India

Geographic location

Indian Classical Dance: The Foundational Element in My Practice of Ethnography

VYJAYANTHI VADREVU Rasa.nyc PechaKucha Presentation Do we really understand how we became practitioners of ethnography? In this talk, I go through a re-discovery of the links between my lifelong training in Indian classical dance and the elements this has instilled in my current practice of ethnography. In dance, we are trained to keenly observe every physical and emotional nuance of an item. Furthermore, we are taught symbolism and theory to deepen our interpretation of dance. This dance foundation has shaped my connection to every aspect of ethnography: from practice to analysis to presentation. Vyjayanthi Vadrevu is the founding ethnographer/strategist of Rasa.nyc. She leads research on projects ranging from social impact design to corporate technology innovation. Vyjayanthi is a trained Bharatantyam and Odissi dancer and uses movement and choreography to connect to the deepest parts of the human experience. vyjayanthi@rasa.nyc 2017 EPIC Proceedings, ISSN 1559-8918, epicpeople.org/intelligences  ...

Everyday Life in Tamil Nadu, India and Its Cost to “Free Basics”

SHRIRAM VENKATRAMAN University College London NIMMI RANGASWAMY Xerox Research Centre, India This paper explores how the ‘Free Basics’ initiative in India got transformed into a national debate on ‘net neutrality’ principle and finally led to it being banned in India. Further, this paper will also use ethnographic data to analyse how this ‘controversial’ initiative was debated, the claims it made and the actual ground level reality in the state of Tamil Nadu....

#GoingEthno in the Indian Bureaucracy

AAKASH SOLANKI International Innovation Corps (IIC) at the University of Chicago SARVESH TEWARI International Innovation Corps (IIC) at the University of Chicago Case Study—Based on experience of working in the Department of School Education, Government of Haryana on a Management Information System being built to reduce administrative workload on teachers and bureaucrats, this case study describes how ethnography was used to understand and address the problem of technology adoption in a large bureaucracy. Ethnography helped the Department in framing the problem of adoption as one of lack of adequate Digital Literacy within the organization and in developing strategies to address it. Digital Literacy workshops were conducted to improve broader Digital Literacies in the Department, which improved literacy levels by 48%. For ensuring sustainability of this initiative, the Department instituted a continuous Digital Literacy program, which will support the adoption of multiple technology projects in the future. Keywords: Management...

Critical Jugaad

DEEPA BUTOLIYA Carnegie Mellon University Download PDF PechaKucha—This Inquiry explains how people use ingenious making practices like Jugaad as a tool for existence, subversion and criticality against colonial powers of oppression. Jugaad like practices form cultural binders and empower people to find a collective force to fight oppression while practicing creative self-expression. This practice is a nonviolent critique that provokes and questions the technoutopian imaginaries in future of such practices. Criticality is manifested through critique and criticism of the social, cultural, economic and political issues engulfing a nation, through ingenious sociomaterial practices. This research inquiry is about tapping into potential of such sociomaterial practices and the epistemology of the critical practices that happen outside the preconceived assumptions of criticality. Being critical about the functioning of states and industry is not bound by a niche design practice but a democratic right of every individual. Keywords: Jugaad,...

‘It’s Not Just about the Patient’: A ‘360° Feedback’ Ethnography of Chronic Care Knowledge Generation

JYOTIRMAYA MAHAPATRA Xerox Research Centre India, Bengaluru NIMMI RANGASWAMY Xerox Research Centre India, Bengaluru SAJAL NAGWANSHI Xerox Research Centre India, Bengaluru The paper attempts to offer a method to consistently monitor and capture a data eco-system in the everyday of a patient-caregiver relationship. We offer an account of the capture and intermeshing of different types and quality of data sources and their gainful deflection into a methodological protocol for ethnographic engagements. We call this the ‘360° feedback’ ethnography and elaborate its underlying methodological process in this paper. Building on the live feedback obtained from various stakeholder activities in a care ecosystem, we propose how a 360° feedback can enrich regenerative knowledge....

“Hey, the water cooler sent you a joke!”: ‘Smart’, Pervasive and Persuasive Ethnography

by NIMMI RANGASWAMY, SAURABH SRIVASTAVA, TEJASVIN SRINIVASAN & PRIYANKA SHARMA (Xerox Research Centre, Bengaluru, India) Article 6 in the series Data, Design and Civics: Ethnographic Perspectives How must we conjure up smart spaces? ‘Smart city’ has become an over-indulged urban metaphor, whipping up an apparition of dispersed, highly networked and interconnected socio-economic, infrastructural and communication nodes. The smart city narrative seems to dwell on the idea of cites as ‘receptacles for technology’—and qualitative transformations are brought about by the application of technologies. Even after decades of research to the contrary, we still tell ourselves stories about the inevitable march of technology and its deterministic effect on culture and behavior. But aren’t cities also places that give birth to technologies? As researchers we are drawn to the miraculous nature of technology to sense, track and quantify not only human use of infrastructure but also the human ‘self’. We are working to...

‘Global Events Local Impacts’: India’s Rural Emerging Markets

NIMMI RANGASWAMY and KENTARO TOYAMA The paper attempts to analyse rapidly changing rural Indian socio-economic landscapes from a recent empirical study of rural PC kiosks. Rural contexts in India are essentially composite and digitally immature communication ecologies. Some of the questions we wanted to answer were as follows: How do computing technologies find their way into a rural community? Who are the people driving this technology? How technology is being received by the community? Breaking away from a committed long-term participatory ethnography in a bounded field, we consider an array of wider contexts and a repertoire of methods available for qualitative research to study societies in transition....

Skillful Strategy, Artful Navigation & Necessary Wrangling

SUZANNE L. THOMAS and TONY SALVADOR This paper addresses three main issues: the fixation on the individual in corporate research, the emic need to privilege and represent relationships driving the political and cultural economic lived experience and the pressing need to find useful, effective ways engage corporate structures that otherwise are impervious to “views of the collective”. That is, we argue for a reframing of ethnographic work in industry (in some instances) from that of the individual to that of sufficiently contextually complete relationships people have with other people and institutions, especially when working with “emerging markets.” We rely on data and sources from comparative ethnographic work over time in several countries to identify what we need to study and to suggest new, more powerful directions for our research. We also suggest implications for how to navigate within corporate structures in order to liberate ourselves and our work....

Accelerating Collaboration with Social Tools

ALEXANDRA MACK and DINA MEHTA As more and more corporate ethnographic work is crossing international borders, we are increasingly collaborating with teams that are spread across the globe. As a result, we need tools that enable us to work across boundaries. Since early 2004, the authors have been collaborating on a research project developed by an American company seeking to develop solutions specific to the Indian market. One of us, an Indian sociologist, led a team of ethnographers in India, while the other, an American anthropologist, managed research and analysis for concept development in the US. While all of the US-based team members spent time in the field in India during the project, integrating the teams into the same “brainspace” was a challenge. This paper describes how we used social tools to enable each set of team members to understand the work being done on the other side of the world....

The “Consumption Junction” of ICT in Emerging Markets: An Ethnography of Middlemen

ELISA OREGLIA and KATHI KITNER In rural China and India, a fragmented commercial distribution system and the lack of online shopping can significantly limit the range of consumer choice. In this paper, we look at the role that mobile phone shopkeepers—the middlemen—play in influencing what users can and will buy, but also in training them in using and understanding technology....

Representing the Non-formal: The Business of Internet Cafés in India

NIMMI RANGASWAMY It is our contention that small businesses of information and communication technologies are deeply embedded in a context of non-formal business relations and practices in developing economies. Cyber cafés in the city of Mumbai, the subject of our study, operate in and through an unregulated grey market of non-formal business practices. In this paper we explore the fit of ICTs into this ‘area’ of commercial practices. We do this by profiling café managers, business strategies and contextualizing these in the broader culture of non-formal business relationships pervading every day transactions. With regulatory discourse of information technologies centered on piracy and illegitimacy, informality of business practices in emerging economies provide an alternate premise to understand its nature and function. These challenge received notions of visualizing IT in emerging economies as simply piracy and illegality. It also implies coming to terms with markets shaped and structured by para-legal and non-formal processes...

‘Mental Kartha Hai’ or ‘Its Blowing My Mind’: Evolution of the Mobile Internet in an Indian Slum

NIMMI RANGASWAMY and S. YAMSANI Download PDF This paper is an ethnographic exploration of on-line practices of teens in a slum in Hyderabad, India. It is also an attempt to develop concepts for building a novel user model in unique socio-technical ecology. We examine how teenagers relate to the internet, develop expertise, and engage themselves in a socio-technical universe of family, peers, and locality. As ethnographers we look for qualitative indicators embedded in broader social and cultural ecologies of youth engagement with the mobile internet. We identify learning, innovation and self-perception of internet use as modes of everyday negotiation between both rising usage desires and stringent costs....

The Space Between Mine and Ours: Exploring the Subtle Spaces Between the Private and the Shared in India

ASHWINI ASOKAN Starting from their interactions within shared spaces and use of shared objects, to large social networks, the Indian society has developed a range of ways to incorporate subtle gestures and systems into their lives that neither forces them to share all their time and space with everyone, nor isolates them completely. This paper explores this idea that privacy is not always mutually exclusive from shared states. In the process, it highlights quality of time and space as a construct of subtle negotiations between the socially structured and personally desired. These subtleties allow Indians to design their lives around extensive grey spaces that exist in between the community and individual. This suggests some new ways for us to think about meaning of privacy, and its impact on how people in countries like India navigate complex social networks, cultural systems, and rigid social hierarchies, very often using technologies like phones and TVs....

Flexibility and the Curatorial Eye: Why and How Well-Documented Fieldwork Sustains Value Over Time

ELIZABETH CHURCHILL and AME ELLIOTT This paper discusses two distinguishing features of ethnographic work, program flexibility and data flexibility. These forms of flexibility deliver business benefits at two different timeframes. Within the timeframe of a given project, ethnographic practice is necessarily reflective and reflexive; ethnographic training insists researchers be flexible. This means projects are responsive to emerging results, and can be reframed in situ without significant additional investment. After the project has completed, carefully managed, stored and curated ethnographic materials can answer new questions, perhaps posed years after the project has ended. Thus, ethnographic work can generate business impact by sustaining value over time. Two cases illustrate the value-generating qualities of ethnographic work: one recently conducted investigation of drinking water in India and one conducted ten years ago looking at changes in collaborative practices as a result of the adoption of mobile technologies. Discussion...

Engineers “On The Ground”: Mass Observation at Moto

by STOKES JONES, PREE KOLARI, Motorola CXD   Of course, EPIC has always been a ‘community of praxis’ (as much as practice) helping attendees put what they learn into action. For us at Motorola Mobility, 2013 was no exception. The company had reduced its phone portfolio to a handful of products; and knew the only way to grow market share was expanding sales outside the US. But we had not done ‘front end’ research outside American shores since 2009. Likewise, most of our newly hired designers, product managers, and software engineers had never created phones for any geography but North America. So how could we “sensitize” whole teams to the differing desires & needs of people in Brazil or India? And how could we flush out those devilish details which we didn’t yet know we did not know...the ones that make the difference between a product being “just right” vs. “totally wrong” in a new environment? We decided lone report-writing researchers could not bring product teams in tune with our “next...