About-photoThis book is an ethnography of social computing in the Central Himalayas, India. It investigates alternative social practices with new technologies and media amongst a population that is for the most part undocumented. This is significant as billions of dollars are being spent nationally and globally on providing computing access to such digitally disadvantaged groups and cultures with an expectation that computers and the Internet can lead to higher socio-economic mobility. After eight months of ethnographic research, it is revealed that contrary to popular perceptions, much of the computing is arguably non-utilitarian in an economic sense; instead, it is more centered on social and entertainment purposes. Further, the encountering of high-profile national technology initiatives at the ground level has lent an important policy and practice perspective to this work. In doing so, it offers fresh and critical perspectives on issues of contemporary debate: free learning with computers, relevant and global information, the range and role of actors as intermediaries of digital information, impact of direct versus indirect access on social computing, gender and technology and transnational consumption and production of knowledge. This work is timely as it investigates high profile, cost intensive ICT global projects that have policy and practical significance to IT companies, emerging markets and transnational agencies. The targeting of a relatively remote and novel user base lends a unique perspective to the core fields of International Development, Communication and New Media where there is a dearth of studies in such contexts. Particularly, ethnographies of new media are for the most part lacking for courses in the fast growing field of Anthropology of New Media and International Communication and Development.


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