Showing posts with label inequality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label inequality. Show all posts

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Keynote for the Digital Inclusion Policy Conference in London

What a wonderful and diverse audience for this keynote for the Digital Inclusion Policy conference held in London by the University of Liverpool. It emerged from some very critical and timely questions such as - What type of skills do people need to ‘be digital’? Do different people from different ages and abilities need different types of skills and training? And how can we foresee what skills will be needed for future work? The conference brought together researchers, civic activists, government think-tanks, policy practitioners, tech entrepreneurs and more from very different contexts and countries which made these conversations more challenging and rewarding. 

My keynote was about Inclusion with the emergence of the Next Billion Users and what that means for equity and justice at a global level in this data-driven age. 

The basis of my talk was as follows:

The mobile phone has been a global game-changer. There are more cellphones than people in China. India is the biggest market for WhatsApp, and Brazil ranks second after the United States as the top Twitter user group worldwide. By 2020, majority of data will come from the Global South. With cheap phones and a vast array of affordable data plans, the next billion users will emerge from outside the West. They are, for the most part, young, low-income but upwardly mobile and extremely enthusiastic users of social media. While this is good news for digital divide policy-makers and practitioners, this talk grapples with how this digital inclusion confronts current concerns on user commodification and tracking in this data-driven society. Is inclusion intrinsically empowering? How do we negotiate the optimism of these new users towards these life changing digital interventions with the growing pessimism of ‘surveillance capitalism’ that signals a dystopic future? Can media literacy, digital activism, and free will serve as a counter force to the bleak visions of ‘algorithmic oppression’? By unpacking some of these questions through the perspective of these next billion users, we may be able to move forward in our joint aspirations for the common good.

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.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Interview with BREAKER magazine on blockchain and equality

Did another interview today for the upcoming book 'The Next Billion Users: Digital life beyond the West' with Harvard University Press. It was with BREAKER, a New York based magazine with a cool mission...

"Why BREAKERMAG? Because the world is already in tumult—and along comes a new wave of technology promising yet more change. Blockchain—which includes crypto-assets, ledgers that track those assets, and many applications—is upending whole industries, sparking radically democratic ideas, and creating a new elite. As this uprising gathers momentum, BREAKER Magazine is here to tell the stories of this space and to argue about where the world is going."

My interview was part of BREAKER’s Social Good Week, a series looking at ways blockchain technology can engineer progress and help humanity. This was a good exercise to sharpen my argument and apply it to blockchain and other so called technological novelties that are marketed as being game changers and major disruptors of our society. If only it was that simple...check the article out and then decide for yourself.


Friday, October 26, 2018

My paper 'Decolonizing Privacy Studies' is out in the TV & New Media Journal

My paper 'Decolonizing Privacy Studies' is out in the Television & New Media Journal ! This is part of Stefania Milan and Emiliano Trere's Special issue, ‘Big Data from the South: Beyond Data Universalism.' I presented this earlier at the Amsterdam Privacy Conference in October 2018 so thrilled its out in time.

Basically, this paper calls for an epistemic disobedience in privacy studies by decolonizing the approach to privacy. As technology companies expand their reach worldwide, the notion of privacy continues to be viewed through an ethnocentric lens. It disproportionately draws from empirical evidence on Western-based, white, and middle-class demographics. We need to break away from the market-driven neoliberal ideology and the Development paradigm long dictating media studies if we are to foster more inclusive privacy policies. This paper offers a set of propositions to de-naturalize and estrange data from demographic generalizations and cultural assumptions, namely, (1) predicting privacy harms through the history of social practice, (2) recalibrating the core-periphery as evolving and moving targets, and (3) de-exoticizing “natives” by situating privacy in ludic digital cultures. In essence, decolonizing privacy studies is as much an act of reimagining people and place as it is of dismantling essentialisms that are regurgitated through scholarship.

This is part of a growing call for decolonizing the university, curriculum, the internet, and many more other critical realms. In other words, let's question the power structures that are normative and dictating our practice and seek to change it together so we can move forward with a more progressive and fairer science.