have been some interesting examples of this phenomenon in the history of science. In this digital era, fraud has taken on a new dimension, and science can be ‘done’ with a computer and the right software. With current technology and ‘An Idiot’s Guide to Everything’ manual, discoveries can be invented at the stroke of a key. This is sure to excite the most modest of the criminally inclined, for the gains are plenty—what with millions pouring into research from industry and other vested interests. But science is not all bad, and not all scientists are frauds— thankfully! Applied science and embodied technology, like prosthetic limbs, pacemakers and hearing aids, render the image of technology beneficial, not terrifying. Within medical cyborg technologies, these prosthetics seek to restore—or even enhance—human potential. This is in sharp contrast to the terror of the non-human cyborg that

Introduction ? 7

is perpetrated in some of contemporary science fiction Hollywood cinema. Actually, the myth of the cyborg—in what is now dubbed as ‘posthuman feminism’—blurs several of the intermediary boundaries between the human and the non-human, the human and the machine. Posthumanism views the body as the original prosthesis we all learn to manipulate, so that extending or replacing the body with other prostheses is in continuation of pre-natal processes. What is human in us is seamlessly articulated with intelligent machines, as perceived in corrective or even cosmetic surgery. Much as there is to marvel, there are fresh dangers to be wary of in the new digitized science. According to Sujatha Byravan, the development of computer and internet technologies has led to the increasing ability to store large amounts of data in very small-sized computer chips. These changes, quite predictably, have resulted in the gathering and storage of ever larger amounts of personal information such as medical records, family history and genetic data. Byravan’s chapter raises concerns related particularly to the storage of and access to genetic information. How will medical and genetic information be protected from ‘information miners’ and what are the consequences for insurance, hiring and promotions when our privacy is breached? When DNA information from minorities makes its way into other kinds of information reservoirs such as databanks for criminal investigations and for immigration, the impact on our civil rights can be devastating. What limits, if any, should we place on the expansion of DNA databanks and what policies should we devise in order to protect privacy and prevent discrimination? These are some of the questions discussed in this chapter. Since the1650s, the idea of the individual having a single coherent identity has gained currency in European thought. And it was in the late 1880s that the right to privacy was articulated as part of the general discourse on human rights. To this day, privacy continues to be seen as having an important social function for the spiritual and personal development of individual and family. Of course, the guiding image of the fear of surveillance and the need for privacy is the Benthamite Panopticon, where all is visible from a central point.1 In our digital age, the fear of the Panopticon is based on an authoritarian image of the computer as a large, expensive and technologically complex machine accessible only to a few. No doubt, since the early 1980s, there have been changes in the surveillance image of the computer, given the proliferation of inexpensive computers in most parts of the world today.

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Nevertheless, the creation of data profiles—not just in the field of science—violates privacy, especially in the context of post-9/11 America. We are concerned about the online safety of children, who are apt to take things at face value without considering the possibility of verifying them. Critical distance and discrimination are denied to the under-aged and the immature among us. Now that the seamless merging of television and internet is possible, with the use of a digital set-top box, the dangers have multiplied, along with the opportunities. The unique nature of the internet—fluid, non-linear, interactive—makes it difficult to describe or proscribe its contents. There is a tendency to consider individuals—as seen by bank officers, credit card companies, local pizza companies, et al.— as mere ‘puppets’, as digital images lacking the reality inherent in the ‘real me’. But to see them thus is, necessarily, to be misled. In our age, even in the real, non-virtual world, individuals do have fragmented personalities. And on the internet, people live nothing but fragmented lives. Our virtual identities (called ‘avatars’) restrict us to on-and-off positions. Once we begin to understand that these digital individuals are talking for us and representing us, we shall see that they are very much like the fragmented parts of ourselves that we present in our so-called real lives. But our fragmented selves—individuals digitized—cease to exist when we leave the mall or restaurant or bank. We are the authors of our admittedly fragmented lives, and the information industry acts as editors and publishers of those virtual identities. It is time that we moved away from individualist bias and placed the individual in the social context. The citizen subject in Europe came into being not only as an emanation of the Cartesian idea—‘I think, therefore I am’—but also in the social context of massive political transformation. The name given to the political subject constituted in cyberspace, in contrast to the citizen of the nation-state, is ‘netizen’. Netizens are multiple, dispersed, virtual—and they stop existing when the computer is switched off. They resemble neither the autonomous agent of citizenship that is the offshoot of print capitalism, nor the identity of postmodernity, the by-product of the broadcast media. The political formation of the netizen brings forth a humanity that is beholden to machines. That is why we talk of humans as ‘cyborgs’— part human, part machine—in the digital age. The information

Introduction ? 9

society is a post-industrial society, and the relationship of people to the world is progressively governed by digitalization. The body in cyberspace is immortal. In this digital world of social technology, we have moved on from having biological cats and dogs in the household to Tamagotchi toys and virtual pets, from experiencing face-to-face relationships to cyberdating, and from conducting activities like classroom debates and discussions to e-mail and chatrooms, where reality has been superseded by cyberspace. Not everyone sees the real and the virtual worlds in the form of a continuum. For some, the virtual world offers more intimacy after the initial rites de passage of anonymity than in the real face-to-face world of social interaction. Since the internet includes text and images, it enhances communication as digital exchange between multiple recipients and multiple emitters. For others, there is a flip side to the internet era. Virtual technology erodes urban culture, and perpetrates a crisis of visibility for humans, as communication is confined from computer to computer, modem to modem. Thus, the difference between the real and the virtual is eroded and the tactile is replaced by the digital. What is more, the internet co-opts knowledge and deskills people or stunts their basic social skills. It enhances or promotes the status quo and existing socio-political groups. In fact, in the past decade or so, we have seen many new types of political movements unique to the net. Subarno Chattarji’s chapter looks at the ways in which internet message boards reflect right-wing Hindu hatred in certain contexts, particularly vis-à-vis Pakistan. Two specific events—the Gujarat riots of 2002 and the killing of Nawab Bugti in August 2006—are the primary focus of this chapter. The new media, such as the internet, has enabled modes of query and discussion that are unavailable in mainstream print and television. Protests against war and injustice have been empowered by the virtual communities created over the internet. As Chattarji informs us, the intertwining of technology and conservatism is both fascinating and dangerous on the net. The sites under consideration are instrumental in the construction of Hindus as ‘victims’ and Pakistan (or ‘Papistan’ or ‘site of sin’ as one participant put it) as the perennial and irreconcilable enemy. Thus, it would seem that while violence is implicit in any act of representation, through de-contextualization and miniaturization, it is particularly so in the context of the new media. Like the telephone, radio and TV, the internet deterritorializes exchanges, by extracting

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them from bodily location. The postmodern theorist, Jacques Lacan, referred to ‘floating signifiers’, or ‘empty signifiers’, whereby the act of representation is unhinged, owing to the de-linking of word and meaning, of object to referent. In short, no word has a fixed meaning. In the anchorless, ‘postmodern’ virtual world, words can mean completely different things, depending on whether you are looking at an Indian or a Pakistani site, at an Israeli or a Palestinian site, at an American or an Iraqi site. Carrying the instabilities implicit in Lacanian floating signifiers one step further, information technologies create ‘flickering signifiers’— that is, a tendency towards metamorphosis and dispersions (Hayles 2005). The flickering signifier is similar to Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s 1987 random ontological system of the ‘rhizome’. What is a rhizome? In botany, a rhizome is a horizontal stem of a plant that is usually found underground, like ginger or turmeric, often sending out roots and shoots from its nodes. In philosophy, the term ‘rhizome’ is used to describe theory and research that allows for multiple, non-hierarchical and horizontal entry and exit points in data representation and interpretation. This is unlike the model of the tree, which works with vertical and linear connections. A rhizome, in the case of the internet, consists of a system in which an infinite number of connections are possible. Unlike binary systems that are limited to dualistic configurations, those of the rhizome are multi-centric. Thus, the rhizome functions as a mapping system that provides multiple trajectories that are continually drawn and redrawn as its terrain is being negotiated. Like Jean Baudrillard’s concept of the flaneur, the ‘cyborg’ travels through multiple metaphorical spaces or rhizomes as it negotiates meaning between different subjectivities.2 Yuk Hui’s chapter argues—against Chattarji’s—that the internet can be more liberating in political terms than the real world. If there is the politics of representation in the traditional domain of politics, then the internet is opening up a new terrain of politics which provides an alternative form of resistance. This chapter also aims to explore the strategic importance of this politics in the context of despotic politics practised by nation-states or religious institutional heads. An excellent illustration of virtual politics subverting the politics of the real is to be found in the story of Bishop Jacques Gaillot of France. Bishop Gaillot was seen as a thorn in the flesh of the Vatican,

Introduction ? 11

owing to his socio-political activities in his French diocese. The result was Bishop Gaillot’s ‘punishment posting’ as Bishop of Partenia in the mid-1990s. Partenia currently lies underneath about 100 meters of sand near the edge of the Great Western Erg in northern Algeria and has not been inhabited since the 8th century A.D. Although there might be no living resident within the geographical confines of Partenia, on the World Wide Web, Partenia has become a virtual diocese, with Gaillot ministering to any and all who tapped the hypertext link The internet’s post-national political forms owing to its internal architecture and its new register of time and space are discussed in Michael Field’s contribution to this volume. Moving information around the tiny and isolated island nations of the South Pacific has been hit-and-miss, involving little more than the exchange of gossip to formalized but slow systems of mail, sometimes set adrift on the ocean in tin cans. Today, points out Field, the internet has suddenly ended the isolation, but created new political and social tensions. For example, rural families in far-flung Fiji villages can keep in touch with sons working as mercenaries on Iraq’s front lines, while anonymous bloggers may attack their country’s military regime from the safety of another country. Throughout the South Pacific, local newspapers, without access to international wire services for decades, now plunder the internet for news, ignoring copyright, but opening the world to their readers. Much of it is dross and scandalmongering, but global ideas on environment, women’s rights and health care are reaching across Pacific atolls and islands in a way they have never done before. The early results are mixed, according to Field, but worthwhile, all the same. Each area of the internet, from e-mail to chatrooms to Multiuser Object-Oriented Space (MOOs) to web pages to electronic discussion lists to databases, contains its own forms of hierarchy and control, manipulations and risks. Frederick Noronha’s chapter looks at the positive side of the internet by informing us of cheap and effective ways of weaving information networks, with mailing lists, across developing countries like India. Straining against the fragmented logic of a postmodern age, the internet promises new connectivity and a new unity. This promise is nowhere else as potent as it is in the world of cinema, which became the fourth largest industry in the world by the 1990s. The new Hollywood product is a multimedia

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marketing concept spearheaded by the theatrical exhibition of massively promoted blockbusters. This has engendered a weakened differentiation between the film and the viewer and opened up new possibilities for thinking about films, especially in relation to the human body. The movie is always in the viewer’s bodily present. As a technological artefact, the cinematographe is, arguably, a prosthetic apparatus. Digital media will further increase levels of cine literacy and cultivate an appetite for new movies, as well as oblige us to reconsider the importance of our film history. According to Baradwaj Rangan, digital technology today, whether we are referring to digital filmmaking or simply DVDs, is being discussed with ever-increasing fervour. It is seen as a tool that could influence the making of feature films as well as their distribution. The implications of digital moviemaking are especially significant in a cinematic culture which is notoriously dependent on the star system, for it could allow younger filmmakers to create niche products for niche markets, without worrying about the insurance of big names to bring in the audiences. Digital filmmaking is still in its infancy in India, but with an increasing number of youngsters out to make The Great Indian Multiplex Movie, there is no way to go but up. Now, with the availability of projecting cinema on mobile phones, we find that digital media reception and spectatorship are not equal to their analogue counterparts. But it is important to retain our analogue memories even as we rush to embrace our digital dreams. Digital image processing is precisely focused not on the paradox of the ‘still here’—that is, the still image of a moment in movement recorded to be remembered with its flow and continuity—but on the substitution of digits, generating decisive alterations through colour adjustments, filtering, rescaling, and various special effects. Consequently, the emphasis now is not on memory but on calculation. Before digital imaging, monsters or creatures of fantasy lacked a certain level of visual credibility. Now they are more sophisticated and potent, and thus weigh more heavily on our psyche. The digital world is curiously becoming a standard for measuring and evaluating the real world. This process has pervaded everywhere, particularly in the applied arts and sciences. A. Srivathsan’s chapter informs us that architecture has gained new dimensions in cyberspace. He informs us that the beginning of the millennium was a symbolic moment for a few architects in India to turn around, reflect and also simultaneously speculate the

Introduction ? 13

future. Their location within fast-changing, globalizing networked cities provided the physical context for their speculation on how digital imagination influences the conception of a future space. Is there a technological inevitability—a sort of new digital zeitgeist to such ideas? Does technology contribute to the specificity of new imagination or free it from its location? These are the main concerns of this chapter and the writer keeps his options open as far as the future of Indian architecture is concerned. All the same, by the 1990s, city dwellers in India experienced a veritable torrent of images and sensations, the likes of which had not been seen in the post-independence era. With economic liberalization, unending waves of new commodified technological objects entered markets, homes and offices. Ravi Sundaram’s chapter examines the status of the new digital landscape of the city of Delhi. In a similar vein, Aman Sethi discusses the modalities of the grey market for computers in Delhi. In his engaging chapter, Sethi informs us how the resellers of computers defy the logic of the closed-box approach and demystify the technology to such an extent that users can actually make informed consumer choices. By pricing each component of the computer separately, the resellers demonstrate the market truth that the whole invariably costs more than the sum of the parts. What is more, the better the assembling of the parts, the less the time spent on it. Time is, indeed, constitutive of the digital experience. The subjective experience of time online is most distinctively marked by the obsessional quality of time spent logged on. It is a little like the situation with microwave ovens: suddenly two minutes is an unbearable amount of time to wait for dinner. A visit to a virtual museum is no longer about space, about the art objects themselves, but about time or the activity of the online visit. As each artefact is slowly downloaded, we wait patiently, and when the job is completed, we marvel at it for barely a second and click off, without looking at the picture itself. The process is the product, and the process holds our fascination. The online junkie’s fascination lies just there. Subramanya Sastry’s chapter discusses his own early fascination with fifth-generation computers, computer programming and artificial intelligence, and his later technological disenchantment with what is essentially an interactive medium. Why did the magic cease?

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His chapter is an attempt to grapple with that disenchantment and to emphasize the need for caution when dealing with any advanced interactive technology. Sastry’s disenchantment with technology is similar to that which has guided much of feminist technology studies. These studies have examined the very processes by which technology is developed and those by which gender is constituted, and women are incorporated ‘downstream’. Gendering does not begin and end with design and manufacturing of microwave ovens or pap-smear technologies by male engineers; domestic technologies are also encoded with gendered meanings during their marketing, retailing and appropriation by users, usually women. The last chapter in this collection by Subashree Krishnaswamy—appropriately enough—has a humorous take on the way (mostly) women food bloggers rap technology on its knuckles, cut it down to size, and reduce it into crisp digestible bytes. And that certainly changes the way the world looks at the internet.

Notes 1. The Panoptican is a prison building designed by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham in 1785. 2. Baudrillard’s flaneur is not a literal notion of a member of the Parisian bourgeoisie walking the streets of Paris and taking in its sights and sounds. It is a metaphor about our ability to negotiate the spaces of modernity, like commodification and patriarchy and so on, and to move on past its erosion to a postmodern or, in this case, a virtual state.

Reference Hayles, N. Katherine. 2005. My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.

1 A Brief History of the Internet from the 15th to the 18th Century Lawrence Liang∗ ‘If this absurd postulate were developed to its extreme logical consequences,’ he wonders, ‘what world would be created?’

Borges (1964: xi)

Technological innovations, particularly those affecting knowledge production, bring with them a new set of anxieties and concerns. The massive growth of Wikipedia as a collaborative encyclopaedia, which can be edited by anyone, has raised a number of concerns. These range from teachers who feel that it has become far easier for their students to do assignments via the helpful tool of copy and paste, to scholars and academics, who are worried about the accuracy and reliability of the information available on Wikipedia, to users who have doubts about the ‘Authority of Knowledge’ in a collaborative encyclopaedia (Venn 2006: 191–93). This chapter seeks to address the debate on the authority of knowledge vis-à-vis Wikipedia through a slightly different lens. Rather than addressing the concerns of knowledge brought through the emergence of ‘new media’, I would instead like to locate the emergence of the idea of the Authority of Knowledge itself, through a historical examination of ‘old media’. I will be looking at the early history of the book and the print revolution to argue that the Authority of Knowledge that one presumes for the book is not something that was inherent to it, and in fact the early history of the book is filled with conflicts around the question of how you could rely on a book as an artefact of authoritative knowledge. By examining the conditions that enabled the establishment of the book as a stable object of knowledge, I hope to take us back to a different way of thinking about Wikipedia and the debates on its authority. * This chapter was initially presented as a paper at the Wikimania conference at Taipei 2007, and I would like to acknowledge the lively discussion after the presentation which has helped me sharpen some of the arguments.

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Wikipedia and the Question of Authority The world of cyberspace can be roughly divided into two camps: those who swear by Wikipedia and those who swear at it. The camps have arisen, mainly because of differences of opinion on the trustworthiness of Wikipedia. The critics of Wikipedia argue that the task of creating an encyclopaedia should be left to experts, and that Wikipedia is nothing more than a collection of articles written by amateurs, which at its best can be informative, and at its worst, dangerous. The most commonly invoked comparison is that between the sacred cow of knowledge, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and the Wikipedia. Critics argue that while the Encyclopaedia Britannica is a source that has developed over centuries, with various experts contributing to it, the Wikipedia is a new kid on the knowledge block, and should be shunned. Some of the more infamous examples cited by such critics include the controversy over a hoax biography of John Seigenthaler, Sr, a well-known writer and journalist. A contributor had played a hoax suggesting that John Seigenthaler was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The post was not discovered and corrected until more than four months later. The incident raised questions about the reliability of Wikipedia and other online sites that lack the accountability of traditional news sites. After the incident, Wikipedia took steps to prevent a recurrence, including barring unregistered users from creating new pages. On the other hand, Nature published a study which claimed that the Wikipedia was as accurate as the Encyclopaedia Britannica, or rather that the Wikipedia contained as many errors as the Britannica.1 Members and users of Wikipedia have responded passionately to accusations that the Wikipedia is not reliable or trustworthy. These responses have been at the level of: z



Refutation (They argue using evidence that the Wikipedia is as reliable as the Britannica). Intentionality (They challenge the credibility of Britannica making these accusations since it has a vested interest in the monopoly over encyclopaedias, and it is threatened by the emergence of Wikipedia). Taking pragmatic steps towards improvement of the reliability of Wikipedia.

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Finally, they also argue that the advantages of a collaborative model of knowledge production like the Wikipedia lies in the fact that it has the ability to correct mistakes or adapt to changes in a way that older encyclopaedias like the Britannica cannot.

Predictably, the debate on the Authority of Knowledge question takes place within a rather sombre tone, whether it is the zealous monopoly over authority that the Encyclopaedia Britannica claims for itself, or the passionate defences of Wikipedians. What remains constant through the entire process is the fact that the idea of the Authority of Knowledge remains stable and unchallenged. I would like to take a slightly different track here, and try and see how we can rethink the question of the ‘Authority of Knowledge’ by revisiting the history of the book and of early print culture and look at the manner in which the idea of authority itself emerges. There is often an unstated assumption about the stability of the book as an object of knowledge, and Authority of Knowledge is spoken of in a value-neutral and ahistorical manner. It would, therefore, be useful to situate the Authority of Knowledge within a historical manner, where authority is not seen to be an inherent quality but a transitive one, and one whose history is located in specific technological changes.2 The technology of print and paper brought about a set of questions around the question of authority; in the same way, the domain of digital collaborative production of knowledge raises a set of questions and concerns. But can we impose the same Authority of Knowledge question that emerged over centuries in the case of print to a technology that is barely eight years old? In many ways the debate on Authority of Knowledge is similar to the older debate in philosophy between ethics and morality. Critics of morality such as Nietzsche demonstrated that the idea of morality often stemmed from very particular experiences rooted in the history of Christianity which were then narrated as universal experiences. But as Nietzsche noted, to do away with morality is not to be done with the question of ethics. In a similar vein, to think of the question of Authority of Knowledge and of fixity not as an inherent quality but as a transitive one is to recognize that questions of authority are rooted both in particular practices as well as technological forms, and it is not necessarily a question that exists as some kind of a priori. In the present case, the question of authority is framed around the difference between the familiar terms of the

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expert and the amateur, as well as between the forms of production; the digital v. paper and the collaborative form v. the single author mode of producing knowledge. By posing the question of Authority of Knowledge in absolute terms, we tend to flatten out many distinguishing factors that may actually exist—one of them being the temporal framework of the debate. We tend to forget that the domain of collaborative online production of knowledge is a relatively young field. While internet time may have collapsed temporality, we need to forfeit the conceit that we have arrived at the end of history. It may be more useful to think of the contemporary as an extremely fluid and ambiguous period, undoubtedly marked by immense possibilities—but we have not reached any settled phase yet. So if we are to make comparisons, then it is more useful to compare the contemporary period with another moment in history, which was marked by an equal fluidity. It is my contention that the early history of print culture or ‘print in the making’ and the conflicts over the Authority of Knowledge demonstrate that the authority question is an important one, but it is not a question that is unique to Wikipedia or the internet. And an examination of the conditions under which authority came to be established may help us get over our anxieties about authority, and better understand it with a certain lightness of being and perhaps deal with it better. I am relying on the incredible work done by scholars like Elizabeth Eisenstein, Hillel Schwartz, Adrian Johns, and Chaucer scholars to reconstruct the story of print, and hope to demonstrate the immense apparatus that is required for the making of authority (Darnton 1990; Eisenstein 1980; Johns 1998). While certainty and authority, the children of modernity, still claim a massive grip over our lives, every once in a while we are privy to delightful instances of uncertainty. The recent controversy and confusion over fake versions of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows being leaked on the internet constitute for me a delightful bridge between the pre-print moment and the digital moment, causing immense anxiety to those who live under the sign of authoritative knowledge.

Print Cultures and Fluidity of Knowledge There is a certain level of self-assuredness in the claim that the book makes upon the domain of knowledge. Most of us, for instance, know

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what a book is and can recognize its attributes when we see one, and we generally see it as an object of knowledge. We may disagree with specific books. Whether it satisfies the criterion of qualifying as knowledge or as an artefact, there is no disagreement on the idea of the book as a stable object of knowledge per se. However, it was certainly not always the case that books were considered to be a naturally reliable source of authority. According to Adrian Johns, who has written one of the most comprehensive histories of the book, ‘It was regarded as extremely unusual for a book professing knowledge—from lowly almanacs to costly folios—to be published in the relatively unproblematic manner that we now assume’ (Johns 1998: 30). In his important study on the various contests and battles over the emergence of the book as a reliable source of knowledge, we get a glimpse of the historical contours of the debate on the Authority of Knowledge. It is, therefore, important to study the history of print technology and the ways in which it changed the production and dissemination of knowledge, because it constitutes, in many ways, the ‘information revolution’ of human history. In an uncanny way, there are many similarities between the birth of the print revolution and the contemporary moment of the internet. We are by now familiar with some aspects of the story of the shift from scribal to print cultures. Reproduction of texts and cultural objects existed both in the world of Christendom and the Dar-ulIslam. In the west, medieval monks and notaries toiled away copying books, legal documents and contracts. In particular, the medieval notary played a crucial role in the emerging socio-legal relations of the emerging absolutist state. Hillel Schwartz, for instance, points out that while copying transforms the one into the many, notarizing transforms the private into the public and the transient into the timely. Thus, the notary has been a symbol of fixity in a world of flux (Schwartz 1996). During the pre-print period, the mode of reproduction of manuscripts is usually characterized as being full of mistakes and incredibly unreliable. This absence of certainty in the early history of the book was attributed to the mistakes made by scribes, who had to copy by hand over many hours and were prone to making mistakes, since there was no foolproof method of ensuring accuracy in their methods. There were equally many debates on the question of trustworthiness arising from the existence of many copies, all of which differed from each other. As Borges describes in his story, The Company,

20 ? Lawrence Liang Under the beneficent influence of the Company, our customs are saturated with chance . . . the scribe who writes a contract almost never fails to introduce some erroneous information. I myself, in this hasty declaration, have falsified some splendour, some atrocity. Perhaps, also, some mysterious monotony . . . our historians, who are the most penetrating on the globe, have invented a method to correct chance. It is well known that the operations of this method are (in general) reliable, although, naturally, they are not divulged without some portion of deceit. Furthermore, there is nothing so contaminated with fiction as the history of the Company. (Borges 1998: 101–6)

The historian Elizabeth Eisenstein suggests that with the coming of the print revolution, a ‘typographical fixity’ was imposed on the word. The sheer volume of the print revolution was incredible; between 1,450 and 1,500 more books had been printed than in the previous 500 years. There were 100,000 manuscripts in Europe in 1450 and by 1500, there were twenty million books (Eisenstein 1980). However, it seems to me that Eisenstein’s assertion may be too categorical, and she may have been a little hasty in recognizing fixity as an automatic phenomenon that happened with the print revolution. In fact, in the first 100 years of print culture, errors were rife in printed books. Papal edicts were issued against faulty bibles, forgeries were rampant, and manuscripts were pirated or counterfeited (Schwartz 1996). Print, in fact, opened up the floodgates of diversity and conflict and at the same time threw up questions of Authority of Knowledge which could not easily be answered. It is this open-ended nature of print-in-making that I am interested in, since it seems to have many parallels with the information revolution that we call the ‘internet’. Far from ensuring fixity or authority, this early history of printing was marked by uncertainty, and the constant refrain for a long time was that you could not rely on the book. A French scholar, Adrien Baillet, warned in 1685 that ‘the multitude of books which grows every day’ would cast Europe into ‘a state as barbarous as that of the centuries that followed the fall of the Roman Empire’ (Johns 2001: 287). One area, for instance, which saw immense conflict, was in the publication of the bible. Given that a lot of the early publishing was of the bible, the move from the scribe to the printing press was certainly not welcomed by all. In the 17th century, a papal bill was even issued against publishers, excommunicating them for

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mistakes made in the printing of the Vulgate Bible authorized by Sextus V. All copies of the first edition that were printed had to be confiscated and destroyed. A priest, Trithem, criticizing print culture said in defence of the scribes: It is the scribes who lend power to words and forge a lasting value to passing things and vitality to the flow of time. Without them, the church and its faith would be weakened, love grown cold, hope confounded, justice lost, the law confused and the gospel fallen into oblivion. The printed book is made of paper and like paper will disappear, but the scribe working with parchment ensures lasting remembrances for himself and his text.3

There were a number of similar controversies in the world of the natural sciences as well as among these individuals struggling to figure out a systematic way of differentiating useful information from useless information. One result was the formation of a reading group in England which went on to become the Royal Society of London, for which unknown authors like Isaac Newton and Robert Boyle submitted papers. Newton’s Principia would eventually be the most famous volume that emerged from this society. Thus, what was at stake was not just the veracity of books, but the very question of knowledge itself.

Pre-print History or the Internet of the 15th Century For us to understand the idea of print in the making we need to understand some of the practices that preceded the idea of print. They also enable us to understand the specific nature of the disputes around the question of the Authority of Knowledge and, more importantly, rethink the disputes over knowledge as being productive disputes. According to Mark Rose, in the Middle Ages, the owner of a manuscript was understood to possess the right to grant permission to copy it, and this was a right that could be exploited, as it was, for example, by those monasteries that regularly charged a fee for permission to copy one of their books. This was somewhat similar to copyright royalty, with the crucial difference that the book owner’s property was not a right in the text as such, but in the manuscript as a physical object made of ink and parchment (Rose 1993).

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The value provided by the monastery and the reason for their charging for their copy fee did not emerge just from the existence of the copy alone, but also in the fact that each monastery had their unique elements in the form of the annotations, the commentary and corrections, which might be contained only in that particular monastery’s copy. The only existing copy of The Book of Margery Kempe, for instance, has been brilliantly reshaped and contextualized by the annotations of the monks from Mount Grace. So while the popular account of pre-print cultures is of slavish copying by scribes, the story turns out to be slightly more complicated. Acting as annotators, compilers and correctors, medieval book owners and scribes actively shaped the texts they read. For instance, they might choose to leave out some of The Canterbury Tales, or contribute one of their own. They might correct Geoffrey Chaucer’s versification every now and then. They might produce whole new drafts of Chaucer by combining one or more of his published versions with others. While this activity of average or amateur readers differs in scale and quality from Chaucer’s work, it opens us to new questions of the relationship between author, text and reader in the Middle Ages, and also what it may mean to understand contemporary practices of knowledge and cultural creation. Scribes and readers responded to Chaucer, Langland and others, not by slavishly copying, canonizing or passively receiving their texts, but by reworking them as creative readers. In doing so, they continued to contribute to the great layers of intertextual conversation that made the work of these now canonical authors relevant, interesting and, fundamentally possible.4 Histories of the transition from manuscript to print commonly argue that manuscript and print technologies settled into a ‘peaceful coexistence’ in which each offered a different mode of transmission. Printed copies were supposedly ‘accurate useful texts for scholars’ while manuscripts were ‘distinct and personal’. But there is now evidence that this was not such a simple process. The existence of original ‘manuscript’ copies which have even copied the colophon of print copies suggests that the traffic between printed and written texts was far more fluid than earlier imagined. While it is true that printing allowed for accurate reproduction, the flexibility of both technologies, however, was made to respond to different kinds of reading and writing practices in the early days of print (Schoff 2004).

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Technically, it has been possible for writers to have their works copied verbatim, except that the manual task of copying often led to mistakes or to creative appropriations. Technically, readers could still amend a printed book as if it were a manuscript, but they were less likely to do so. This indicates the establishment of the norms of print culture, and the emergence of a new kind of professional reader, whose public presence was made possible by the production of identical copies of editions. While the history of the print technology is simultaneously a history of struggles over the idea of Authority of Knowledge, the emergence of the Authority of Knowledge is often narrated in a teleological fashion which assumes that it did away with the crisis of reliability and there emerged a single authoritative idea of knowledge. It is worth bearing in mind the fact that it also did away with a range of knowledge practices that existed in pre-print cultures, some of which have been resurrected in contemporary digital practices. Since the very technology of knowledge production in the pre-print era was built on a very material and interactive process (the copying by hand, which also relied on the simultaneous labour of the eye and the mind), it enabled a participatory reading and writing process that was simultaneously suspicious of any source of authority.

Chaucer and the Various Editors of The Canterbury Tales An interesting example of this trend is seen in the ‘work’ of Chaucer, the father of English poetry. While the canonical Chaucer is the one that we have now learnt to recognize, scholars argue that the evidence available of the period of the writing of The Canterbury Tales seems to suggest a far more fluid and playful relationship between the author, the text and the readers (Schoff 2004). The structure and the form of The Canterbury Tales interestingly reflect the question of the approach to knowledge production, including that of the production of The Canterbury Tales itself. Rebecca Lynn, in her remarkable history of forms of reading and writing practices in medieval England, argues that: (T)he benefits readers derived from the press, in terms of better access to authorized texts, were countered by a profound loss of opportunity for inventive forms of reception. Before the growth of the printing industry, medieval readers enjoyed the liberties they were free to take with the

24 ? Lawrence Liang texts they recopied. Manuscript culture encouraged readers to edit or adapt freely any text they wrote out, or to re-shape the texts they read with annotations that would take the same form as the scribe’s initial work on the manuscript. The assumption that texts are mutable and available for adaptation by anyone is the basis, not only for this quotidian functioning of the average reader, but also for the composition of the great canonical works of the period. (ibid.)

Sounds very much like Wikipedia! In the disclaimer before The Miller’s Tale for instance, Chaucer states that he is merely repeating stories told by others, and that the Tales are designed to be the written record of a lively exchange of tales between multiple other tellers, each with different, sometimes opposing, intents. Interestingly, Chaucer seems to invite not merely an approach that recognizes the importance of retelling stories, but a mode of reading which simultaneously incorporates the ability to edit and to write. This invitation was accepted by late medieval readers who took great pleasure in creating copies of the Tales that drastically cut, expanded, edited, and otherwise modified Chaucer’s work. This activity went beyond the mechanics of scribal copying. Interestingly, the importance of retelling that is acknowledged in Chaucer’s disclaimer resonates with the development of legislation suppressing defamation. During Chaucer’s lifetime, the censorship law, such as the first statute of Westminster under Edward, stated that those who retold seditious tales they had heard from someone else were liable to be held until the one who had spoken the words originally could be brought into court. Richard XI amended this law to make explicit the Council’s prerogative to punish even those who retold tales in the place of their original source. The need to revise the statute suggests how difficult it must have been to lay hands on the originators of seditious gossip, and its idea was to hold those who spread tales when it was impossible to find the originator. While The Miller’s Tale was not a seditious text, Chaucer’s exaggerated anxiety in creating a disclaimer (and his desire that his readers take on the responsibility of creating their own versions of his collection) is consistent with a culture in which the retelling of a tale comes with a responsibility akin to that of authoring it. By modifying, excerpting and adding to the Tales, 15th-century readers responded in kind to the poetics of reading and composing within which the Tales themselves worked. The poetics of the Tales

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and the circulation of the manuscripts reveal a continuity of a tradition of an open invitation to re-adaptation and an acknowledgement of the centrality of readers in literary production. Much of this form was of course dependent on a live context in which Chaucer’s Tales circulated as living texts, and could only possibly take place before the canonization of Chaucer and the establishment of him as a figure of authority. It is only recent histories of the book and of pre-print cultures that have revived a historical interest in these versions of Chaucer. For a long period of time, the versions of Chaucer that bore the marginal marks or traces of editing and changes left by readers were ignored or classified as being ‘anomalous’ or ‘defective’. They were not even included in the counting of extant manuscripts. The emergence of print technology construed these copies as defective copies which were filled with mistakes. They were marked by the classical characteristics that seemed to signal the crisis of authority; the lack of attributions, the mangled texts, the notes in the margins, were not simply mistakes, but evidence of an interactive reception of the Tales. These were fuelled by the active choices of the readers who wrote, and in some cases, composed the texts.

Readers as Writers One of the most remarkable editions that have excited historians in recent times was a manuscript copied by a professional scribe for Jean of Angouleme. This version was created during his captivity in England for thirty-three years. Jean and his scribe began work on an extraordinary edition of the Tales that records in several places what we assume were Jean’s reactions to them. It is difficult to imagine a reader much closer to the text’s content, but even more impressive is the evidence of Angouleme’s investment in its form. Angouleme probably spent years gathering exemplars from multiple sources. Once the text was copied by his scribe, he made roughly 300 corrections to the text while consulting yet another manuscript. Scholars of Chaucer agree that ‘his purpose was to clarify the meaning, to improve the meter, and to give readings from a better manuscript’ (Schoff 2004). We should imagine that books for late medieval readers were not just containers for texts. In extreme cases, they were projects—the physical by-products of active and often collaborative reading.

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Rebecca Lynn argues that the slowness of English printing to expand relative to the explosion of literary manuscript production in the 15th century might partly be due to the fact that the press offered a vastly different reading experience to the public: one that must have appeared impoverished and passive to those who viewed reading as an active form of artistic production. The loss of opportunity in the rise of English printing was at least equally shared amongst the poets and the readers. With the emergence of the printing press, there were many efforts to locate the authoritative text written by Chaucer, and yet at the same time, it seems that there existed a vibrant market for the ‘flawed copies of Chaucer’. The compiler of Trinity MS R.3.19 turned to Caxton’s first edition of The Canterbury Tales with little interest in recovering Chaucer’s complete text. If anything, he was looking to produce one of those manuscripts in which ‘wryters have abrydgyd it and many thynges left out/And in some place haue sette certayn versys/that [Chaucer] never made ne sette in hys booke’.5

Establishing the Authority of Knowledge The central element that emerges from the history of pre-print and early print cultures is the fact that the establishment of authority was never a given, and that readers were not without resources for such an assessment. When approached with a given book they came out with an understanding of purpose, status and reliability of the printer material, and the knowledge that they used to determine trust. There are three elements that clearly emerge, namely: 1. Veracity was extrinsic to the press and had to be grafted onto it; 2. The efforts that went into the making of trust itself have been erased and only through such erasure and disappearances does an air of intrinsic reliability emerge; 3. Trust was the basis of knowledge. The question of credit was, however, a contested one, and one in which the question of authority was battled. The contests or failures of the formal book trade were not only to be bemoaned but also to be celebrated. Problems and disputes were the occasion for creating records documenting practices that remained unrecorded in the case of successful publications.

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The Knowledge Apparatus Thus, rather than speaking about authority as something that is intrinsic to either a particular mode of the production of knowledge or to any technological form, it might be more useful to consider the variety of knowledge apparatuses which come into play to establish its authority. A knowledge apparatus is both the product of one complex set of social and technological processes and also the starting point of another. In the case of the history of the book, it was clear that the Authority of Knowledge depended on the arrangements, classifications and kinds of assemblage that make it possible to maintain it as well as critique it. The conventions, for instance, by which the title and author of a work are identified, play very specific functions in the preparing of knowledge, as do the several kinds of documentation, attribution, citation, and copyright. Accordingly, the history of the knowledge apparatus includes, in every era, instances of false attribution, misquotation, plagiarism of many kinds, and spurious appeals to authority. Nevertheless, without the knowledge apparatus, which constitutes the means by which knowledge is passed on and by which it evolves and mutates, there would be no knowledge. Knowledge might thus be regarded as simultaneously possible, yet problematic at the level of the apparatus. The preconditions for knowledge cannot easily be made the object of knowledge. It is a matter of making evident (making known) the structures of knowledge itself, which emerge in ways that provide definitive proof of the imperfectability of knowledge. To speak of the productive nature of conflicts over knowledge is then to recognize that any knowledge apparatus that is constructed always remains, nonetheless, open to permanent revision. The question thus centres on how we use the knowledge apparatus, and how we bring it to light and mobilize it today. We cannot effectively even problematize knowledge without making use of its apparatus. Considering the way the Authority of Knowledge debate takes place, there is almost a theological devotion to an exalted idea of knowledge without a consideration of the apparatus. There is the tendency, for instance, to view technology as somehow neutral, as if the shift from the pen to the typewriter to the personal computer has no impact on the process of writing and self-formation. And this is all the more true when one tries to examine the gigantic effort at documenting knowledge, or the project of the encyclopaedia.

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The Project of the Encyclopaedia The certitude that some shelf in some hexagon held precious books and that these precious books were inaccessible, seemed almost intolerable. A blasphemous sect suggested that the searches should cease and that all men should juggle letters and symbols until they constructed, by an improbable gift of chance, these canonical books. . . . In my childhood I have seen old men who, for long periods of time, would hide in the latrines with some metal disks in a forbidden dice cup and feebly mimic the divine disorder. Borges (2000)

The project of encyclopaedias which aims in many ways to be the definitive ‘knowledge apparatus’ is bound to be fraught with conflicts and contestations. As a project at whose heart lie ideas of classification and linking, it constitutes the ultimate challenge of a knowledge apparatus. While we are familiar with the form of the encyclopaedia, the historian Cheryl Gunness, for example, shows that even the form of the encyclopaedia that we are now familiar with was a form that was not taken for granted. Her work shows the fascinating links between encyclopaedias and novels in the 18th century.6 She argues that the form that encyclopaedias and books took in the 18th century was very closely tied to technologies of bookmaking and that the form of the novel and the encyclopaedia emerged around reading practices that were constantly shifting. Many 18th-century encyclopaedias were not designed to be consulted for isolated facts, but instead to be read from cover to cover as coherent narratives. Conversely, many 18th-century novels were not only designed to be read from beginning to end, but also as comprehensive works of reference organized systematically. The second aspect that she draws from her reading of the project of encyclopaedias in the 18th century is the contradictory impulse that marked their production. On the one hand, the ostensible purpose of encyclopaedias was the open dissemination of knowledge. On the other, their various compilers paradoxically asserted that the encyclopaedias themselves were ordered according to secret principles which required their readers to develop reading practices that could unlock these secrets. If not designed to be read from beginning to end (though many of them were), neither were they designed for mere perusal or

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for being mined for discrete pieces of information. Instead, the encyclopaedias of the 18th century were designed to be read in large coherent blocks of narrative, as ‘circles of learning ordered according to secret principles that the compiler might hint at, but that ultimately the reader had to discover of his or her own accord. In these encyclopedias, the reader is taught to be continually aware of the connections that link each entry to every other entry in the text’ (Gunness 2001). She argues that the production of the encyclopaedia was shrouded in secrecy: secret publishing, secret censorship, secret authorship of articles. There was a lot of secrecy even within the articles. As an example of this she cites the fascinating story of Denis Diderot’s troubles with his encyclopaedia. Diderot imagined his Encyclopédie as a response to a period of intellectual ferment. His attempt to provide a sort of ‘counteracademy’, which would provide a resource for generations to come, ran up against the problem of time as it sought to cope with the explosion of new knowledge. The role of this encyclopaedia was to catalogue and classify new scientific terms, serve as a forum for new theories, often unorthodox or challenging, or provide a reference manual or handbook of modernity. Diderot’s first two volumes, which came out in July 1751–52, were suppressed by order of the Council of State, partly because the author of the article ‘Certitude’ had been condemned by the church and also because the Jesuits claimed that the encyclopaedia plagiarized an earlier one created by the Jesuits in 1704. The matter went to the courts and the courts overruled the church; Diderot was allowed to continue his work unharassed till the publication of the seventh volume in 1757. This seventh volume contained Diderot’s article on ‘Geneva’ which stirred a controversy with the Calvinist clergy. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who had contributed several articles on music in the encyclopaedia, withdrew his support and broke with Diderot on account of the controversial article. In 1759, Pope Clement the 13th condemned Diderot’s encyclopaedia and in January 1759, the parliament too condemned it. Consequently, work on the project was ordered to stop. In July, the Council of State ordered the Encyclopédie to pay each subscriber compensatory money for the remaining volumes that would not be published. With his immense work less than half completed and officially shut down, Diderot had to work in secret to complete

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the encyclopaedia. In 1764, when the great work was nearly completed and Diderot was at his most enthusiastic and optimistic, he discovered that his writing had been secretly censored for at least two years by his editor Andre Le Breton. Diderot decided to abandon his work, as he was unable to ascertain the extent to which it had been mutilated. But he was unable to make Le Breton’s censorship public because this would give his enemies proof that he had been working on the encyclopaedia even after the order for its suppression, which fact would have led to his banishment. Eventually, Diderot completed the work with a false Swiss imprint.

Encyclopaedias as the Threshold of the Knowledge and Authority Debate As we have seen in our exploration of the question of the knowledge apparatus, the question of Authority of Knowledge often renders invisible the conditions under which authority becomes an issue or gets resolved. And in the case of encyclopaedias, where the entire aim of the project is to devise a system of classification of knowledge, every new encyclopaedia is both a response to as well as an intervention in the question of how we know. While classification is at the heart of this enterprise of order-giving, every classification system is haunted by its exclusions, separations and forced hierarchies, and its conversion of fluid emergent processes and events into stable categories. This perhaps explains why the most heated debates on knowledge and authority take place on the site of encyclopaedic interventions. After all, what better way is there to show the absurdity and contingency of our world order than to provide an alternative classification? One of the oft-cited examples of this arbitrariness is Jorge Luis Borges’ discussion of ‘a Chinese encyclopaedia’ entitled the ‘Celestial Empire of Benevolent Knowledge’.7 Borges cites a Chinese encyclopaedia in which it is written that: Animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame,

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(d) (e) (f) (g) (h) (i) (j) (k) (I) (m) (n)

sucking pigs, sirens, fabulous, stray dogs, included in the present classification, frenzied, innumerable, drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, et cetera, having just broken the water pitcher, that from a long way off look like flies.

This brilliant compilation became the inspiration for Michel Foucault to write The Order of Things (2001). This is a treatise into the conditions under which domains of knowledge come into being, and an exploration of their classificatory logic and their enumerative reasoning. Foucault, marvelling at Borges’ assorted collection, wonders what about this compilation borders on the impossible. The point is that this collection can be internally arranged in terms of an internal logic, for instance, a sub-classification based on real/unreal animals. But he states that surely that cannot be the basis of the fantastical, since in any case the unreal are represented as unreal. He says, ‘It is not the “fabulous” animals that are impossible, since they are designated as such, but the narrowness of the distance separating them from (and juxtaposing them to) the stray dogs, or the animals that from a long way off look like flies. What transgresses the boundaries of all imagination, of all possible thought, is simply that alphabetical series (a, b, c, d) which links each of those categories to all the others’ (ibid.: preface, p. xvii). The role of encyclopaedias is not just to provide greater stability and authority to our worlds, as their roots in the Enlightenment would have us believe. It is equally to destabilize our world by suggesting new modes of classification and new methods of compilation and by generating new authorities of knowledge. Borges knew better than most other writers the strangely seductive world of encyclopaedias and his fiction constantly played with the simultaneous existence of certainty and uncertainty, infinite knowledge and our fragile illusions of overcoming uncertainty.

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In his discussion of a fictional encyclopaedia, in ‘Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’ Borges opens us out to the challenge of ‘thinking the world’ through improbable sets of categories to examine the productive tension that the lack of certainty creates.8 This has also been central to other experiments with encyclopaedias including Bataille’s ‘headless encyclopaedia’, an encyclopaedia produced without an ordering principle or classificatory hierarchies.9 According to Umberto Eco, the encyclopaedia, contrary to the intentions of its Enlightenment origins, cannot contain an absolutely ordered universe in an authoritative and rational way. It can at best supply rules which provide some provisional semblance of order. In other words, encyclopaedias are attempts to give meaning to a disordered world whose criteria of order exceed certainty. To assume that encyclopaedias can fulfil the task of achieving certainty is to misunderstand the history of encyclopaedias.10 It might, therefore, be worthwhile to think of the ‘uncyclopedia’. If the encyclopaedia (with its strict rules of authorship and classification) is a form that attempts to pull towards ordered taxonomy, then let us think about the possibility that the encyclopaedia is also a form which alerts us to its own incompleteness. This, in fact, might well be a project worth undertaking, given that the most authoritative encyclopaedias in the world emerged at a time when gigantic efforts at mapping the world were at the service of colonialism. A little declassifying and un-authorizing might not be such a bad thing.

Summary Almost immediately, reality yielded on more than one account. The truth is that it longed to yield. Ten years ago any symmetry with a semblance of order—dialectical materialism, anti-Semitism, Nazism— was sufficient to entrance the minds of men. How could one do other than submit to Tion, to the minute and vast evidence of an orderly planet? Perhaps it is, but in accordance with divine laws—I translate: inhuman laws—which we never quite grasp. Don is surely a labyrinth, but it is a labyrinth devised by men, a labyrinth destined to be deciphered by men. ‘Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’ in Borges (1964)11

So the point is not to do away with the question of the Authority of Knowledge, but to recognize it not as something that is intrinsic

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or a given, but as something that is always transient, and to locate it within specific practices and technologies. It is important to understand that the Authority of Knowledge exists within a much wider ambit of a ‘knowledge apparatus’ than previously imagined. Rather than taking the claims of authority at face value, we should learn from the history of pre-print and early print cultures and recognize that there may exist a wide world of knowledge, which can neither be contained nor exhausted by the demands of authority. And it is in the productive tension between the possibilities of knowing completely and never being sure that true knowledge can be produced. I would like to end this chapter with a personal anecdote. A few years ago, I was stuck in a residency in dreary Rotterdam with little human contact for company. A kind colleague invited me to her house for lunch, and I was introduced to her husband. In his naiveté, he asked me whether I loved my experience of Netherlands. I said I hated it, and was dying to return to India. This surprised him a bit, and he said that he could not imagine living in India or, for that matter, in any country in Asia, because of the crowds and the noise. He also informed me that he had only experienced life in Europe and California, and wanted to know how people in a country like India even asked the difficult question, ‘What is the meaning of life?’ To which my answer was that it was a lot easier to ask the question in India, since there were many more people to answer it, whereas if you asked the question in Rotterdam, the chances were that you would get no answer or maybe get one answer, which you would think was the right one.

Notes 1. For the report, see full/438900a.html. For a response by Britannica to the study, see http://, and for a response by Nature to Britannica see britannica/index.html. 2. I take this phrase from Adrian Johns’ (1998) comprehensive account of early print culture. 3. Abbot Johannes Trithemius of Sponheim wrote a letter, ‘De Laude Scriptorum’ (In Praise of Scribes) to Gerlach Abbot of Deutz in 1492 (Arnold 1974: 35).

34 ? Lawrence Liang 4. This segment relies on Rebecca Schoff’s incredible study of reading and writing in medieval England. See Schoff (2004). 5. William Caxton, in his preface to the second edition of The Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer: A New Text (published in 1495, six years after the first edition) justifies the printing of that edition in these words. This copy is found in the Library in St. John’s College, Oxford. 6. Gunness (2001). See, in particular, Chapter 1, ‘The Secret History of 18th Century Encyclopaedias’. 7. Translated from Spanish by Ruth L. C. Simms in Borges (1993). 8. First published in the Argentine journal, Sur, May 1940. 9. Quoted in Featherstone and Venn (2006). 10. For a summary of this idea, see Umberto Eco (1999). 11. For the English translation of this story, see Borges (1964).

References Arnold, Klause (ed.). 1974. Johannes Trithemius: In Praise of Scribes (de Laude Scriptorum), Colorado Press, Lawrence, Kansas. Borges, Jorge Luis. 1964. Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings, New Directions Publishing Corporation, New York. ———. 1993. Other Inquisitions 1937–1952, University of Texas Press, Austin. ———. 1998. Collected Fiction, translated from Spanish by Andrew Hurley, Penguin Putnam, New York, pp. 101–6. ———. 2000. The Library of Babel, translated from Spanish by Andrew Hurley, published by David R. Godine, Boston. Caxton, William. 1495. The Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer: A New Text, Wynken de Worde, Westmestre. Darnton, Robert. 1990. The Kiss of Lamourette: Reflections in Cultural History, W. W. Norton and Co. Ltd, New York. Eco, Umberto. 1999. Kant and the Platypus, Secker & Warburg, London. Eisenstein, Elizabeth. 1980. The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early Modern Europe, CUP, Cambridge. Featherstone, M. and C. Venn. 2006. ‘Problematizing Global Knowledge and the New Encyclopaedia Project: An Introduction’, Theory, Culture and Society 23(2–3): 519–21. Foucault, Michel. 2001. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, translation of the French original, Les mots et les choses (1966), Routledge, Abingdon, Oxford. Gunness, Cheryl Beth. 2001. ‘Circles of Learning: Encyclopaedias and Novels in 18th Century Britain’, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Ohio.

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Johns, Adrian. 1998. The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making, University of Chicago Press, Chicago. ———. 2001. ‘The Birth of Scientific Reading’, Nature 409(287), January 18. Rose, Mark. 1993. Authors and Owners: The Invention of Copyright, Harvard University Press, Harvard. Schoff, Rebecca Lynn. 2004. ‘Freedom from the Press: Reading and Writing in Medieval England’, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University. Schwartz, Hillel. 1996. Culture of the Copy: Striking Likenesses, Unreasonable Facsimiles, MIT Press, Cambridge. Venn, Couze. 2006. ‘A Note on Knowledge’, Theory, Culture & Society 23(2–3): 191–93.

2 The Cut and Thrust of Eisenstein’s Montage∗ Sashi Kumar

In much the same manner as Che Guevara, uprooted from the cause of his struggle and the context of his death, has been suborned by market capitalism to become fetishized commodity and iconized brand as an aspirational romantic rebel hero of our times, montage—a product of the first flush of the October Revolution—has, over the decades, been appropriated and vulgarized by commercial advertisement and publicity films and videos to serve precisely the opposite artistic and ideological purpose. In the space between what montage promised and what it has been reduced to lies the story of the loss of a seminal concept of cinema. The loss is felt even more acutely today because had montage matured into its fullness and taken hold of cinematic imagination and method, the excesses of the present star system, where the star holds singular sway over the plot, the economics and the box office fate of the film, and where an obsequious viewership lays its sensibilities supine before these screen demigods, may not have come to be. Montage, then, was not all about cutting and a quick succession of shots as applied in breathless advertisement shorts or MTV imagery. It had the power to subvert the stardom of individuated heroics and position in its stead, or against it, a collective heroism that was more empowering and transformative. It had the potential to counter the prescriptive story line with a constructive non-linear narrative of dialectic progression that was as emotively compelling as it was intellectually stimulating. It had the striving to make cinema the synthesis of all arts. It was Hollywood, or Bollywood, stood on its head. Although most discussions on montage tend to begin and end with Sergei Eisenstein and his Battleship Potemkin, the film-maker and the film really exemplify a movement that was rather short-lived but * A slightly modified version of this chapter appeared in Frontline, Volume 24, Issue 24, December 2007, pp. 8–21, under the title ‘Cinema: Lasting Images’.

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intense in the exultant decade of the 1920s following the revolution. Cinema emerged as the vehicle of a new artistic consciousness so that even by 1922, Lenin was telling Lunacharsky, ‘of all the arts, for us the cinema was the most important’.1 Already the typical psychological dramas of pre-revolutionary Russian cinema were being jettisoned and a new aesthetic was being conceived and put together by a process of collective authorship. It was a phase of rejection of the old and experimenting with the new. True, the shortage economy of the war also provided a fillip to montage. Film raw stock was scarce and dear and some filmmakers busied themselves with innovatively re-editing the old footage of pre-revolutionary cinema to make new sense of it. The scale of this operation was such that a separate Re-Editing Department of the Moscow Film Committee came into being. Indeed, it was in an address to this department in February 1919 that Vladimir Gardin heralded the concept of montage as the quintessence of the new cinema. But the first clear demonstration of montage, based on Gardin’s ideas, came with the ‘Kuleshov Effect’. Lev Kuleshov juxtaposed the same static close up of Ivan Mozzukhin, a star of Tsarist cinema, with stock shots of a plate of soup, an old woman in a coffin, and a child playing, respectively, and found the net result, in terms of construed meaning and emotive response, different in each version. In another experiment, The Earth’s Surface Created, Kuleshov showed how splicing together disparate shots can achieve bold geographical shifts—characters walking up the Gogol Boulevard in Moscow in one shot appeared on the steps of the Capitol in Washington in the next. Shots, for Kuleshov, were building blocks which could be arranged any which way to convey or evoke different messages or effects each time. The viewer provided the connection and inferred a narrative. This was montage in its infancy—a product of pure editing. The camera hardly figured a priori in any of this. But the idea grew beyond the cutting room and evolved in many directions. Different schools of filmmaking were soon contending with one another and montage was deployed by them to serve quite different, often contradictory, ends. There was a broad stand off between Eisenstein, to whom montage was all about conflict and progression (or progression through conflict), and Pudovkin, who saw it as a means of linkage and transition. The montage-ists generally rejected the Stanislavsky school of method acting; and the Pudovkin

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group, which included Kuleshov and Vladimir Fogel among others, came up with a counter ‘model’ which entailed a clinical study of reflexes and automated acting. Both actor and story line were suspect before the camera eye (or Kino-eye as he called it) of Dziga Vertov, whose The Man with a Movie Camera was the precursor of the camera verite style of the French New Wave of the 1960s. It was in this ferment of avant-gardism that Eisenstein developed his own unique brand of montage as an eclectic and organic tool to design a new cinematic ethos and aesthetic. He drew from a variety of forms like Japanese and Chinese poetry and ideograms, Kabuki theatre, Joycean stream of consciousness, and integrated them into a polyphonic effect that was at once intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging. The part subsumed the whole; the instant moment contained the chronological scale. Shots were for association, not representation. Eisenstein’s insight into Japanese and Chinese culture enabled him to set his template of the montage on the model of the ideogram and haiku poetry. The associative principles were somewhat selfevident, as in: Child + mouth = cry Bird + mouth = sing Dog + mouth = bark Or, evoked through pithy haiku abstraction: A lonely crow On leafless bough One autumn eve. Or, in ideogrammic terms: A lonely crow + leafless bough = autumn Montage, for Eisenstein, had a lot to do with biomechanics, but this did not by any means suggest a reificatory approach. As he himself notes, the distinctive twin traits of his Battleship Potemkin are the ‘organic unity of its composition’ and its ‘pathos’—pathos described as being enabled to partake of a moment of historic culmination or, in the context of Potemkin, ‘feeling oneself part of the collective waging of a fight for a bright future’. And pathos, he says, ‘cannot but fill us to the highest point with emotional sensation’ (see Marshall 1971).

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The organic unity he held dear was, again, an evolved concept, drawn from Engels’ definition of the organism as ‘a higher unity’. It was not the mere sum of its parts, but the product of its constituents. He cites Lenin to point out that ‘the particular does not exist outside that relationship which leads to the general. The general exists only in the particular, through the particular’ (Marshall 1971). He was fascinated by what he called the ‘disintegrated acting’ of Japanese Kabuki theatre. It opened up the possibility of dispersal of action and of atomized time and space. He was acutely aware of the time element, not only in terms of rhythmic or metric cutting, but in the creation and rendition of shots. Working up a frenetic multi-track pace with rapid cutting, he could, it would seem, select and stare an aspect of the action into slowness. ‘My attention,’ he realized early on in life, ‘was fixed permanently on the second hand.’ Pudovkin called Eisenstein’s montage ‘a close-up of time’.2 The dialectical conflict that drove his material on screen was structured as a series of collisions posed by camera angle and shot size, lighting, editing, contrapuntal sound track, and music. Montage, for him, was about all of this; he likened it to the explosions in an internal combustion engine that propelled the vehicle forward. The disparate elements he dispersed across his scenario were, however, energized and calibrated to serve the meaning he sought to invest them with. They succumbed and subscribed to his unified vision. His text, in this sense, was not open-ended, polyvalent or polysemic, but determined and closed as by a consummate auteur. The first two of his revolution trilogy, Strike (1924) and Battleship Potemkin (1925), bear the stamp of his full authorship. By the third, October, made to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the revolution, he had begun to run into bureaucratic impatience and interference and had to compromise his style. He had to remove almost a third of the film to cleanse it of Trotsky and, paradoxically, of a speech by Lenin because Stalin, who ordered the cut, felt that ‘Lenin’s liberalism is no longer valid today’.3 By the end of the 1920s, formalism itself was under attack with the 1928 All Union Party Conference on cinema calling, instead, for a ‘form which the millions can understand’. That was the beginning of the end of the search for an alternative cinematic idiom which the revolution itself had unleashed. Montage was just about coming into its own as a viable instrument of a new revolutionary screen consciousness when it became a casualty to political expediency and ideological compulsions of the moment.

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But by then what Charlie Chaplin called the greatest film ever made had been made. Battleship Potemkin was sheer sleight of montage. Unlike ‘Strike in which, by his own admission, some gimmicks of collage intruded on his montage, Potemkin was the fulsome realization of the device and its best expression in Eisenstein’s uneven oeuvre. Evoking and celebrating the failed revolution of 1905, the film is cast not so much as a retelling as an investigation of events in keeping with Marx’s definition of the course of genuine investigation, where ‘not only the result but the road to it is also a part of truth. The investigation of truth must itself be true, true investigation is unfolded truth, the disjuncted members of which unite in the result.’4 It takes a non-linear, multi-track, simultaneous, and multi-layered approach to investigate these disjuncted members and bring them together. The various elements and dimensions of montage come to a head in Potemkin’s Odessa steps sequence, which has become part of film folklore. The perambulator of that scene has morphed into various versions in various genres and languages of cinema across the world. To get a feel of what elements of montage heighten emotion, and how, we can do no better than listen in as Eisenstein describes the steps sequence himself: First, there are close-ups of human figures rushing chaotically. Then, long shots of the same scene. The chaotic movement is next superseded by shots showing the feet of soldiers as they march rhythmically down the steps. Tempo increases. Rhythm accelerates. And then, as the downward movement reaches its culmination, the movement is suddenly reversed: instead of the headlong rush of the crowd down the steps we see a solitary figure of a mother carrying her dead son, slowly and solemnly going up the stairs . . . The shot of the rushing crowd is suddenly followed by one showing a perambulator hurtling down the steps. This is more than just different tempos. This is a leap in the method of representation—from the abstract to the physical . . . Close-ups give way to long shots. The chaotic rush (of the mass) is succeeded by the rhythmic march of soldiers. One aspect of movement (people running, falling, stumbling down the steps) gives way to another (rolling perambulator). Descent gives place to ascent. Many volleys of many rifles give place to one shot from one of the battleship’s guns.

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At each step there is a leap from one dimension to another, from one quality to another, until, finally, the change affects not one individual episode (the perambulator) but the whole of the method: the risen lions mark the point where the narrative turns into a presentation through images.5

For the 1920s, montage was perhaps ahead of its time. Eisenstein’s prescience strikes us from the vantage point of the present, when we are at the cusp of a changeover from analogue modes of perception and representation to the dispersed sensibility of the digital technology. The modern TV screen typifies this shift as a site where montage and collage conflate all at once. The viewer is expected to, and does, multitask, taking in several elements and actions simultaneously—the talking heads, the intervening visuals, the text scrolls, the flash news, the sensex bar in a corner, the advertisement pop ups, and so on. Unilinear attentiveness and experience of the media are being replaced by a nonlinear grasp of the clutter. True, the average mainstream star-strapped cinema, with its iconizing impulse, yet uses this digital possibility very superficially. But already, with digital surround sound in cinema theatres, the sound track is an experience of several-ness. What montage might do to deconstruct the conventional rectangular screen we are riveted to and similarly unbundle and disperse our viewing experience, is a fascinating thought.

Notes 1. See Anatoli V. Lunacharsky: Conversation with V. I. Lenin (February 1922) in Boltyanskii (1925: 16–19). This conversation is published in full in Lenin (1965). 2. See Petric (1990). 3. Quoted in Barna (1973: 123). 4. Quoted in For God and Country by William Rothman and Dudley Andrew in Carroll (1998: 89). 5. See Eisenstein (1970). Also see Dervin (1975).

References Barna, Yon. 1973. Eisenstein, Little Brown, Boston. Boltyanskii, G. H., ed. 1925. Lenin i Kino, Gosudarstvennoe izd-vo, Moscow/Leningrad. Carroll, Noel. 1998. Interpreting the Moving Image, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

42 ? Sashi Kumar Dervin, Daniel. 1975. ‘The Primal Scene and the Technology of Perception in Theater and Film’, The Psychoanalytic Review 62(2278): 269–304. Eisenstein, Sergei. 1970. Notes of a Film Director, Dover Publications, New York. ———. 2004. Problems of a Film Director, The Minerva Group Inc. Lenin, Vladimir. 1965. Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 51, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 5th edition. Marshall, Herbert, ed. 1971. Collected Works of Sergei Eisenstein, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Petric, Vlada. 1990. ‘Tarkovsky’s Dream Imagery’, Film Quarterly 43(2): 28–34.

3 Academics v. the Rest: Some Questions around the Issue of Plagiarism Arvind Sivaramakrishnan

Plagiarism, or the submission or publication of others’ work as one’s own, is a subject of increasing importance to the whole world of education, scholarship, research, and what might broadly be called the advancement and inculcation of knowledge (Bull et al. 2001; Price 2006). I shall attempt to show here that academic plagiarism, on the available evidence, is a more complex phenomenon than it might appear to be at first sight. Specifically, I shall review some of the existing published work on plagiarism and will attempt to show that while plagiarism has been very constructively addressed by several higher education institutions around the world, the advent of the internet has enabled a more troublesome form of cheating to arise in the form of contract cheating, but that this, as the published evidence indicates, raises the same kinds of questions about the nature of education as plagiarism does. These are significant questions of the wider context—a political, financial and cultural one—in which the contemporary academy, however loosely conceived, is located. Estimates of the extent of plagiarism can be startling. One survey of published research on plagiarism concluded that between 40 and 96 per cent of students admitted cheating in some way during their studies (Joyce 2006), though of course such a broad review of research raises questions of comparability across individual pieces of research, and furthermore goes beyond plagiarism per se to include other forms of cheating such as copying from others in examinations, helping others during tests and so on (Björklund and Wenestam 1999). As with all such studies, the figures need to be handled with care, and the fact that one U.S. survey cited shows a substantial increase in most forms of cheating between 1963 and 1993 might only mean that students were more willing to admit cheating in 1993 than their counterparts had been in 1963 (ibid.). It might well be a mistake to conclude that cheating is more widespread now than it was earlier, but what seems to be relatively undisputed

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is that the transgressions perceived by students to be less serious, such as copying from others’ essays for coursework submissions, are more common than, say, cheating in examinations. It also seems to be undisputed that the repertoire of methods for cheating is now much wider than it was a few decades ago (ibid.). It would be difficult to underestimate the significance of the issue as a whole, and, in what is widely acknowledged to be the commodification of higher education around the world, institutions themselves can be very touchy (JISC 2007). One British university has even attempted to use copyright legislation to restrict further dissemination of plagiarism records obtained by a researcher under the Freedom of Information Act (Jones 2006). At present, most U.K. universities work on their own over this issue, and there are significant variations in procedures and outcomes (ibid.). Students can also be very alert to questions of institutional reputation, and Gourlay notes one respondent’s feeling that explicit and uncompromising plagiarism procedures would enhance the standing of her academic department, which she also felt had suffered unfavourable comparisons with its counterpart in an older university in the same city (Gourlay 2006). Inevitably, the establishment of common standards and procedures will be a demanding task, and is perhaps best done at the institutional or national rather than individual or departmental level (Heap and Woolls 2006). A significant complication lies in the fact that there are different forms of plagiarism, and it is not clear that there is any one core or paradigmatic form thereof. The calculatedly unscrupulous use of unattributed material with a view to deception appears to be relatively rare (Culwin 2006), though it does happen, and anecdotal evidence of it, in this author’s experience mainly in respect of sometimes eminent academics, does circulate, with occasional very serious cases making at least educational headline news (Joyce 2006). By far the most common form of plagiarism seems to be less unscrupulous and to be perpetrated by students under pressure of time or pressure to achieve desired grades in particular subjects (Björklund and Wenestam 1999). Among first-year students in particular, and students starting postgraduate work, a significant cause of unintentional plagiarism is simply lack of knowledge of how to draw upon and attribute sources used in the preparation of essays and lab or project reports (Harvey and Robson 2006; Sivasubramaniam 2006). In addition, the problems of juggling

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work and study so as to stay at university have also been noted as a possible cause of plagiarism, as has the knowledge that sometimes other students have cheated and not been caught (Boden and Stubbings 2006). Significant legal issues can be involved too. Clarke and Aiello note that ignorance of the extent of plagiarism can lead to the stereotyping of students from certain cultures as being more likely to plagiarize than, say, those from Anglo-Saxon cultures, whatever that means (Clarke and Aiello 2006). In fact, as Clarke and Aiello remind us, those writing in English as a second language are probably more likely to get caught, particularly if detection whether by eye or by software proceeds by discourse analysis and is therefore more likely to identify stylistic or discursive disjunctions in a text written by an author whose first language is not English but who quotes or otherwise reproduces work written by first-language English speakers (Clarke and Aiello 2006; JISC 2007). This could even give rise to allegations of racial or other forms of discrimination, with institutions facing potential legal action and damage to their international reputations, which could in turn affect their standing in the lucrative international student market. Other legal issues would have to do with the separation of procedures for assessment and for dealing with plagiarism (this results from a ruling in the English courts), with whether criminal law or civil law, with their differing standards of proof, might be invoked, and—in many jurisdictions—with the fairness, consistency and transparency of procedures under human rights legislation or bills of rights. Copyright and data protection law could also be among other relevant legal issues (JISC 2007). As to plagiarism detection software, it can identify text matches but obviously cannot discern intention. Neither has it received enthusiastic and immediate acceptance by academic staff (Price and Price 2005). And its use requires training and support for students and staff—for example, the software can require a standard format for file names of submitted work—as well as the establishment and implementation of procedures once plagiarism is detected, all of which can put yet more pressure on academics who are already under other administrative pressures (Heap and Woolls 2006; Price 2006). Finally, plagiarism software can, perhaps unsurprisingly, show apparent plagiarism when what has occurred is a coincidence of technical language, tables of results and accounts of materials and

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methods used (Badge et al. 2006). The software currently available can only identify non-originality, and cannot identify correct and incorrect attribution (Culwin 2006). A further technical problem is that the majority of detection services apparently cannot handle word-processed documents, and therefore the formatting commands in each such file have to be removed before the detection software can work, or else an enormous number of false, or rather irrelevant, matches would be identified (Heap and Woolls 2006). This would also apply in apparent self-plagiarism, an issue of increasing concern over student work and research papers (Badge et al. 2006; Bao and Malcolm 2006). One problem here is that of software design, in which matches of triplets can produce trivial findings, such as repeated uses of the phrase ‘as a result’ (Bao and Malcolm 2006). That is a technical issue, as is the issue of software which cannot identify italicized passages (ibid.). More difficult issues are raised by, say, the presence of a common author in a pair or series of papers; similarities in language and style might reasonably be expected here, though we have to remember that—particularly in the sciences—a common author, such as a Ph.D. supervisor, might have made no written contribution to a published work (ibid.). Finally, the deterrent value of plagiarism software is at best uncertain. If software analyses are shown to the students, their confidence in the software can fall, because the software picks out passages which have been put in quotation marks or otherwise correctly used, and then students understandably worry that they might suffer false accusations of plagiarism (Martin et al. 2006). In effect, detection software cannot substitute for academics’ judgement, and the literature shows no serious claim that it can do so (Heap and Woolls 2006). A further and clearly educative rather than punitive response consists in designing assessed work so as to minimize opportunities for plagiarism, for example, by requiring students to chronicle progress by submitting dated lists of works read or websites consulted. Another approach could, say, require students to identify a range of theories, apply those to a given issue, and then make recommendations or carry out another appropriate act of synthesis (Carroll and Appleton 2001). Academics may also need advice on identifying and encouraging strengths rather than merely marking for grades or achievement, particularly as student cohorts are now much larger and of a much more diverse character than they were thirty years ago, whether in the developed or the developing world.

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Furthermore, involving students in designing assessments, which has been done by some universities, can help reduce opportunities for and the incidence of plagiarism (Quinsee et al. 2006), but will almost certainly require substantial rethinking by academics as to how they prepare assessments. These approaches will, of course, involve academic staff in additional planning and administration, and concern about the additional workloads has been publicly noted (Mainka and Raeburn 2006), but a detailed policy on plagiarism will inevitably require such. In sum, the most constructive response is preventative, and incorporates explicit instruction to students, with guidance on referencing conventions and on the overall aim of developing individual understanding of a topic (Gourlay 2006). Almost all higher education institutions which have attempted to implement policies on plagiarism have done so with an educative rather than a punitive purpose, in which plagiarism software plays only a part, and in which punitive measures are a last resort more than anything else; here too, institutions have taken the trouble to make investigation and institutional responses as rapid and transparent as possible (Culwin 2006). In effect, plagiarism software is, so to speak, aufgehoben into a primarily educational process, and is best used as part of explicit policies and practices (Gourlay 2006). As to preventative policies themselves, these vary across institutions. In one British university, a designated lecture on plagiarism is given to all first-year students as part of a compulsory professional skills course. The lecture in question includes examples prepared by the lecturer of different kinds of attempts to disguise the illicit use of non-attributed material. The students are then informed that one of the essays on that course will be put through plagiarism software, and any excessive use of unattributed non-original material is treated as evidence of lack of academic acculturation (Culwin 2006). At the start of third-year projects, students are given another lecture on correct attribution, and the eventually submitted work is examined closely for unattributed non-original material. Reminders of the first-year lecture are provided at the start of the second and third years; the effectiveness of the overall policy has been noted, in that second- and third-year students themselves advise first-years that their work will be subjected to plagiarism analysis, in that deliberate plagiarism has fallen substantially, and in that students themselves consult tutors on attribution and the avoidance of plagiarism (ibid.).

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It is indeed not necessary that academics or academic departments be the only groups involved in providing the appropriate instruction. Boden and Stubbings describe how the respective libraries in two British higher education institutions are central to the process; here, compulsory courses on information skills include sessions on citation and referencing, with examples of correct and incorrect practice, and online exercises including a quiz, in which students who score a low mark are given individual tutorials as remedial sessions (Boden and Stubbings 2006). More formal online exercises are also included, and at one of the institutions concerned the high proportion of science and engineering students means that most entrants have little or no prior knowledge of sourcing and referencing. In addition, workshops on online bibliographic management are provided for doctoral students (ibid.). According to Boden and Stubbings, who also cite academic staff comments noting a consequent general improvement in students’ citation practices, the advantage of having library staff provide the required training is that students perceive library staff as less threatening or intimidating than academic staff, and that when talking to library staff they are therefore more willing to raise questions and explore uncertain areas of citation practices (ibid.). This kind of advantage, however, may not obtain in an academic culture, such as some third-world ones in which this author has worked, where library staff below head librarian level hold lower status than academics and may not be as academically well-qualified or as experienced in teaching as academics usually are. In any case, it is no accident that the most constructive approaches avoid being high-minded about plagiarism or other forms of academic cheating. As Share points out, the way authorship is claimed and attributed in academic life can reveal formalist, positivist and individualist ideological assumptions (Share 2006). Share also demonstrates, with a wide range of examples, how unusual the academic idea of intellectual ownership is when contrasted with what he calls the intertextuality in which we so obviously live, that is, a world in which ideas, images, signs, allusions, and created works from fashion through popular culture to high art and politics freely allude to, borrow from and copy one another. Indeed, what would the human world look like without these practices? For example, if a brilliant speechwriter enables a politician to win an election with a striking phrase—or in this day and age a soundbite—why do we not consider electing the speechwriter rather than the politician?

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The point here is a wider cultural one, with education seen as a form of engagement in which new entrants need explicit early guidance, rather than as a private good obtained by competition against other candidates and students (Haworth 2006). Haworth also, for example, notes the educational value of this wider approach in the application of a counter-plagiarism policy in which students are encouraged to think of themselves as achieving degrees on the strength of their own performance as informed and independent thinkers and researchers (ibid.). While the educational approaches I have outlined so far focus on plagiarism as the use of passages of unattributed non-original material, with detection software generally used as an aid to identification and for remedial rather than immediately punitive purposes, another set of problems is posed by what some call contract cheating, in which students buy whole assignments or commission whole assignments over the internet from a commercial service which also offers legitimate work, in this case, computer software (Clarke and Lancaster 2006). Clarke and Lancaster’s initial investigation in the U.K. showed 12.3 per cent of submissions, or 88 out of 803, as involving contract cheating, and the authors also estimate that during the course of an academic year between one-tenth and one-fifth of all contracted work given to a particular service involves academic cheating; this is a substantial proportion of the service’s fee income (ibid.). The level of the assignments bought seemed to range from ‘lower undergraduate’ level to master’s level, and although most of the work covered computing assignments, essays on the social aspects of medicine were also bought (ibid.). As to the volume of contract cheating, this particular investigation showed that nearly 50 per cent of identified cheats made between two and seven bids for contracted work from the service, which the authors suggest indicates that the students concerned were habitual offenders who cheated throughout their academic careers. It is here that technological developments, say in the form of online campuses, reveal new problems. The authors say of one high-frequency user that on the evidence: the student intends to gain an academic award using purely financial methods, rather than demonstrating any competences. This contract cheating user type shows an immediate danger inherent within online campuses where it is impossible to test students in person and also incredibly difficult to track down the tutors who might be responsible for a given assignment. (ibid.)

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Another user identified by Clarke and Lancaster seems to have been a single person posting bids on behalf of several students at different universities in the United Kingdom, or possibly an agency submitting bids on behalf of students at different institutions. This makes tracking and detection much more difficult, and—like those who have researched other forms of plagiarism—the authors advise the urgent reconsideration of assessment methods so that opportunities for cheating are designed out of the system. The other possible responses Clarke and Lancaster consider would involve a significantly greater use of electronic detection technologies than the more familiar forms of plagiarism. The technologies would include automated monitoring of contract cheating sites and known non-originality agencies, as well as the creation of a central repository of assignments, which could then be matched against requests appearing on contract cheating sites. One advantage of a central repository is that it could accommodate institutions which did not wish to make their assignments accessible to all net users. Clearly, contract cheating, with its dependence on the ubiquitous internet, will require collaborative responses on the part of institutions, and quite possibly the creation of dedicated sections of computing services or other appropriate support departments within institutions. It does pose new challenges, possibly because it involves calculated deception rather than the primarily unintended plagiarism which has been the commonest form of academic cheating until relatively recently. There are, nevertheless, other and overriding similarities between contract cheating and the other forms of cheating I have referred to here. One of the most important consists in the nature of the responses. Almost all academics and others in academic institutions who have published on plagiarism have emphasized that the best response is to educate students early and explicitly in the canons and conventions of scholarly acknowledgement as an essential part of the students’ development of an informed understanding of their subject. Yet it is here, in making precisely the right scholarly response, that academics—in the widest sense of the term—find themselves working in opposition both to the kind of culture students tend to bring with them to university nowadays and to the considerable pressures of the financial and political climate in which universities, particularly but not exclusively in the Anglophone world, have to

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work at present. Share reminds us that teachers and students live in a context in which intertextuality is ‘routine, rarely sanctioned, often rewarded, and recognised as central to numerous popular cultural processes’ (Share 2006), and that as academics we too use and reuse work, for example, delivering talks or papers on the one piece of work to different audiences, reshaping our material for the given audience without adding anything original to it (ibid.). Our students, for their part, are no doubt aware that many of our lectures draw upon others’ material without explicit contemporaneous acknowledgement. More uncomfortably for academics, high-profile cases of academic plagiarism certainly do not help. Among examples that have come to light are results falsified by a prominent scientist, a vicechancellor who lost his job after being accused of plagiarism, and even a tutor who impersonated a student in an examination (Joyce 2006). More recently, a dean at a prestigious British university had his doctorate withdrawn by the—also prestigious—British university which had awarded it, and was placed under investigation by his current university over the content of a paper he had published (Times Higher 2007a). In addition, concern has been publicly expressed about anecdotal evidence that senior academics are unjustly demanding co-authorship attribution in junior colleagues’ work even if there has been no substantive collaboration (Times Higher 2007b). More than one commentator says what many academics no doubt think about this, namely that plagiarism by academics and the unacknowledged reuse of academics’ own work will increase as the link between publication and career progression intensifies under funding and performance-auditing pressures (Share 2006; Times Higher 2007b). Significantly, institutions also benefit by having academics with long publication lists on their staff (Share 2006). All that turns on the way the wider world sees the academy— ultimately as a school to inculcate the habits and practices of reflective inquiry leading to informed judgement, or as a degree factory turning out formally certificated products for the machine of state or private business, a factory itself funded by a system of abstract numbers based on publication lists and citation ratings. The latter perspective, based on suspicion and even fear of the academy, will encourage subterfuge at every level, from senior professors to teenage undergraduates.

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Another set of problems academics face also arises from funding pressures. With many countries’ national education policies now making universities’ funding dependent on student recruitment, university prospectuses and other publicity materials—usually prepared with little or no contribution from academics—now tend to describe in detail the additional attractions of life at particular universities with a view to boosting student recruitment, and there is substantial anecdotal evidence of surprise on the part of students when they arrive at university and find that they might even, as some academics put it, have to read a book or two. Yet academics are the ones who have to school people into the canons, conventions and above all, the substance, of systematic inquiry and the reporting thereof, and who have to impart knowledge if a degree is to mean anything at all and not collapse into an empty and formal certificate of nothing, a commodity which is all exchange and no use. That in turn means the students must meet the requirements for certification, one of which is the simple acknowledgement of others’ work where that has contributed to a student’s knowledge. Almost all aspects of the life of the academy are likely to be significantly altered by the widening issue of plagiarism and the institutional, even national and international, responses to it. Today, it is difficult even to imagine anyone saying what my tutor, a distinguished professor, told me when he interviewed me for a place to read philosophy. A year or two earlier, he had received a telephone call from the then vice-chancellor, also a crusty graduate of the University of Oxford, three days before the finals, asking for the philosophy examination papers. My tutor’s reply was, ‘Well it doesn’t matter what you put on a philosophy exam paper, because if the students have got anything to say they’ll say it.’ My tutor was quite right, and would be right today, but the attention now given—of necessity—to plagiarism in all its forms is a dismal sign of the distance of those days from the present. The current position, as I have attempted to show, requires academics to navigate between the Scylla of political, macroeconomic, institutional, and other factors and the Charybdis of the students, who are for the most part inheritors and embodiments of an increasingly commodified culture. For the foreseeable future, and not for the first time in the history of serious investigation, it is Academics v. The Rest.

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References Badge, J., J. Scott and A. Cann. 2006. ‘A Roll-out of the JISC Plagiarism Detection Service with Biological Sciences Students’. 2nd International Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19–21. Available at (accessed January 9, 2008). Bao, J-P. and J. A. Malcolm. 2006. ‘Text Similarity in Academic Conference Papers’. 2nd International Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19–21. Available at php (accessed January 10, 2008). Björklund, M. and C-G. Wenestam. 1999. ‘Academic Cheating: Frequency, Methods and Causes’. Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research, Lahti, Finland September 22–25, 1999. Available at January 13, 2008). Boden, D. and R. Stubbings. 2006. ‘Re-writing the Script: Supporting Academic Integrity the Library Way!’ 2nd International Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19–21. Available at http://www. (accessed January 10, 2008). Brennan, L. and J. Durovic. 2005. ‘“Plagiarism” and the Confucian Heritage Culture (CHC) Student. Educational Integrity: Values in Teaching, Learning & Research’. 2nd Asia-Pacific Educational Integrity Conference, University of Newcastle, NSW, December 2–3. Available at (accessed January 9, 2008). Bull, J., C. Collins, E. Coughlin, and D. Sharp. 2001. ‘Technical Review of Plagiarism Detection Software Report’. CAA University of Luton. Available at (accessed January 13, 2008). Carroll, J., and J. Appleton. 2001. ‘Plagiarism: A Good Practice Guide’. Joint Information Systems Committee. Available at http://www.jisc. (accessed January 13, 2008). Clarke, J. and M. Aiello. 2006. ‘Codes Contracts and Consequences—The Role of Positive Agreement in Combating Academic Misconduct’. 2nd International Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19–21. Available at (accessed January 13, 2008). Clarke, R. and T. Lancaster. 2006. ‘Eliminating the Successor to Plagiarism? Identifying the Usage of Contract Cheating Sites’. 2nd International Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19–21. Available at (accessed January 13, 2008). Culwin, F. 2006. ‘I Think My Students are Less Naughty, but Maybe the Tools are More Effective!’ 2nd International Plagiarism Conference,

54 ? Arvind Sivaramakrishnan Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19–21. Available at http://www.jiscpas. (accessed January 13, 2008). Gourlay, L. 2006. ‘Negotiating Boundaries: Student Perceptions, Academic Integrity and the Co-construction of Academic Literacies’. 2nd International Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19–21. Available at (accessed January 13, 2008). Harvey, J. and S. Robson. 2006. ‘The Accidental Plagiarist: An Institutional Approach to Distinguishing between a Deliberate Attempt to Deceive and Poor Academic Practice’. 2nd International Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19–21. Available at http://www.jiscpas. (accessed January 14, 2008). Haworth, G. McC. 2006. ‘Student Projects: Plagiarism and Assessment’. 2nd International Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19–21. Available at (accessed January 14, 2008). Health and Safety Executive (United Kingdom). 2006. Working with VDUs. Available at (accessed January 17, 2008). Heap, N. and D. Woolls. 2006. ‘Scaling the Detection of Collusion and Plagiarism Across the Institution’. 2nd International Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19–21. Available at http://www. (accessed January 13, 2008). Joint Information Systems Committee, 2007. ‘Institutional Issues in Deterring, Detecting and Dealing with Student Plagiarism’. Available at report.doc (accessed January 17, 2008). Jones, M. 2006. ‘Plagiarism Proceedings in Higher Education—Quality Assured?’ 2nd International Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19–21. Available at php (accessed January 13, 2008). Joyce, D. 2006. ‘Promoting Academic Integrity among Staff and Students’. 2nd International Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19–21. Available at (accessed January 13, 2008). Mainka, C. and S. Raeburn. 2006. ‘Investigating Staff Perceptions of Academic Misconduct: First Results from One School’. 2nd International Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19–21. Available at (accessed January 14, 2008). Martin, I., M. Stubbs and H. Troop. 2006. ‘Weapons of Mouse Destruction: A 3D Strategy for Combating Cut-and-Paste Plagiarism Using the JISC Plagiarism Advisory Service’. 2nd International Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19–21. Available at http:www.jiscpas. (accessed January 13, 2008).

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Price, J. 2006. ‘Leaving it to Chance? Not Us. Not Any More!’ 2nd International Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19–21. Available at http: // (accessed January 9, 2008). Price, J. and R. Price. 2005. ‘Marking on a Wing and a Prayer’. Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, University of Glamorgan, September 14–17, 2005. Available at (accessed January 9, 2008). Quinsee, S., P. Baughan and E. Boylan. 2006. ‘Lessons Learnt from Running a Plagiarism Awareness Campaign’. 2nd International Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19–21. Available at http://www. (accessed January 17, 2008). Share, P. 2006. ‘Managing Intertextuality—Meaning, Plagiarism and Power’. 2nd International Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19–21. Available at (accessed January 13, 2008). Sivasubramaniam, S. D. 2006. ‘Assisting Students to Avoid Plagiarism: The Role of Formative Workshops’. 2nd International Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19–21. Available at http://www/jiscpas. (accessed January 14, 2008). Times Higher. 2007a. Issue dated November 16. Available at http://www. (accessed January 17, 2008). ———. 2007b. Issue dated November 23. Available at http://www. (accessed January 17, 2008).

4 Inventive Science: The Question of Ethics Vijaya Swaminath


The bigger the prize, the higher the motivation! For scientists, that is, people supposedly in pursuit of the truth, we believed that this motivation was simply the pleasure of opening nature’s secrets, breaking seemingly impossible codes and fitting together small pieces in the giant mosaic of life’s jigsaw. ‘She is a scientist!’ we whispered, conveying by tone and expression that she was God incarnate. But, the bigger the prize, the higher the motivation—at any cost! This fine print has now made headlines, thanks to the rather dramatic turn of events and their media coverage in the Korean stem cell scandal. Dr Hwang Woo-Suk, the God of Stem Cells, the sung hero who put South Korean science on the map, denied, partly acknowledged and then publicly hung his head, while revealing that his (and possibly his associates’) results and claims were less scientific and more artistic. The images in the press and the drama of a scandal, especially in the present context of reality shows and scandal-scavenging, dedeified scientists to a large extent in people’s eyes. How long and how much they will remember and how much this will affect the goings-on in science remains to be seen. Truth be told, science is a human endeavour. Like every other human pursuit, toil and sacrifice, lofty ideals and genuine valour, go hand-in-hand with base motives, fraudulent claims and the God syndrome. From the days of Aristotle to the Hwangs of today, there have been instances when getting it first became more important than getting it right. If we take the dictionary definition of fraud—‘intentional deception for gain’—there have been some interesting examples in the past. However, in this digital era, fraud has taken on a new dimension and science can be done with a computer and the right software. With current technology and an ‘Idiot’s Guide to Everything’ manual,

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discoveries can be invented at the stroke of a key. This is sure to excite the most modest of villains for the gains are plenty, what with millions pouring into research from industry apart from other vested interests. The bigger the price, the higher the motivation?

Looking Back in Time Trust! Sometimes, blind trust has been placed in scientists since what they said, claimed and did was apparently backed by ‘proof’, verifiable proof. This self-checking process of science is what has given us the foundations on which our perceptions of the world are based—a round earth, the subatomic world, your and my genetic make-up, dinosaurs, glimpses of a violent and explosive past, and the probability of a wrenching future. Also, along the way, the toolbuilding arm of science gave us gadgets that worked the way they were intended to, and offered further proof of a mastery of scientists over the principles they claimed to have understood. This made science credible, tangible and believable. Trust! This is what scientists got in return from an untrained public—trust in what scientists claimed to have done (the actual ‘doing’ part was done), trust that they have studied things carefully enough for the results to be ‘true’, and trust that their motivations are genuine; and from other scientists in the field—trust as colleagues and fellow-seekers of the truth, and trust that they are working towards a common goal. In science, after all, one looks for newer horizons by standing on older findings and understanding. ‘The whole scientific edifice is based on trust, you know. If scientists did not have some level of trust or give out some level of trust to one another, science could not be done,’ says Dr Linda Miller, executive editor, Nature and Nature Journals.1 Yet, there have been several, some spectacular, breaches of this trust through time. In 1912, workers digging in a gravel trench along a village road in Piltdown in Sussex, England, found more than dirt—much more. In what was touted as the find of the century, a host of bones (along with parts of a skull and a jaw bone), fossils and artefacts were unearthed. Charles Dawson, a solicitor and amateur archaeologist, encouraged this dig and the treasure hunt. Excited by his findings, he assembled a team—a jeweller, a paleoichthologist, a Jesuit priest and palaeontologist—to fit this jigsaw. Their final picture was that

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of an ancient human ancestor—the missing link between us and our primate predecessors. Science took centre-stage with this discovery and the ‘Piltdown Man’ became an instant attraction at what is now the Natural History Museum in London. The public had direct proof that Darwin was right—we did come from the apes! This lasted forty years. By the end of 1953, Piltdown Man’s reign had ended. His skull was shown to be modern human and his jaw that of an orangutan. The entire fossil-find had been an elaborate set-up. By whom? This debate still rages, but the deed was done—a kink in the armour of trustworthy science. In 1974, William T. Summerlin, a researcher in immunology at the Sloan Kettering Institute of Cancer Research, reported that he could transplant tissue between animals that were not genetically related. This would be a breakthrough as researchers till then were grappling with issues arising from the recipient rejecting the donor’s tissue. Summerlin, however, said he had solved this problem by keeping the tissue to be transplanted in organ culture for four to six weeks. This was exciting news for transplant science. To prove his claim, Summerlin paraded white mice with black patches on their backs—patches where their skin had been transplanted from other mice. Why then are we still grappling with this issue of donor tissue rejection, you may well ask. Another breach of trust—the black patches were not transplanted skin, they were patches of painted skin, painted with a felt-tipped marker that could be removed with alcohol!

Technology to the Rescue—Digital Science Fast forward. The digital era is upon us, has been upon us for the last couple of decades. Keyboards have replaced felt pens, there is software for everything and digits have replaced thoughts and words. Science and scientists have welcomed the versatility the digital era offers. ‘The power of digital technology allows you to show things in different dimensions that you could not do ten years ago. And that is a good thing,’ says Dr Mark Frankel, director, Scientific Freedom, Responsibility and Law Program, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Projections, simulations

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and manipulations have extended scientific vision beyond the physical laboratory. But beware—blind spots still lurk. The dawn of the 21st century looked promising in a niche, slightly obscure, field of Physics—Molecular Electronics. Dr Hendrik Schon of the Bell labs had managed to create molecular-scale transistors which worked the same way as the current silicon transistors used in all our computers. This was exciting news for people in the field, as it promised a future for computer chips; molecular-sized circuits could mean smaller dimensions than silicon circuits could ever shrink to. Dr Schon, at thirty-two, seemed to be in a race all on his own. He and his lab were jumping technological hurdles at breakneck speed. His work, in several fields, was published in leading scientific journals such as Science, Nature, Applied Physics Letters, etc. and the Nobel Prize seemed to be just a few hurdles away. But researchers at other laboratories were grumbling. They could not reproduce his results and this was crucial. To ensure that science does not work in mysterious ways, a selfchecking system is in place—reproducibility. ‘If someone is making a very, very interesting claim that turns out to be false, it will be found out just because other people try to repeat it,’ explains Dr Miller. So, the grumble became a growl. Another of science’s self-checking systems broke the bubble—the peer-review system. Dr Schon had graphs in two of his papers—two different papers to two different journals on two different breakthroughs at two different times—but, the same graphs! His peers had caught on and his life’s work was now on trial. A committee of peers concluded that Dr Schon had made up or altered data at least sixteen times between 1998 and 2001. Three years of apparent scientific progress were blacked out. Then the story of the embryo appeared on the scene. Biomedical and genetic research was a beehive of activity in the late 1990s and early 21st century. Scientists around the world were trying to decipher, decode and then assemble clones of living things. In the process came stem cells—embryonic stem cells. These are cells from embryos that have not chosen their line of work, namely, which organ of the human body they would function in. Could they be coaxed into becoming cells of the type we would like? Could they then be used to transplant diseased cells and tissues

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that we do not like? These earliest cells were offering tantalizing visions of medical cures and immortality. Employment, money, fame, and controversy were guaranteed in this new field. Scientists around the world were in the race. Dr Hwang Woo-Suk of South Korea emerged the front runner. With childhood dreams of becoming a scientist, he entered the workforce in Korean science as a veterinarian. A cloned cow and a cloned pig later, he was hot in the race. In 2004, he was South Korea’s road to scientific glory when he announced that he had cloned a human embryo. Well, how did he do it? Take an egg (a donated egg from a woman). Remove the nucleus from within it. Take a cell (any cell—mostly from skin biopsies) from a patient whose stem cells you want to create. Extract the nucleus from this cell (the nucleus contains the genetic information of that patient). Drop this nucleus into the egg. Prod the egg electrically and chemically. Voila! You have an embryo. In one corner of this embryo is a sac of thirty or so cells—the embryonic stem cells. Extract them. This is what Dr Hwang said he did. In 2005, he went further. He submitted a paper saying he did this for eleven different stem cell lines—i.e., eleven different patient lines. This was more than news! Medical history would be made if this research could be translated into a viable cure. Dr Hwang Woo-Suk was hailed as a national hero. Funds poured in and collaborators queued up. He and his wife were given free airline tickets for life! Set up for a fall? Tragically, yes! It started with some complaints that the eggs were not voluntarily donated. It blew up into total fabrication. The DNA profiles of all the cloned embryos looked very similar. A co-worker announced that nine of the eleven stem cell lines had been faked. They were the same DNA, came from the same source—images were concoctions of computer software. The 2004 results were also called a fabrication. Science had been subverted, yet again!

The Business of Science There are lots of these twists and turns along the road to scientific progress, some more distracting than others. And since this is science, namely, a field of study trying to understand our encounters with and observations of the world we live in, including the motivations

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for breaches of confidence, scientific misconduct, if you will, may be hard to understand for an outsider. Money, fame and acceptance: the list seems similar to any other line of work. But the environment in which science is done today is a lot to blame too. ‘I think what really contributes to that (misconduct) is the sort of environment, the atmosphere in which science is being done. It is a very competitive profession, if you will, and so much depends on funding from external sources and I think, when you get into situations of an environment which is very competitive with the potential of lots of money involved, there might be more of a temptation to cut ethical corners than there would be in other contexts,’ explains Dr Frankel. He believes that though some scientists are motivated by the obvious enticements, the environment is a sort of ‘enabler’, and makes it possible and—in their minds—necessary to go forward with their unethical activities. Think of it this way: Let’s say I am a scientist just starting out. I have been given some seed money, that is to say, a grant to commence my work. I work hard, I set up the experiment I dream is going to break new ground and I start collecting data. A couple of years pass and no ground has been broken. Not even a tiny shift in the sand. ‘Only a small trickle of research is really very useful,’ says Dr Balasubramanian, ‘most of it is only data.’ Dr Balasubramanian is an assistant professor at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston. The money is drying up and to tap more resources and get more funds, I need to publish my ‘results’ in reputed journals like Nature, Science, or any other specialized journal in my field. But, ‘journals are interested in getting the best articles and publishing them quickly because that leads to greater publicity, greater revenue. That leads to more readers, that leads to more advertisers, and I can go on and on,’ says Dr Frankel. Therefore, I need results. I have four or five observations in my experiment that go according to a hypothesis that might be new, exciting and believable, but there are a couple that don’t tie in. ‘We have to do a lot of things to prove a hypothesis, but one thing is enough to knock the hypothesis down,’ adds Dr Balasubramanian. What if ? What if the two loose ends did not exist? This may very well happen when science and the business of doing science come to a head. Edicts, such as ‘in science, you observe, not create observations’, may fall by the wayside, when money and acceptance by the scientific junta control opportunity.

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Of Hardware, Software and Creativity Digital technology can make more than this happen with very little effort and training. ‘When you can remove a red eye from photographs, why not a dot from a micrograph, right?’ explains Dr Miller. Image manipulation has become a serious issue these days, thanks to technology and software such as Adobe Photoshop. Cells seemingly from different patients can be cloned using software as in the Hwang case. Deleting background, ‘cleaning up’ images, and duplicating images—all these can be done using simple options in the software. In another Hwang-like misadventure in science, Dr Jon Sudbo of Norwegian Hospital in Oslo published a study in the prestigious journal, The Lancet (Sudbo 2005). He claimed that use of certain non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs reduced the risk of oral cancer. This was heralded, as it switched attention from surgery to a drug-based fight against cancer. It could increase the options available to cancer patients. But 250 of the 908 patients in Dr Sudbo’s study shared the same birthday and several others in the list did not exist. To strengthen his results, Dr Sudbo had presented two photographs of apparently two different patients at two different stages of the disease. It was shown that they were the same picture, one a more magnified version. Photoshop at work! Does this mean digital technology is aiding and abetting scientific misdemeanours? Are the tools available now making it easier for people to bend the rules? Is misconduct, in general, on the rise? ‘I agree with you that technology is sometimes working against honesty because it is blurring the lines as to what is acceptable and what is not. Things used to be not even dreamed of being done to a figure, for example. It would be too difficult and would be so easily detected that people would not even have considered doing that kind of manipulation. Now, you can do it digitally,’ says Dr Miller. But, to the question whether misconduct is on the increase now, there is mixed response. ‘We don’t have a baseline of data as we don’t know how many frauds or misconduct there was in 1940s or in 1960s,’ says Dr Frankel, who thinks it is not a question anybody can give a solid answer to. Dr Miller agrees with this. ‘I am not convinced that human nature has suddenly turned horrible or that the pressures are so different now than they were before.’

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It might just be that communication is faster these days and with the internet, unravelling a manipulated image or doctored data may be more in the public domain than before. Dr Hany Farid of Dartmouth College believes that there is more bending of rules due to digital manipulation now than before. He is a computer-scientist-turned-sleuth who works on developing software to sniff out doctored or wrongly manipulated images. The federal office of research integrity (in the U.S.), he says, had stated that in 1990, less than 3 per cent of the allegations of fraud they investigated involved contested images. By 2001, the number was 26 per cent and last year, it was 44.1 per cent. Mike Rossner of the Journal of Cell Biology estimates that 20 per cent of the manuscripts he accepts contain at least one figure that has to be remade because of inappropriate image manipulation—the images are not accurate reflections of the original data. He also estimates that 1 per cent of the papers have some piece of the image that is downright fraudulent. A bleak scenario? Well, as we said, science is a human endeavour and there are always those who try to get away with something. According to Dr Miller, ‘Scientists are humans. I don’t think you can avoid it. I don’t think we can detect all of it,’ she says. But, there are more eyes looking at scientific work now, eyes equipped with the same digital tools. Having seen several of these digital problems, now journals, funding agencies, labs, reviewers, and authors are more aware of issues.

Watching Science Who is to police the goings-on in science? Having been built on an honour system with peer review and reproducibility as its main defence, scientific research suddenly finds itself susceptible to scrutiny. The same tools that expand the reaches of science are exposing an underbelly that shakes public confidence in the process and hence, the trustworthiness of science. Should the peer review process be revamped? As it stands, peers review a paper to evaluate its scientific merit, verify the logic of the conclusions drawn and look for lines of reasoning the authors may have missed. ‘The general premise is that whatever came into your journal, you say, if this is true, it is interesting enough for us to send it to peer review. The peer reviewer’s job is to look at technical

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considerations,’ explains Dr Miller of how the process works in most journals. No one can tell whether or not an experiment actually took place. This would be hard to detect unless there is a cause for investigation. ‘It is important to realize that peer review in journals is not set up to deal with scientific misconduct,’ iterates Dr Frankel. Should it? At least, should scientific journals, the forum that brings scientific work to the outside world, make sure that deviant images be spotted before publishing? Yes, of course, seems to be the unanimous response. But, opinion on how hard they should look and how far is not unanimous. Post-Hwang, the external committee of Science had convened to investigate their handling of his papers, and recommended that editors of journals take more responsibility in verifying the integrity of data, especially those that are in particularly controversial or active fields. Mike Rossner of the Journal of Cell Biology believes selective screening does not quite cut it. In an editorial in the Journal, he stresses, ‘We at the JCB developed standards for the integrity of digital image data four years ago, and we screen every image in every figure of every accepted manuscript to ensure they do not violate those standards.’ Several other journals have also adopted this policy and have trained their art editors to flag ‘abnormalities’ (Rossner 2007). These days, most of them list their policies on image submission for new authors on their websites. ‘If you had done that (looked at the website) three or four years ago, you probably would not have found these sections. This is a relatively new occurrence with regards to journals because of some of the events in the last three of four years,’ says Dr Frankel. Defending the need to post image-manipulation guidelines for authors, Dr Miller says, ‘I found that this was a slippery slope, too large a grey area in the digital era. I needed to draw a line in the sand and tell them what is acceptable and what is not. It is funny; it seems like just good scientific behaviour. It may be like telling a dentist how to clean teeth, but we had to.’ Is this enough? Will a Hwang-type misconduct be stopped the next time—for sure? ‘I think there is a better chance. But, I am not going to sit here and tell you that it (detecting) is going to happen. But, I think there is a

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much better chance because everybody is much more sensitized and more eyes are looking at these kinds of papers,’ hopes Dr Frankel. Dr Miller echoes his sentiments. ‘These guidelines are not going to prevent fraud. They (some scientists) are going to do it. If people are going to cook up entire graphs, there is no stopping them.’ But, the more rules that are broken, the more aware the community gets. ‘Just like anything else, you have people who are trying to outwit the system. And you have the system that is trying to stay one step ahead of the people,’ sums Dr Miller. Ask the sleuth trying to keep the system one step ahead: ‘We will never be able to stop “all” of them. We will, however, stop much of it, and make it harder and more time consuming for someone to create a doctored image,’ says Dr Farid. Thanks to the speed with which information travels these days and the ratings attached to a scandal, especially in a field that has claimed honesty as a norm, science seems to be in a strangely vulnerable position. There has been so much that has been done well, so much that has helped advance our understanding of our world, and so many things that have been invented to make life easier, efficient and longer. Yet, these occasional transgressions, if you will, scrape away at our trust in science. Scientists are fallible, but our expectations of them and their work are not. Regardless of this, we would do well to remember that not all scientists make wrong decisions when pushed to tight corners. A majority of them are in the field because they are drawn to it. For the tens of thousands of scientists in a field, there is just one Einstein. Or for that matter, there is just one Hwang who may crave fame, recognition and money. For the rest, it is just a way of life that may not fatten their pocketbooks, but will satisfy their curiosities. ‘Most people don’t do that (fabrication) because science and research is their life’s work and you build upon your previous work. It is kind of an obvious truism that if you cannot build upon your previous work, then you are not going to be able to stay in science,’ says Dr Miller. And that may be enough of a deterrent for most scientists inclined to committing fraud. The bottom line is: There is a lot of pressure in the environment, there are a lot of tools that make it easy to cheat, there are a lot of perks in getting there first, but ‘you have to be true to yourself,’ says Dr Balasubramanian. Duplicate that!

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Note 1. Interviews with Dr Balasubramanian, Dr Mark Frankel, Dr Linda Miller, and Dr Hany Farid were conducted by the author in December 2007.

References Rossner, Mike. 2007. ‘Editorial’, Journal of Cell Biology 176(2): 131–32. Sudbo, Jon. 2005. ‘Non-steroidal, Anti-inflammatory Drugs and the Risk of Oral Cancer: A Nested Case-control Study’, The Lancet 366(9494): 1359–66.

5 Whose DNA Is It, Anyway? Expanding DNA Databanks Raise Human Rights Concerns Sujatha Byravan

James Watson, one of the discoverers of the structure of DNA, the primary form of inherited genetic material, recently gave permission to a company to sequence his DNA and make the results public. ‘Provided they didn’t release to the world that I have some disease I don’t want to know about,’ he said (Wade 2006). Watson was right to be concerned about the privacy of his DNA since genomic information can reveal a lot about our inherited tendencies to develop certain diseases. Not only do our genes unveil information regarding our own bodies, but also about those with whom we share our DNA. As scientists learn more about genes in the coming years, additional details are bound to be uncovered. Over the last few decades, there has been a convergence in the expansion of DNA and computer and internet technologies. As the ability to store, access and work with large amounts of information has grown, it has catalyzed technologies and policies that require or generate even larger sets of data. The complete sequencing of the human genome was regarded as a major challenge and was decoded in 2003 in its entirety. This was heralded as a landmark event, but with faster sequencing speeds using DNA chip technology in which a postage stamp–size chip can analyze thousands of DNA markers from a sample, the goals of genomic technology development and the issues appear to have changed quite rapidly. It might soon very well be possible to sequence the DNA of anyone who needs it; perhaps even of everyone in the not-too-distant future. Medical and genetic sequence data are increasingly being gathered at a variety of public and private institutions. The U.K. has proposed a national Biobank with samples from 500,000 volunteers, and the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. has plans for a similar centre. Other institutions that gather DNA samples and store sequence information include hospitals, research institutions, prisons, the military, insurance companies, the police, employers, genetic testing services, and counsellors. Private companies such as

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Metropolis (in Mumbai) and Ardais Corporation (in Massachusetts) have gotten into the game and serve as brokers for gathering DNA from people and providing them to third parties. New computer technologies allow us to collect, store, search, and retrieve information as required. Computer technology also allows one to match a specific DNA sequence with a very large data set. If this were not possible, there would be no point in gathering DNA sequence information from a variety of sources as is now being done. It would be cumbersome to work with the sequences and there would be no easy way to use the information efficiently for research. In this chapter I discuss some of the concerns that emerge from the combination of DNA typing with computer and internet technologies. Since my emphasis is on the effects of the merging of these two, I will provide an idea of the range of challenges that have emerged but will not necessarily offer a comprehensive analysis of various concerns related to DNA typing. Let us begin by examining the case of the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia (CHOP) to understand some of the problems that could emerge with biomedical research and DNA collection and typing. The CHOP announced in 2006 that it would gather DNA from children who came for obesity treatment, raising alarms among a number of observers. The DNA of these children would have been sequenced and the information stored in some conceivably long-term database. It would then be analyzed to identify commonalities shared by this group and require further research to provide clues to the genetic determinants of obesity. The goal was to carry out research so that in future CHOP could test every child who walked in for the presence of the ‘obesity gene’. If such a gene were ever found, CHOP would patent it and reap profits from anyone using the test. Broad initial consent to use their children’s tissue for research does not cover the range of concerns that parents might have in the future. Such concerns might include questions like the following: What additional kinds of research would the DNA be used for; who would have access to the DNA; how can privacy be guaranteed; would employers, insurers and others in the life of the child have access to the information in future and discriminate against them; and what about profits garnered by the hospital using the patients’ tissue? Hospitals such as CHOP have the added ability to combine their medical records with their genetic databases and develop lucrative partnerships with drug companies through their research.

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Although law enforcement and the military were previously collecting DNA solely for identification purposes, this situation has now changed. There is clear evidence that in the U.K. criminal DNA databanks are being accessed for research. In most places, in addition to the DNA sequence itself, the blood or other tissue sample from which the information is obtained is also stored thus making it possible to trace the DNA to a particular person, thus leading to further concerns. This explosion in the gathering and storage of such information is taking place in a number of countries across the world with the U.K. and the U.S. leading the way. Australia, countries across Europe, Singapore, and Japan are not far behind and there is growing interest and a momentum to the enthusiasm shown by other countries to using DNA typing for a variety of causes from security, personal identity and immigration to biomedical research and police work.

Concerns About Privacy The internet has provided opportunities for the development of an unregulated market in which the consumer can directly buy genetic tests without assistance or interpretation by a doctor or a counsellor. A number of tests with little validity or value are now available over the internet for anyone eager for such information. Genetic determinism and the idea of ‘decoding’ the future of one’s health are anything but the mere unfolding and expression of one’s genes. Despite this scientific knowledge, the popular belief enshrined in the minds of most people is that our genes determine our health futures, our intelligence, behaviour, and a range of different characteristics and qualities. Thus, many people are quite excited about genetic tests, but there are plenty of reasons to be concerned. Any collection and storage of DNA information provides opportunities for third parties to access this databank. If the security is breached, we cannot change our DNA at will just as we might change our bank account or credit card numbers. Altering our genetic identity is not possible and therefore we are left vulnerable and unable to protect ourselves from the consequences of personal DNA theft. Even in the U.S., where technologies in this area are quite advanced, there is no legislation that protects an individual’s genetic privacy. The Council for Responsible Genetics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has gathered evidence of hundreds of instances of discrimination

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mostly by insurance companies and employers on the basis of a person’s genetic information. One example is the discrimination faced by workers in the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Company, which the Equal Employment Commission revealed to be conducting genetic tests on its employees without their informed consent, as a means of counteracting workers’ compensation claims for job-related stress injuries. In what turned out to be the U.S. government’s first case against workplace DNA discrimination, Burlington Northern finally agreed in 2002 to pay $2.2 million to settle charges. While there is legislation in most states in the U.S. to protect individuals from discrimination by employers and insurers on the basis of genetic information, this is post-invasion of privacy. Genetic non-discrimination legislation is important, but in the first place no one should have access to a person’s DNA information without the person’s knowledge and explicit instructions. Just as no one should be able to steal one’s credit card details, one’s house keys or purse, they should not be able to steal one’s genetic information and we need laws that would protect a person’s genetic privacy.

Civil Rights ‘America has more than two million citizens behind bars, the highest absolute and per capita rate of incarceration in the world. Black Americans, a mere 13 percent of the population, constitute half of this country’s prisoners. A tenth of all black men between ages 20 and 35 are in jail or prison; blacks are incarcerated at over eight times the white rate’ (Patterson 2007). Britain’s Police National DNA database is the largest in the world with the sequence of DNA from a certain region of the chromosome. According to GeneWatch UK, a leading public interest organization, a large number of minorities are in the police database, including 300,000 children and young people between the ages of ten to eighteen. Most of Britain’s black men (at least three out of four) are in the database. Many countries across Europe are beginning to develop or expand their criminal DNA databanks. In the U.S., The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a DNA database referred to as CODIS—Combined DNA Index System, which allows local, state and federal officials to enter, store, search, and share DNA profiles electronically. In this current post-9–11 climate of fear, conditions for the gathering of DNA from a person have been progressively relaxed. In early 2006, President Bush signed

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into law the DNA Fingerprint Act, which allows the collection and retention of DNA from individuals who are merely arrested, that is, under suspicion even prior to trial or conviction, or from nonU.S. persons who are detained under federal authorities. This Act also allows states in the U.S. to upload DNA profiles to CODIS. In addition, it serves as a green light encouraging states that do not as yet collect DNA from those who are arrested, but are innocent, to move in that direction. It undermines the principle of presumption of innocence. At last count there were twelve states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia) in the U.S. that were taking DNA from those just arrested and there are others considering widening their net in the same manner by changing their policies to gather DNA from arrestees. Although DNA has allowed many innocent people in prisons to be released, increasing the size of the police DNA database with arrestees does not help in catching criminals. The police try to match DNA found in a crime scene with the DNA in their database and if there is a match, sometimes the perpetrator of the crime is found. Adding an increasing number of innocent people to the police databank does not increase the ability to catch those who perpetrate crimes. On the contrary, it overburdens crime labs and other criminal justice agencies that are ill-equipped to handle the large number of samples that they now have to analyze. The poor, the marginalized, people of colour, other minority groups, and people living in certain neighbourhoods and communities are more likely to be regarded with suspicion by the police. Thus, when DNA from even innocent suspects is to be included in the database, it is not surprising that the police database is disproportionately composed of DNA from these marginalized groups. In the U.S., systematic racial disparities run through every stage of the criminal justice system. They affect who is detained, arrested and convicted, and the kind of punishment that is meted out. About sixty years ago, 22 per cent of the prison population was black and 77 per cent was white, but as of December 2004, according to the Bureau of Justice, 41 per cent were black, 34 per cent white, 19 per cent Hispanic and the rest belonged to ‘other’ races. The new DNA technology and storage, easy matches and retrieval through CODIS do not make the system any fairer, but simply varnish the normally biased operations of the police with the patina of legitimacy.

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Where are we headed with this new technology of DNA typology? The control of immigration is yet another potential application of this technology. In order to track illegal immigrants, governments could justify collecting the DNA of individuals profiled as ‘immigrants’ in wide sweeps in the interest of securing the borders. Officials could then keep track of their travel details, and from that, perhaps even glean their tendency for terrorist activities. Since the 1970s, an increasing majority of legal immigrants coming into industrialized nations are from less-developed countries in Asia, the Caribbean, Africa, Eastern Europe, and from Mexico. One could then envision that the DNA of immigrants, who are mostly people of colour and are from poorer countries, would make its way into DNA databases in the West. Further, since scientists are working to identify so-called racial genes, we might be ready to create a racially sub-divided immigrant DNA database. One could also envision law enforcement agencies turning to DNA technology to identify ‘home-grown’ terrorists, especially since they need no longer have distinguishable ‘Middle Eastern’ features. For instance, perhaps it may be considered politically expedient to collect the DNA of Arabs or Muslims to make the dominant white constituency in European and North American countries feel safer.

In Conclusion Technology, not medicine, is the immediate force behind the search for tools that allow for rapid and cheaper genetic sequencing of the human genome. Newer and faster DNA decoding machines are being developed simply because they are possible, not because there is a demand for them. Manufacturers can, however, be confident that demand will grow as researchers learn more and uncover additional linkages between genes and the occurrence of specific diseases. Even when the push to develop and employ certain technologies is influenced by societal needs, it is also guided by our prejudices and biases. Hand-held devices, not larger than a credit card, that could take a person’s DNA and compare it with the information in CODIS were used by the police force on the streets of New York in a pilot programme. This allowed the police to quickly check on individuals who they stopped on city streets. Police DNA databanks in Britain are being accessed by scientists for research into the genetic determinants of criminal behaviour. Even though research has repeatedly shown

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that there is no genetic link with deviance, some scientists will not cease and the research into this dubious area continues. Many states in the U.S. have legislation that permits similar research using criminal DNA databanks. Thus, not only will DNA from minorities become a large part of the police DNA database, but their DNA will also be specifically researched to find out why they have a ‘tendency’ to commit crimes. Then perhaps people could be scanned and those with ‘criminal genes’ could be identified before they carry out crimes, this being the overall goal of such research. Minority groups such as those who are sick, disabled, people of colour and immigrants, will have their DNA taken by the police more often in different contexts. Thus, the confluence of information storage and DNA technologies has fuelled a new sort of Orwellian world in which only certain kinds of people are compromised. The rest will go about their lives feeling secure and just fine. When the problem touches close to home, as it did in the U.K. when numerous innocent children’s DNA was included in the police database, people who had remained uninvolved or even supported the policies for gathering arrestee DNA joined in the protest. Perhaps this is what it will take to wake people up to the issues involved. We all need to recognize that when the rights and liberties of a few are compromised for the freedom and security of the rest of us, justice is never served. The support and expansion of specific technologies is not value free. In a globalized world, our science, our problems, fears and our technological responses are to a large extent borrowed or transplanted and what is done in one place is extended and applied to other parts of the world. Therefore, DNA typing will spread to various countries; in what form and how fast depends on a number of contextual factors. What kinds of limits can be placed on DNA databanks? There should be legislation that ensures privacy and protects from discrimination on the basis of genetic information. Limits on police databanks—such as including only the DNA of convicted felons and not providing open access to researchers—are important. Getting rid of samples once the information is entered is another safeguard. As new genetic technologies are sought to keep the world safe, it will require acute vigilance to be sure that while we attempt to create a safe place for some people, we do not end up with a new social order that results in discrimination and apartheid for others.

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References Billings, Paul R. 2005. ‘Genetic Nondiscrimination’, Nature Genetics 37: 559–60. Byravan, S. 2006. ‘DNA Typing: A Technology of Fear’, Development 49(4): 28–32. Duster, Troy. 2003. Backdoor to Eugenics, second edition, Routledge, New York. ———. 2004. ‘Selective Arrests, a DNA Forensic Database, and Phrenology’, in David Lazer, ed., DNA and the Criminal Justice System; The Technology of Justice, MIT PRESS, Cambridge, Massachusetts. GeneWatch, 18(4). Available at Gosline, Anna. 2005. ‘Will DNA Profiling Fuel Prejudice?’, New Scientist 186(2494): 12. Hacker, Andrew. 2003. Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal, Scribner, New York. Lewontin, Richard. 2005. ‘The Fallacy of Racial Medicine’, GeneWatch 18(4): 5–7. Patterson, Orlando. 2007. ‘Jena, O. J. and the Jailing of Black America’, The New York Times, September 30. Roche, P. A. and G. J. Annas. 2001. ‘Protecting Genetic Privacy’. Nat Rev Genet 2: 392–96. ———. 2006. ‘DNA Testing, Banking, and Genetic Privacy’, NEJM, 355(6): 545–46. Wade, Nicholas. 2006. ‘The Quest for the $1,000 Human Genome’, The New York Times, July 18.

6 ‘Thank You for Saving Hindus’: Reflections on Hindu Hatred in the Digital Age Subarno Chattarji

This chapter looks at the ways in which internet message boards reflect right-wing Hindu hate in certain contexts, particularly visà-vis Muslims in India as well as attitudes towards Pakistan. Two specific events—the Gujarat riots of 2002 and the killing of Nawab Bugti of Balochistan in August 2006—are the primary focus and the chapter looks at these events within the framework of sites such as, and While ‘new’ media such as the internet has enabled modes of query and discussion that are unavailable in mainstream print and television, a study of excerpts from the, HinduUnity. org and message boards provides examples of the ways in which prejudices are circulated and normalized. The intertwining of technology and conservatism is both fascinating and dangerous and the sites under consideration are instrumental in the construction of Hindus as victims and Pakistan (or ‘Papistan’ or ‘site of sin’, as one participant put it) as the perennial and irreconcilable enemy. ‘Chat rooms allow,’ as Mahalakshmi Jayaram writes, ‘participants to “talk” to remote persons in “real time”—[ . . . ] erasing time and distance’ (Jayaram 2005: 293). This virtual erasure of ‘time and distance’ allows for the creation of ‘global communities of interest’ and it ‘has seen the coming together of people sharing concerns— from anti-war and anti-globalisation protestors to victims of cancer and other medical conditions to fan clubs and astronomers’ (ibid.). Jayaram delineates the possibilities and limitations of chatrooms and the internet from the viewpoint of journalistic practices and she justly points to the digital divide created in India. ‘In third world societies like India, it is again the elite with historical advantages of caste, class, education and wealth who have access to the online world for special interests and global communities. This access allows a further disengagement from the offline/hard reality of the majority of nation’ (ibid.: 300). While this argument is an unexceptional one it seems to ignore the ways in which the ‘elite’ access discourses

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circulated on the internet are often reflective of majoritarian politics and polemics available in wider societal frameworks. In these particular instances—the Gujarat riots and the killing of Nawab Bugti—the rhetorical representations and hate speeches are related to and directed at stigmatized Muslims within India as well as without, especially in the nation of Pakistan as the archetypal enemy.1 The relationship between ‘old’ and ‘new’ media is made problematic when the ‘new’ is not only not revolutionary or emancipatory but the ‘new’ tends to repeat and ventriloquoize some of the attitudes and opinions available in mainstream ‘old’ media. Thus, as Christiane Brosius writes, ‘We can venture to say that the web provides a place for the creation of a new form of intercultural and transnational iconography, even to those committed to militant nationalism and opposed to intercultural dialogue’ (2004: 140). Brosius analyzes the iconography and content of the HinduUnity. org site and how ‘symbols of the threatening Other are “magically fixed” through the strategies of appropriation, defamation, or humiliation’ (ibid.). Brosius cites Evelyn Kallen’s (1998) essay entitled ‘Hate on the Net’. Kallen distinguishes three interconnected means of using the web as a ‘“hate-mongering” tool: An “invalidation myth” defines the target group (e.g. the Muslims) as inferior/ dangerous; an “invalidation theory” provides the ideological framework, arguments and “evidence” to rhetorically attack minority groups; and finally as “a platform for organized community action”, a hate website urges and provides the communicative means for the “threatened community” to take steps to aggressively counter or eliminate the purported threat’ (Brosius 2004: 140). While Brosius’ excellent analysis dwells on the web of hate constructed by and within, I would like to deal more particularly with the manner in which the issue of Balochistan was discussed on the site and how those discussions relate to Kallen’s model of using the web as a ‘hate-mongering tool’. In fact, the process of invalidation and the desire to oust the inimical ‘other’ is also evident in chatrooms which are not located within the Hindutva fold such as the one hosted by The latter seems symptomatic of the symbiotic relationship between dominant discourses in a conventional framework and ‘new’ media as well as the ways in which ‘new’ media replicates attitudes and ideas available in the mainstream media and public spheres. The replication model is not, of course, an absolute one, as is evident from an examination of some responses to the Gujarat riots

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on Mainstream print and television media were, by and large, critical of the Gujarat riots, their implications for India’s constitutional functioning, and the place of Muslims within an atmosphere and reality of state-sponsored riots.3 There were examples, however, of regional newspapers such as Sandesh, which supported Narendra Modi and were unabashed in their partisan reportage of the riots. On March 1, 2002 Sandesh reported that the dead bodies of two girls abducted during the attack on the Sabarmati Express had been found near a pond in Kalol. ‘As part of a cruel inhuman act that would make even a devil weep, the breasts of both the dead bodies had been cut. Seeing the dead bodies one knows that the girls had been raped again and again, perhaps many times. There is speculation that during this act itself the girls might have died.’4 The police could not substantiate the story. As Chenoy et al. (2002) pointed out in their report to the nation, such unsubstantiated stories helped to fuel the communal frenzy. It was within this critical context that the government’s attempt to control and/or influence the media during that period becomes significant. The year-long harassment of Tehelka (the internet portal that revealed corruption in defence deals through a sting operation) and the arrests of Anirudh Bahal and Iftikar Gilani were symptomatic of coercive desires and tendencies manifested earlier in incidents in Gujarat. At the same time, however, little was done by the government to hold Sandesh accountable for its often sensationalist stories of Muslim atrocities and the need to avenge them. In its inimitable way Sandesh contributed to and was illustrative of the ‘complex functions of location, reassurance and denigration’ for the majority community in Gujarat.5 The fan mail on replicated the coverage and opinions of Gujarati newspapers such as Sandesh expressing gratitude for Narendra Modi’s actions and lionizing him as a Hindutva icon. The theme of gratitude was linked to the idea that the killing of Muslims was just and good for the country and that it protected Hindus from the Muslim ‘other’. One contributor, Rupal, wrote: Dearest Modi sir, Lots of thanks for all that u have done to us. We (Hindus) were a victim of Islamic violence since long. I remember killing of Hindu pilgrims in VaishnoDevi, Amaranth and in almost allover India innocent Hindus were killed by Muslims only on the name of religion and jihad. The entire underworld is run by Muslims. It is very sad that in spite of all these years of Muslim terrorism, some of our leaders still support

78 ? Subarno Chattarji the Muslims only to get their votes (Congress for e.g.). The opposition should realize that its duty is not just to oppose every decision of the govt but to also support the Govt in the interest of the nation. In such a situation you have taken all the courage to stand against the Muslims and give justice to the majority, you really deserve to be thanked. Come to our city and u’ll realize that people are virtually worshiping you. I understand that the stand you are taking is a difficult one, and i also know that there will be even some Hindus too who will dislike you are stand, but a vast majority is with you and love you. Pls continue and don’t bother about those critics, we will make sure that you remain the CM forever. Thanks a lot once again. I wish there were few more Narendra Modis in this country... —Rupal Yours Truely Rupal ([email protected])6

Rupal’s message combined the familiar pillorying of Muslims— seen as terrorists and criminals—with the idea of Hindu victimhood and the ‘pandering’ to minorities displayed by secular governments. That these ideas have a certain currency within Hindu right-wing circles and that they are taken at face value is evidence of the replication of contemporary discourses mentioned earlier.7 The seeming truth value of these ideations was bolstered by repetition and Mr Modi’s stature associated with Gujarati pride (the asmita that Modi had repeatedly stressed). P. J. Desai wrote: SIR, I FAIL TO FIND WORDS TO EXPRESS GRATITUDE TO YOU FOR THE WAY HINDUS HAVE BEEN PROTECTED IN THIS STATE DESPITE ALL THE CRITICISMS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. YOU HAVE ENDEARED YOURSELF TO ALL THE GUJARATIS. THE WHOLE STATE IS SOLIDLY BEHIND YOU. HATS OFF TO “ASLI MARD” !!! p.j.desai [email protected]

And Shreenivas Gadi gushed: Respected Modiji, We are proud of you for maintaining Gujarat so well. Please don’t get shaken by the critics, we Hindus all over the world love you so much and we will pray for you always. Thanks and take care—Shreeenivas Gadi

The location of these writers is not evident but Gadi’s reference to ‘we Hindus all over the world’ seems to indicate a referential if not actual sense of a wider Hindu diaspora that is grateful for the

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horrors unleashed in Gujarat. The role of the Hindu, particularly Gujarati diaspora in funding right-wing organizations in India has been analyzed and documented and it is possible to imagine that the likes of Gadi would be potential donors within or outside India.8 Desai’s ‘ASLI MARD’ appellation is interesting because it combines Rupal’s sense of historical victimhood with a belief that ‘manly’ Hindus led by the embodiment of Hindu manliness, Narendra Modi, were now striking back. This idea of retrospective vengeance is not, of course, a new one. As Iqbal Ansari writes of the 1969 riots in Ahmedabad, ‘One Gujarati leaflet widely distributed during the [1969] riots exhorted Hindu youth to “leave defensive policy and attack now. Arise to avenge insult to our temples and ladies, and rush to Muslim areas with weapons and finish them off ”’ (Ansari 2002: 10). What is new is the community of hate created by the circulation of the same ideas in cyberspace. A subtext of these messages was the desire to oust Muslims from within the country either through killing and intimidation or through strangling their means of economic sustenance, as was evident in the targeting of the Bohra community as well as the pushcarts of the poorer Muslim vendors. In right-wing Hindu demonology Muslims are constructed as the ubiquitous ‘other’ who must be ousted. ‘The discourse of the expunction of the Muslim other is ceaselessly circulated by Hindu nationalism’ (Hansen 1999: 213). One participant on Mr Modi’s site was not content, however, with the expulsion of Muslims from India’s territory. Rakesh Kumar Trivedi wrote: Dear modi ji, you are like a god to us. thank you for saving Hindus. but you are not doing enough. we will not be satisfied until you send your sena out to Muslim countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan to rape Muslim women kill and burn Muslims. thank you rakesh kumar trivedi [email protected]

The desire for vengeance and the fantasy of unilateral invasion and rape represents the type of ‘free-floating genocidal rage’ that Ashis Nandy perceived in the nuclear frenzy and its aftermath on the subcontinent (Nandy 2001: 213). ‘The fact that the internet is a media that enables interaction “from below” justifies the use of the term “democratic media”. However, this gets complicated when “democratic participation” is only a layer under which particular interest groups undermine any sense of a civil society’ (Brosius 2004: 143). Brosius’ comment refers to the site but it is

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equally applicable to the messages highlighted and analyzed in the preceding paragraphs. The undermining of ‘democratic participation’ as well as ‘civil society’ was commented on in mainstream English language media but not highlighted sufficiently in the context of internet message boards and chatrooms. It is interesting, in fact, that one writer condemned the ‘English press’ for its critical coverage of the Gujarat riots: Sir, We are really pleased by your excellent handling of the riot situation in Gujarat. The English press supported by power-hungry congressmen are out to tarnish your image & that of the powerful Hindu samaj. These people are very few in numbers & the majority of us openly support you & your dynamic handling of the situation. raja khara

That Narendra Modi and the genocide he presided over was the subject of praise and solidarity is indicative not only of communalized collectivities but the contextualization of these collectives in cyberspace combines in bizarre ways the medieval and modern, the use of technology for furthering atavistic desires. The troubles in Balochistan and the subsequent killing of Nawab Bugti were covered extensively in mainstream English language as well as regional media in India. The dominant tenor of this coverage was the undemocratic nature of the Pakistani government and expressions of moral superiority at poor governance and human rights violations across the border. What is interesting for the present analysis is the ways in which appropriated Balochistan for its own agendas related to Hindu supremacy and the Akhand Bharat thesis. led the discussion on the Balochistan issue with an article by B. Raman, former additional secretary in the Government of India. The article, ‘Balochistan: Second War of Independence’, provided a history of the struggle of the Balochis against state oppression and ended with the declaration: The second Baloch War of Independence poses a moral dilemma for India. The Balochs had stood by Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress Party during the independence struggle against the British. They had opposed the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan. If India had to be partitioned, they would have preferred an independent Balochistan. The Balochs were the closest to Gandhi’s heart. Due to reasons of realpolitik, we let them down during their first War of Independence. The same realpolitik would dictate painful inaction by us

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now too. But that does not mean we should hesitate to draw the attention of the international community to the ruthless massacre of the Baloch nationalists by the Pakistan army. We owe our moral support to them. The struggle for an independent Balochistan is part of the unfinished agenda of the Partition.9

In Raman’s analysis, the link between the Balochis and Mahatma Gandhi made it imperative for India to intervene in the moral struggle waged by the Balochis and this connected seamlessly with the Akhand Bharat thesis. is a website that serves as an entry point to the Sangh Parivar on the net, hosting links to the Bajrang Dal, the Shiv Sena and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), among others. It also has a ‘Hindu Holocaust Museum’ and a ‘Nation of Hindutva’ site. It is avowedly anti-Muslim and propagates the belief that Bharat was and will be one nation once the Muslims have been tamed. For such a site to use Mahatma Gandhi as a moral link for supporting the Balochis is ironic but it passed without comment. The message board responding to Raman’s article was in agreement with the position taken by the author. For example, ‘KhalsaFateh’ wrote: ‘I agree. It would be a missed opportunity if we don’t help out the Balochis. If they are able to successfuly break away from Pakistan, then other ethnic groups will be encouraged to break away from Papistan. And we may see our dream of Akhand Bharat a reality. It is not unreasonable at all because these Balochis are determined to break from Pakiland. So, this war for Balochistan is HUGE in its importance.’10 Another respondent, ‘HinduRSSVHP’ wrote: ‘Friends: While this is welcome, this struggle for independence appears to be in its infancy! Also, it is very difficult for the BLA to achieve much without outside help. Our leaders are so impotent that they will not be able to take advantage of this internal fight in Papistan! Let us hope (as we do most of the times) somebody else will at least take advantage of this to break Papistan.’11 The appellation ‘Papistan’ is presumably predicated on the ‘sinfulness’ of the partition which led to the establishment of the nation of apostates. This type of message board witticism reflected some deep-seated prejudices and stereotypes, related partially to an inability to deal with ambiguous or complex realities. Murray Edelman’s observations of citizen responses to political crises in America seem appropriate in the context of message board reaction in India. Edelman writes: ‘It is characteristic of large numbers of people in our society that they see and think in terms of stereotypes, personalization, and

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oversimplifications, that they cannot recognize or tolerate ambiguous and complex situations, and that they accordingly respond chiefly to symbols that oversimplify and distort. This form of behaviour (together with other characteristics less relevant to the political process) is especially likely to occur where there is insecurity occasioned by failure to adjust to real or perceived problems’ (Edelman 1985: 31). The pathologies of ‘stereotypes, personalization, and oversimplifications’ are evident in the ways in which Bugti and the Balochis are constructed as heroes, Pakistan as a dangerous space that must be reclaimed if India is to be safe, and the refusal to accept valid criticism from outside (as in the Pakistani government spokeswoman’s rebuttal of India’s charges related to Balochistan). Given the ideological positioning and bias of sites such as www. and it is not surprising that they should be repositories of hate messages. Media consumer ventriloquism—the replication model—partially explains the currency of the types of opinions available on internet sites. A few responses on the message board were indicative not only of mainstream media influence on opinions but also the ways in which these opinions have a certain currency and circulate within civic spaces. is not dedicated to ‘Hindu’ issues in any sense of the term neither does it avow a Hindutva line, yet its message boards had messages which are interchangeable with the ones cited earlier in terms of content and attitude. One respondent, ‘Ramanand’ wrote: ‘Nawab Bugti Singh was a Hindu and he has been eliminated because of his religion. This is not fair and acceptable by any Hindus in India.’12 The religious angle led inevitably to the thesis of Akhand Bharat and the need to dismember Pakistan (the latter an idea expressed, among others, by India Today during the Kargil War).13 ‘This is the right time,’ declared ‘sandy’, ‘to repeat 1971. Break Pakistan again and the country will be in turmoil. The indo pak problem will be solved once and for all.’ ‘This is the best time to break the pakis to pieces,’ stated ‘Hk’.14 ‘Sachinsuri’ referred to the Pakistan spokeswoman’s reaction to Indian reporters questions on Balochistan: ‘it was very disgusting by the way that spokeswomen (sic) answered to all the questions. don’t we have any self respect when she said that India should mind their own business, then she said that india should look at their own problems as they are many and not at pakistan [ . . . ] being an indian

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i feel hurt when she spoke like that.’15 The answer to the rhetorical question is of course that, by and large, Indian media and politicians displayed neither self-respect nor a capacity for self-reflection with reference to the Balochistan issue, or else such questions would never have been raised either by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) or the media. ‘sachinsuri’ felt ‘hurt’ in much the same way that mainstream media took umbrage at the spokeswoman’s reaction, and that ‘hurt’ is a form of non-rational response to problems within the country. The implication seemed to be that so long as we can dream of ‘break[ing] the pakis to pieces’ our sense of nationhood will be firm and unambiguous. New media such as the internet has enabled modes of query and discussion that are unavailable in mainstream print and television. Protests against war and injustice have been empowered by the virtual communities created the world over by the internet. For example, anti-war protests against the U.S. involvement in Iraq were coordinated by and culminated in thousands joining peace marches. Another example of the positive creation of an internet community is the gay fraternity worldwide.16 The excerpts from the, and message boards cited here are examples, however, of the ways in which prejudices aired in mainstream media are repeated by its consumers. The internet serves in these instances as a vehicle for preaching hate. What the Glasgow University Media Group wrote of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is equally appropriate for Indian media and some audience responses to Balochistan. ‘If you do not understand the Middle East crisis it might be because you are watching it on TV news. This scores high on images of fighting, violence and drama but is low on explanation’ (Philo et al. 2003: 133). The power of mainstream media in fostering prejudice is perhaps best revealed in these snippets as they highlight the extent to which opinions are internalized and disseminated by the media consumer. Message board communities are a microcosm of larger ‘imagined communities’ and they reflect consolidations and fears observable in different times and contexts. Daniel Pick, summarizing Melanie Klein and Joan Riviere’s observations on this phenomenon in the post–First World War scenario, writes: ‘An imagined community—the subject and its immediate objects—is thus relatively safe. Hostility and hate are confined or alienated—located in a variety of forms outside.’17 Time and again—from Kargil to

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Gujarat, to the Balochistan issue—‘imagined communities’ were consolidated by alienating the enemy without and within. The status of ‘outsider’ was not confined to national borders as Muslims were deemed to be untrustworthy ‘outsiders’ within the national space and hence even more dangerous. The relative safety predicated by Klein and Riviere was constantly threatened by the presence of the enemy within. ‘Papistan’ is therefore both outside and within and needs to be either dismembered or tamed. Christiane Brosius notes that ‘The kind of agency evoked in this context is the almost oxymoronic creation of what could be called an armchair jihadi or a console dharamyoddha (Holy Warrior), who views the violence on display with a degree of pleasure and inner torment, combined with feelings of vulnerability and rage’ (Brosius 2004: 141). The kinds of agency that Brosius perceives are applicable not only to HinduUnity. org but to the other two sites as well. Arguably the agency of online communities may seem less harmful than rioters on the streets but there is a creation, a network of communal hatred that is bolstered by the netizens’ enthusiasm for genocide and hate speech that is as destructive of democratic, civil society.18 One can speculate that the participants on these message board interactions are younger, net savvy denizens of India and its diaspora and the use of ‘Sir’ and the honorific ‘ji’ to address Mr Modi is a sign of age-related as well as Hindutva-centred respect. It is also possible to argue that Mr Modi becomes in this construction on the net and in reality a type of youth icon, a poster-boy not only of Hindutva but of aspirational models for the future. Mahalakshmi Jayaram cites Jane Singer regarding the pitfalls of online journalism. Singer’s comments on the selectivity and insularity of online communities are equally relevant for our understanding of communal hate-mongers on the net. ‘But online, when one is talking about a community, the community is one defined and selected by an individual. Individuals choose communities of interest that they want to be part of online. In doing so, they also choose which communities they do not want to be a part of, what they choose not to be interested in. That choice can lead to powerful bonds, the formation of personally relevant connection with no geographical or other logistical limitations [ . . . ]’.19 What is worrying about the kinds of messages I have highlighted is precisely the ‘powerful bonds’ created and sustained by internet hate networks, their sense of moral absolutism, and their easy and robust defence of the likes

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of Mr Narendra Modi. Of equal concern, particularly in the case of the messages in support of Mr Modi, was the fact that contributors did not adopt net pseudonyms or anonymity which seems to imply a kind of confidence that their ideas can be shared openly and without fear of opprobrium. This brazenness on the net seems to indicate the further normalizing of ideas related to the desirability of the expulsion and killing of Muslims in India. In terms of net etiquette it is difficult to tell whether these message boards are moderated and it is entirely plausible that in the case of and the moderators would prefer the kind of extreme statements I have cited. The site represents an interesting and troubling similarity in that it carried equally objectionable messages within a larger framework where one might expect a degree of finessed moderation. Message board moderators cannot delete the circulation of hate but its presence on a news site with a multinational media collaborator (CNN) does raise questions about the increasing tolerance for extremist sentiments and statements in mainstream discourse.

Postscript On September 4, 2006 the Press Trust of India (PTI) put out a news item, ‘Pak to Crack Down on Websites’, which reported the Pakistan government’s decision to monitor and/or shut down ‘websites with objectionable contents’ or those which carried ‘anti-state material’. It concluded: ‘The government has already banned all the websites relating to Balochistan nationalist struggle’ (PTI 2006). Without doubt this was a knee-jerk and retrogressive move that did not in any way further the cause of Pakistani unity and harmony and least of all of press freedom. What is significant is that PTI carried the story to highlight the lack of these freedoms across the border and, by implication, to bask in the glory of a free press in India. Press Trust of India was quite oblivious of certain paradoxes and contexts, such as that of the freedom of commentary in a military state—most notably available in some earlier coverage of the Kargil War in Pakistani media.20 Press Trust of India also ignored the Indian contexts of censorship during the Emergency, of the blocking of Pakistan Television (PTV) and of Pakistani internet sites during Kargil. Finally, PTI did not consider the websites of HinduUnity. org, the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which are not censored despite their despicable stereotyping of Muslims and

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Hindus. Censorship of any media, especially one as protean as the internet, is not a viable solution to the politics of hate permeating sections of Indian society and its diaspora. To cite Christiane Brosius once more: ‘[ . . . ] the answer to the politics of hate that they deploy lies only in creating more resources, and in greater depth, that can challenge the majoritarian and violent agenda that has come to characterize Hindutva. Rather than demanding the censorship of a site like HU [HinduUnity], we need to further investigate the fact that the world wide web will remain a dynamic social space in which agents will employ a dense network of visual and narrative strategies in order to create in the netizen the desire, anxiety and pleasure of belonging to imagined and networked communities such as that of Hindutva. If online Hindutva is to be confronted, and possibly challenged, it will require a serious attempt to grasp the complexity of the ways of being, and the virtual and actual spaces that online Hindutva weaves together’ (Brosius 2004: 151). It is the cohabitation of ‘the virtual and the actual spaces’ that needs to be looked at more closely because it is the normalization of unacceptable ideas about Muslims and Pakistan in sections of the national polity and media that allows for their easy circulation and currency on the net.

Notes 1. Christophe Jaffrelot notes how ‘The “threatening Others” are stigmatised [by V. D. Savarkar] either because of their divided loyalties (“Mecca to [the Indian Muslims] is a sterner reality than Delhi or Agra”) or because of their low level of civilization as measured by their lack of nationalist virtues’ (Jaffrelot 1996: 26). 2. It is interesting that the site has now been reconstructed as www. and that this site does not contain the offensive exchanges I cite. The messages have been retrieved from a People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) site 3. See, for example, Varadarajan (2002b). New and alternative media outlets offering incisive analysis on the Gujarat carnage and its aftermath are available, for example, in Communalism Combat (http://www.; Coalition Against Communalism (; The Campaign to Stop Funding Against Hate (; Communalism Watch (; Gujarat Carnage: Online Volunteers ( htm); Awaaz South Asia (

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9. 10. 11.

12. 13.

14. 15.

htm#guj); The South Asia Citizens Web ( Gujarat2002/index.html); The People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Baroda and Shanti Abhiyan ( See the article ‘From among Those Abducted from Sabarmati Express Two Dead Bodies of Hindu Girls Found Near Kalol in Mutilated State’, Sandesh, March 1, 2002, p. 16. Pick (1993: 140). ‘A crucial effect of mediated communication in a context of mediated social relations is to favor irresponsible communication.’ Garnham (1993: 368). Sandesh reportage on Gujarat represented an extreme version of ‘irresponsible communication’. All references are from Spellings, abbreviations and individual idiosyncrasies of typeface as well as grammar have not been edited. Praveen Togadia declared: ‘What is happening in Gujarat is not communal riots but people’s answer to Islamic Jihad.’ Asian Age, April 2, 2002, cited in Chenoy et al. (2002: 14). See ‘The Foreign Exchange of Hate: IDRF and the American Funding of Hindutva,’ sabrang_sacw.pdf for insights into the nexus of diasporic hate funding. For an analysis of the global Hindu identity fostered by organizations such as the VHP, see Arvind Rajagopal (2001), particularly Chapter 6, ‘Hindutva Goes Global’. See B. Raman, December 21, 2005, html, downloaded December 12, 2006. See ssage?topicID=28095.topic, downloaded December 12, 2006. Ibid. Christiane Brosius analyzes the ways in which constructs ‘Hindus as Victims’, ‘The Hindutva Activist as Judge’, and ‘The New Muslim Stereotype’. Among other stereotypes, the Muslim is presented ‘as a mindless, machine-like tool of jihad’ (2004: 146). For an analysis of the generic (mis)representations of Muslims in India, see Shahid Amin (2004: 92–97). See See India Today, July 5, 1999, p. 26. For example, an RSS Baudhik Pracharak interviewed by Kamal Mitra Chenoy in Ahmedabad on March 26, 2002 stated that ‘The ultimate solution to the problems with the Muslims [ . . . ] was the annihilation of Pakistan’ (Chenoy et al. 2002: 24). See Ibid.

88 ? Subarno Chattarji 16. For an analysis of the ways in which the internet has helped to foster global solidarity and intervention in the LGBT movement, see Vanita (forthcoming 2008), especially the section ‘The Gay Movement: Global Homophobia, Global Responses’. 17. Pick (1993: 231). Melanie Klein and Joan Riviere gave two lectures in 1936 at the Institute of Psychoanalysis, Caxton Hall, Westminster, on the subject ‘Love, Hate and Reparation’. 18. An aspect of online agency is the branding of individuals as ‘criminals’ on the basis of their ‘anti-Hindu’ utterances. For example, M. Karunanidhi, chief minister of Tamil Nadu, was declared an enemy because he questioned the historical veracity of Ram as well as the Ram Setu. ‘This anti-Hindu scum has also made statements in the last few years such as “a Hindu means a thief ” and “Hinduism is not a religion at all”. Karunanidhi claims he is an Atheist however he has never made statements against Jesus Christ or Mohammed.’ See http://www. Agency also takes on an overtly militaristic tone as in the banner ‘Hinduise the Politics and Militarize the Hindus’. See 19. Jane Singer cited in Jayaram (2005: 300–301). 20. For critical and self-reflective articles in Pakistan media on Kargil see, for example, Jafar (1999); Amir (1999); Durrani (1999). The point here is not to imply that Pakistan media was more objective or balanced than its Indian counterpart but that Indian media representations created a monolithic picture to further the idea of an undemocratic and illiberal state and did not similarly analyze media consensus within.

References Amin, Shahid. 2004. ‘On Representing the Musalman’, in Monica Narula, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Ravi Sundaram et al., eds, Crisis/Media SARAI Reader 04, The Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi. Amir, Ayaz. 1999. ‘Islamabad Diary: What is the Political Leadership Up To?’, Dawn, July 2. Ansari, Iqbal. 2002. ‘Partisan Police: Only Reforms Can Prevent Riots’, The Times of India, April 16. Brosius, Christiane. 2004. ‘Of Nasty Pictures and “Nice Guys”: The Surreality of Online Hindutva’, in Monica Narula, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Ravi Sundaram et al., eds, Crisis/Media SARAI Reader 04, The Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi. Chenoy, Kamal Mitra, S. P. Shukla, K. S. Subramanian and Achin Vanaik. 2002. ‘Gujarat Carnage 2002: A Report to the Nation’, April. Durrani, Lt. Gen Assad. 1999. ‘The Ultimate Victory,’ The News, August 13.

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Edelman, Murray. 1985. The Symbolic Uses of Politics. [1964],University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago. Garnham, Nicholas. 1993. ‘The Media and the Public Sphere’, in Craig Calhoun, ed., Habermas and the Public Sphere, The MIT Press, Cambridge, M.A. and London. Hansen, Thomas Blom. 1999. The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India, in Hindu Nationalism and Indian Politics, Oxford University Press, New Delhi. Jafar, Iqbal. 1999. ‘The Precipice at Kargil’, Dawn, June 25. Jaffrelot, Christophe. 1996. The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India [1993], Columbia University Press, New York. Jayaram, Mahalakshmi. 2005. ‘News in the Age of Instant Communication’, in Nalini Rajan, ed., Practising Journalism: Values, Constraints, Implications, Sage Publications, New Delhi, London, Thousand Oaks. Kallen, Evelyn. 1998. ‘Hate on the Net. A Questions of Rights/A Question of Power’, Electronic Journal of Sociology 3(2). Available at http://www. Nandy, Ashis. 2001. Time Warps: The Insistent Politics of Silent and Evasive Pasts, Permanent Black, New Delhi. PTI. 2006. ‘Pak to Crack Down on Websites,’, September 4. Available at Philo, Greg, Alison Gilmour, Maureen Gilmour, Susanna Rust, Eta Gaskell and Lucy West (Glasgow University Media Group). 2003. ‘The IsraeliPalestinian Conflict: TV News and Public Understanding’, in Daya Kishan Thussu and Des Freedman, eds, War and the Media: Reporting Conflict 24/7, Sage Publications, London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi. Pick, Daniel. 1993. War Machine: The Rationalisation of Slaughter in the Modern Age, Yale University Press, New Haven and London. Rajagopal, Arvind. 2001. Politics after Television: Hindu Nationalism and the Reshaping of the Public in India, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Raman, B. ‘Balochistan: The Second War of Independence,’ December 21, 2005. Available at (accessed December 12, 2006). Vanita, Ruth. Forthcoming 2008. ‘“What the Heart Says”: Same-sex Unions in the Context of Globalized Homophobia and Globalized Gay Rights’, in Tapan Basu, Subarno Chattarji and Suman Gupta, eds, Globalization in India: Contents and Discontents, Pearson Education, New Delhi. Varadarajan, Siddharth, ed. 2002a. Gujarat: The Making of a Tragedy, Penguin, New Delhi. ———. 2002b. ‘The Truth Hurts’, in Siddharth Varadarajan, ed., Gujarat: The Making of a Tragedy, Penguin, New Delhi, pp. 280–87.

7 The New Politics of the New Media Yuk Hui

There is no doubt that terms like ‘new media’ and ‘web 2.0’ have become buzzwords in social and cultural studies. When we say something is a ‘buzzword’, we imply that things have been taken for granted and remain unthought-of. Remaining unthought-of means that what is ‘new’ is perceived as contiguous to the ‘old’, or even constituted by the old. Given the close association between social movements and the media, the demand for a new form of politics is no longer novel; nevertheless, it remains a key question. At issue is the efficacy and potential of the new media. If the new media is going to open up something, then what is that thing? A most popular debate is the reopening of a ‘public sphere’ either in a Habermasian sense or a post-Habermasian sense, by tracking the discussions involving socio-political activities in newsgroups, forums and blogs (Poster 2001). Among these discussions, a popular theme is: to what extent can these grassroots movements be represented? The question of representation can be traced back to its origin in the 18th-century Enlightenment age in both epistemological and political senses. Reason is perceived to be a capacity for representation (Colebrook 2005: 7). To some extent, these kinds of research consciously or unconsciously constitute a continuation of the unfinished Enlightenment project: a demand for representation is immanent to this new form of politics. In these kinds of research, there is a methodological concern that the conclusions are always deduced from the empirical observation and analysis of the content of online discussions. Moreover, the efficacy of the technology itself is determined by a specific temporal and spatial setting. This raises a further question: To what extent do we understand the internet technology? Understanding the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of internet technology helps us distinguish between the ontological and epistemological dimensions of the internet and the new politics (or ‘internet praxis’). At the heart of questioning the ‘how’ of internet praxis is the idea that the internet simply provides unlimited space for expression. If the ‘new media’ remains an extension of the ‘old media’, then the scope of the ‘new politics’ is very limited indeed.

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Here I propose an ontological understanding of the internet technology and its relation to the new politics. I want to emphasize two points. First, the internet cannot be conceived simply as an extension of the old media. We must conceive the new media in terms other than as mere representation. Or to take the argument a step further, we have to rethink internet-driven politics in a nonrepresentative way. Second, the internet cannot be thought of in simply instrumental terms. Instead, we have to understand that there is an embodiment of politics in the internet which is coherent and intrinsic to its structure. In other words, the internet should not be only viewed as a tool for communication; it cannot be separated from the content and expression of the politics therein. Without resorting to a totalizing theory of the internet, I attempt here to associate the network protocol and semantic web with the concepts of the Deleuzian ‘smooth plane’ and ‘nomadology’. With the ‘smooth plane’ we can find another form of resistance which is not limited by representation. What is more, we can explore the power of the internet through ‘what it is’ instead of ‘how it works’.

Critique of Representation Re-representation is one of the characteristics of modernism, as Colebrook points out in his exploration of the dominance of representation in classical epistemology and politics. In epistemology, the world has to be represented in order to be understood. In politics, each individual represents himself or herself as an effect of selfconsciousness and rationality, and the unification of these rational individuals gives rise to representational democracy (Colebrook 2005: 3). At a pragmatic level, as Hardt and Negri inform us, nowadays the crisis of representation has reached an extreme point, since there are misrepresentations, monopolies and manipulations in the media. In addition, many protests have not even been represented in the national media, and this lack or impossibility of representation renders it impotent (Hardt and Negri 2005: 271–73). The idea of representation has been seriously criticized by Martin Heidegger in the early 20th century and this critique has been taken up by the poststructuralists at a metaphysical level. According to Heidegger, metaphysics in the western tradition, from the very beginning, has presupposed a unification of thought and being, which is best demonstrated by Parmenides’ fragment: ‘For the same perceiving (thinking) as being’ (Heidegger 1969). In this ‘same’ there is a ‘belonging together’ which is understood as the unification

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of thought and being, under the rubric of ‘identity’.1 Things are represented through their identities in an abstract manner, and this representation at the same time conceals the Truth from us. Gilles Deleuze proposes a similar critique of representation and identity, but in a more political way. According to Deleuze, identity is the rationale of essence. To ‘represent’, means to ‘identify’ and ‘interpret’. This abstraction privileges essence and identity, rather than difference. In politics, representative democracy and social movements share the same logic of unification, in the name of someone or something which totalizes the mass. Representation always reduces beings into sameness through resemblance, and at the same time suppresses their singularities. This presupposed representation constructs an epistemic violence to these singularities. Within this framework of representation, ‘difference’ is ‘being different from others’. In other words, ‘difference’ is always the negation of the others, according to the classical mould. Deleuze proposes that ‘difference’ should not be taken as passive and negative, instead it should be affirmative. ‘Difference’ is different from itself, and it is a ‘becoming’ or, in Nietzsche’s term, the ‘eternal recurrence’. For example, in feminism, what has been criticized within representation theory is that the identity of woman is seen to be a negation of man’s, whereas in a Deleuzian sense, to be a woman is to be affirmative. Deleuze’s critique of transcendence and signification brings the idea of resistance into immanence. Singularity or difference is against collectivity and unification, which reduce all political acts to mere representations. So how can we make sense of a social movement without any transcendental notion of representation and unification? Deleuze frequently refers to the May 1968 sociopolitical movement in the west to demonstrate this alternative form of praxis.2 The movement does not intend to replace the regime with another form of representation; nor is it organized under a specific name or purpose. Instead, it is characterized by what Deleuze and Guattari call ‘lines of flight’. The ‘line of flight’ is a central theme of Deleuze’s micropolitics. Deleuze distinguishes between three kind of lines, namely, the supple line of interlaced codes and territories, which refers to the primitive segmentarity of tribes; the rigid line ‘with a concentricity of circles in resonance, and generalized overcoding’, which corresponds to state apparatus or empire; the line of flight ‘marked by quanta and defined by decoding and deterritorialization’, which refers to the

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war machine (Deleuze 2002). The line of flight provides the momentum to escape totalization. At the same time, the fate of the war machines either connects and escapes the black hole of the totalized state, or is absorbed by the black hole. This depends on the speed of the escape, which in turn is determined by the momentum of its motion and the space for positive acceleration. The concept of ‘lines of flight’ does not mean that the power of resistance is atomized and rendered impotent. Rather, we can find here a different kind of ‘collectivity’. This new form of ‘collective force’ does not imply internalization, which is associated with the ‘organismic’ metaphor—that is, parts of the body are organized according to a deterministic structure. Instead, it is characterized by ‘exteriorities’ (De Landa 2006: 9). In a conversation with Antonio Negri, Deleuze emphasizes the idea of ‘composition’ against ‘organization’ (Deleuze 1995). This exteriority is the linkage between different singularities which does not subordinate them to any transcendental structure. This theme is further explored in Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s notion of ‘multitude’, which is borrowed from Spinoza. ‘Multitude’ is opposed to the Hobbesian notion of ‘people’ in the way that it is not subordinated to representation or unity (Virno 2003). For Negri, ‘multitude’ is the possibility of resistance to the globalized empire. The concept of a ‘line of flight’ is a nomadic one, according to Deleuze, since it is never fixed within a location. Instead, it performs constant deterritorization and reterritorization. For a nomadic movement, there is also a demand for a ‘smooth plane’, which facilitates the continual passage, rapid movement and acceleration of the ‘lines of flights’. This new cartography is what I attempt now to map on the internet.

What is a Rhizome? The history of the internet, pertaining to Paul Baran from the RAND Cooperation and Donald Davies from Britain’s National Physics Lab, has been described by various authors like Manuel Castells (2002), Tiziana Terranova (2004) and Janet Abbate . And I am not going to repeat the details of their narratives in this short chapter. Instead, I will only highlight a few important points and focus on the history of the design principles of the DARPA internet protocol in the early 1960s.3 Before the invention of the ARPANET (founded by the U.S. Department of Defense), the core idea was the construction of a distributed system containing many switching nodes linking to

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each other, with a redundancy in linkages ensuring the service of connections to users (Abbate 2000: 11). The files to be sent over the network were divided into small packets (called datagram), which travelled on the network from the sender and were received and reassembled in the receiver’s machine. This mechanism was called ‘packet switching’. Abbate quotes Baran (1964) that in this system, ‘there is no central control; only a simple local routing policy is performed at each node, yet the overall system adapts’ (ibid.: 13). This distributed network has been frequently compared with what Deleuze and Guattari term ‘rhizome’. Deleuze and Guattari use ‘rhizome’ to distinguish an organization structure which, although it contains similar elements, is significantly different from a tree. A tree usually has roots, and siblings and children extend from each of its nodes. Different tree diagrams are popular in the research of network topology, language, taxonomy, and artificial intelligence. Tree diagrams are often used to represent a certain hierarchy of data which facilitates operations like node search, addition and subtraction. For Deleuze and Guattari, a tree is explicitly a hierarchical and stratified structure, which is closely related to despotism. A rhizome, in contrast, is an open and decentralized structure, and reducible neither to the ‘One nor the multiple’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1988: 8). It composes the plane of consistency; it is an assemblage against totality and essentialism. In other words, a rhizome is a cartography which does not follow any predefined structure; a rhizome is immanent to itself, as in the case of a map being a map at its own disposal. Basically, there are six principles guiding the definition of the rhizome by Deleuze and Guattari: connection, heterogeneity, multiplicity, rupture, cartography, and decalcomania (Marks 2006: 195). So what is the relationship between this rhizome and the internet? Deleuzian scholar John Marks proposes that the six principles of the rhizome are closely related to the internet by looking at what the internet appears to be (ibid.). Alexander Galloway (2004) compares the network as rhizome in its original articulation mainly based on Paul Baran’s graphical explanation of a distributed network. Nevertheless, these explanations are limited to the correlation of metaphor and imagination, instead of looking plainly at the network itself. Instead of comparing the properties of a distributed network, I will point out the three crucial points which technically give the

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Centralized Network

Decentralized Network

Distributed Network

Figure 7.1: Paul Baran’s Concept of Three Forms of Network in His 1964 Essay

internet its rhizomatic capacity: connectivity, decentralization and inclusiveness. Only through tracing its principles of design can we compare its consistency with the rhizome coined by Deleuze and Guattari. So here I will briefly consider the history of the network design.

How to Make a Rhizome The internet protocol suite, TCP/IP was first proposed in 1973 by Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and then widely used in military and commercial systems (Clark 1988). The introduction of the TCP/IP protocol, responding to problems generated by the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency NETwork) brings forth today’s internet.4 The development of the protocol is a neverending process, and its complexity cannot be reduced to its military origin. Several principles are followed along in the design of the network architecture. As David Clark notes, the fundamental goal of the internet is to connect together the ARPANET with the ARPA packet radio network.5 Besides this goal, there are second-level goals; Clark (1988) lists them into seven points:

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1. Internet communication must continue despite loss of networks or gateways.6 2. The internet must support multiple types of communication service. 3. The internet architecture must accommodate a variety of networks. 4. The internet architecture must permit distributed management of its resources. 5. The internet architecture must be cost effective. 6. The internet architecture must permit host attachment with a lower level of effort. 7. The resources used in the internet architecture must be accountable. Moreover, Clark (1988) reminds the readers that ‘it is important to understand that these goals are in order of importance, and entirely different network architecture would result if the order were changed’. Initially, the net was designed for military use, so not surprisingly, the first principle focuses on the survivability of the net. In this case, the tree diagram fails and cannot be applied, since the loss of one child may fragment the whole network. That is also why the decentralized topology of the datagram network is put into use. A distributed network does not refer to a predefined point-to-point relation, but a dynamic of connections governed by probabilities. As long as there is a network, the route can be recalculated and the datagram can be transmitted. This dynamic is what Deleuze calls mathematical functions, which generate different values by evaluating different inputs. Several of the principles (2, 3, 6) that Clark lists focus on the inclusiveness of the network, for example, services, terminals and hosts. That means different entities can be plugged into the network and thereby extend the network and expand its heterogeneity. This ontological structure given to the internet coincides with what Hardt and Negri perceive in Empire: Network power must be distinguished from other purely expansionist and imperialist forms of expansion. The fundamental difference is that the expansiveness of the immanent concept of sovereignty is inclusive, not exclusive. In other words, when it expands, this new sovereignty doesn’t annex or destroy the other pioneers it faces but on the contrary opens itself to them, including them in the network (quoted by Terranova 2004: 62).

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This inclusiveness or openness is also ensured by the effort to minimize the mechanism between different entities on the network and by setting in place a small number of rules. This is also specified in the early document of the Request for Comments (RFC): ‘the [internet’s] architectural principles, aim to provide a framework for creating co-operation and standards, as a small “spanning set” of rules that generates a large, varied and evolving space of technology’ (ibid.: 56). This minimization of rules produces the ‘best effort’ network, which means that there is no guarantee on the transmission of the packet. When a datagram travels from one end to the other, there is no third party involved in the control of the flow. One has to keep in mind here that the routers are not counted as third parties. This is particularly significant in the famous ‘end-to-end arguments’ in the design of the internet, which were first articulated in the early 1980s (Clark 2001). The ‘end-to-end’ arguments distinguish the roles of the core of the network and application software. Here the elements ‘in’ the network and the element ‘attached to’ or ‘on’ the network are significantly different. The former refers to the pure mechanical control of the network protocol, while the latter refers to the functional utilization of the network protocol. The ‘end-to-end’ arguments suggest that specific application-level functions usually cannot, and preferably should not be built into the lower levels of the system—the core of the network, since: the function in question can completely and correctly be implemented only with the knowledge and help of the application standing at the endpoints of the communications system. Therefore, providing that questioned function as a feature of the communications system itself is not possible (sometimes an incomplete version of the function provided by the communication system may be useful as a performance enhancement). (Saltzer et al. 1984)

This principle excludes third parties from getting involved in the control of the flow of the datagram. The relationship between point and point is maintained through simple routing algorithm. The responsibility of maintaining the transmission consistency mainly falls on the application software. Also, the user is free to choose whatever application he/she likes. Besides the connection function of the machines, the humanly recognizable and operable contents are crucial to the construction of

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a smooth plane. Without referring to the history of the development of the World Wide Web, I look at a popular topic nowadays: the semantic web. The semantic web is a concept proposed by Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler and Ora Lassila in 2001. The core idea of the semantic web is to propose adding semantic information to the content of the web pages. The machine can recognize the semantic information according to a set of shared vocabularies. Under the semantic web, the W3C proposes RDF (Resource Definition Framework) which is based on a simple subject-predicate-object grammar to represent the metadata (broadly, metadata is defined as data about data). In fact, the original idea of using taxonomy for knowledge representation was criticized recently due to the emergence of folksonomy or tagging, which characterizes the idea of making order out of chaos through chaos. Here, I am not going to explore the difference between folksonomies and taxonomies used in knowledge representation. Instead, I wish to discuss the idea of a frictionless web and the effort devoted in developing the metadata standard like Dublin Core, SIOC, FOAF, etc. and even folksonomy. The semantic web is a vision which allows data, including data of individuals (FOAF), to be aggregated through an exteriority instead of direct linking. One of the most obvious examples is the aggregation of news through RSS feed which is an XML file based on the RDF framework to enhance self-discovery and data harvesting. At this point, we can perceive the internet as what Deleuze calls a smooth plane at the communication level. A smooth plane stands for the freedom of communication/movement. The Deleuzian smooth plane is the nomadic space developed by the war machine, which is the opposite of the striated plane or sedentary space controlled by the state apparatus (Deleuze and Guattari 1988: 524). The smooth plane of the internet, as we considered before, is a network constituted by different nodes with multiple dimensions, without being striated by any third party in the protocol level. In this sense, the network opposes the wiretapping of the state, as well as the flow control of the capitalists. This ontological structure of the internet explains why theorists following the footsteps of Deleuze and Guattari perceive the internet to possess great potential of resistance against the state’s transcendental power, and thus leads to the revival of the nomads, or in Hardt and Negri’s term, the ‘multitudes’.7 This does not mean that a rhizome is going to save the world. De Landa sharply points out that ‘demonizing decentralization and glorifying decentralization as the solution to all our problems would be wrong’.

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My only point is that the decentralization in this case opens up more possibilities for public action.

Conclusion So how can we relate the internet to the new politics? Up to this point we may say that the internet seems to have the same properties as a rhizome in the Deleuzian sense—but so what? Doesn’t that simply mean that the relationship between the internet and politics is purely metaphorical? As I emphasized at the beginning we have to recognize that this new politics cannot be separated from the internet. One of the most frequently illustrated examples is the 1999 protest in the Seattle WTO meeting, where different groups of people aggregated through the internet without being subordinate to an organization or an authoritative name. This new form of resistance is characterized by aggregation and dispersion. One point we have to keep in mind is that these people were not using the internet to collect other members; rather, they were brought together by the internet. This difference has been ignored. So what I propose here is that, with the internet, we encounter the possibility of a new form of politics which is not regulated by organization or representation. This was significant in the 1999 Seattle protest, but we should not take this aggregation as random voices; they had different voices, but they came to be a chorus. In countries in which censorship remains strict, the rhizomatic structure of the net allows resistance to grow and transcend the hegemonic structures. A recent example was in 2007, when a Chinese blogger, ‘Zoula’, raised money from his blog for his investigation of several social issues in China. The information he provided was in sharp contrast to what was reported by the Chinese mainstream media. Unsurprisingly, Zoula’s blog has been censored by the Chinese government, and direct access to the blog is banned. Nevertheless, readers can still access the metadata feed through feed readers. The network is characterized by a maximum speed of light: the distributed nodes of the network also mutate the number of routes of escape. When the state tries to block a TCP packet from one computer to the other, it nevertheless fails to count every possible route of escape. The network makes micropolitics possible, since it maximizes the capacity for connection. This, for Deleuze, indicates ‘the way decoded and deterritorized flows boost one another; accelerate their shared escapes, and augment or stroke their quanta’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1988: 243). At this point, I want to emphasize

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again the point that the new politics should be immanent to the structure of the internet. The possibility of creating a movement prior to representation and organization should be taken seriously in the age of ubiquitous media. Finally, this form of movement should be immanent to resistance against the empire of hegemony.

Notes 1. Heidegger proposes another reading of ‘belonging together’ which doesn’t imply any unification of beings, instead it is the comportment of Dasein to the world. 2. Deleuze takes the May 1968 event as one of the examples of this movement, as he states in Dialogues II (2002): ‘May 1968 was an explosion of such a molecular line, an irruption of the Amazon, a frontier which traced its unexpected line, drawing along the segments like torn off blocks which have lost their bearings.’ 3. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (USA), which developed ARPANET. 4. According to Janet Abbate (2000), there are two questions the TCP/IP model responds to: ‘what was the best design for a universal host protocol that would work on unreliable networks such as the PRNET and not only on reliable ones such as the ARPANET? And how should the networks be attached to one another?’ 5. From 1981 to 1989, David Clark acted as chief protocol architect in the development of the internet, and chaired the Internet Activities Board, which later became the Internet Architecture Board. Recently, Clark published a number of articles defending the end-to-end argument, since more and more players in the market try to make the network controllable. There is no space to elaborate his arguments here, but it definitely deserves attention from cultural theorists. 6. Gateways are a layer of internet packet switches. 7. Hardt and Negri (2005) give examples like the Zapatista movement and the 1999 Seattle’s anti-globalization movement to demonstrate the network form of organization and power.

References Abbate, J. 2000. Inventing the Internet, MIT Press, Cambridge, M.A. Baran, Paul. 1964. On Distributed Communications, Santa Monica, CA, RAND. Berners-Lee, T., J. Hendler and O. Lassila. 2001. ‘The Semantic Web’, Scientific American, pp. 29–37, May. Castells, M. 2002. The Internet Galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, Business, and Society, Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York.

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Clark, D. D. 1988. ‘The Design Philosophy of the DARPA Internet Protocol’, SIGCOMM ’88, Applications, Technologies, Architectures, and Protocols for Computer Communication archive. Symposium proceedings on communications architectures and protocols table of contents, Stanford, California, United States, pp. 106–14. ———. 2001. ‘Rethinking the Design of the Internet: The End-to-End Argument vs. the Brave New World’, ACM Transactions on Internet Technology, 1(1): 70–109, August. Colebrook, C. 2005. Philosophy and Post-structuralist Theory: From Kant to Deleuze, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh. De Landa, M. 1995. The Geology of Morals: A Neomaterialist Interpretation. Available at (accessed July 30, 2007). ———. 2006. New Philosophy for Society, Continuum, London. Deleuze, G. 1995. Negotiation, Harvard University Press, New York. ———. 2002. Dialogues II / Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet, translated by H. Tomlinson and B. Habberjam, Continuum, London. Deleuze, G. and F. Guattari. 1988. A Thousand Plateaus, Continuum, London. Galloway, A. 2004. Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass. Hardt, M. and N. Negri. 2005. Multitude, Penguin, New York. Heidegger, M. 1969. Identity and Difference, translated and with an introduction by Joan Stambaugh, Harper & Row, New York, London. Kurose, J. F. and K. W. Ross. 2004. Computer Networking: A Top-down Approach Featuring the Internet, Addison Wesley, Boston, 3rd edition. Marks, J. 2006. ‘Information and Resistance: Deleuze, the Virtual and Cybernetics’, in Ian Buchanan and Adrian Parr, eds, Deleuze and the Contemporary World, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh. Poster, M. 2001. What’s the Matter with the Internet? University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. Saltzer, J. H., D. P. Reed and D. D. Clark. 1984. ‘End to End Arguments in System Design’, ACM Transactions on Internet Technology 2(4): 277–88, November. Tanenbaum, A. S. 2002. Computer Networks, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, 4th edition. Terranova, T. 2004. Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age, Pluto Press, London, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Tormey, S. 2006. ‘“Not in My Name”: Deleuze, Zapatismo and the Critique of Representation’, Parliamentary Affairs 59(1): 138–54. Virno, P. 2003. A Grammar of the Multitude: For an Analysis of Contemporary Forms of Life, Semiotext (e), Cambridge, Mass, London.

8 Bebo-ing the South Seas: From Tin Cans to the Internet in the Pacific Michael Field

On a good day, Tokelau commands a resident population of around 1,100. One of the world’s last colonies, the New Zealand territory has no port, airport or capital. It takes two days from Samoa to reach its three atolls, each a day’s sailing apart. It was the last territory hooked up to the telephone. ‘I think improved communications provides more accountability too from the public services point of view,’ Tokelau official Tino Vitale said. ‘With telephones we will probably feel less isolated than at the moment.’1 If isolation and smallness verging on the microscopic has been a severe handicap, the digital world has suddenly changed that. Tokelau has become one of the world’s top ten domain registries with over 1.7 million active domain names carrying the top-level domain .tk (Dot tk).2 Tokelau’s government gave a Dutch-British company the right to sell their internet domain name, earning a reasonably significant sum of around NZ$235,000 (approximately US$180,000) a year. Tokelauans also get free wireless broadband in the deal and radical change follows. In 2001, Tokelau had twelve computers; six years later, there were 200. Tokelau has changed from colony to a Skype and Bebo nation, using the internet phone service and social networking sites to be in constant touch with 8,000 Tokelauans living aboard. Before broadband, there was a touching naivety about atoll children; today, with every child having a Bebo page, and music and video downloading, they exhibit the hand signals of distant LA and South Auckland gangs.3 The internet’s arrival coincided with satellite television out of Fiji and Tokelau was suddenly in the digital highway’s fast lane. Tokelau’s unfolding experience represents an experiment untried elsewhere. Most of the rest of the world got to the internet down a decade-long evolutionary communications track; it hit Tokelau like a tsunami. This experience is useful to measure for the way in which digital media changes local societies. Tokelau leader Pio Tuia said digital was influencing the local political culture

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that had been pressing for independence. They had long believed colonial ties were denying them a better life. ‘Now we see the world on the computer and the television, and some of us think, “well, it’s not too bad here in Tokelau after all”.’4 While it is tempting to see this exploding informal media as a sideshow and Bebo and the other social networks are not The New York Times, they share the same space and purvey ‘news’ and opinion in a way that is as relevant to its consumers as CNN might be in global capitals. Its commercial warning is clear; if they are on Facebook, they are not reading The Times of India, hard copy or online. The arrival of Europeans in the Pacific was termed ‘the fatal impact’ for its health effect on Islanders (Moorehead 1966). No detailed studies are underway yet on the impact of the digital age on Polynesian societies, but the Tokelauan response so far suggests it will be profound. The nature of the news media in the Pacific was and always will be defined by the available technology; un-distilled Marshall McLuhan’s medium is the message. Polynesians number no more than around four million, occupying an oceanic area the size of Africa. Their singular achievement was to navigate the Pacific long before assorted outsiders showed up. Although the Polynesian languages are nowadays harder to understand for different Polynesians, the essence suggests that before Europeans did so, they regularly communicated with each other and knew what was going on. Polynesians had no fear when outsiders showed up and headed off into the rest of the world. European colonial politics tended to isolate them into island groups and isolation pressed in on them. The sheer size of the Pacific is daunting. For example, Kiribati straddles both the Equator and the International Dateline and covers five million square kilometres (and mostly ocean) against India’s 3.8 million kilometres. To fly from the capital atoll of Tarawa to Kiritimati is 3,200 kilometres, a greater distance than from Delhi to Bangkok. Just 92,000 people live in that vast area. Communication winners and losers were determined by chance rather than strategy. The 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic vividly demonstrated this when Washington advised American Samoa by radio to be alert for the virus. They imposed a total quarantine and never got the disease. Wellington advised its Western Samoan colony by mail; and the letters arrived on the same ship that carried the virus that killed 25 per cent of their people (Field 2006).

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Chance also determined where telegraphic cables landed. Fiji received one of the first, and became a key commercial centre. Nearby Tonga and Samoa became backwaters. Aitutaki in the Cook Islands, or Kiritimati (Christmas) and Kanton (Canton) in Kiribati, were once household names as flying boats, the world’s biggest airliners of the 1930s-40s, turned their lagoons into global transit lounges. Satellite links were an advance for Pacific states off the cables, but they have now discovered it is not the best way for running the internet. Getting the fourteen Pacific nations and assorted territories linked to fibre optic cables has become a major political issue, even though the overwhelming expense limits options. Technology defines their place in the world, illustrated by the Kingdom of Tonga’s capital, Niuafo’ou, cursed not only with severe isolation but with a topography that makes getting ashore risky. With no harbour, few ships would ever visit, but American liners would pass en route from Australia and New Zealand to the U.S. A local storekeeper soldered up big biscuit tins and filled them with mail and using a floating pole he would swim out to the ships. Labelled ‘Tin Can Island’, its cash possibilities saw special stamps minted. Liners sold them as they neared Niuafo’ou and the man with the tin cans took them ashore for franking. The Royal Tongan Government got involved and an outrigger canoe, painted green and pink with an outboard motor, took over the operation. They would take it ashore and frank it and then post it onwards with the next ship. Their payment was in bundles of second-hand clothing and items of processed food. As a song made clear, the Niuafo’ou people realized they were not beneficiaries: Pardon this commoner for speaking from the back bench Don’t think I presume to count myself with you But it’s a good thing for a fellow to remind Tonga that we are part of the proceedings. It’s boat day and the subject is wind Mariposa or Monterey, whichever we go to meet Our outrigger sizes up the sea And we all have our share of the bounty We hear on the southerly broadcasts of aid Outsiders get the sweetbreads while my drink is bitter How much longer will you put me out of mind?5

The southerly broadcasts were from the capital, carrying news of foreign aid and government expenditure on other citizens, but not

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those of Tin Can Island who made do with used clothing. Later commentators hint at bitterness over the way that even the tin can profits went to those in power. For Tonga, the Pacific’s last monarchy with 100,000 of some of the poorest people in the Pacific, it is a metaphor for their lot. Just ahead of the internet in the 1980s and 1990s, satellite communications offered great illusory hopes for easy and cheaper links. Satellite communications was controlled by a government under near-absolute control of the royal family that proved cynically interested in only making itself rich. In a more benign age, each nation under Intelsat was allocated satellite slots suitable to its needs, over the Equator. Tonga had a ‘geostationary’ slot but Princess Pilolevu, sister of the current king, helped herself to Tonga’s slot, and with the help of a disaffected Intelsat employee, claimed other slots over Asia. She made a princely fortune renting them out. The financial pay off from the satellite revolution passed by ordinary Tongans, while Pilolevu moved her operation into a tax haven operating out of Hong Kong. Her brother Crown Prince Tupoto’a (now King Siosi Tupou V) quickly recognized the value of the internet and helped himself to the kingdom’s top-level domain, Dot To. Joining a Californian businessman he set up a company established inside the Tongan San Francisco consul to market domain names. He went on to create a cellular phone company in the kingdom, leveraging off the local Tonga power company that he had the government give to him. With more Tongans living outside the kingdom than in it, the internet swept into the kingdom, unhindered by the slow local speeds. A movement for democracy replied mostly in the traditional fashion, with political broadsheets along with discussions in social settings around kava bowls (a Pacific-wide mildly intoxicating drink). However, informal discussion occurred on bulletin boards in the kingdom, with the expatriate Tongans playing a leading role. The royal government quickly learned that—like its critics—it had to have a presence on the web, leading to the creation of several popular sites. As a consequence, Tonga appears to be having an unprecedented discussion about its future in which its entire population, at home and abroad, are contributing to the outcome. It would never have occurred without the internet. It proved violent in November 2006 when anti-monarchy riots by angry youth destroyed Tonga’s capital Nuku’alofa. Strikingly, first news of what was happening that day came from, as tourists who had been in the capital quickly posted vision.

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Elsewhere, the internet, in a patched-up form, held a nation together. The Solomon Islands, a Melanesian archipelago of 600,000 people on 800 islands, spread over 1,500 kilometres. It was, for the most part, a disastrous colonial construct, a deal made in Berlin in 1899 and left to the British to profoundly neglect. Japan thrust it into world consciousness by invading and building an airstrip on lightly populated Guadalcanal. A U.S. Army camp became the capital upon eventual independence, and in the late 1990s, the new battleground for a little-reported civil war that came close to wrecking the Solomons. The war prompted angst amongst regional politicians and academics and the Solomons was labelled a failed state; yet each of its islands and scattered villages were linked, by not only the struggling state broadcaster, but a volunteer internet society, People’s First Network. Using hand-me-down equipment, borrowed computers and donated solar generators, they got laptops into most villages and atolls. Broadcasting, initially, on a shortwave link, People’s First allowed for e-mailing. Arrogantly, people had assumed that those on the distant islands had nothing much to say. They did. It was a slow service and the World Wide Web was not easily available; so they invented their own e-mail search engine. No one argued that People’s First ended the civil war that took place by force of regional arms from Australia and New Zealand. Nevertheless, in the longer, harder business of nation building, the connectivity that came with the first internet services in the Solomons will probably count for more. Its founders discovered early in their operation that even the remotest of people, given access, asked similar questions to those in big cities. Women’s health issues were often major concerns that the web relieved, and politics or the environment turned out to be as important on lonely atolls as it did in the city. Newspapers could never reach them and so those people were left out in a fashion that radio could only partially fill. People’s First bulletin boards became cluttered with derogatory racial remarks that they closed for fear of enlarging the low-level civil war underway. Lack of online restraint is not exclusive to the Solomons. The Solomon’s capital, Honiara, had, during the crisis, a slow web service, allowing the local daily newspaper, the Solomons Star, to pad out its pages with material lifted from richer and bigger newspapers around the world. It also enabled locals to see what the rest of the

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world was saying about them. Like many people in similar situations, they did not like what they got. The conflict was a clash between a patrilineal warrior culture from Malaita Island and a matrilineal society, where women held property rights for the communal good. In the midst of this, several foreign journalists interviewed a rebel about his rival Malaitans, saying the latter called them ‘dog sperm’. Reported outside the country, thanks to the internet, it came straight back in. ‘Overseas journalists don’t care what happens as a result of their stories,’ said Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation’s Johnson Honimae. ‘If that reporter was in Honiara, he would have been killed’ (Ofotalau 1999). In fact, the reporter had been in the capital for most of the time and what went unquestioned was why, despite the apparent horror, the remark quickly made it into local newspapers and radio. The Solomon’s media experience of raiding the internet for stories is duplicated across the Pacific. Copyright, anyway fragile in small states, is ignored by media that cannot afford to pay news agency and syndication fees. No published studies exist on what content is being dished up to mainly newspaper readers, via the internet, but an unscientific glance at newspapers over time shows the internet’s default position for trivia has in turn tainted newspapers in the Pacific. Major global issues give way to pages padded out with Hollywood or even Bollywood news. Fiji has become the regional capital, a result of its cable links, but political stability has not followed. A nation of 900,000 people, around 40 per cent are ethnic Indians, descendants of contract workers brought in by the British to work on Australian sugar plantations. With independence in 1970, the country inherited a complex voting system designed to ensure that indigenous people retained political power and land. This they did until 1987, when an Indiandominated party won the elections. This led to an indigenous army officer Sitiveni Rabuka (who received his academic training from the Indian Army’s staff college near Ooty) staging the first of four coups that have afflicted the nation, all motivated by race. Fiji’s four coups are a useful marker to the digital changes and style of reporting. Edward Luttak’s standard work on coups, first published in 1968, argues that ‘control over the flow of information emanating from the police centre will be the most important weapon in establishing our authority after the coup. The seizure of the main means of mass

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communication will thus be a task of crucial importance’ (Gounder 2007). The internet might have rendered this so much harder. In 1987, Rabuka seized the telephone exchange, newspapers and the radio station (there was no television). He cut the phone lines to the outside world, although he made one error in not cutting a telex link that ran to the home of the Australian Associated Press correspondent. The world found out quickly, although it had no real impact on the outcome. A second coup later in the year resulted in tighter controls on the media and, in one case, a newspaper, the Fiji Sun, closed down for good rather than submit to censorship. The only source of uncensored news came via shortwave radio— Radio Australia, Radio New Zealand International and the BBC. Democracy returned, but in 1999, the same Indian party won back power, prompting a bankrupt part-indigenous businessman, George Speight, to seize Parliament in May 2000 and take the government hostage. Later court trials suggested Speight’s men tried, but did not succeed, in cutting Fiji off from the internet. However, they seemed not to have read Luttak and did not seize the radio stations. At one point, supporters trashed the only television station, but never tried controlling it or knocking it off air. Speight was to hold Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry hostage for fifty-six days and all the time play a sophisticated media game, feeding reporters’ desires for daily quotes and a sense of danger at being close to a villain. Ignored was the plight of the hostages. The internet had begun to have its impact on Fiji before the 2000 coup and it was through the net that much of the world drew its news of what was happening. Speight struck on the day a commercial radio station broadcaster was about to launch a new website, www. (Foster 2007). Offshore media saw a rival site, FijiLive. com, as the voice of Fiji. Unquestioned was its accuracy or partiality, although it was suspect a lot of the time. Later, as the crisis deepened, a large contingent of foreign media settled into Suva. They became crucial players on the local scene. The small and financially weak local newspapers found they could simply plunder the internet and easily lift the work of the foreign journalists who were covering the coup. One sensed Speight used the internet—and the news sites in particular—to get a quick measure of the impact of his work. This was striking when he held a group of journalists (including the writer) for a time as hostages, but let them keep their cellular telephones. Diplomatic and Fiji military sources said later that any user of the

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internet, including Speight’s gang, could quickly see the way the action and international response played out. When realizing he was escalating the situation too far, he had the journalists released and personally escorted them to the gates of Parliament that he had captured, to be filmed live by BBC and CNN. Although Speight was the ultimate loser in the coup, sent to jail for life as a traitor, he was almost a pioneer in the art of political turmoil in an internet age. Like others to follow, he perhaps realized that controlling the media in a digital age was not simply about censorship; he was attracted to media celebrity and ensured he held regular, sometimes daily, press conferences. A single player cannot control the internet, but domination, for a time, by skilful media manipulation, is possible. Enhancing it is the vicious circle effect of the web; a story is popular so people click on it, and in Google’s world, that makes it more popular, so more people go to it. Later in 2000, Fiji’s hostage crisis ended and a democratic life of a kind resumed. What was clear though was that the racial and political issues behind the 2000 coup had not been resolved at all, and on December 5, 2006 the military commander, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, staged a coup. That night, soldiers entered the nation’s six mainstream media newsrooms—The Fiji Times, Fiji Sun, Daily Post, Fiji Television, Fiji Broadcasting Corporation and Communications Fiji Ltd. In a couple of cases, former journalists-turned-soldiers were to become censors. Protests by several organizations saw the military back off from such a confrontational approach and Bainimarama quickly assured Fiji that he would ‘uphold media freedom’, but limits quickly emerged. Journalists and editors writing something the military did not like soon found themselves taken to barracks for intense discussions. It had an immediate effect; self-censorship and restraint quickly set in. While controlling the media in the Luttwak prescription is nearly impossible when a country like Fiji is plugged into one of the world’s largest fibre-optic cables, the tragedy of Fiji is in the realization that even the internet has no easy defence in the face of sheer brute military force. Six months after the Bainimarama coup, with the military firmly in power, ex-Fiji Times journalist Sophie Foster surveyed the media attitude and the role of blogs. She reported that newsrooms had become targets of a military crackdown. ‘The military had spared none of the mainstream media organizations from having to explain particular stories or actions taken

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in the course of their work. In some cases, soldiers picked up media personnel. In others, they were told to voluntarily appear or be picked up under duress. While the majority of the cautionary interviews have been civil, there are cases where media personnel have [been] subjected to intimidation, assault and other threats by individual soldiers.’ She said newsroom managers became very aware of the media environment and crucially took measures ‘to reduce the unpredictability of the military response to criticism’.6 The Bainimarama coup and military rule saw the emergence of internet blogs using portals based outside Fiji, and in theory, beyond military control. The first ‘resistance’ blog, Intelligentsiya, went live on January 26, 2007. ‘In a time when ordinary citizens are afraid to speak their minds fearing that armed soldiers might turn up at their doorsteps to take them away, Intelligentsiya will be a platform for free speech,’ it announced on its now defunct site on January 30, 2007. Others followed with a variety of names; Ms Vakaivosavosa’s Blog, Stuck in the M.U.D. of Fiji and Resistfrankscoup. Even the names of the blogs were provocative, such as Whyfijiscrying, which went online in March 2007, declaring it was ‘inspired by the snowballing Fiji people’s resistance movement to Frank Bainimarama’s coup’. Intelligentsiya published an account of the military detention of a woman that was known of by the mainstream media, but none had published it. Foster said the major blog sites had common themes around democracy and freedom of speech. For Bainimarama, threatening mainstream media was only ever going to be part of the answer of holding onto power. The blogs exploded onto the scene and they were breaking big stories that the local media had not covered. It was not always easy, however, to work out whether this was journalism, written undercover by media professionals, or something else. Reportage gave way to gossip, often intensely personal material about army officers, and in a racially divided Fiji, the material itself was often racist. For the media, forced to take notice of the blogs, and for the public, it was a vexing exercise to pick fact from opinion, or worse. News and opinion was always going to seep out, Foster argued, and internet blogs ensured this happened. ‘If the press is the watchdog of the people, perhaps blogs need to be seen not as the mongrel brother but the bulldog ready to be let loose at a moment’s notice. If nothing else, such an approach

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would put heavy-handed administrations on notice—and warn them of the unpredictable consequences of any future infringements on a free press.’ The blogs were predominantly involved in the kind of sights-and-sounds reporting that unrestrained reporters might do. Much of it was observational, although the feedback sections were rich in commentary. Usefully, the blogs would also publish, usually in full, government statements (which the military were slow at putting up on their own sites) and other media reports. They offered a useful tipping service in that sense and the accuracy could be independently verified. Some of the blogs assaulted the military at a personal level with colourful details of the sexual lives of the senior officers and the behaviour of wives and lovers. Whether they were accurate or not was hard to say, but the military reaction to bloggers stepped up with this phase of online comment. Perhaps it was a question of military dignity rather than accuracy.In the early days, there was a kind of naivety around the blogs, but as their bloggers moved towards seeing themselves as citizen journalists, they would quote various kinds of sources, although few that would cut the mustard in a standard newsroom. The quality of commentary quickly descended into abuse, across English, Fijian and Hindi. Credibility disappeared quickly. Intelligentsiya managed to get some key facts wrong, particularly over claims around the deaths of people in military custody, (Intelligentsiya, March 5, 2007) and Resistfrankscoup announced the death of a prominent figure (Resistfrankscoup, May 9, 2007). It proved premature, and still is. Errors of these kinds occur in the mainstream media and, while embarrassing, are seldom crucial. Blog sites multiplied, using servers outside of the country. A number of sites were pro-military and others constituted a shadowy group trying to harvest internet data from military critics. This was ominous for those engaged in blogging or replying to blogs, as Fiji has only a limited number of ISPs, including a majority governmentowned Fiji Telecoms. As people sensed the danger, blog sites published guides to software that supposedly blocked access to address information in debate. Unconfirmed rumours hinting that the military imported IT specialists from India to help identify critics had a distinctly cold-shower effect on blogs. Resistfrankscoup readers were warned on May 9, 2007 that the military were trying to hack into the site. This prompted changing of blogsite hosts with the inevitable effect of a drop of readers and a confusing multiplication of blogs.

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Before the December 2006 coup, all the Fiji mainstream media had websites with discussion boards. After the coup, these sites became the front of all that was extravagantly dangerous in comment. One of the biggest,, took their board down after the chief executive William Parkinson found himself summoned before the military for what was politely called a ‘chat’. The website was shut down because it could not be managed properly, according to Parkinson. The military response was a mixture of bluster and action. Military spokesman Major Neumi Leweni warned they would respond to bloggers: ‘I don’t know where the media got their information and let me remind those who are trying to insult the military that they [will] be dealt with if they continue to make false statements.’7 Bainimarama three days later said that while the military accepted freedom of the press, it was not limitless. ‘There is a necessity to exercise maturity, responsibility, and sensitivity as unbalanced and provocative reporting can create unnecessary fear, anxiety and reaction,’ he said, complaining that the newspapers were beginning to quote information from blogs. ‘In particular, the reports of four deaths linked to the military are totally baseless, mischievous and irresponsible. Journalists who run false and malicious stories such as these will definitely be taken in for questioning.’8 The warnings had an effect; Fiji media seldom after that quoted blog sites (at least openly). The mainstream media began to take the military view over blogs. ‘The basic ideals of journalism are accuracy and credibility. You achieve that by being accountable to your readership. Blogs are not accountable to their readership because nobody knows who they are,’ publisher of the Fiji Sun, Russell Hunter, told Foster. By the end of 2007, most of the blogs had quietly disappeared. There were rumours that the military had identified key bloggers and had taken them into the barracks for re-education. The rumours were never confirmed but had, from the military’s point of view, a useful effect of making critics cautious. Several sites continued a year after the coup, including The Yellow Bucket that was the name used by a Daily Post columnist who has for six years remained secret, and accurate. A close look at Yellow Bucket’s writings before the 2000 coup suggests that the writer had access to inside knowledge (Field 2005). Other blogs were Veiwasei and Soli Vakasama. The operating blogs by the end of 2007 all reflected indigenous aspirations and a sense

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of oppression at Indo-Fijian rule. As for fact and considered opinion, the blogs were not offering these, and the editions of newspapers were cautious. Seemingly unnoticed by the military government was the general discussion on Bebo, Facebook and Myspace. It was mostly personal, often poignant, and gave an insight to a people’s lives within a military dictatorship. Much of this involved the urban upper class of Fiji, and with around 80 per cent of the population rural-based, questions of relevance could be raised. Yet, Fiji’s biggest, or second biggest (depending on seasons and conflicts), foreign exchange earner is mercenary work. Upward of 5,000 Fijians (almost all indigenous) serve with security companies in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a much smaller group in the formal United Nations peacekeeping units. Most mercenaries use e-mail, if not directly, then through urban kinship connections. Its not just family talk that goes though e-mail; the mercenaries and their families liaise their banking through the internet and such organizations as Western Union. One also sees a private world of fear and loneliness hinted at in some of the discussion boards used by those abroad. The internet is changing the Pacific in a way earlier technologies have not. Linking poorly paid mercenaries riding the brutal Kuwaitto-Baghdad highway to their picturesque villages on lonely islands is new and completely different. The outcome is far from clear but it will be worth watching over the next decade.

Notes 1. Agence France-Presse, August 19, 1996. 2. See NYTH08801112007-1.html##. 3. See 4. Interview by author, October 2007. 5. Quoted on 6. Interview with author, March 20, 2007. Also see Luttwak (1979). 7. Quoted by Intelligentsiya, March 6, 2007. 8. Fiji Government Portal (, March 9, 2007.

References Field, Michael, with Tupeni Baba and Unaisi Nabobo-Baba. 2005. Speight of Violence: Inside Fiji’s 2000 Coup, Reed, Auckland. ———. 2006. Black Saturday: New Zealand’s Tragic Blunders in Samoa, Reed, Auckland.

114 ? Michael Field Foster, Sophie. 2007. ‘Media and Digital Democracy’, Pacific Journalism Review 13(2): 47–60, University of the South Pacific. Gounder, Christine. 2007. ‘Journalists and the George Speight Coup’, Pacific Journalism Review 13(1): 125–41, University of the South Pacific. Luttak, Edward. 1979. Coup d’etat: A Practical Handbook, Harvard University Press, Boston. Moorehead, Allan. 1966. The Fatal Impact: The Invasion of the South Pacific 1769–1840, Hamish Hamilton, London. Ofotalau, Alison. 1999. ‘Honimae Attacks “Wildfire” Media’, Wansolwara 4(4): 1.

9 Weaving an India with Mailing Lists Frederick Noronha

Why is the role of simple e-mail-based tools in networking a nation so badly overlooked? In a country where ‘national’ newspapers scarcely cover its vast diversity, where communications often remain caught-up within state boundaries, and ignorance about the realities in different parts of the nation is often the rule, the potential of a low-cost and effective tool is being overlooked. Blogs, Facebook, Orkut, the Wikipedia, social software, wikis . . . that is all there is to cyberspace. Or so it would seem, going by press coverage of the New Media. Currently, one repeatedly reads these various catch-words in articles on cyberspace. Very seldom, if at all, does one hear of the power of plain-vanilla e-mail and its close cousin, electronic mailing lists. Yet, it is this very un-hyped tool that has enormous potential in building virtual communities and networks in an India that badly needs them. Experience shows that in India itself hundreds more such lists have been set up and effectively run—to build campaigns, share information, link up with diaspora communities or spread techknowledge among the young. They may lead a subterranean existence. This is understandable because one learns of most lists mainly by word-of-mouth. There are few, if any, directories that list the lists focused on diverse subjects. Besides, the lists have been largely bereft of the hype that some aspects of cyberspace have gained. They are less glamorous than websites; at first glance they do not seem as obviously useful as e-mail, and definitely not as ‘sexy’ as chat. Mailing lists, which owe their origins to an earlier era of internet history, have an especially important role to play in a vast and diverse country like India. This is not just the theory; it is the reality clearly echoed in experiences from the field. From pointers to locating texts in Sanskrit, to developmental information use in India, and expatriates chatting and fighting via the internet—all this and more has made its presence felt on mostly little-noticed India-related mailing lists.

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Alberto G. Gomes, an Australia-based academic of Goan origin, did a study of the Goanet mailing list, and commented in April 2001: ‘This study demonstrates how the Internet has greatly facilitated diasporic connection and maintenance of ties with the “homeland”, however imaginary this may be. . . . Today, a Goan can keep in touch with news in Goa, get in contact with a lost friend from the homeland, or participate in a discussion about Goa by pressing a few keys on his or her computer from almost any part of the world. The Internet has also helped in the re-emergence of community against the processes of social alienation and loss of community spirit widely regarded by sociologists as salient conditions of modernity’ (Gomes 2001). But mailing lists have not just played the role of postmen, taking across the news. There have been cases of action being spurred on by the lists too. As Gomes (ibid.) notes: ‘(Goanet members) organised a campaign against paedophilia in Goa and were successful in mounting considerable pressure on Goan authorities to act against such sexual deviance in the state. Another Goanet initiative is the Goa Schools Computer Project where a fund raising campaign was held via the net for the purchase and installation of computers in several schools in Goa. Goa-netters have helped set up computer facilities for one school and a few of them are currently carrying out a study to identify more schools for the project. They also helped to raise funds to help a Goan participant in the para-Olympics.’ Mailing lists have been effectively deployed for diverse reasons. At, the U.S.-headquartered South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) has a range of mailing lists that offer one the chance to keep in touch with India-related information from North America, or discuss current issues with South Asian journalists working there. Social campaigners and diaspora groups have perhaps best understood the relevance of such lists. Focusing on themes from Bangalore and elsewhere, the ‘Invites’ network is a group ‘to share human rights and other information of interest to civil society. It has a global perspective and vision, and is Bangalore centric. It is primarily of international, national and Bangalore events and campaigns . . . of NGOs, peoples’ movements and peace.’ Each message sent out through that network reaches directly into the e-mailbox of some 2,700 readers at the time of writing (2008).

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These are just two of a few hundreds—if not more—lists that have been slowly constructed, gone on to influence the debate, but were often not even noticed adequately as they grew.

Treasure Trove of Information Mailing lists are indeed a treasure trove of information, and vitally useful for a country like India. Inexpensive to operate, a well-run list can bring in immense results. Setting up a list is easy, a matter of minutes on servers that offer free space like or But keeping it going is difficult, or at least calls for dedication and discipline. In an earlier e-interview, Jeanu J. Mathews, based in the U.S., told me that ‘Internet-based mailing lists have all the standard conveniences that anything based on the Internet has. But above and beyond that (some like the) SAJA (South Asian Journalists Association, run by Professor Sreenath Sreenivasan of Columbia University) is an excellent networking vehicle. . . . Though often close-minded in their outlook, these are very helpful to aspiring journalists such as myself. I am very grateful for the same.’ Mailing lists are seldom advertised. You probably will not easily run into a directory for them. But the good ones get noticed fast, at least among those active in cyberspace. Mailing lists deal with different themes and priorities. Some focus on regions—like AndamanNicobar ( group/andamanicobar/) or Chhattisgarh-Net ( com/group/chhattisgarh-net/). Others are meant for academia, like GoaResearchNet ( or professions, like SAJA. There are mailing lists that focus on campaigns (for the opening up of community radio in India, an example where a list kept a movement connected) or the lists that lobby for Right to Information issues. Children, development themes, documentary films, educational issues, e-government, environment, health, legal issues, nongovernment organization (NGO) jobs, alternative news, sports, urban issues, and writing are some of the themes which electronic lists (sometimes called listservs) focus on. Without doubt, the field of technology (and its social implications) has among the most interesting set of mailing lists in India itself. For an incomplete listing of some mailing lists around South Asia, go to

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A Group, People Networked First, the basics. A mailing list—or discussion list—comprises a group of people that read each others’ e-mails. As the Wikipedia explains, ‘an electronic mailing list (sometimes written as elist or e-list) is a special usage of e-mail that allows for widespread distribution of information to many Internet users’ (see Wikipedia likens it to being ‘similar to a traditional mailing list—a list of names and addresses—as might be kept by an organization for sending publications to its members or customers’. Subscribers are the people who opt to join the list, usually at no charge. The e-mail messages are put out to all the subscribers. And software based on a server shares the messages among the entire list. This simple way of organizing information makes it rather powerful. Subscribers to the mailing list send messages to one central e-mail address. A special software programme distributes this message among dozens or hundreds or more of the list’s subscribers. This results in a number of advantages. The way an electronic mailing list works is the cyber equivalent of having a public meeting that goes on forever without tiring you. (The risk though is that it might clog your mailbox, if you are not careful.) Besides, an e-meeting undertaken via mail allows everyone to ‘talk’ to everyone else, at a time that is convenient and without cutting into someone else’s time. Once set up, all this costs very little money to maintain.

Why Have Mailing Lists Been Ignored? If mailing lists can be useful, why has India overlooked the potential of the humble mailing list? One reason could be timing. When the internet first opened up in India in mid-1997, the all-powerful and over-hyped website was already making waves. One only needs to remember those huge hoardings that dominated every Indian city, urging you to visit one or the other site. Mailing lists were in the news internationally perhaps in the early and mid-1990s. In any case, they did not draw the hype that the websites of yesterday and the social software of today have garnered. Perhaps it also took time for cyber-surfers in India to cut through the hype and understand what mailing lists were all about.

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Then there is the economics side of the issue. One needs time, perseverance and patience to build up a mailing list. As may be guessed, there is little money in this tool—though its potential to build community, share information, link people and even mobilize action sometimes is immense. It has seldom been seen as a moneyspinning, corporate tool, and hence the step-motherly attention given to mailing lists. One cannot underestimate the potential of these lists. In the 1990s, IndiaLink, a network connecting non-government organizations via electronic mail, built up a handful of interesting lists. The most influential and useful of these was undeniably the IL-environment. This linked green campaigners across the country, from the humble, concerned citizen to persons like Union Minister Maneka Gandhi and veteran wildlife campaigners such as Bittu Sehgal of Mumbai. For a change, activists and campaigners across the nation got a speedy and reliable update of the latest issues that diverse areas were facing. But lists tend to be unpredictable, and this one too fell into disuse. Social campaigners have been quick to realize the potential of software. France-based Harsh Kapoor, for instance, runs an interesting mailing list that seeks to campaign against the increased communal polarization of the civilization known as India. Kapoor’s South Asia Citizens’ Wire sends out ‘media reports and information on implications of fundamentalist politics, defence of secular spaces, initiatives in the women’s movement, labour and peace campaigns in or about South Asia’ (see and http://groups.

Finding Commitment But much more is waiting to be done. New York–based UNDP policy analyst Vikas Nath told this writer in an interview: ‘Somehow South Asia has not picked up on mailing lists in spite of having good connectivity in comparison to other regions. I guess the problem is with finding good lead organizations to start mailing lists. Looking at India, most of the NGOs do not have an effective e-mail or web strategy. This is even more striking since we are the ones who could most benefit from the mailing lists.’ Adds Nath: ‘Not many people in South Asia can afford to subscribe to more than one or two good environment or development-related publications. But if we were to have effective mailing lists which,

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for example, circulate relevant articles and postings, then they would prove to be immensely useful.’ Nath cited the example of Bangladesh, where doctors and health professionals had in the past made available health-related databases or articles available in the west to e-mail subscribers. Nath himself has started two mailing lists: and, the latter focusing on jobs in the development network.

Knowledge and Social Change Shaji John set up Friends of UP in 2001 (see com/group/friends_of_up/) with the goal of it being ‘a knowledge community for social change in Uttar Pradesh’. John said in an interview: ‘The group is formatted as a knowledge community for social change in UP.’ A sociologist, John has worked with several NGOs, reaching ‘hard to reach’ areas, from where the mailing list is kept going via cyber-cafes in Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad, Jhansi, or even Banda. ‘It will be too much to assume all your dispatches will be read with great attention by all . . . to some it might be even a bit of a nuisance, right? That said, I must note that I do get occasional support mail from some members about whom I know nothing more than their ids and that goes a long way in sustaining me,’ said Shaji John. Roger Harris, a close watcher of the ICT-for-development campaign worldwide, argues: ‘Part of the trouble is that list messages can range from being incredibly useful to irritatingly banal, and what’s one to one person may be the other to another. No way to decide without spoiling things. For India, the big thing must surely be getting them in local languages as soon as possible. Also, we probably need more local initiatives.’ Some lists have encouraged people to communicate, exchange ideas, network and share goals on a scale seldom done otherwise on a people-to-people basis in a country as vast as India. Bangalore-based N. Udhay Shankar has long been involved with mailing lists. He has been involved with a wide range, for instance, cooking-pot (‘private list of Indian techies, membership by invite only’), Linux-India-General (‘has been fairly noisy, but still has nostalgia value since I helped set it up’), Cybercom and InteractInnL. Given his techie-orientation Udhay has also been a moderator at India-GII, and is on claw-in, exchinnet, and free-india, interesting lists that link geeks across India in unusual ways.

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For some reason, technology-based mailing lists have been able to take off more effectively and purposefully, if one goes by the Indian experience. GII, run out of Delhi, calls itself a list meant to discuss ‘India’s bumpy progress on the global info-highway’. Some discussions focus on the status of telecom in India, how it compares to other countries, regulatory issues (pricing, monopolies, privatizing, structuring), need for changes to Indian laws, law on the right to privacy or freedom of expression in cyberspace, and implications of new technologies for India telecom. It also looks at matters pertaining to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Campaigners have also found utility in mailing lists. Specific mailing lists were set up after workshops on spreading literacy (held at IIM, Ahmedabad) and to campaign for the legalization of community radio (held in Hyderabad). The campaign for legalizing community radio in India has got added momentum, thanks to continued and sustained interactions via the list, and long after the workshop ended. Finally, community radio did get legalized in November 2006, while the network was kept linked over the years, thanks in part to a simple mailing list. Alumni networks have also found mailing lists useful, and there are a number of examples of these. Lists also help collaboration across international boundaries, beyond South Asia. For some reason, the lists most effective in taking off have been mailing lists focusing on developmental issues and people struggling to make their point—whether it is education, literacy, community radio, the environment, women in journalism. Perhaps this is because of the creative energy flowing out of such groups. It is possible to find reasons why expatriate-run lists have been more active, and came into existence earlier than the ones from India itself. In the case of India, till the late 1990s, it was difficult to get access to the internet. Abroad, expatriate communities of South Asian origin—especially university students in the U.S.—were encouraged to set up mailing lists on a range of issues.

Challenges Lists have widely varying tones. Moderators of the fairly active ‘Silklist’ have termed it ‘a place to have knowledgeable, civil and most of all, fun conversations about technology, philosophy, culture

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and whatever else we want to talk about. We have only two rules: no ad hominem (personal attacks), and no spam.’ Some lists are tame, others are boisterous—‘wild’ might be a better word. Lists also tend to promptly become inactive. Others drag on, some face monotonous infighting. But lists can also be useful and a surprisingly convenient, and shockingly inexpensive way of sharing information across a country the size and diversity of India. To cope with the deafening silence that can kill many new lists, two strategies usually work. First, one needs a ‘critical mass’ in terms of your number of members before a list gets activated with life of its own. Second, every list badly needs a committed core group that will nurture and promote it, especially in its early stages. With their range and diversity, mailing lists promise to link a vast and diverse country in an inexpensive and effective manner. But do cyber-netizens and those concerned about building the New Media in India—not just in a for-profit manner—have the patience to build them up, utilize them towards a positive goal? One needs to keep in mind that, with all their potential, mailing lists also throw up certain challenges. For instance, the need for creating suitable content, possibly doing this on a largely non-profit and volunteer-driven model, and also importantly offering nonEnglish language solutions so that many more than currently do can talk to one another, on a more democratic citizen-to-citizen basis? Much has been done. A lot more awaits being done.

Reference Gomes, Alberto G. 2001. ‘Going Goan on the Goanet’, Social Analysis: Journal of Cultural and Social Practice 45(1), April. Available at http://lists. html.

10 Digital Dreams Baradwaj Rangan

With everything going ‘digital’ these days, it was only a matter of time before cinema—the infant among the arts—caught up. Neverbefore images came to the big screen with never-before degrees of realism—and it was as much about dinosaurs stampeding across the plains as a cloud, say, that was added as an afterthought, as compensation for nature’s non-cooperation on the day of shooting. But that’s just one of the ways cinema has gone digital. The author talks to Rajiv Menon, one of India’s foremost cinematographers, who explains how digital technology is going to change the way films are shot, readied and released, and how the democratization of film is just around the corner. When we use the word ‘digital’ in conjunction with filmmaking, we think mainly about computer graphics and various forms of special effects. How else does filmmaking benefit from digital technology? Digital technology is applicable to three areas of filmmaking. One is in the acquisition of the image—that is, the process of recording the image. Then there’s the process of editing and sorting out and polishing the image. So you have digitization in production, in postproduction—and finally in exhibition. So the trend, it appears, would be a gradual shift towards filmmaking being ‘digitized’—from start to finish. You can see that all still photography has gone digital—barring some art and some amateur work. So one of the biggest problems filmmakers face is that even if they want to shoot on chemical film, the film companies may not be making that kind of film. But even now, mainstream films are not really shot on digital because of the problems with the formats and the reliability of the transfer mechanism, and the pure joy that film still has. With the existing digital video technology, if you want an image that’s as good as that on chemical film, the rate at which the transfer is happening and the rate of storage is a little suspect. The amount of information required in every frame is so high that film is still hanging on.

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What do you mean when you refer to ‘the pure joy that film still has’? You make it sound almost romantic. The solidity of an image is caused by light and shadow, and also how much you see, how much you don’t see, and how the unseen parts merge into the darkness. That boundary line blurs so well in film. But when you see a video image, you can make out it’s a video image. Right now, the film image is still superior. You can turn around and ask me, ‘What about still photography?’ But that’s because the resolution in still photography is far higher than what they are able to do on film. We are not able to carry or transfer that kind of information on a continuous basis, twenty-four times a second. But if that were possible, the question would be: Would it be the same? Well—yes and no. In video, every frame is going to be exposed by the same chip, and it doesn’t completely clean itself up—so somehow the last frame influences the current frame. But in still photography, it’s just one frame you’re taking. Can you elaborate on that? On a basic level, what is the difference between using chemical film and digital video? Mainstream companies like Arri have just brought out their 2K resolution cameras. Film negative has 6K, sometimes even more than that—so by going digital, you are dropping down your resolution to one-third of what you can get on film. But the supporters of digital technology would point to the mechanical problems (with the shutter and so on) in the analogue projector and say that even if you had 6K resolution, by the time the negative becomes a positive print, the result on screen would be only 1–1.5 K. Besides, if you shoot your negative on 6K, and if you digitally project it on a 2K projector, you see a lot more—which is surprising. But there is still something very synthetic and artificial about it. When you take a chemical negative and print it on a positive, the results are fantastic. But even if you slightly overexpose on digital, especially when you have skin tones, it’s not the same. So you’re saying it will be a while before film goes the way of audio, the recording industry—which is practically all-digital. Yes, all recording has gone digital. But they find that the digital sound is very brittle, very synthetic, so they are trying to develop equipment to make things sound more analogue—because we hear analogue, we see analogue. But the convenience of recording in digital, the ability to move around the sound here and there means that digital recording is here to stay. There will probably be some

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freak, high-end analogue recording studio, but even if it does use analogue, that will be only in the process of the mixing, to give a more ‘real’ feel to it. That’s more of an experiential aspect, isn’t it—how you see and feel things? But it’s the practical aspects of digital technology that have made it popular, especially during editing. I remember fifteen years ago, while editing, the Steenbeck was it. A few crazy people did things on Avid—and they said you could not judge how long the long shot should be held and you need a projector to know it. But somehow, people seem to have accepted it and today, everybody uses Avid. Of course, there are some problems. There’s a lot of zip-zoop-zap going on that’s being misconstrued as editing and feature films have started looking like music videos, at least in South India. But constructively speaking, you can have a lot more control with digital editing than you could with analogue editing. Just a simple technique like the dissolve was a very big thing in the days of analogue editing, but today it’s so easy. In what other aspects of post-production is digital technology used? Rather, in what other aspects can it be used, especially in Indian cinema? It is actually a process of democratization, where everyone— whatever the budget of the film—will be using (and will have access to) the same technology. And you can do so many things. You could create things that are not possible. You could create things that are possible but in a more convenient way. You could create things the most efficient way. Or you could push the boundaries of your creativity. Earlier, if you wanted a volcano—if you wanted a song and dance in front of the crater as the lava flowed—you literally had to go to an active volcano, which is impractical. But today, if you have a visual of that, you can actually do it by taking background plates of the volcano, and you can digitally put these two people in the frame and do a song. So that means if you just imagine anything today, you can do it. But just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should. If you’re making a simple Iranian kind of film, then you don’t require any of this. But if you are going to compete with television and create films which are larger, which force people to come to the theatre, then you make spectacles. If you have a set, you can make your set look much wider. Even if your set was built inside a studio which was

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only 15 feet tall, you could add the sky, along with backgrounds and foregrounds and make it achieve an expanse. These are artistic additions. Then you have things like animation films. The kind of animation you see today is largely due to digital technology. Those kinds of films, the ones largely done on computers, are usually advertised as ‘best seen on digital projection’, or something like that, but there aren’t a great many theatres that have gone digital. Why hasn’t the technology caught on in this case? When it comes to exhibition, we are stuck. There are three or four formats hanging around in India, and it’s very confusing. You can’t take one file and play it on another system. It’s all encoded differently. Whereas with film, you can play the same thing in Uzbekistan or Japan or Outer Mongolia. But this will soon change. You have a situation now where Jab We Met came back to theatres after Om Shanti Om. (The earlier film was taken off to accommodate the latter’s Diwali release, and then brought back by popular demand.) Fortunately, the print still exists. But what if they want to watch Kaagaz Ke Phool? Of course, there is the DVD, but when you go to the theatre and see it, your powers of concentration are much higher and the film viewing experience is also better. What’s going to happen is that theatres are going to get interactive. You’re going to be able to call in and see the latest European film or Iranian film, provided it is digital. You mentioned Kaagaz Ke Phool, and we all know it has the most wonderful black-and-white cinematography. Now, if the film negative were converted to digital, would it still look as wonderful? Well, yes and no. If you hear a lot of the old (Indian) classical music recordings on your iPod today—things that you listened to on vinyl—the sound has a lot of hiss and crackle. The records before, say, 1970 are not that good. But the ones made after that are really high quality. Even with analogue, the sound is so beautifully done. So the question is: how good was the information, and how pure was the negative stored? But negative deteriorates, because it’s a chemical process. The greatest thing with digital is that there will be no deterioration of the image. What about present-day Indian cinema? There have been a few attempts at making films without film. P. C. Sreeram’s Vaanam Vasappadum and Kamal Hassan’s Mumbai Xpress come to mind. A lot of people have tried. But you have not seen an ultimate digital film as yet. But internationally, there have been fantastic

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films that have been made digitally, like the extraordinary (Michael Haneke’s) Caché or Lars von Trier’s films. Digital gives you a lot of possibilities—like unlimited footage. You can let the actors perform and not be nervous about film running out. And this is applicable to the Indian scenario too, because we use the same cameras and the same technologies the world uses. So digital is definitely the future. The way you can store information has already gone digital. The only way you can store those great old films and prevent them from deterioration is through digitization. That’s the only answer and there’s nothing that can stop it. You’re talking about films like Caché, which are fairly austere in terms of stylization. In India, when we do commercial films, we’re talking lots of colours and effects and sets and the like. Is digital technology capable of capturing this richness the way film does, especially with the problem you referred to earlier, about how ‘every frame is going to be exposed by the same chip’? Well, still photographs manage to capture this information—and stills have gone all-digital. And if stills can capture it, films can capture it too. Right now, it’s just the process of storage which is affecting it. There’s a lot of space needed to record that kind of information, and it takes about one-and-a-half seconds to transfer a file that size. You cannot transfer such big files twenty-four times per second, which is what is needed for a movie to play out. But somebody is going to crack it, find a solution soon. It’s definitely going to come. How fast, how much, and how cruelly it could come—that’s debatable. There’s a lot of nostalgia for film, but it’s like living in the electric engine age and agonizing about the steam engine. There’s a mystique about the steam engine, but when you look out, you get a speck of dust in your eye. If you look at it practically, digitization is inevitable.

11 Architecture in the Era of Digital Imagination A. Srivathsan

The ability to stand upright freed the hands from locomotion. The cascading effect of this biomechanical change was to clamp down on the hard use of jaws—thereby paving the way for the articulation of speech. As we know, words changed the world (Cache 1999). When Bernard Cache perceived this relational change, he pointed out that it was not just about the economics of optimization. It was more about how our ways of being were radically re-formed by changes in the mechanism of doing things. A moment of similar great anticipation surfaced in the 1980s, after almost 200 years since the industrial revolution. Advancement in digital technologies and the possible discoveries that were promised added to the optimism about the future. The collapsing of workhome distinctions, the revolution in trade, the compression of time and space—all these were presented with great enthusiasm. It was within this anticipated world that new mechanisms of producing architecture emerged. The processes of designing, drawing and making buildings were revised by digital technologies. Phrases like ‘digital architecture’, ‘hyper surface’ and ‘CNC manufacturing’ quickly circulated. Radical possibilities appeared imminent or they were so imagined. It appeared that now new architecture could be had every Monday morning. What characterized the born-again optimism in the future was not the certainty with which it was foretold. What was enticing about it was the promise of a serendipitous progress. As Lowenthal observes, the possible presence of unique and not-repeated events was considered the hallmark of the yet-to-arrive future (Lowenthal 1992). Like all futures, this too was yet to happen and hence more seductive. Architects embraced this optimism and technology. Inevitably, people who at this time were dabbling with the new digital tools were also talking about post-modernism. Architectural ideas, however, moved quickly away from the weariness of post-modern debates and looked at new formal possibilities. The issues about authorship and

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other entrenched ideas were challenged and the new technology allowed radical-minded architects to effectively demonstrate their ideas. The presence of virtual space alongside real space is not anything new. As Greg Seigworth points out, we were already virtual even before the arrival of the computer (Seigworth 1999). The difference the new discourse produced was that it persuaded us that the virtual was both real and ideal, without being abstract and without being present in a sensory way. Digital architecture was repeatedly upheld, not as a technological event or with the scepticism of confronting an unrealizable ideal, but as a possibility which was already contained in the real. What remained to happen was its actualization. The virtual was relieved of its antithetical association with the real. A serious argument for an alternative reality and ways of living was being made. It was in this context that the new millennium began. It provided compelling metaphors and vantage points to speculate about the future. The idea of houses as the centre of changes was the common theme. Many House 2000 competitions were announced, asking readers and architects to let loose their imagination. It is not surprising that the home was chosen as a location for such speculation. Stuart Shapiro’s study shows that the electronic effluvia of modern society have always generated anxiety amongst its inhabitants (Shapiro 1998). A home is an important frontier in the internalization of technology and the construction of conceptions of privacy, public space, and thus life at large. It has been a favourable and sensitive starting point to speculate on the opportunity and menace of relationships with technology. Many designs and projects for the new millennium have explored the permeation of technology—particularly digital technology—in houses for the future. In this context, the media, the new millennium and digital imaginations appeared in a naturally fit combination. Bangalore in India was at the threshold of a great digital leap at the beginning of the new millennium. It was on its way to acquiring the status of the capital of Modern India Incorporated. The new-found patronage and the self-conscious image of a happening city have built the right terrain for new practices. The axis of contemporary architecture in India was shifting from the traditional New DelhiMumbai-Ahmedabad axis to Bangalore. A group of architects in Bangalore got together to participate in what was called the House

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2k project. It was a privately organized competition with no intention of building the winning design. It was purely an explorative project and a starting point for a larger discussion on houses for the future. This chapter looks at some of the entries in this competition and at other digital beginnings that followed. The trajectory of the digital imagination in Indian architectural practice is broadly mapped here. The digital imagination appears like a new avatar of universalistic ideas, but it never produces the same effect or meaning in different places. The chapter attempts to map some of these effects. Most of the entries submitted to the House 2K competition in Bangalore were digitally rendered. The designs, like the one submitted by Inform Architects, claimed that existing relationships within their house of the future will be challenged. In the opinion of these architects, the existing distinction between private and public would be blurred and the inside and outside would blend into each other. The new house so constructed would have little or no concern for privacy. If such a thing as privacy still existed it was meant paradoxically for public consumption, the designers said. The living space was a twisted glass box functionally severed from the overwhelmingly constricting kitchen and other spaces. These spaces were barely connected with each other by tubes, the design proclaimed. If an existing house held events under one roof, the new 2K house would split them into discrete parts and suspend them as separate blocks. This would not blur the distinction between private and public. On the contrary, it would only heighten the distinction. The connecting tubes appeared as the violent scars of this failed attempt. It is not the failed idea that concerns us here. What is important is how the notion of the future was constructed and communicated visually. The building tried to acquire a distinctive form. The glass that wrapped the living block was twisted and the building was deformed. Without this visual distinction it would have passed off for any other building. The text that accompanied the building announced that it was crying out to be noticed and compelled the viewer to look at it. The arrival of the future in this case could not have been announced without manipulating the form. It appears that the visual continued to perform the semiotic functions of the building. To visualize the form as the primary condition that enables the process of design is not uncommon to architectural practice

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(Perrella 1999). Visualization of the future and visualization of form, at times, are coterminous. This asserts the visual regime within the practice, and at another level, reiterates age-old assumptions of architects. By distorting the form, the architects assumed that the existing conditions that brought about the old form would be obliterated. In this sense the House 2K projects were perpetuating the naïve belief that social engineering could be achieved through form manipulation. What makes this attempt interesting is the manner in which the architects conferred a semiological transparency to their drawings. They assume that animation and digital rendering takes the viewer closer to the intent without having to rely on the architect’s words. Ironically, this is achieved by making the archi-tectural renderings so close to the real, that every one wants to break from it. Even the most radical form has to be presented as real or visually comprehensible. Seven years after this attempt, with Bangalore in the saddle as the most soughtafter city for investment and opportunities, architecture’s digital imagination has not Photo 11.1: Architecture by Vijay Vivek reached the point where Shankar, St Mark’s Street, Bangalore the protagonists wanted it to be. The schism between rhetoric and realization persists. On the St Marks Road in Bangalore stands a white disarranged Rubik’s cube. This aluminium building is diagonally serrated and the planes pop out irregularly. The building draws attention to its form and eccentricity. It wishes to exhibit its willingness to experiment and, if possible, seduce the viewer by its novelty. Vijay Vivek Shankar, educated in London and having worked with Zaha Hadid, the international avant-garde architect, designed this building. Digital design techniques and contemporary architectural theories inform this building. The architect went to great lengths to explain the process of producing the facade. A rigorous analysis of the geometry and of customized production techniques made this possible. The building challenged the conventional orthogonal grids of a typical building form. Vivek repeatedly emphasizes the

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process of design and how the new technologies have made it possible. For him, a strong and attractive form is a by-product of a rigorous process. One cannot help noticing that the building’s radical posturing is only on the outside, while the inside is a simple box designed for an exclusive mall dedicated to selling wedding objects. The aesthetics of unfamiliarity and danger is a good ploy for drawing attention and serving the concerns of commerce. The novelty is patronized only when it is in the service of consumption. Morphogenesis, the architectural studio in Gurgaon is considered as one of the largest firms that adopt emergent technologies that enable theoretical examination and non-deterministic design methods. The architects consider Photo 11.2: The Morphogenesis Building, their firm as an archi- Gurgaon tectural laboratory that believes in the progress of technology and engineering. Their endeavour, as the architects claim, is to search and attain tectonic perfection.1 The firm invests in research to develop ‘evolutionary and generative systems and use computational techniques to model the inner logic of morphogenetic processes towards the creation of form, structure and organisation in physical and virtual architecture’.2 The buildings designed by these architects are extensively published in magazines as the new cool architecture in town. According to them, all types of buildings have to be subjected to such a process and no distinction should be made among them. While the firm has managed to produce ‘cool’ forms for corporate offices, multiplexes and multinational companies, residential projects remain outside their purview. It looks like technology has not yet become the predominant context in which ‘the boundary of the home exists and operates’ (Shapiro 1998). At the moment, other contexts are more pressing and prevail over it. How architecture engages technology has also to do with the manner in which it is adopted and discourses are built around it. With abrupt start-ups and regular leapfrogging, architecture in India

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has stayed within the fold of technological developments. AutoDesk drafting software was introduced in the early 1990s at a time when the developments in the rest of the world were far ahead. The early instance where calculating machines were used in the construction industry was in the World Fair held in 1964 in the U.S. Alongside, computing methods were used in the design of the curvilinear and free flowing forms as in the case of the TWA terminal in New York (Silver 2006). In the 1980s automated systems for drafting construction documents emerged. AutoDesk entered the personal computer design-software market and launched AutoCAD. At this time, a lot of work-time was taken up in developing ways of knowledge representation, such as ‘shape grammars’. In 1990, changes in technology simplified computing and ushered in friendly interfaces that allowed for greater interaction between architects (McCullough 2006). This facilitated more theoretical explorations and witnessed designers getting into discovering ‘happy accidents’ by dabbling in operationally specific modelling software. This era was dubbed as the ‘period of the blob architecture’ following the amorphous free-flowing forms that were produced at that time (Silver 2006). At the same time, there were many advances in digital fabrication. Rapid prototyping and computer numerically controlled (CNC) machining emerged (McCullough 2006). Architects quickly found existing software limiting their theoretical enquiries. They started to customize off-the-shelf products like in the case of the redevelopment of CATIA at Gehry Systems and Greg Lynn’s collaboration with Microstation. The digital techniques are now in a decisive phase. In Greg Lynn’s words, ‘the era of the happy accident is over in architectural design using computer-based design mediums, and now is the time for more depth and expertise in design’ (Rocker 2006). At the moment, professionals and academics are exploring programming methods and coding, in order to go beyond the formal imposition and limitations of software. Institutions in India have not been the gateway for digital innovations in architecture. Till about 2000, there were no serious and conscious institutional attempts to look at technology and architecture. Till recent times, digital tools were viewed with suspicion. They were seen as a corrupting influence that would replace traditional drawing skills. Schools of architecture debated and implemented restrictions as to how many drawings could be

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done with computers. Fears of plagiarism and lazy repetitions of design were often debated in academic meetings. Whenever an explorative design was attempted, the institution was at a loss as to how to critically engage with it. It is only in the recent past that a few institutions have made attempts to positively engage with them. They have not only failed to build up a critical mass of expertise, but also substantially to adopt new technologies. As a result, they have not managed to produce critical discourses or works in the field of architecture. The training and skill sets so far produced have gone into building digital outsourcing centres. Indian firms now produce working drawings for U.S. firms, which comply with U.S. building codes. Like transcription services, many firms convert hard copies of drawings sent from the U.S. and Europe into soft copies. Until recent times, salary levels in architectural firms were low and could not match those at the outsourcing centres. Along with animation studios, these outsourcing centres provide good employment and substantial pay. Digital skills and courses that cater to such forms alone find avenues for employment. On the other hand, a few architectural firms and individuals have taken up the explorative use of digital technology. They have invested in research and adapted new technologies in their design. However, the dominant use of digital technology continues to serve formal representations that reaffirm existing relations and conditions. So far, emphasis has been laid on the perceptual qualities of architecture. Experimenting with forms is seen as a radical step. The overwhelming desire is to make the adoption of technology visible so that the buildings can acquire meanings such as ‘new’, ‘contemporary’ and ‘efficient’. At the moment, explorative digital practices are perceived as marginal avant-garde experimentation rather than as a serious option within the architecture discourse. According to Bergson, such perceptions are important as they offer the plan of our eventual action on things, rather than the plan of things themselves.3 This possibly explains the limited influence of digital technologies in architectural practice, in spite of the deep penetration of computing tools and related technologies within the profession. Apart from operational convenience, they have not had much impact. The emphasis on producing images does not have to be entirely dismissed. As Stephen Perella informs us, architects are aware that

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there are uncanny possibilities between actual form and image (ibid.). The presence of multiple practices, however marginal some of them may be, remains important. One is aware that technological choices are multivalent and the same technology can acquire different values and change in meaning over time. As Andrew Feenberg would argue, there is no intrinsic ‘compelling objective logic within the technology’. Cultural, historical and social forces determine them (Feenberg 1995).

Notes 1. See morphogenesis/?searchterm=meets. 2. See 3. Cited in Perrella (1999).

References Cache, Bernard. 1999. ‘The Pursuit of Philosophy by Other Means’, in Stephen Perrella, ed., Hypersurface Architecture II, John Wiley and Sons, West Sussex. Feenberg, Andrew. 1995. Alternative Modernity. The Technical Turn in Philosophy and Social Theory, University of California Press, Berkeley. Lowenthal, David. 1992. ‘The Death of Future’, in Sandra Wallman (ed.), Contemporary Futures: Perspectives from Social Anthropology, Routledge, London. McCullough, Malcolm. 2006. ‘20 Years of Scripted Space’, AD 76(4): 12–15. Perrella, Stephen. 1999. ‘Electronic Baroque’, in Stephen Perrella, ed., Hypersurface Architecture II, John Wiley and Sons, West Sussex. Rocker, I. M. 2006. ‘Calculus Based Form: An Interview with Greg Lynn by Ingeborg M. Rocker’, AD 76(4): 89–95. Seigworth, Greg. 1999. ‘Proteglum, Two or Three Approximations for Hypersurface’, in Stephen Perrella, ed., Hypersurface Architecture II, John Wiley and Sons, West Sussex. Shapiro, Stuart. 1998. ‘Places and Spaces: The Historical Interaction of Technology, Home, and Privacy’, The Information Society 14(4): 275–84. Silver, Mike. 2006. ‘Towards a Programming Culture in the Design Arts’, AD 76(4): 5–11.

12 Technological Ruins: A Short Essay Ravi Sundaram

The technological power of the state in the first three decades after independence in India was rendered through what Henri Lefebvre calls conceptualized space, the represented space of abstract power. The typical form was monumentalized, the figure of the steel mill, the power plant, the dream-form of national progress. These were abstract spaces, where the technological was sutured from lived experiences. This landscape changed radically after globalization of the economy from the mid-1980s onwards, and accelerated in the next decade. The period of the new globalization transformed daily life in India’s cities through a series of shock-like flows, where new networks emerged outside those of the state.1 These were flows of a new media space, unorganized, haphazard and dispersed. Cable television emerged, wired by unemployed neighbourhood youth; a large pirate music culture spread through cigarette shop outlets. Public phone shops became computer access points, and later, internet access nodes. Suddenly the city street became visible. Lajpat Rai market is one of Asia’s largest ‘pirate’ electronics markets, located in the Old City, opposite Red Fort. The market jumpstarted the cable television boom by manufacturing inexpensive dish antennas, which were bought by dealers throughout the country. Today the market sells music systems to street DJs, television sets and VHS players, fake music, videos and DVDs, cameras, and thousands of electronic parts. All transactions are in cash and most items are manufactured in illegal/grey factories around Delhi. The market, dense, labyrinthine and seedy, is a space far removed from the infotech utopias conjured up by the current elites in Delhi, and far removed from the abstract technological spaces of nationalism. The market is a part of the large and dynamic media space of the everyday in urban India, which has, for all practical purposes, retailed the new cultural constellation to the mass of citizens. These include the thousands of small cable television networks, publicly operated phone booths in neighbourhoods which number in their millions, street music sellers, the large grey computer market, and

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public internet access points. Here the computer, multimedia and phone outlets have the most visible public presence in the street, while the other forms are dominant in virtual space. What is distinctive about the everyday urban networks of electronic culture that emerged in the 1990s is their preference for non-legal practices. This is partly a consequence of the gradual withdrawal of the state from the everyday productive space of the city, from localities and neighbourhoods. The state now exists more as a corrupt bystander, sometimes intervening as a moral policeman, often without results. Non-legality here refers to the thousands of unregistered service providers, the thriving pirate cultures of cable television, music and film. In the computer industry the grey market is significant, operating from neighbourhood shops and new nodes of commercial activity. It was these non-legal forms that contributed to the dramatic expansion of electronic culture in the city, as also a dynamic service sector in the cities. Street and non-legal cultures are a feature of all post-global cities, but what is significant about India is their preponderance, as well as ability to innovate within existing built forms. Non-legal incremental expansion seems to have been the main dynamic of post-global urban transformation in India, in the everyday at least. Until recently, expansion has not been in the form of spectacular vertical construction regimes as in East Asia, but in horizontal expansion, gradually poaching on state and private land by diverse interests which could vary from contractors, small business, slum dwellers, and private citizens slowly encroaching on public land. For many years this map is deemed to be out of sync with the global catalogue of postmodern urban transformation: no large flows of finance capital pushing for spatial transformation, the absence of a large commercial downtown anywhere in India, no significant spatial class segregation as in the Brazilian experiences, in fact, no building drives cohering around a consumption spectacle. In the early 1990s one was struck by the paucity of building activity in contemporary India, at the pace and spatial concentration that we have witnessed in other societies, and this paucity contrasted with the Mughal, the British and the Nehruvian emphasis on the relationship between spectacle and built forms. The post-global Indian urban landscape in the first years of globalization was transformed by the sector which classical Marxism often referred to contemptuously as petty-commodity producers. The vast

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majority of this new sector in towns and cities are entrenched in the circulation of electronic cultures, as well as providing new media services to the citizens of the city. In the first place, the old commercial areas built by the nationalist state were reshaped and transformed into nodes of a new post-global commercial activity. Take the example of Nehru Place, a large commercial area built by the Delhi Development Authority in 1970 to serve as the core of a business district in Delhi. When it was built in the best style of international mass production, this rather limited area was in fact held out as the pride of finance capitalism in the capital with obligatory visits by foreign dignitaries. Today the old high-commercial district has long vanished, its place taken largely by the non-legal electronic sector. The layers of encroachment, subletting and density are in fact typical of post-global electronic culture. In Nehru Place, a diverse combination of legal software firms, the non-legal pirate sector for computer components, and scores of shops offering electronic services, co-exists with a street market. The state intrudes periodically, by conducting raids on pirates, but it does not regulate the market on an everyday basis. What is interesting is that this non-spectacular space is one of the largest computer markets in India supplying most of the resellers in city neighbourhoods and small towns. Nehru Place is a typical concentration of singlecommodity markets for new global products that have emerged in different parts of India. This tradition goes back to pre-colonial India, but its resurrection for global products in a space dominated by individual stores is interesting. The modal form for this new development was that of cable television in the early 1990s, when the Lajpat Rai market in Delhi emerged as a national centre for components for cable television. This changed urban map suggests the recall of a form derided by colonialism and nationalism alike—the bazaar. Like the pre-colonial bazaar, electronic markets gesture to the state formally, playing hide-and-seek with taxation and the law. Unevenness, intimacy and density are shared by both forms, as is the preponderance of small enterprises. The new bazaars are of course markers of a new arena of consumption, embedded in global technological time, and offer a secular form of ownership when compared to their medieval predecessors. They are also located in a mix of spaces: sometimes traditional commercial areas which they have transformed, in localities

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and in neighbourhoods. It is a quotidianism of presence which emerged in the 1990s: for the first time since independence the domain of technoculture left the monument and emerged in the street. The retailing of global consumption in the urban everyday has been through the street. This is particularly so in the case of the new multimedia cultures, which have a public presence largely due to the proliferation of images on the street. These images, posted on lampposts, bus stops, street corners all over the country, are often shorn of the phantasmic quality of Virilio’s (1994) vision machine. The images are marked by their functionality, offering access to a service economy at low cost for the cities’ citizens. These functional signs of newness are maps of locality, implicated in everyday practices of electronic non-legality. It also recalls the visual map of the bazaar, chaotic, uneven and non-expansionary. This is a space that is marked by its fragility: the tension between consumption and economic crisis, between nature and artifice, between constant migration patterns and the desire for stability. The contrasts with the old development authority city drawn from the best of functionalist design are evident in the areas of new urban growth. Pirate electronic culture, by emerging in the very ruins of functionalist buildings, has invested them with deep layers of indeterminacy, where flows have transformed the original urge for order. This wild zone of electronic culture was predicated on a certain urban form that had flowered in the decades of the 1980s and the 1990s. This form saw the emergence of new poorer migrant populations laying claim to the city often through non-spectacular, incremental occupations of land, and the opening of small shops and industries. In many ways these new forms vitalized urban life all over India and provided a material foundation to electronic life. In recent years these urban forms have been under attack from a coalition of neo-liberal reformers, right wing courts and elite civic groups who have pushed court judgements that have led to the closing of small shops and industries that were outside the law and settlements of the working poor. Along with this, land speculation and the development of suburban enclaves by developers and finance companies are in full swing. We are entering an uncertain period of conflict in Indian cities. Spectacle has arrived; along with violence and the dream of ‘making it’ in the arena of global power. In the final analysis, the emergence of a new life-world—where the preponderance of industrial products takes the place of ‘nature’—is

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a significant break for a newly urbanized population. The terms of conflict are no longer between the past and the future, but among many endless presents. Technological life, governed by economies of desire and acceleration do not always conform to a changing urban morphology; so cleaning up the city is going to take a long, long time. Endless proliferation is the fate of our late modern times, when urban morphology overlaps with media effects.

Note 1. I call this the ‘new globalization’ because India was always part of the world economy, even during the state-controlled import-substitution periods.

Reference Virilio, Paul. 1994. The Vision Machine, Indiana University Press, Bloomington.

13 Nehru Place, or Why the Whole is More than the Sum of its Parts Aman Sethi

Conceived as ‘a landmark in the city’s development, a new chapter in its modern history, a memorable episode in the saga of its development’, the blueprint of the Nehru Place Commercial Complex in Delhi perhaps represents the first stirrings of Jagmohan Malhotra’s full-blown urban fantasy (Malhotra 1972). Then vice chairman of the Delhi Development Authority, Jagmohan would later rise to great prominence as the union minister for Urban Planning, the union minister for Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation, and finally, the union minister for Tourism and Culture. He was perceived as the only Indian who could ‘fix’ Delhi’s workingclass settlements. His report on Nehru Place represents the more lyrical side of the man who will be remembered for the infamous Turkman Gate firings of 1975, and his all-out war against Delhi’s working class that left more than 1,50,000 people homeless.1 In his 1972 report on Nehru Place, however, he steers clear of such controversies, choosing instead to speak of complex motivations that would bring the city’s beautiful people to the dazzling complex, ‘Here, some come to trade, some for shopping, some for enjoying a cinema or a theatre, some for roaming around and parading new fashions, while others throng the restaurants and coffee houses, bubbling with passion and poetry, stimulating their intellect with hot cups, and literally “measuring their life with coffee spoons”’ (Malhotra 1972). However, ever the vigilant planner, he ends on a note of caution. ‘But this would require much honest and hard work,’ warns Jagmohan, ‘as well as willing cooperation of the buyers and builders and the respect which they show to our architectural control and other regulations.’ More recent visits to the complex illustrate that, in the thirty-odd years since the DDA report, those who came to trade at Nehru Place far outnumbered those parading new fashions, and those bubbling with passion and poetry found other venues for creative intercourse. However, this is not to suggest that the complex succumbed to the

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decay that plagued Jagmohan throughout his life in public service. Nehru Place may have failed to deliver the love song of afternoons and coffee spoons, but in its place is a plaza where one is more likely to meet someone who is more Henry Dorsett Case, William Gibson’s cult hero from Neuromancer, than T. S. Eliot’s enigmatic Alfred J. Prufrock. Perhaps in choosing Gibson over Eliot, and a dystopian futuristic Chiba City over a thirty-five-hour week Paris, Nehru Place signals its allegiance to a very different urban imagination—preferring computer chips over coffee cups, RAM over restaurants, processors over poetry readings. Today the commercial complex houses North India’s largest market for computer hardware and peripherals. The first shops opened in the early 1980s, around the time that Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi slashed import duties on computer and electronic hardware under his New Electronics Policy. Today, Nehru Place has over 8,000 shops that conduct more than Rs 1,000 crores’ worth of business in computer hardware every year.2 The complex’s gritty concrete ziggurats are home to the entire supply chain of importers, resellers, retailers, and system integrators—all of whom stay in constant touch through a complex cyborgian lattice of intercoms, e-mails and hand-delivered notes. ∗ Dharm Singh listens attentively to the customer sitting across the counter and then thoughtfully punches out a figure on his calculator. His customer, Santosh Kumar, a Computer Applications student from Indira Gandhi National Open University, looks at a figure, and punches out another. The calculator passes back and forth for a few minutes, even as other customers wait patiently in line; a negotiation is underway.3 ‘The price of the RAM is too high,’ says Santosh, finally breaking the silence. Exhibiting only the slightest annoyance at the breach of the compact of silence, Dharm Singh reaches for his telephone, dials ‘star followed by three digit code’ and whispers softly into the phone. A few minutes later, the calculator is employed once more. Santosh nods his acquiescence. A configuration and price have been agreed upon. Silent as a sphinx, Dharm Singh directs Santosh deeper into the shop where a wiry man with shifty eyes and busy hands sits before an empty work desk: Manoj the assembler fiddles with a Phillips screwdriver as his assistant brings him the components for Santosh’s machine.

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With a sound much like the popping of a champagne cork, Manoj the assembler tears the motherboard free of its protective plastic bubble. In the first five minutes, he has fitted in a 3.0 GHz Intel dual core processor, clamped the cooling fan directly over the processor, and snapped in a gigabyte of RAM. By the eighth minute, the motherboard has been screwed into the computer cabinet, the USB ports have been connected to the motherboard by fine, rice noodle—like wires, the 160 Gigabyte Seagate hard disc has been linked up through its Serial ATA bus. Another five minutes to slot in the troublesome DVD writer, and another few minutes to link up the monitor, keyboard and mouse. In the middle of it all, Manoj takes a few minutes off to discuss the finer points of hardware compatibility with his interested customer and offers his views on the AMD versus Intel debate. Though more powerful, it seems that AMD chips tend to overheat much faster than their more famous counterpart. A student of the humanities in school, Manoj first saw a computer in a cyber cafe in a small town in Rajasthan when he was sixteen years old. The next time he handled a computer was a few years later when his father got him a job, through his cousin, at Dharm Singh’s shop. His first computer took him almost an hour to assemble. Today he has finished assembling in twenty minutes. ‘Manoj and his contemporaries are the beneficiaries of the “onboard integration” movement that has radically reduced the prices and complexity of assembled computers,’ explains Harsh Rastogi, an ‘old-timer’ who has been working in Nehru Place since 1992. Rastogi still remembers the days when every component was separately installed. ‘You had the basic motherboard and processor unit, and then you had sound cards in single and duplex format, video cards and internal modem cards. Each card has its own set of operating parameters; ports and drivers—most of which were eternally in conflict with each other.’ Branded computers were far more reliable back then, as each model was designed by its manufacturer to ensure full hardware and software compatibility. ‘On-board’ integration has meant that the motherboard now incorporates the soundcard, video card, internal model, and Ethernet port, not to mention the now standard USB ports. The rise of ‘plug and play’ compatibility has also meant that most hardware now conforms to a basic set of generic drivers and so requires minimal (if any) installation. Assembling has now been largely reduced to a slightly complex

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game of LEGO—where most connections can simply be made by matching jacks and ports. Of course there are still occasional glitches, but for most basic configurations, compatibility conflict is a thing of the past. What this implies is that today, assembled computers are more reliable than they have ever been. A perusal of industry figures released by the Manufacturers Association of Information Technology illustrates that the assembled desktop computers market actually grew from 37 per cent of total market share in 2005–6 to 38 per cent of the market share in 2006–7.4 This is despite the fast dropping prices of branded machines, sustained advertising campaigns, attractive credit options to finance branded PC purchase, legally enforceable warranties, and a sustained campaign against the ‘grey market’. However, 2006–7 seemingly bucks a trend that saw the assembled market share drop consistently from 55 per cent in the third quarter of 2003–4. The branded PC market owes most of its growth to the increased computerization of traditional sectors of the economy along with the rise of ‘new’ sectors, particularly BPOs. Few assemblers are able to match brands in the high volume spectrum of the market, but in the small consumer sections, assembled computers still control a majority of the market share. Intriguingly, the classic narrative against piracy and grey markets, as witnessed in advertisements, media and press releases by vendors of branded goods has been that of the duping of the naive consumer by the scheming tout. However, it could be argued that the steady popularity of the assembled market suggests that the Nehru Place customer is actually a highly literate consumer with a clear idea of configurations, risks and actual prices. After all, there is little actual difference in the machines from the branded and assembled markets; especially since all hardware comes from the same sources. ‘We saw our first real opportunity supplying hard discs to OEMs like Hindustan Computers Limited (HCL),’ explains Mr Sunil Narang of Elcom Pvt. Ltd, one of North India’s largest importers and suppliers of hard discs. Original Equipment Manufacturers or OEMs are companies like IBM, HCL or Dell that essentially source components like hard discs, or processors from specialized companies and incorporate them into computers which they sell under their own brand name. Thus, all major PC manufacturers basically function like high-end assemblers—pulling together hardware from multiple sources and selling the finished product as a ‘closed box’. Given the

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inter-penetration of the hardware market in India, the hard disc in a branded PC purchased from HCL might just be sourced from the same importer in Nehru Place, as the hard disc provided by Manoj the assembler. ‘Most big brands now have their own import channels,’ clarifies Mr Narang, ‘But they often source from us when their inventories are running low.’ So how does Nehru Place offer such competitive prices? There has been a tendency to view the hardware market through the same prism as the software piracy market. This is a view that has been actively supported by large branded corporations as it tends to club the patently illegal pirated software issue with the far more complex issue of the hardware ‘grey market’. Thus, Nehru Place hardware is assumed to be cheaper because it is ‘fake’, ‘smuggled’, ‘stolen’, or sold without bills. It is entirely possible that such practices flourish in Nehru Place, but the real money is not made peddling counterfeit wares. In 1995, Baljit Malik returned from a trip to Singapore with a contract that promised great riches.5 The internet was only gradually making inroads in India—VSNL, a public sector enterprise at the time, provided dial-up connections at painfully slow speeds of 14.4 kbps. Malik had just bagged an exclusive dealership for India with Creative Labs for their 33.6 kilobytes per second (Kbps) internal modem cards. He set up one office in Bombay to handle the west and the south, and another in Delhi to handle the north and soon began to import modems in bulk. The cost, at the time, worked out to Rs 2,600 per piece, including transportation and taxes. He sold it at four times the price at Rs 10,500! Business was great for the first two years, as all Creative modems were routed through him, but then in late 1997, Creative set up a number of independent dealerships in Singapore who tied up with their own channels back in India. By the end of the year, Creative modems had flooded markets across the country and prices had crashed to Rs 3,500 per unit. Malik wound up his company and started afresh with the money he had made. ‘In essence, we were destroyed by the parallel importers,’ rues Malik. ‘But for a while, we made a killing.’ Legal definitions may differ from country to country, but parallel imports essentially refer to non-counterfeit products imported from one country to another, without the permission of the manufacturer of the product. This usually occurs when companies set different prices for their products in different markets—thereby creating an

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incentive for traders to import the products from low-price markets to higher-price markets. Thus, while Malik was Creative’s sole authorized dealer in India, his generous margins encouraged other traders to simply import genuine Creative products from authorized Creative dealers in Singapore and sell them at a fraction of the cost. ‘When companies move into a territory, the price of their products is based on an assumption of what the local market can sustain,’ explains Malik. ‘In India, for example, 80 GB hard discs come as part of standard configurations—and are priced accordingly. In the U.S. market however, the standard has shifted to 160 GB. Thus, there are a number of dealers in the U.S. stuck with brand new, genuine 80 GB hard discs that no one wants. These are put out on the international market with the thinnest of margins, and bought by traders sitting in Nehru Place—who use them to undercut the existing market. Prices crash and customers benefit.’ If industry sources are to be believed, another major source for parallel imports comes from branded computer manufacturers themselves. Major brands like Compaq, Dell, HP, and Lenovo sign minimum purchase agreements with hard disc manufacturers like Seagate, Hitachi or Western Digital for their PCs. Inevitably, PC manufacturers commit to buying more units than they actually need—to maintain inventories and cover demand surges—and so are stuck with excess inventories at the end of financial periods. Around the time of book closing, PC makers then tend to offload their surpluses at nominal prices onto large buying houses, which pass it down the chain to smaller players—a significant number of whom come from Nehru Place. This pattern is seen not just for hard discs but for most computer peripherals. Almost all products are imported legally under the Open General License issued by the Department of Commerce and are sold with bills at either 12.5 or 4 per cent value added tax. That Nehru Place is still competitive after paying all required duties indicates the significant distortions in the global computer hardware market. Hardware manufacturers have responded to parallel imports in different ways. Some, like Intel, offer their products at similar prices across regions, thereby reducing the incentive for parallel imports. By offering global warranties on all its products, Intel has effectively eliminated the grey market as a category. All Intel chips—if traded in accordance with existing laws—are ‘white goods’, irrespective of the path of trade. Other companies, like Samsung, have taken far more

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aggressive stances. Samsung India has been the vocal critic of parallel imports, terming them a ‘menace’ to the company’s authorized business partners. An article in Channel Times, an industry news service, quoted R. Zutshi, deputy managing director of Samsung India, saying that parallel import figures for TFT LCD monitors alone were estimated at about 200,000 units a year.6 Samsung has also refused to offer warranty to products purchased outside Samsung authorized channels and has filed cases against parallel importers in the Delhi High Court. The on-going case of Samsung Electronics Company Ltd v. Mr S. Sahai makes for fascinating reading for many reasons; the primary being the fact that parallel import is not specifically prohibited by international conventions like the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works or the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, nor is it contrary to any specific Indian Law. In fact, supporters of parallel import argue that the practice is simply a working illustration of how free market competition results in consumer benefit—in terms of reduced cost and availability of cutting-edge technology. Detractors, on the other hand, have sought protection on the grounds that parallel imports violate existing intellectual property rights (IPR) regimes. The IPR case on parallel imports revolves around the degree of control exercised by a copyright holder on the conditions of sale of its products. Critics of parallel import argue that by selling a product in a manner not approved by the copyright holder, parallel importers risk being in violation of copyright law. This stand can be buttressed in the following ways. In its case in the Delhi High Court, Samsung Electronics argued that while the products themselves are genuine, they are not meant for Indian markets as their sale does not strictly conform to Indian laws and regulations, such as being accompanied with literature in ‘English or the Vernaculars’, the absence of labels indicating the maximum retail price, and the fact that they are not covered by warranty. Samsung also went a step further by suggesting that the ‘use of these products is likely to constitute a breach of warranty of other machinery that has been legally purchased’.7 Such an argument ascribes an almost viral nature to grey market goods by stating that the use of grey equipment could ‘contaminate’ healthy, perfectly functioning ‘white’ equipment and result in a warranty-destroying epidemic of greyness and illegality.

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In his interim order—supporting Samsung’s stand—Justice Vikramjeet Sen notes that while the Trade Marks Act of 1999 offers Trade Mark holders a degree of control over the conditions of sale of their products, the conditions usually apply in cases where ‘there exists legitimate reasons for the proprietor to oppose further dealings in the goods in particular, where the condition of the goods has been changed or impaired after they have been put on the market.’8 He also points to the absence of clear precedents in such cases and the often contradictory conclusions reached by the reading of different legal texts. At this point, Justice Sen practically throws in the towel, noting that a passage from ‘“Exhaustion and Parallel Imports in India” by Sonia Baldia only confounds the conundrum’.9 In her article, Baldia notes that ‘Indian law is quite liberal in permitting parallel import of genuine goods bearing registered trademarks, provided such goods have not been materially altered after they have been put on the market’. 10 But, she also points out that ‘such goods may not have been materially altered or impaired after they were put on the market, however’. Samsung argued that the absence of warranty on grey market products could be considered a material alteration and impairment of the product—as the customer was ineligible for compensation in case of product failure—and hence, parallel imports were in violation of copyright. At the time of writing, the case was still underway, but Samsung had won itself an interim injunction—forbidding the importer in question from further sales. The issue of product impairment is not as straightforward as has been presumed by the Court. While the arguments marshalled by Samsung might find substance while considering typically territoryspecific products like medicines that are subject to rigorous drug trials in each country before their sale, the rationale for territory-specific sales of open standard, generic interface products like monitors, hard discs and printers can hardly be justified on grounds of benefiting consumers. The fact that grey market Samsung products are ineligible for warranties in India is not a universal principle that can be taken at face value. As mentioned earlier, a number of companies, like Intel, offer global warranties for their products—irrespective of the point of purchase. Once warranty is available, the grey market product is indistinguishable from its purest of pure white counterpart. Further, the three-year Global Warranty offered by most laptop/notebook

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manufacturers proves that electronic products today are designed to operate in a variety of different environments. It could be argued that by refusing consumers warranties on genuine products, the rights of the consumer are being compromised by Samsung, not by the importer. Defenders of parallel imports might also draw support from a 1998 United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Quality King Distributors v. L’Anza Research International, where the Supreme Court upheld the right of Quality King, a distributor of discount beauty products, to sell L’Anza products, imported from Europe, at rates lower than those offered by L’Anza in the domestic American market. In its judgement the Court noted that the plaintiff—L’Anza—‘does not claim that anyone has made unauthorised copies of its copyrighted labels. Instead L’Anza is primarily interested in protecting the integrity of its method of marketing the products to which the labels are affixed’.11 Noting that the exclusive right to distribute is a limited right, the Court upheld the First Sale doctrine in U.S. copyright law, according to which once the ‘first sale’ from a copyright holder to a distributor is conducted in an authorized manner—the copyright owner exhausts his control over the further sale of the product. The principle of ‘exhaustion’ is one of the most hotly contested debates in the Intellectual Property paradigm today, with no clear winners. The uncertainties of the grey market have prompted Nehru Place dealers to offer ‘personal warranties’ as a way to reassure their clients. Dealers offer up to one year of warranty on grey products, offering to replace them in case the manufacturer in question refuses to do so. Each piece of hardware bought in the area invariably carries a serpentine list of signatures and codes of resellers—charting out the tortuous path from factory to customer. In a market characterized by almost perfect competition and razor-thin margins, the ‘personal warranty’ has emerged as a means to discriminate between one retailer and another; between those who recognize their signatures on faulty parts, and those who feign ignorance. Other dealers offer the option of buying a product with or without warranty—the products with warranty being more expensive. The battle over grey market imports represents, in some ways, a fundamental contradiction between the technologies that give consumers more choices and flexibility, and the companies that manufacture these technologies. In an era of supposedly free trade,

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vendors like Samsung have to compete not just against the competition, but against cheaper, more advanced versions of their own products that have been sourced from different markets. It is ironic that the same sectors that argued for a more open trading regime under the World Trade Organisation are now using Intellectual Property Rights as a means to control the proliferation of their own technologies. By defying the vendor-led closed-box approach to home computers, resellers in Nehru Place have demystified the technology to the point where users can actually make informed consumer choices, and, by pricing each component separately, have shown why the whole invariably costs more than the sum of the parts.

Notes 1. Jagmohan is considered to be the chief architect of the Turkman Gate incident in New Delhi during the Emergency years when the police opened fire on slum dwellers resisting eviction. For more details, see Tarlo (2003). 2. Mr V. Krishnan, executive secretary, Progressive Channels Association of Information Technology (PCAIT), in an interview with the author. The somewhat murky nature of intra–Nehru Place trade makes it hard to arrive at credible figures for the quantity of trade; but as a fledgling association of IT traders, PCAIT’s estimates could be treated as a rough approximation. 3. All recordings and interviews by the author were conducted between December 2007 and January 2008. In some cases, names have been changed to protect the identity of those interviewed. 4. See the ‘IT Industry Performance Annual Review: 2006–07’ by Manufacturers Association for Information Technology. Available at http:// 5. Name changed to protect identity. 6. See 7. Interim Order of Delhi High Court in the case of Samsung Electronics Company Ltd and Anr. Versus Mr. S.Sahai, CS (OS) No. 1603 of 2006. Date of Decision: September 6, 2006. 8. Ibid. 9. Ibid. 10. Sonia Baldia is a leading lawyer on issues relating to business process and information technology. The article referenced by the Court can be accessed at 11. Emphasis added. For the full text of the judgement, see http://supct.

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References Malhotra, Jagmohan. 1972. ‘The Delhi Development Report on Nehru Place’, Delhi Development Authority, Delhi. Tarlo, Emma. 2003. Unsettling Memories: Narratives of India’s ‘Emergency’, Permanent Black, Delhi.

14 End of Technological Innocence Subramanya Sastry

Casio PB-110. That was the first computer that I laid my hands on—my father got it for me when I was fourteen or so. Programming a computer was wonderfully satisfying. It was also around that time that I read about fifth-generation computers and artificial intelligence—I did not necessarily grasp what that meant beyond the vague idea that machines could think. Combined with the simple thrill of problem-solving and programming, and excited with the prospect of ‘thinking machines’, I was hooked to computers. I have come a long way since then—I went on to get a B.Tech., M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science. Yet, along the way, technological fascination has given way to a sense of unease surrounding technology. Even as I continue to be engaged with and by computers, the technological innocence has long disappeared—’thinking machines’ no longer interest me. This chapter is an attempt to grapple with what changed. I was in a state of technological innocence till perhaps about 1998—a couple of years into my Ph.D. programme at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I don’t remember thinking about the public interest, ethics surrounding technology, impacts of technologies on society, or other such weighty matters. In retrospect, that innocence was not limited to technology—the ignorance ran far deeper than that. I was not really attuned to the world and its workings—the social, political, economic, cultural, ecological, governance, and various other systems and forces that shape our world. I was a frog in the technological well. This is not to imply that I am no longer a frog in other wells—it is just that I don’t feel I am a digital frog anymore. It was around 1998 that I got familiar with the debates around the Narmada Valley Development Project. Without going into the details of these debates, what is pertinent in the context of this chapter is that large dams are monumental technological and engineering accomplishments. But like all technological artefacts, they interact with the various non-technological social forces and produce consequences that are not always for the good.1 These and other debates

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surrounding technology (genetic engineering, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, ‘labour-saving’ technologies) along with some academic courses in the history of science, and various other factors (my circle of friends, for one, or the nature of the UW-Madison campus, for another) expanded my thinking about technology. Today, the popular discourse around most technologies is based on value associations of advancement, progress, development, inevitability, and various shades of technological determinism (technological change is inevitable, technology changes society, technology-driven change is always good). These associations get especially stark with computers and associated digital technologies. To use an admittedly vague abstraction, every technology has its own internal potential to influence and be influenced by each of the social forces operating in our world. Thus, how a particular technology will be designed, used, and what impact it has in our world is a complex interplay of its internal potential and external forces. To take a simple example, in an urban U.S. neighbourhood where machine dryers are the norm and which is more concerned about visual aesthetics and less about energy usage, the use of a clothesline can lead to conflicts or can herald a ‘green movement’, whereas the use of a clothesline in an Indian setting where they are the norm has no significant social implication.2 A clothesline is a drying technology and so is a machine dryer, but, when compared to the clothesline, the potential of a machine dryer to adversely affect our environment is significantly higher because it consumes electricity in its operation and far more material resources in its production. Thus, a technology’s internal design (machine dryer v. clothesline) interacts with external forces (neighbourhood visual aesthetics, zoning laws, traditional practices, effects of greenhouse gases) to produce effects that only make sense when technology is seen as embedded within a social fabric. Without electricity, another ubiquitous technology, modern industrial civilization might simply grind to a halt. In the past, most of us did not have to look beyond the switches we flipped: the dams that generated the electricity and their impact on people or the environment; the coal-burning plants and the pollution they caused; the nuclear-power plants and the impacts of mining uranium on those who lived nearby, and so on. But, in our climate-changing world today, we come face-to-face with this other side of electricity consumption and generation—its impact on our climate, because that

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more starkly than probably anything else highlights the embedded/ interwoven/interdependent nature of our technologies. Computers, as technologies, are subject to all of the same considerations. Being real material products, they need to be manufactured, they consume resources, and they produce waste. Even the internet, often experienced as virtual and immaterial, is realized through a panoply of physical products: computers, cables, switches, routers, satellites, electricity generators, data centres, and batteries. All of these consume material resources and produce waste. Where do these resources come from? How are they produced? Where does the energy come from?3 What happens to the waste? How is the waste handled? Electronic waste (compounded by the fast-paced obsolescence of computers) is a serious problem today. Yet, does it have to be this way? Couldn’t computers and computing systems be designed with a view to minimizing obsolescence, electronic waste, enabling upgradation and repairs? There is nothing inevitable about this path—it is just that like all other material products, computers and other digital technologies are subject to the same social forces that promote a use-and-throw attitude towards resources. And so, we find that the internet and the electronic World Wide Web on the internet is held together by a physical web of interconnected material resources, their associated resource, production and waste generation cycles. In recent times, I have noticed an increasing fascination with the e-prefix: e-governance, e-learning, e-communities, e-democracy, and so on. I don’t find anything inherently wrong with this as long as these concepts are rooted in the underlying practices and systems: governance, learning, communities, and democracy. Do computers have a role in governance, learning, fostering and building communities, and fostering democracy? Positively, they do. But, if our focus is on governance, learning, community-building, democracy, why are we talking about e-governance, e-learning, e-communities, and e-democracy? Do we talk about tele-governance, papergovernance, in-person-governance, etcetera? The overuse of these terms indicates to me an overemphasis on the technology and a potential underemphasis of the endeavours within which these technologies are being deployed. Stepping back a little and without discounting any of the power, politics and possibilities engendered by electronic and computing technologies, the increasing use of these e-terms also indicates to me a certain form of emancipatory hope placed on electronic and computing technologies.

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As a more concrete and potentially controversial example, automation and computerization are often proposed as solutions to tackling corruption. But, fundamentally, I see corruption as a problem rooted in human beings. Attempting to eliminate corruption by eliminating human involvement is hardly a solution. It merely shifts corruption to other places and to other human beings, from lower levels of the bureaucracy to higher levels, from petty corruption to scams. Human beings in governance and decision-making processes are not going away any time soon. It seems to me that the real solution to tackling corruption in governance processes relies more on understanding the real reasons for the sources of corruption and addressing those, and less on using computers as a tool to edge out humans. In that sense, the Right to Information Act passed recently is a better solution to the problem of corruption—and this is a solution rooted not in computers, but one rooted in increasing transparency in governance. Thus, computers have a role in this, but they are not the answer. Corruption is not the only arena in which computers are increasingly being deployed to automate and minimize human involvement. They are being used to cut costs, to increase efficiencies, to eliminate human errors, to eliminate human discretion, and so on. On the one hand, increasing automation is the logical progression of how industrial technology has been deployed. On the other hand, to use a somewhat trivial example, I often find myself frustrated and stuck at the other end of an automated telephone service, unable to get through to a human being. Mindless automation, simply to eliminate human involvement, increase ‘efficiencies’ and cut costs, makes me wonder how far we are willing to go along that path. While I don’t think that the scenarios laid out in the movies Matrix, Minority Report or I-Robot are going to come about any time soon (or ever indeed), those movies do raise important questions that I ponder over—what does it mean to build machines that can deploy brute computational power, that are coldly rational and logical, and what is uniquely human about being human? Fundamentally, all compassionate human interaction is based on exercising our uniquely human qualities, our judgement, wisdom, discretion, and experience, not all of which can be captured through rules, laws and algorithms. The problem with computers is that they are rule-bound. And, therein lies a core mismatch between how computers function and how human beings engage with each other and with the world. Even though some degree of adaptability and

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‘learning’ could be (and is being) built into computers, these techniques are fundamentally limited. Cold reasoning, even if adaptive, is nevertheless limited. And, there ends my childhood fascination with ‘thinking machines’. These days, with increasing amounts of computing power, digital storage space and network bandwidths, a lot of different kinds of data are migrating to the internet (documents, news, photographs, music, and videos). There is an increasing amount of social interaction taking place on the internet via e-mail, chat, blogs, forums, social networking sites, and almost any website worth its salt that includes an interactive component. Additionally, almost all of our travels on the internet leave trails behind—in the form of IP addresses, e-mail addresses, cookies, blog posts, comments, friends, acquaintances, articles we read, things we shop for, things we search for, questions we ask on forums, and so on. With an increasing interest in ‘personalization’ of web services, piecing together our trails into coherent pieces of our identity and our interests makes for great business. With the increasing availability of computing resources (processing power, storage, network bandwidth), combined with an increasing consolidation of web services (for example, Google and its various offerings), it is increasingly possible to do this. What this all means is unclear—but, that this is not all for the good should be obvious! The effects can range from the pleasantly surprising (recommendations and unexpected connections), annoying (I don’t need a dumb machine telling me what I should buy), worrisome (violation of privacy), to the serious (government surveillance, monitoring, and arrests as in the case of a Chinese journalist turned in by Yahoo). There are other unintended consequences of how the internet functions. The things we post on the internet, once posted, escape to places beyond the places we posted them (caches on and off the internet with various longevities, backups, mirrors, blogs, forums, and e-mails). Therefore, after according me some space for hyperbole, the internet carries the potential of perennial long-term memory (even as, paradoxically, any individual item on the internet is fragile—for example, I irretrievably lost a bunch of files when my hard drive crashed recently). The implications of this are once again unclear. All of us do and say things that we sometimes come to regret in later years. In the non-internet medium, the effects are somewhat contained, and at some level, there is a natural forgetting that takes place. Except for the limited range of material that gets preserved

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for the long term via published books, in the pre-internet days, a lot of our histories got forgotten except in the form of memories preserved amongst friends, family and acquaintances, and which are only accessible, if at all, through painstaking research. It seems to me that forgetting or erasure from the public domain is part of the process of our growing up. Yet, on the internet, that luxury no longer seems to be there. What I might have said five years earlier or what I might say or write today could potentially be dug up, collated, filtered, sifted out, and presented to the sufficiently curious, even though I might have moved on in life, changed opinions, and so on. What are the implications of this ‘unforgetableness’ of information on the internet? While it might seem that this is not very different from other public domain mediums, with computers and their inherent computational and recall potential, the situation is vastly different because it is not just the formal publications that get dug up, but every little piece of information that is somehow associated with me. It is likely that we will all adapt to these dynamics, but, there is something unsettling about this. So, to come back to the recurring theme of this chapter, it is no longer possible for me to look at technologies in isolation. Even as I am still grappling with what it means for technologies to be intimately embedded within our social fabric and our highly interdependent world, I am permanently disabused of the notion that computers and various other technologies are the primary answers to the various problems that afflict us as a world and as human beings. I have become sceptical of single-minded technological fixes to our problems, because they often seem to introduce new problems in place of old ones. I cannot really conclude this chapter without addressing the obvious question that may occur to some readers. What do I really think about the role of technology generally, and computers specifically? Am I a techno-cynic advocating that technologies are fundamentally bad, and that technologies have no role to play? This is hardly the case. That is a false question in my opinion. Entertaining the notion that we can even live in a technology-free world is absurd. Isn’t paper technology? Hatha yoga is also technology, in the strictest sense of that term. My questions have more to do with the kind of technological paths that we walk on. Even as we arrive at personal decisions to these questions, this will always remain contested terrain with different interest groups advocating different technological

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paths. As for me specifically, at this time in my life, I am trying to focus my attention on how computers can play a role in projects that are expressly rooted in the public interest and where there is some clarity as to what role computers can play in the project. This is not to mean that the answers are obvious. Even here, I have to grapple with questions. For example, how far am I responsible for my technological creations and their unintended uses? If I develop a web service for enabling researchers and non-profits to aid their tasks of news monitoring, and it gets used for information censorship in other contexts, am I responsible for those uses? The result of becoming aware of technology-society interactions seems to have made it harder for me to work with technology without asking questions, even if the answers themselves are never obvious. I don’t know what to do beyond keeping a focus on the problem, cultivating an awareness of different technological paths and their consequences, and making as informed a decision as possible. Even then, there is no getting around the rule of unintended consequences, at which point, I have to make peace with the technology.

Notes 1. Here and in the rest of this chapter, I use the term ‘social’ as a proxy for the various non-technological forces: societal, political, economic, cultural, economic, ecological, religious, and others. 2. This is not a contrived example. Search for ‘The Right to Dry’ on the web. Example: The Right to Dry: A Green Movement Is Roiling America; Clothesline Has Neighbors Bent Out of Shape in Bend; An Illegal Solar Device, available at SB119007893529930697.html, accessed December 31, 2007. 3. Data centres that power a lot of the internet’s web services are an increasing source of power consumption today. Around the world, they consume tens of gigawatts of electricity. According to a news report I read, in 2005, data centres accounted for 1.2 per cent of electricity consumption in the U.S. This 1.2 per cent does not account for all the computers used in homes and offices, and this is before YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, etc. really kicked off. As more and more people get on the internet, as more and more data migrates to the internet, as more and more devices are internet-enabled and exchange data on the internet, this energy consumption is only going to go up.

15 ‘Domasticating’ Technology Subashree Krishnaswamy

If ‘toys are for boys’, do household gadgets fall under this purview? Unlikely, if one is to go by the advertisements of washing machines, fridges, mixers, and ovens. In the boxed-in pristine TV world, it is always artful women, faces flaunting the long, arduous hours in beauty parlours, who cooingly urge us to buy these labour-saving devices, years of experience evident in their manicured, fanned-out palms and gleaming smiles. But suspicious cynics are wont to snort out in twisted logic: if these unreal, high-maintenance women can use these things, it must be so easy-peasy that one can actually dunk a child, soiled clothes and all, into a washing machine and have it come out in toto spanking clean, agitated, softened, and tumble-dried, aided no doubt by fuzzy technology. Point taken. Besides, these gadget whores, however frothy their smiles may be, unashamedly flash the sturdy usefulness of the product, when even the perversely dowdy acknowledge that ‘coolness factor’ is utterly dispensable, firmly elbowing the necessary in pursuit of unbridled wasteful pleasure. There is, however, one very cool thing that Indian (we shall confine ourselves only to our glorious land) women have virtually made it their own with a vengeance, winnowing technological chaff with enviable insouciance—cookery blogs. They are mushrooming faster than you can say matsutake, and the deafening clash of the cymbalic cast-iron griddles and ladles are resounding the world over. Move over Madhur Jaffrey and Tarla Dalal (the diva of assembly-line cookbooks, her predatory eyes ever on the market, has churned out a blog as well). Before you google ‘dum’, a hundred aloos roll out, from the vales of Kashmir, the mustardy plains of Bengal, and even the coconut redolent backwaters of Kerala. And why not? If you want to make spongy, jasminy idlis (haven’t met anyone who deliberately sets out to make cannon ball–hard idlis) why not throw in handfuls of beaten rice and leftover rice, as advised by a blogger who tried out at least a dozen combinations of the batter to hit upon the winning formula?

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What is it that makes these ladies take to blogging, and why food? Food, as we know, is the ultimate affirmation of life, of sociability, of culture. The mere sight of it releases within us several senses simultaneously, including as it does smell, texture, temperature, sensation, and even colour, resulting in what one critic put succinctly as ‘a gustatory free-for-all’. Traditionally, in homes it has always been the preserve of women, who often take pride in a well laidout table, exulting in eaters devouring large helpings, insulted when they don’t ask for seconds. Above all, like a snug quilt on a frosty winter night, food cocoons you with warmth and good cheer. And comfort food, usually a lingering legacy from childhood, unique to every household, be it stale chapatis soaked in warm sugary milk or humble dal with the merest whisper of mustard, living up to its name comforts like none other, erasing the most unpalatable of the day’s experiences in one gargantuan gulp. Cookery blogland, decidedly democratic, cuts a wide swath, from grandmothers given to rituals to tech-savvy partying singletons shimmying in little black numbers, from career-driven professionals to harried homebound mothers. They just have one thing in common: a voluptuous feel for food. The overwhelming need to communicate and share what is closest to their alimentary canal (if not their heart) is what set off most bloggers on this inviting track, even if it meant unravelling a bit of computer coding (the reasoning no doubt remains a mystery forever) and getting a hold on HTML to master basic procedures. Some want to record cherished family recipes for posterity while others like to leave behind memoirs for progeny. A few chronicle a fast-vanishing way of life circumscribed by rituals and dietary rules, while others invite you to share their vicissitudes through life, naturally over food, as warrants any worthwhile journey. Some showcase their region’s cuisine with a missionary zeal; the ambitious belch the entire country’s—and the world’s—delicacies without a hiccup. And what is food if not tinged with nostalgia and memories that are meant to be shared? Some take the business of eating very seriously, acutely conscious of what is ingested, wringing out variations with a few permissible, healthful items. A majority of course have a great relish for home-cooked food in all its simplicity, perfected over generations, distilling the wholesomeness of fresh produce. And for the first time perhaps, humble fare is paraded, rigged out in almost-designer glory, such that the everydayness of one household assumes an exotic persona

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for another. Coy and diffident comfort food, much like a nubile young thing dragged willy-nilly to the friendly neighbourhood photo studio, is clicked from all possible angles for prospective viewing. And when the grave thoughts are finally transferred on screen as precise, uniform lettering, complete with artful pictures, and sent off to the world as a post, the immediate response can only be immensely flattering, satisfying and heady. The etymology of the word ‘blog’, which doubles beautifully as both a noun and a verb, might escape the majority of bloggers, but how they have put it to use! Blogging, as one avid blogger admitted, is a super ego massage, something you indulge in to gratify yourself. It is social networking then which clearly beckons even the shy and the faint hearted. A blog allows anonymity, yet holds the allure of friendship, perfect even for the reticent. A few who often indulge in the swift to-and-fro of pithy responses, tongue firmly in cheek, can scarcely summon one or two as a friend in the real world, quite at odds with their gregarious virtual persona. It really is a boon for stayat-home wives/mothers, mostly on dependent visas, in distant, cold friendless foreign lands, where even driving licences are apparently verboten for them. Blogging takes on therapeutic overtones, satiating the craving for familiar camaraderie in a bleak, unfamiliar world. It is often a tight little community of people with a similar background and childhood. No wonder blog-surfing is likened to dropping in on friends unexpectedly, only to settle down comfortably for a leisurely cup of chai in a cosy, welcoming kitchen. Funnily enough, the same bloggers do not seek company in discussion forums which have spread like a rash across the virtual world. As one observant blogger put it, ‘perhaps the current is too swift’. And pretty turbulent, as well, the diametrically opposite views churning the forums into violent eddies. The close-ended conversations in the blogs, on the other hand, are honed to genteel perfection, relished like dainty squares of cucumber sandwiches (crust removed) over tiny sips of weak tea in Dresden china, meticulously arranged in fine laced linen. The blogger, after all, has the prerogative to erase negative feedback. And why not, it is your very own party, after all, and who but you can have a definite say in the guest list? It really is a chicken soup world that they inhabit, urging each other that life is too short for ugliness, allowing only courteous exchanges in the day’s menu. The merest lift of a suspicious eyebrow at unfamiliar tastes would be stretching nastiness to a snapping point: ‘Julienned

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ginger fried and added to potato?’ But it would be goodnaturedly followed by: ‘I’ll try it anyway. Thanks. Take care.’ DH (dear hubby to the uninitiated), ever the inspiration for all the culinary efforts, flits in and out like a ghost, mostly content to let out satisfied burps, but also to now and then obligingly chop, stir, pound, and even clean up. But it is a rare Indian man who is a food blogger. The few exotic peacocks, however, strut around, preening, basking in the attention the bizarre and the singular command. Flatteringly, colleagues and friends in the real world hold them in awe, bestowing on them a certain enviable cachet. Serious blogging involves a lot of elbow grease. And nurturing a blog requires commitment and hard work. A full box of comments— blog currency as one blogger aptly put it—spells success, or so it seems, whetted by an almost competitive streak. Just as it is with any social set-up, etiquette plays a large part, where the Golden Rule, that ethic of reciprocity, is always the norm. If you want friends queuing up at your doorstep, you must undertake a few visits yourself; never mind even if they are hasty ones. Which perhaps accounts for such inane, pointless comments: ‘Oh, lovely write-up and picture,’ ‘Oh, I wish I could taste some of that,’ or ‘I wish I were in my Ammama’s house—she used to make these goodies for Sunday tea’ (NRIs are notoriously given to such nostalgic statements), with vague promises to try out the ‘fabulous recipe’ over the weekend. Funny lines—no doubt much agonized over—are given the go-by or worse still, misconstrued. What could be more tedious than explaining a joke, you wonder. But then, how many people respond to newspaper articles? Just as any community thrives on interaction, community websites take the place of genteel ladies clubs. All things concerning food blogging are discussed, from setting up a blog to video blogging, plagiarism, template tips, blog etiquette, legal issues, food events and above all, food photography. No blogger worth her salt posts anything without eye-catching photographs, even if only to announce she is off on a holiday (a sparrow with a tomato-red beak might be perched delicately on the letter box or the much-cherished family pet might wave a lazy paw). Like an itinerant traveller, homecooked food, which for centuries had never left the hearth, now daringly crosses seven seas, and what’s more, dressed to the nines and everywhere to go, very much at home at nothing less than a global party. Ponni or sona masoori never looked as fair and lovely, basmati

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as svelte and slim as a gym-toned body, the humble dal positively sizzles with a sun-kissed sheen, the jeera shimmering like bronzing powder, the mustard bobbing around like plump endearing beauty spots. Coriander and curry leaf, fluffed out prettily, could grace any Onam floral decoration; some even nestle seductively against a rippling, satiny bed of gravy. And the common or garden cream, like a lost child wending its way through a maze, criss-crosses ever so dizzily whatever the expanse. What’s more, the trigger-happy aestheticians allow you a step-by-step viewing of the bridal makeup—or is it make-over? But there really is no point in all this labouring if no one reads. And if people across the world are posting before you even tie your apron, then you have to get inventive. Like start an event—for regional cuisines, weekend brunches, express lunches, microwave breakfasts, no-fuss gravies, no-bake desserts, the list is endless. And if you’ve taken to blogging because you are a certified hermit not given to nibbling at people’s company, you couldn’t have chosen a more ill-suited avocation. There are things such as ‘tags’ and ‘memes’ which bind you like chain mail. You get to tell the world four things about yourself: hate cockroaches (I’ve yet to meet an aficionado of that resilient insect), hate double-crossers (like we all love them), love grandma’s radish coconut sambar (show me one self-respecting grandma who doesn’t make a mean gravy of some kind), and love Chak de . . . (doesn’t the whole world and its mother?). Get the drift? And you nominate four buddies, who after much deliberation as befit matters gravitas, say the same profound things (substituting perhaps lizards for cockroaches and detesting backbiters with unrestrained passion). Even Oscar equivalents like thoughtful blogger, kind blogger, inspirational blogger, are passed around like loose change. Blog stress is bound to set in: you simply cannot write when you want to, whatever you want to, only when you want to. Already there is an epidemic of sorts, and if you haven’t been tagged, memed or awarded, you’d better close shop and take to watching saas-bahu serials on television. For those who write at the drop of a ladle, bloggers are lasciviously carefree with language. They loudly proclaim that they have a rampant urge to communicate, and how! In their native, for instance, a glutton free dish calls for potatoes to be smashed (like coconuts before Ganesha?), mixed with banana which go into peals, cooked in a gravy without leaving any moisture, till the oil shows up on one side and the

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tomato gravy throws up with shiny-glossy appearance. The whole thing is then tampered with mustard till it starts to dance, and is finally run over by ghee. You may be a vigilant vegetarian, vegan, or even Jain, but who ever said cooking was not violent. In such rampage, however, lies reassuring comfort, non-threatening and familiar, and well, homely cordiality. The flotsam of grammar, syntax and style can bob up and down the gravy for all they care if the quest for communication is satiated. These ladies, devout socialites all, party seriously, virtually traipsing across continents—Nagpur today, New Jersey tomorrow—to partake of sumptuous potluck dinners, digital cameras snaked round their necks. And what’s a party if no one hears what a good time you had. And if it means rapping technology on its knuckles, cutting it down to size, like you would a sullen yam, and reducing it into crisp digestible bytes, so be it. Horsegram rasam, anyone?

About the Editor Nalini Rajan is Professor at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai. She has a doctorate in Social Communication (with a specialization in political philosophy) from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. Her academic publications include Secularism, Democracy, Justice: Implications of Rawlsian Principles in India (1998), and Democracy and the Limits of Minority Rights (2002). Her edited volume, Digital Culture Unplugged: Probing the Native Cyborg’s Multiple Locations was published by Routledge in 2007. The same year, her fictional work, The Pangolin’s Tale was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize.

Notes on Contributors Sujatha Byravan is currently an independent consultant working on technology, health and development. Until mid-2007 she was president of the Council for Responsible Genetics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a non-profit organization that carries out research, education and advocacy on the social and ethical impact of biotechnology. Prior to joining CRG, she was director of the Fellows Programme at Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) International. Dr Byravan has numerous publications to her credit in the areas of science and technology policy, climate justice, gender issues and environment. Subarno Chattarji is currently professor, American Literature, Miyazaki International College, Miyazaki, Japan, on sabbatical from the Department of English, University of Delhi, where he is a reader. He has a D.Phil. degree from the University of Oxford on American poetry of the Vietnam War. He has several publications including Memories of a Lost War: American Poetic Responses to the Vietnam War (2001), and an edited volume, with Gautam Chakravarty, An Anthology of Indian Prose Writings in English (2004). Michael Field is a journalist, broadcaster and author and has spent most of his career working in the South Pacific, notably for Agence France-Presse. He has published books on Samoan history as well as Fiji’s coups. He has covered unrest in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Tonga. A public speaker and occasional lecturer, he has travelled widely in Asia, including India. Currently he works for the Auckland office of Fairfax Digital, the largest newspaper and online news provider in Australia and New Zealand. Yuk Hui is a Ph.D. candidate at the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of London. He has been a computer engineer and journalist, and presently is working on a research project on metadata. He is interested in the work of contemporary philosophers, especially Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault. Subashree Krishnaswamy is a writer, editor and translator. She edited Indian Review of Books, a monthly magazine devoted to the reviews

Notes on Contributors ? 167

of books, for a number of years. She translates fiction and poetry written in Tamil into English. She was one of the five winners of the BBC World Service Short Story Competition, 2005. Sashi Kumar is chairman, Media Development Foundation, Chennai, and has wide experience in the print and broadcast media. He has made an award-winning feature film, Kaya Taran, and headed the first south Indian satellite channel, Asianet, for several years. Lawrence Liang is a lawyer and an activist, working in the Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore. He is interested in issues related to culture and copyright, and has written widely on these subjects. Frederick Noronha is a journalist from Goa, India, and one of the early media persons to take to the internet. He has been active in cyberspace since 1994. Low-bandwidth apart, he has actively taken part in volunteering, administering and running mailing lists by the dozen. Baradwaj Rangan is a Chemical Engineering graduate from BITS (Pilani), whose career path led him to advertising, to America, and finally back to Chennai, where he is now a full-time writer and national award-winning film critic for The New Sunday Express. His articles on arts, entertainment and humour are archived at Subramanya Sastry got his B.Tech. in Computer Science from IITKanpur in 1995 and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2003. Since 1997 his path has been intersected by and is now inextricably intertwined with an interest in issues of social justice. He is currently working on developing a news monitoring and media coverage analysis tool. Aman Sethi is a Delhi-based investigative journalist with Frontline magazine, where he covers a broad spectrum of issues concerning infrastructure, environment and urban ecologies. He has also been tracking the transformation of Delhi’s cityscapes, work practices and surveillance apparatus in the context of the Commonwealth Games for the last two years. Apart from Frontline, his work has been featured in Himal magazine and the collaborative news blog

168 ? The Digitized Imagination His upcoming publications include Sarai Reader 07: Frontiers and First Proof: The Penguin Anthology of New Writing. His book on Delhi is expected in early 2009. Arvind Sivaramakrishnan is senior deputy editor, The Hindu, and is on the adjunct faculty at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai. Since studying at the University of Southampton, he has taught and published in politics and philosophy, and has worked in the British National Health Service and local government. Recently, he edited Short on Democracy (2007), and published Through a Glass Wall (2007). A. Srivathsan is an architect who works for Property Plus in The Hindu, Chennai. He received a degree in M.Arch. from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi and a Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai. He has been a Fulbright fellow at the University of California, USA, and assistant professor at Anna University, Chennai. Ravi Sundaram is a fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi and co-director of the Sarai programme on media and urban culture ( Sundaram has co-edited the critically acclaimed Sarai Readers including The Public Domain (2001), The Cities of Everyday Life (2002), and recently, Turbulence (2006). His book, After Media: Pirate Culture and the Urban Experience is forthcoming from Routledge (2008). Vijaya Swaminath has a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in Neutrino Astrophysics. She worked on the first (and currently, the largest) neutrino telescope in the South Pole ice. She teaches science and has written a textbook called Science of Sights and Sounds (1999), published by McGraw-Hill, and used at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She has written several articles on science and has contributed to Frontline magazine. She writes children’s songs and plays and has worked on productions of children’s musicals.

Index ? 169

Index academics 15, 43, 45, 51–52, 106, 133; plagiarism 51–52 acknowledgement of others 52 Akhand Bharat thesis 80–82 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 58 Anderson, M. D. 61 application software 97 architects 12, 128–34 architecture 3, 11–12, 128–29, 131; digital 128–29, 133 ARPANET 93, 95 artefacts 6, 13, 15, 19, 57 ATCP/IP 95, Auckland 113 authority 4, 15–21, 23, 25–27, 30–33, 107; encyclopaedias as threshold of 30; of knowledge 4, 15, 17–21, 23, 26–27, 30, 32–33 AutoDesk 133 automation 155 Bainimarama, Frank coup 109–10, 112 Balasubramanian 61, 65 Baldia, Sonia 150n10 Balochistan 75–76, 80–83; independent 80–81; issue 80, 83–84 Bangalore 116, 129–31; as capital of Modern India Incorporated 12 Baran, Paul 93–94 battleship Potemkin 36, 38–40 bazaars 138–39 BBC 108–9 Bebo page 102, 113; Facebook and Myspace 113 Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works 147

Biomedical and genetic research 59 black hole 93 bloggers 111–12, 159–63 blogging 111, 160–63 blogs 90, 99, 109–13, 115, 156, 159, 161–62; sites 110 books, precious 28; printed 3, 20–21, 23 brands 145–46 Britain’s Police National DNA database 70, see also DNA Brosius, Christiane 76, 79, 84, 86 Bugti, Nawab killing of 9, 75–76, 80 Business of Science 60–61 buzzwords 90 Caché 127 campaigns 115–17, 119, 121 Canterbury Tales 22–23, 26, Cartesian idea 8 cartography 93–94 Casio PB-110 152 censorship 85–86, 99, 108–9 Chaplin, Charlie 40 chatrooms 9, 11, 75–76, 80 Chaucer, the father of English poetry 23–26 Chaudhry, Mahendra hostage 108–9 cheating 43–44, 50; academic 48–50; contract 43, 49, 50 Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia (CHOP) 68 Chinese blogger, ‘Zoula’ 99, see also blogs cinema 4, 11, 36–37, 39, 40, 123, 141; on mobile phones 12, see also digital filmmaking citation practices 48, see also acknowledgement of others

170 ? The Digitized Imagination Civil Rights 70 clothesline 153, 158 75–76, 82; message boards 75, 82–83 coal-burning plants and the pollution 153 CODIS-Combined DNA Index System 70–72 communication, satellite 105 communities 65, 71, 79, 84, 116, 119, 154, 161–62; imagined 83–84; international 81 community radio 117, 121 compilers 22, 26, 28–29 computer numerically controlled (CNC) 133 computers 2–9, 56, 59, 67–68, 99, 102–3, 133–34, 137, 152– 58, see also brands; assembled 143–44; fifth-generation 13, 152; -mediated discussions 5 conflicts 4, 15, 18, 20, 27–28, 107, 139–40, 143, 153 consumers 69, 83, 103, 148–49 consumption 132, 138–39 contract cheating 49–50 cookery blogs 159–64 copying 19, 22–23, 43–44 copyright holder 147, 149 corruption 155 Council for Responsible Genetics, Cambridge 69–70 creation of data profiles 8 Creative 145–46 creative modems 145 criminal DNA databanks. 70–73 culture 2, 6, 17–21, 23–24, 26, 33, 45, 121, 141, 160 Cybercom 120 cyberspace 1, 3, 8, 9, 12, 15–16, 79, 80, 115, 117, 121 cyborg 8

data, centres 154, 158; harvest internet 111 database 11, 70–71 datagram 94, 97 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) 93, 95 Deleuze, Gilles 92 democracy 105, 108, 110, 154 Desai’s ‘ASLI MARD’ 78–79 design 6, 14, 38, 95, 97, 129–30, 132–34, 153; principles 93, 95 development, technological 49, 133 digital, age 3, 7–8, 75, 103, 109; architecture 129, 130–34; art 4; classroom 5; dreams 12, 123, 125, 127; filmmaking 12; imagination 128–31, 133; image processing 2, 12; library 2; media 5, 12; techniques, Greg Lynn on 133; manipulation 63; Morphogenesis 132; Rubik’s cube 131; science 58–60; storage space and network bandwidths 156; technology 4, 41, 62, 123–30, 134, 154 world 1, 9, 12, 102 digitization 123, 127 discoveries 1, 6, 57–58, 128 diseases 62, 67, 72, 103 DNA 60, 67–71, 73; Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia (CHOP) 68; and computer technologies 68; databanks, criminal 69, 70, 73; information storage of 7, 69; James Watson on 67; technologies 71–73; typing 68–69, 73; typology 72 DNA Fingerprint Act 71 domain 17–18, 31, 139 e-prefix: e-governance, e-learning, e-communities, e-democracy 154, see also e-mail

Index ? 171

editing 25, 37, 39, 123, 125; analogue 125 editors 8, 64, 109 education 43–44, 49, 75, 121; institutions 43, 47–48 efficacy 90 Eisenstein, Elizabeth 18, 20 Eisenstein’s insight 38–39 electricity 153, 158 electronic, culture 137–39; mailing lists 115; waste 154, see also pollution e-mail 1, 5, 9, 11, 113, 115, 118, 142, 156 Encyclopaedia 28, Diderot on 29–30; and Pope Clement 29; Borges on Chinese 30–31; Umberto Eco 32 Encyclopaedia Britannica, 16–17 encyclopaedias 16–17, 27–32; collaborative 15; project of 28 English, press 80; printing 26 explorations 1, 30–31, 91, 133

genes 67–69, 72 genetic, information 7, 60, 70, 73; tests 69, 70 GeneWatch UK, 70 Global Warranty 148 globalization 136–37 Goa 116; Schools Computer Project 116 Goanet mailing list 116 Goa-netters 116 Gomes, Alberto G. 116 governance 80, 152, 154–55 grey market 148–50 Gujarat 77, 79, 80, 84; riots 9, 75–77, 80 Gujarati diaspora 79

Facebook 103, 113, 115, 158 Farid, Hany 63 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) 70 Fiji 104–13; and internet 109 Fiji Sun 108–9, 112 112 film 12, 36, 39–41, 123–27, 137; chemical 123–24; making 37, 123, see also digital, filmmaking fluid 8, 18, 22–23, 30 folksonomies 98 Frankel, Mark 58, 61, 64 fraud 6, 56–57, 62–63, 65, see also fraud Freedom of Information Act 44–45

hand-held devices 72 hard discs 143–46, 148 hardware 62, 143–45, 149; market 145; manufacturers and imports 146 Harris, Roger 120 ‘Hate on the Net’ 76 Heidegger, Martin 91–92 ‘Hindu Holocaust Museum’ site 81 Hindu unity 75–76, 84–86 ‘HinduRSSVHP’ 81 Hindus 9, 75, 77–79, 82, 86, 111 Hindustan Computers Limited (HCL) 144–45 Hindutva 84, 86 75–76, 79–82, 85 Hollywood, or Bollywood, 36–37; product 11–12 hospitals 67–68 human 8, 9, 63, 155; genome 67, 72; involvement 155 hybrid forms 2 hypertext 2

Gaillot, Jacques (Bishop) 10–11 Gandhi, Rajiv 142

image manipulation 62–64 information society 8–9

172 ? The Digitized Imagination information, speed of travels 65 Intellectual Property Rights 150 interactInn-L 120 interactivity 5 internet 1–2, 8–10, 69; consequences of 156; message boards 75–81; and the Solomons 107; technology 90 Invites’ network 116 Jaffrey, Madhur and Tarla Dalal 159 Jagmohan 141–42, 150n1 Jean of Angouleme 25 John, Shaji 120 Johns, Adrian 19 Kabuki theatre 39 knowledge, apparatus 27–28; production 15 Korean stem cell scandal 56 Krishnan, V. 150n2 Kuleshov, Lev 37 Lajpat Rai market, Delhi 136–38, see also Nehru Place, Delhi laptop/notebook 148–49 LEGO 144 Leweni, Major Neumi on bloggers 112 libraries 1, 2 linkages 37, 72, 93–94 machines 7, 8, 51, 97–98, 144, 152, 155; washing 159 mail 11, 103–4, 118, see also e-mail mailing lists 11, 115–22; electronic 115, 118; manuscripts 2, 19–26, 63–64 Malik, Baljit 145–46 market 1, 136, 138, 144–46, 148–50, 159, see also Nehru Place; Lajpat Rai market; assembled 144; grey 13, 137, 144–46, 149; share 144

material resources 153–54 memories 1, 3, 12, 157, 160 messages 37, 79, 80–86, 103, 116, 118; boards 81–82, 85 metadata 98–99 Miller 63–65 modem 9, 145 modern TV screen 41 Modi, Narendra 75–80, 84–85, see also monasteries 21–22 morality 17 motherboard 143 movement 12, 36, 40, 92, 98, 105, 116–17 83 multitude 93 Muslims 72, 76–79, 81, 84 Myspace 113 75–77 ‘Nation of Hindutva’ site 81 Nawab Bugti of Balochistan, killing of 9, 75, 79–83 Nehru Place, Delhi 138, 141–43, 145–47, 149 Netizens 8 network 84, 94, 115–16, 119–21, 136; architecture 95; bandwidths 156; distributed 94; protocol 91, 97 news 11, 58–60, 86, 98, 103–5, 108, 110, 116–18, 156 newspapers 106–8, 112–13 Nietzsche 17 nodes 10, 94, 98, 137–38 non-government organization (NGOs) 116–17, 119–20 online campuses 49; communities 84 Orbis Tertius’ Borges 32 organizations 93, 99, 109, 113, 118–19

Index ? 173

Original Equipment Manufacturers or OEMs 144 ovens, microwave 13–14 oversimplifications 82 ‘packet switching’ 94 Pakistan 9, 75–76, 79–82, 86 Pakistan Television (PTV) 85 Panopticon, Benthamite 7 Papistan 9, 75, 81, 84 parallel imports 145–49; defenders of 149 parchment 2, 21 Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property 147 Parkinson, William 112 pedagogy 4–5 perambulator 40–41 perceptions 41, 57, 134 photography 4, 123–24 plagiarism 5, 6, 27, 43, 134, 162; academic 43, 51; software 45– 47 policies 7, 47, 64, 67, 71, 73 Polynesians 103 ‘posthuman feminism’ 7 practices; architectural 130, 134; pedagogical 4, 5 prejudices 72, 75, 83 pre-print history 21–23, 25; Rebecca Lynnon 26; English printing 26 press 23, 26, 41, 56, 110, 112 Press Trust of India (PTI) 85 print/ing 20–22, see also pre-print history; Cultures and Fluidity of Knowledge 18–21; revolution 4, 15, 19, 20, 37, 39, 128; technology 1–2 prisons 67, 70–71 privacy 7, 8, 67–70, 73, 121, 129–30, 156 production 5, 18–19, 23, 28–29, 123, 153–54

products 13, 27, 36–37, 39, 145–50, 159; global 138; grey market 148 programming 152 project 25, 27–30, 32, 116, 124, 129–31, 158 proliferation 7, 139–40, 150 radio 9, 103, 106–7; stations 108, see also community radio RAM 142–43 Rangan, Baradwaj 12, 123–24, 126 Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) 81, 98 Request for Comments (RFC) 97 re-representation 91 research 6, 10, 43, 57, 60–61, 65, 68–69, 72–73, 90, 94, 132, 134; biomedical 68–69 ‘resistance’ blog, Intelligentsiya, 110–11 Resistfrankscoup readers 111 ‘rhizome’ 10, 93–99 riots 77, 79 rituals 160 Rose, Mark 21 Rossner, Mike 64 Royal Tongan Government 104–5 Samsung 146–50; India 147 Samsung Electronics Company Ltd v. Mr S. Sahai 147–48 Sandesh 77 Santosh 142 Satellite communication and government control 105 scholars 3, 15, 18, 22–23 Schwartz, Hillel 18–19 science 6, 8, 12, 46, 48, 56–65, 73 scientists 6, 51, 56–61, 63–67, 72–73 screen 39, 64, 123–24, 161 Seamen’s discoveries 1

174 ? The Digitized Imagination secrecy 29 secrets 28–29 security 69, 73 Seigenthaler, John 16 self-plagiarism 46 Shankar, Udhay 120 Shankar, Vijay Vivek 131–32 signatures 149 ‘Silklist’ 121, 130 Sivaramakrishnan, Arvind 5, 44, 46, 48, 50, 52 social, change 120; context 8; forces, 153–54 society, civil 79, 80, 84, 116 software 45–46, 58, 62, 111, 118–19, 133; detection 46, 49 Solomon Islands 106–7 solution 86, 98, 127, 155 South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) 116–17 Speight, George, to seize Parliament 108–9 Sreenivasan, Sreenath 117 Stuart Shapiro’s study 129 Sudbo, Jon 62 Summerlin, William T. 58 switches 153–54 system 10, 50–51, 65, 71, 94, 97, 126, 152, 154; communications 97; self-checking 59

technological changes 17, 153; forms 17, 27; innocence 152–53, 155, 157 Tehelka 77 Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) 121 telephone 9, 102, 142 television 8, 9, 75, 83, 103, 108, 125, 163; cable 136–38 tension, productive 32–33 texts, reproduction of 19 TFT LCD monitors 147 The Man with a Movie Camera 38 The Miller’s Tale 23 theatres 1, 125–26, 141 themes 77, 92–93, 116–17 thinking machines 152, 156 Tin Can Island 105 Tokelau’s government 102 Tokelauans 102–3 tragedy 109 tree 10, 94; diagrams 94 trust 57 tubes 130 tutor 49, 51–52

2k project 130–31, see also visualization of future teachers 3, 5, 15, 51 technologi/-es/-cal 2, 3, 6, 13–14, 17, 19, 22–23, 25, 27–28, 62, 72, 103–4, 125–29, 132, 149– 50, 152–54, 157–58; computer 68; computing 154; innovation 3; intertwining of 9, 75; new 1, 72, 121, 129, 132, 134; surrounding 152–53

Veiwasei and Soli Vakasama 112 victims 9, 75, 77 video cards 143 violation of copyright 148 violence 9, 83–84, 113, 139 virtual, space 129; technology 9; world 9, 10, 161 virus 103 Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) 85 visual communication 2 visualization 131; of future 131

U.S.A, 70; systematic racial disparities 71 universities 44–45, 47, 50–52

Index ? 175

VSNL, internet in 145 Vulgate Bible 21 war 9, 37, 80–81, 83, 106; machine, 93, 98 web 76, 86, 90, 105–6, 109, 158; pages 2, 11, 98; services 156, 158 websites 6, 46, 64, 81, 85, 108, 112, 115, 118, 156 Whyfijiscrying 110 Wikipedia 15–18, 24, 115, 118; and authority 16–18; reliability of 16

women 6, 14, 37, 60, 107, 121, 159–60, 92, 110; and property rights 107 Woo-Suk, Hwang 56, 59–60 World Trade Organisation 150 World Wide Web 11, 98, 106 writers 13, 16, 23–25, 31, 78, 80, 108, 112, 119 117 Yellow Bucket 112 Zutshi, R. 147