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Showing posts with the label leisure

The Economist coverage of my Next Billion Users book

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I have been a loyal subscriber of The Economist for more than a decade. I first got introduced to it during my Masters program in International Policy at Harvard University where everyone pretty much cited it to make their argument. I am well aware of their neo-liberal bias but am always appreciative of their strong voice, international perspective, and innovative lens to very different and often hidden trends in the current societies. 
So, of course I was absolutely thrilled to see an article grounded in my new book 'The Next Billion Users" with Harvard Press titled, How the pursuit of leisure drives internet use.
Some of their quotes from the article are as follows. 
"According to Payal Arora, a professor at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the internet is the leisure economy of the world’s poor. Until recently, talk of connectivity in the poor world has almost invariably been clothed in the pragmatic and well-meaning language of development. Aid agencies, internation…

Another review out on my book 'The Leisure Commons: A Spatial History of Web 2.0'

Kevin Driscoll a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research, has written a thoughtful review of my book, The Leisure Commons, A Spatial history of Web 2.0 for the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing

Here are some excerpts from the review:
"Arora’s analysis of social media centers on a comparison with an older spatial technology that was also introduced with a bloom of optimism and collective imagination: the public park. For Arora, social media and the public park are both part of “the leisure commons,” spaces designed primarily for collective, nonutilitarian purposes such as play, relaxation, and socializing."

"One of Arora’s goals in The Leisure Commons is to put the critical study of social media in dialogue with the interdisciplinary body of research on urban parks. Readers will be quickly convinced by Arora’s wide-ranging exploration of park metaphors that the two fields share a number of core theoretical concerns.”

Click herefor the full review

Review of my paperback out: "The Leisure Commons: A Spatial History of Web 2.0"

When we write books, it seems to take forever and yet, once published, it is amazing how quickly it disappears from our horizons as we move to the next project. The academic rat wheel I guess. So it is always a pleasant surprise to encounter a positive review of one's book, reminding one of all the energy and passion that went into the makings of the book.

My recently published book, The Leisure Commons: A Spatial History of Web 2.0  was reviewed for the Journal of Popular Culture by Kiranjeet Dhillon of University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

Here is an excerpt: “Readers will value Arora’s argumentative advances from chapter to chapter. Arora thoroughly explains and articulates The Leisure Commons and appeals to a vast inter-disciplinary audience of media, rhetorical, visual culture, critical/culture studies, history, and geography scholars. In particular, media and rhetorical scholars will find that Arora’s metaphorical framework offers insight in regards to the digital public spher…

Digital Labor talk on the 'Googlization of Workspace' at New School

Fascinating conference with artists, activists, neo-marxists, anarchists and oh yes, academics congregating to pontificate, demonstrate, and debate the relation between labor and leisure, the neoliberal agenda of the so called sharing economies, pleasure and compensation and more. Definitely worth going next year! Here's a short video on my argument on what I coin as the Googlization of Workspace. 

Special Guest Editorial on 'ICTs for Leisure in Development' is out now!

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Nimmi Rangaswamy and I served as Guest editors for the Information Technologies and International Development Journal on the theme of 'ICTs for Leisure in Development.' This is a nice step towards our book  Poor@Play that is expected to come out with Harvard University Press in mid 2016.

So why this Special Issue? Well, contrary to the peripheral connotation of leisure, this Special Issue makes the case of it being central to technology adoption and use in the development context. In this issue, we put together various original research studies that reconceptualize ICT mobilization and serviceability to extend beyond a conservative understanding of developmental value. We strive to drive home the following points, namely:

•Leisure is a critical area of technology infusion that leads to discovery and magnification of digital literacies. Moreover, leisure offers an experimental space to informally diffuse learnings and impart social impacts that bind people and technologies.

•As …

New Podcast out on my book 'The Leisure Commons' by New Books in Technology

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New Book out! The Leisure Commons: A Spatial History of Web 2.0 (Routledge)

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My book, 'The Leisure Commons: A Spatial History of Web 2.0' has just been published by the Routledge Science, Technology & Society Series. 
About the book: There is much excitement about Web 2.0 as an unprecedented, novel, community-building space for experiencing, producing, and consuming leisure, particularly through social network sites. What is needed is a perspective that is invested in neither a utopian or dystopian posture but sees historical continuity to this cyberleisure geography. This book investigates the digital public sphere by drawing parallels to another leisure space that shares its rhetoric of being open, democratic, and free for all: the urban park. It makes the case that the history and politics of public parks as an urban commons provides fresh insight into contemporary debates on corporatization, democratization and privatization of the digital commons. This book takes the reader on a metaphorical journey through multiple forms of public parks such …

New partnership with Microsoft India Researcher bears fruit

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Nimmi Rangaswamy from Microsoft Research Labs India and I have been working on creating momentum in shifting the focus of ICTs for International Development (ICT4D) research towards a broader and less utilitarian perspective. Over the years, it has been interesting to see how Nimmi and I through our independent anthropological fieldwork were coming to a similar conclusion on the need to pay attention to "leisure" behavior of Internet users in emerging markets if we are to genuinely understand the multiple dimensions of new media practice in the global South. For instance, her research with Kentaro Toyama on cyberkiosks revealed the following:

From field ethnography, we find that urban youth slang and speech styles do not lag behind in villages. Neither do communication styles and channels. Instant messaging is immediately embraced by younger kiosk operators. Fan clubs of matinee idols bring in youth fashion and trends along with film music. Most popular films and film music …

IDEAPLAY: New Media, Society & Change

Recently I was invited by the Department of Education at Michigan State University to give a public lecture and some interviews on how people learn to leisure and labor with new technologies in rural India. They did a wonderful job in capturing the interview through their multimedia portal IDEAPLAY, an excellent way to disseminate and share conversations that take place at this department. Below are the links for the interview:
IDEAPLAY: Payal Arora on New Media, Society and Change  PART 1 PART 2 PART 3
PART 4
PART 5
Learning to leisure and labor with new technologies in rural India
There is an intricate relationship between leisure, labor and learning. Much is revealed from eight-months of ethnographic fieldwork on computer-mediated social learning in rural India.  The role of educational institutions against informal learning spaces such as cybercafés in fostering digital engagements is explored. Issues of global knowledge constructions, plagiarism, and collaborative/peer based learning…

New Paper out "Leisure Divide: Can the poor come out to play?" by The Information Development Journal

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My paper on "The Leisure Divide: Can the poor come out to play?" has just got published by the Information Development Journal Here's the Abstract: As billions of dollars are invested in mitigating the digital divide, stakes are raised to gain validity for these cost-intensive endeavors, focusing more on online activities that have clear socio-economic outcomes. Hence, farmers in rural India are watched closely to see how they access crop prices online, while their Orkuting gets sidelined as anecdotal. This paper argues that this is a fundamental problem as it treats users in emerging markets as somehow inherently different from those in the West. After all, it is now commonly accepted that much of what users do online in developed nations is leisure-oriented. This perspective does not crossover as easily into the Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) world, where the utilitarian angle reigns. This paper argues that much insight can be gain…

Paper presentations at the IAMCR Conference 2011 in Istanbul

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I'll also be presenting on the following topics at the IAMCR conference 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey:

1) CULTURES OF CYBERSPACE: A PEDAGOGIC FRAMEWORK

It has taken the past decade to commonly acknowledge that cyberspace is tethered to real place. From euphoric conceptualizations of virtual space as novel, unprecedented and revolutionary an entity, the dust has settled, allowing for talk of boundaries and ties to real world settings. Metaphors have faithfully followed this scholarship; there is a clear mission to architect Net spaces, be it chatrooms, electronic frontiers, homepages, to information highways. This metaphorical approach allows for concretization and comprehension of Net spaces for policy regulation, private sector practice and pedagogic instruction. This paper focuses particularly on the pedagogic angle, providing a rubric of guidance for university professors to address the critical relationship of the real and virtual in new media studies programs. This paper proposes a…

IAMCR Conference 2011 in Istanbul: Theme: Cities, Creativity, Connectivity

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Istanbul, here we come! The International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) will be starting next week from the 12th to 18th of July with papers surrounding the theme of Cities, Creativity, Connectivity.

I'll be Chairing a Program session on the "Second Wave of the Digital Divide" as well as presenting a paper on the following topic:

The leisure divide: Can the Third World come out to play?

In this Web 2.0 era, evidence is mounting on human ingenuity and creativity with and within online spheres. Much has been documented on how users innovate in a myriad of ways, opening possible economic and techno-social opportunities through play. From initially being viewed as “wasteful” and “idle,” cyberleisure is slowly but steadily being recognized as potentially productive, labor intensive and commercially fruitful. In fact, online leisure has stimulated a virtual economy where “dragon sabers,” a cyberweapon of the Legend of Mir III sells on ebay and “Farmvi…

Digital absence: The modern day sabbatical?

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When you speak of sabbaticals, you perhaps picture a professor of art history sitting at a café in Florence, trying to come up with a new spin on Uffizi art. It seems that academia has usurped this practice that has been enveloped in biblical meaning for the longest of time. This hiatus from work has had the weight of Ten Commandments backing it up, allowing the masses to justify their temporal ceasing to labor. Henceforth, the weekend was born. Granted, this is a rather simplistic interpretation. Of course one needs to take into account other phenomena such as the industrialization era where leisure began to be viewed as not necessarily a waste of time but actually that which could enhance productivity. In fact, these strategic interruptions have served as a signal of the modern era where a society sees its inherent virtue. So the question is not on whether or not it is advisable to desist working for some time but rather, how long is it acceptable to leisure before it is viewed as …