Monday, March 25, 2019

First Book Reviews out with Times Higher Ed & E&T magazine


Am thrilled to read these positive reviews of my new book "The Next Billion Users: Digital Life beyond the West" with Harvard University Press.  It is particularly wonderful to see one of the reviews emanate from the well read Times Higher Ed. 

I am also glad to see the Engineering and Tech magazine take this book up (as well as Tech Crunch a few weeks ago), which signals to me that the tech industry has a growing interest in broadening their worldviews beyond the technical aspects to that which is ethical, cultural and may I even dare to say, philosophical. I really am looking forward to future engagements with engineers, programmers and other stakeholders at the forefront of shaping our digital platforms.

Times Higher Education
“This powerful book explores actual online lives in China, India and Brazil and asks why many of us in the West are surprised and sometimes offended by the fact that the impoverished are just as committed as we are to the search for “moments of pleasure and joy." Click here to view this mention.

Engineering and Technology magazine

"Make no mistake. While we wring our hands in anguish over how we are somehow being let down by the fact that Dryden’s ‘noble savage’ is neither of those things, developers of social media platforms will be working out how to monetise the pleasure of the poor. Uncomfortable, myth-busting and compelling, ‘The Next Billion Users’ challenges our collective superiority complexes and questions the way we see technology in the connected world." Click here for the full review.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Podcast with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)

The podcast interview with Nora Young from Spark Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is now out. You can listen to it by clicking here.
Porn and Cat Videos are Universal March 7: 2019 Podcast with CBC
As the number of people who are connected to the internet around the world grows, the 'next billion' users are likely to be in the developing world, young, with low incomes, and accessing the internet on mobile devices.
Payal Arora (Damjan Svarc)
In her new book, The Next Billion Users: Digital Life Beyond the West, digital anthropologist Payal Aroralooked at the way young users actually use the internet in a number of developing-world countries, from Brazil to Saudi Arabia. She argues that we in the West have a lot of preconceptions about how those users do — or 'ought to' — behave online.
Arora spoke with Spark host Nora Young.
The core of your book is that there's a belief in the west that people in the developing world are using the internet for research, education, to find work, practical things. Overall, what did you find when you looked into actual online practices?
The rest of the article can be found here. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Book talk at the 10th anniversary of Nantes Institute for Advanced Studies


It was an honor to give my book talk at the special occasion of celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Nantes Institute for Advanced Studies.  The overriding theme was to "Think the world differently."

It was a large gathering and nice mix of their past and current Fellows spanning 10 years, private sector companies and media persons brought together to discuss investment in the future of this region and its transformation brought by an influx of new technologies and people.

I spoke on my book 'The Next Billion users: Digital life beyond the West' By Harvard University Press as part of the “Digital culture, humanist culture” panel. The theme of this panel was as follows "Digital technology stupefies us with its promises and its threats, particularly for the humanities. Testimonials, demonstrations and viewpoints from the South to help us think differently."

There was a brief introduction by Françoise Rubellin, the director of the Institute and professor at l’Université de Nantes, moderated by Clément Lesort. It was definitely an ecclectic panel which made for an interesting cross disciplinary conversation: Jan Clarke (Fellow of the Institute, Durham University, England), Mylène Pardoen (CNRS, Institut des Sciences de l’Homme in Lyon), Paul François (architect and engineer, Laboratoire des sciences du numérique in Nantes), Jeffrey Leichman (Fellow of the Institute, Louisiana State University, United States), and Catherine Becchetti-Bizot (inspector general, ex-director of Digital Technology for Education).

Overall, great questions and as usual, the French impress me with their high stamina for long intellectual talks that can go on for hours without interruption, four course lunches with wine which made the talk post lunch rather challenging and of course, just pure interest in new ideas.