Social use of technology

Geetha Narayanan has lived in Bangalore since the 50’s and has witnessed how public funding in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s made Bangalore India’s technology and engineering centre. In those days it was a city of hope. In the 90’ s, with an industry already there, Bangalore became India’s Silicon Valley. However, Narayanan argues, IT is built on a short-term vision and now with the change in the current financial market it has to be seen whether the city of Bangalore can actually sustain itself.

The way people want use technology in India and the way they connect with each other and the things that they actually do with it, are not necessarily the same as the way that people in the West use technology. Texting of course has taken over many people’s lives, but texting does not reach those who are not literate. People who can’t read and write, can’t text. Therefore, Narayanan suggests, voice and the voiceover IP and others will actually have a far greater impact than is expected even today. Also for India it is not about needing lots of technology, but about being able to use the right technology.

In the lived practice in the homes grandmothers have taught to be very careful with materials and this attitude is still reflected in many homes. However today the upper middle class students of Srishti have a different relationship with material. The students are very much in the ‘check’ attitude, and use mostly packaged goods. On the streets of India however, the relationship with material is extremely witty and conscious. Everything is recycled and everything is re-used. In communities the use of technology is mostly creative and communicative. The elite sector which is geared towards going up the social ladder, is focused on personal assets: personal memories, life blogs and pictures. People at the bottom of the pyramid however are looking for sharing, connecting, collaborating, creating ‘oneness to go forward’ as it is said in Karnataka. The use of technology in the bottom segment is critically different from the elite.