Archive for the ‘virtual life’ Category

Digital Popular Culture

March 2, 2008

Tasveer Ghar is an amazing initiative that seeks to digitize Indian popular art (thanks for the link Ambu). Going through the online galleries, especially the ones about the commodification of gender and sexuality, I am struck by how much easier it is for someone like me, interested in the constructions of gender and sexuality, to have access to such digital archives. I think I am going to send them my own treasures that a friend had sent me a while ago.



“Daily Me” and Democracy

October 22, 2007

According to Cass Sunstein, my media consumption habits, such as my personalization of a google page into a collection of news and information sources (including, *gasp* blogs) would slot me into what he terms a “daily me.” Thanks to “filtering” options, which allow me to read, see, and hear what I want and not what I *should* in order to be a well-informed citizen, I am now one among millions who do not care about many issues and ideas that matter. Sunstein writes in the first chapter of his new book, 2.0:

People who consider themselves left-of-center make very different selections from those made by people who consider themselves right-of-center. Most whites avoid news and entertainment options designed for African Americans. Many African Americans focus largely on options specifically designed for them. So too with Hispanics. With the reduced importance of the general-interest magazine and newspaper and the flowering of individual programming design, different groups make fundamentally different choices.

The market for news, entertainment, and information has finally been perfected. Consumers are able to see exactly what they want. When the power to filter is unlimited, people can decide, in advance and with perfect accuracy, what they will and will not encounter. They can design something very much like a communications universe of their own choosing. And if they have trouble designing it, it can be designed for them, again with perfect accuracy.

Not only does Sunstein assume that I live in an “echo chamber” and engage only with ideas and people I pick and choose, he argues that I could not have been a “daily me” in the “old media” world, that I would have been “exposed to materials that [I] would not have chosen in advance.” And now that I’ve begun blogging, there is no hope. Like other bloggers, I only read/see/hear that which I can blog about. I am utterly uninformed and need to be sent away to an information camp where well-intentioned men will teach me how to participate effectively in a democracy.

Review in The Guardian here. Henry Jenkins’ take on here.

Khosla ka Ghosla in Second Life?

September 24, 2007

So far, I haven’t been *that* interested in Second Life. I’ve followed some discussions surrounding Second Life but I’ve never bothered checking it out for myself. But this morning, I read a story which said New Delhi is India’s First City on Second Life. Given how little I know about Second Life, I assumed this meant a group of people had created a New Delhi-like environment within Second Life. But no, that’s not it. All it means is, of the 12,000 or so active users of Second Life in India, 9000 are from Delhi (article here).

Here’s the interesting part though –

About 90 per cent of the accounts registered from Delhi are engaged in some serious financial investments…One of the more common ways of investing in Second Life is to buy virtual real estate. Then, like in the real world, the user can wait for property prices to escalate, before selling at a profit. The entire transaction is carried out in Linden Dollars, which can be converted into real world currencies on the exchange.

When I read this, I immediately thought about Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006), the brilliant film about land politics in contemporary urban India. I couldn’t help thinking about Khurana, the land-shark in the film, and if the Delhi-ites buying and selling real estate on Second Life are anything like Khurana. Perhaps there are folks like Khosla, the hard-working middle-class man who has to deal with the likes of Khurana and struggle to own a piece of land on the outskirts of Delhi. Is it possible for a drama like Khosla Ka Ghosla to unfold within Second Life?