Posts

Showing posts with the label Amsterdam

Talking to Tech: Keynote at EMERCE Next in Amsterdam

Image
Wonderful experience speaking as one of the few academics in a room full of young tech entrepreneurs at the EMERCE Next event in Amsterdam. I gave a talk based on my new book 'The Next Billion Users' published by Harvard Press earlier this year. I spoke about the myths that aid agencies and tech industries perpetuate about these new user groups based on their biased understandings of them and rooted in little empirical evidence. Worse yet, even in the face of vast evidence that contradicts these worldviews, this thinking still persists so I hope I was able to disrupt a little bit these conventional approaches. I got questions on Article 13 on copyright policies under the new GDPR which indeed is so far from the world of media piracy in developing countries. I emphasized how we need to look also at why these policies are barely enforced based on historical and unfair media business models in the global south. Other questions grappled with the ways the "West" and the …

Motivational Speaker for Gemeente Amsterdam Diversity Program

Image
I cannot emphasize enough how much I love Amsterdam. It really feels like home for me and that's saying a lot given that I have moved so much since I was a teenager. From India to the United States (San Francisco, New York and Boston), I finally came to the Netherlands about a decade ago. So, was really happy to get an invite from the Gemeente Amsterdam (the Amsterdam municipality) to give a motivational talk for a program they have initiated a few years ago to improve diversity and support those less represented in positions of power.

Of course, usually I associate the municipality with paying my taxes and water bills and all the tedium of city governance. Had to block that Pavlovian training temporarily as I went about participating and speaking about my life story to this wonderful group of young mentees and mentors of this diversity program.

This mentoring program is in partnership with a wonderful organization called ECHO which is an expert organization on diversity policy. I…

Book launch at Athenaeum bookstore in Amsterdam

Image
Seems like these days I am having a lot of "first" moments. My first studio talk with BBC, which will be broadcast in the next few weeks and then my first talk at a book store. Had my book launch at the Athenaeum bookstore  in Amsterdam. Was such an interesting experience. Completely casual and intimate. A load of chairs and comfy couches clustered tightly together so you could have a real conversation with people. The audience was eclectic from retired people, tech entrepreneurs, media agencies, students, academics, and just folk interested in the topic. The format was smart - Tina Harris, an anthropologist from University of Amsterdam engaged me in a conversation before we opened it up for questions. Nicely done overall. What better way to officially launch my book than to do it in such a lovely setting in my favorite city that I call home now!

Public talk on Decolonization, Resistance and Creativity

Image
I will be speaking on a public panel event on "Big Data from the South: Decolonization, Resistance and Creativity" organized by Stefania Milan, the PI for the DATACTIVE ERC project at the University of Amsterdam and Emiliano Treré at the Data Justice Lab, Cardiff University. The wonderful panel of speakers include Nick Couldry (London School of Economics), Merlyna Lim (Carleton University) and Ulises A. Mejias (State University of New York, College at Oswego).

The premise of this panel is based on the fact that datafication has dramatically altered the way we understand the world around us. Understanding the so-called ‘big data’ means to explore the profound consequences of the computational turn, as well as the limitations, errors and biases that affect the gathering, interpretation and access to information on such a large scale. However, much of this critical scholarship has emerged along a Western axis ideally connecting Silicon Valley, Cambridge, MA and Northern Europe…

Keynote speaker at University of Amsterdam MA Graduation Ceremony

Image
Each year the University of Amsterdam MA program in New Media and Digital Culture invites a keynote speaker to address and motivate students and families at their graduation ceremony. I will be giving a keynote for this year’s graduation ceremony, reflecting on the future of new media research. The graduation ceremony takes place on Wednesday August the 30th, 2017, in Amsterdam.
My talk is titled, “In Search of the Exotic in Digital Culture.” This comes at a time where tensions run high between groups; identity politics is pervasive. Boundaries are formed online and circulated strategically as truisms, fueling divisive cultural spaces online and offline. I will talk about the notion of the exotic and its colonial underpinnings as an efficient mechanism to frame entire publics. Exoticism was a critical tool to justify what I call the 3 Cs -to Control, to Convert and/or to Conserve and how this continues to play out in today’s digital era.


Communes. Communities. Cults

Image
A few colleagues and I went out for dinner some time back and bonded over the usual small talk of renting and work and relationships. One of my colleagues made the conversation rather spicy by telling us that he lived in a commune in Amsterdam where there were about 10 people and that they often had dinner together in the evenings. He admitted that it was partly due to the cheap rent that drew him to this commune as much as the ideals. This got me thinking of a commune I encountered in my fieldwork two years ago when writing my book. I had gone to the Central Himalayas for research where I encountered the Mirtola ashram, a place where people voluntarily left their 'material' life behind in the cities and dedicated to living a simple and 'honest' life through the tilling of the land, growing their own produce, living with and within nature and praying to the Gods through a ritualistic practice every evening. Within a matter of months, much infighting began. Some did les…

Here we go again! TEDx Amsterdam mania and fanaticism renewed

Image
Let’s just get this out of the way. Yes, I am still a hardcore TED groupie. Okay, I did not spend all of last year crossing the days off the calendar but did engage with tremendous foreplay - the communication process building up to next week’s TEDx Amsterdam event. Creating the profiles of this years’ speakers to release to the press flirted with my senses, compelling me to look them up on Wikipedia, YouTube and other digital platforms, consuming them voraciously in their presentation style and novelty of their ideas. Almost started to stalk some of them on Twitter but my saner part was kind enough to remind me that I really don’t have much in common with Computer-mediated Epistemology or Musical Cognition in the long run. Ah but that is why this event, a gathering of artists, designers, scientists, architects, technologists, and activists is so unusual and addictive – the adrenaline rush of immersing into unknown territories and specialties with just one common thread –ideas worth s…

Fokke n Sukke does a number on us Tedhead bloggers

Image
Granted, my profound ignorance of Dutch cartoons mitigated a little only due to self-centrism. Having learnt that us TEDx bloggers from the TEDx Amsterdam event (that recently wrapped up on Nov 30th) was covered by two specimens that don't wear pants, it piqued my attention for sure. Fokke, a run-of-the-mill duck wearing a small sailor's cap is accompanied by Sukke, a canary bird that wears a baseball cap backwards but apparently rocks the boat with their supposed tails that coincidently resemble male genitalia. But thats not all that they rock. Their benign disguise is coupled with politically incorrect humor and barbed sarcasms targeted at posers such as us TEDheadders, a subculture of The Economist reading, Mac hugging, Jon Stewart loving type of groupies.

So, Fokke & Sukke is a Dutch comic strip created by writer and illustrator Jean-Marc van Tol, and writers John Reid and Bastiaan Geleijnse and is published in the daily broadsheet NRC Handelsblad. These guys even won t…

Reporting from TEDx: Muthoni the Drummer queen

Image
Performance by Muthoni, the drummer queen
Starving artists, rich recording labels…that’s how the cliché goes. Microfinance, usually reserved for talk on farmer loans and such is now making waves into the world of the music industry. Fans are putting their money where their mouth is, enabling start-up capital to aspiring musicians from developing countries around the world. The clincher here is that musicians do not give up ownership or control of their music rights.

microfinance + music + digital media= Muthoni the drummer queen!

for more, check out TEDx Amsterdam site: Moving to the microfinance beat!

Reporting from TEDx: replaying Darwins journey + the circus as conference

Image
Sarah Darwin talks about Darwin's journey replayed today
Like the usual family pressure is not enough, having Charles Darwin as your great great grandfather must hardly be an easy feat. That said, rather than hide from it, Sarah Darwin embraces it openly and audaciously retraces the “emotional” journe, as she calls it, of the HMS Beagle. A biologist herself, Sarah describes how she and her family set sail round the world on the Dutch clipper Stad-Amsterdam, starting at the same port where Charles Darwin embarked around 178 years ago...
Check out the TEDx website for more:
Sarah Darwin: Following in your footsteps great great granddaddy!

AND


Peter van Lindonk's talk on demanding creativity as ground for unity for stimulating ideas
It’s about time someone added chutzpah into conferences! Aren’t most conferences about remembering the lines but forgetting the theatre of it all? Peter van Lindonk, the co-founder of the annual PINC-Conference, knows this better than most people as he ro…

TEDx Amsterdam's Photogenic moments...

Image

Becoming the Press at TEDx: the hoopla around it

Image
Green bordered Press Passes and RESERVED written on red velvet seats...its nice being the Press! Cookies and koffie; polaroids being taken to give some kind of instant energy feeling; long-bearded men, probably all eco-warriors or physicists... spotted! Admittedly, as we blog away with our Apple computers in a row (with every other minute checking Facebook), we're deeply concerned about more pressing issues such as what we should do with our goodie bags post conference when we go for the after-party to Chicago Boom! Such are the troubling times we live in.

Other issues do seep in such as what can we say about someone whose claim to fame is that she is the great great granddaughter of Charles Darwin...ok, but what about it? And of aliens on stage...er? and fake snow falling on a man who has come from Africa in his native costume, saying that this is the first time he has left his hometown and he receives unanimous applaud...because??? One is tempted to see this as condescending, an…

Live blogging at TEDx...

Image
Blogging live on Alef Arendsen:
Even trendy renewable energy requires PR. Granted, Al Gore helped to make climate change a topic again. But for the most part it’s been all about what you can do for the world and not for yourself. The New Motion, a company about “electric mobility powered by renewable energy,” turns this around. “If we want to create lasting change, we have to accept the premise that we act on self-interest,” says Alef Arendsen, one of the co-founders. For more, check out the TEDx blog site:
Alef Arendsen: Fixing my problem fixes yours

The politics of the floating gay

Image
The floating gay parade, 80 boats with specific themes sailed along the Prinsengracht/ Amstel river canal with Lady Gaga ruling the airwaves. Cher managed to seep in a little but gone are the days of Madonna and Barbara Streisand. While no doubt an enjoyable spectator sport, there were some troubling trends. For instance, the energy on the boats lay low (my benchmark = NYC and San Francisco gay pride parades). You start to think about the relationship between the parade participants or “actors” and the crowd or the “audience.” Usually, in such parades, the line between the spectator and the spectacle is blurred, with the run of the mill you and I dressing up with stringy pink wigs, rainbow socks, to sometimes a full blown, out-of-the-closet costume. And you cheer...like your life depended on it. Your vocal cords compete with the likes of a newborn baby. Yet, at the Amsterdam parade, there was a sober quality where the audience barely even cheered, let alone waved at the floats that we…

Queens day: Happy cows are here again!

Image
Will power...what a burden! We sweat the small stuff a lot. We have to constantly exercise our Will to abstain from that extra slice of pie, from being "uncool" by wanting to stay home on a Saturday night watching Youtube, or just calling home to check in. Individualism can suck sometimes. Blame is rarely distributed. There's a reason why we say "exercise" your will...it's pure and simple work. Sometimes, however, society orchestrates an opportunity to take a break. And BREAK it is!
Queens day in the Netherlands is one such moment in time! Thousands of people blind you with their orange glory as they sweep through Amsterdam. High on pot, techno and a vague reminder of being Dutch AND low on foot-estate, the mob has come to celebrate their Queen Beatrix and her conveniently timed birthday. (although born on January 31, the weather and her highness pushes this date to May 30th, allowing for orange neon bikinis, rave street parties and blood sporting bargainin…