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However, it is not as if technologies are not mutating to adapt to this. Mobile and telephonic systems become very popular in developing nations with high semi-literate populations.4 Similarly, it may not be an under statement to see a digital camera to be more exciting than a word-processing system in these societies. Our ethnography has more that reiterated that a dominant section of population, especially in rural contexts gravitate to an image-based IT intervention.

We have illustrated cases were, despite an infrastructural crunch, kiosks survive due to good entrepreneurial skills. We have also stressed the importance of arguments in favour of teasing out consumption patterns that are part of time tested economic exchanges where ICT can intervene and create markets. In this, village contexts, resources and proximities to urbanity play a role.

The results of our ongoing studies around Pabal urge us to broaden the development discourse around ICT in rural areas. This includes a reviewing of local information needs and a step forward towards meeting non-instrumental and entertainment requirements, as well as those which support the tapestry of daily social life within the villages. Applications which support visual communication, like digital photography, are particularly well-suited to this broader conceptualization of local demand. In Pabal, we have seen evidence of significant social entrepreneurship and demand for image/visual based kiosk services in composite and resource stressed communication ecologies.


[1] A. Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural dimensions of Globalization, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1996, pp.3-20.

[2] R. D. Colle and R. Roman, “Challenges in the Telecentre Movement" in Journal of Development Communication Special issue on Telecentres Vol 2/2 2001, Available:http://ip.cals.cornell.edu/commdev/documents/ictpaper-texas.doc

[3] A.G. Dagron, “Prometheus riding a Cadillac? Telecentres as the promised flame of knowledge”, in Journal of Development Communication Special issue on Telecentres Vol 2 No 2, R. D. Colle and R. Roman Ed., Cornell, 2001.


[4] V. Dhawan, Critical Success Factors for Rural ICT Projects in India: A study of n-Logue projects at Pabal and Baramati. Masters Thesis, Mehta School of Management, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, 2004.

[5] U. Eco, Faith in Fakes - Travels in Hyperreality, London, U.K: Minerva, 1986.

4 A small historical detour will familiarize us to family photographs becoming a rage in the late 19th century after the Daguerre type was introduced (Eco 1986). The digital image has a similar potential for becoming a commercially sustainable venture – if it hasn’t already! And just as the 19th century photograph became the impulse for other kinds of archiving of family histories, including textual recording, there is no reason to believe that the same will not be applicable in a contemporary context.  

[6] A. M Haseloff, “Cybercafés and their Potential as Community Development Tools in India”, The Journal of Community Informatics, Vol.1 no. 3 pp.53-64, 2005

[7] R. Kumar, “E-Choupals: A Study on the Financial Sustainability of Village Internet Centers in Rural Madhya Pradesh”, Information Technologies and International Development, Vol. 1 issue 1, pp.45-73, Spring. 2004

[8] R. Kumar, Social Governance, and Economic Impact Assessment of Information and Communication Technology Interventions in Rural India. Masters Thesis, Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, June 2004

[9] K. Keniston and D. Kumar, Ed. Bridging the Digital Divide: Experience in India, London, Sage Publications, 2004.

[10] S. Liff and F. Steward, Community e-Gateways: Locating networks and learning for Social Inclusion, Information, Communication and Society, Vol 4 No 3, pp.317-340, October 2001

[11] P. Manual, Cassette Culture: Popular Music and Technology in North India, Chicago University Press, 1993.

[12] L. B Michael and M.Colin, “Community Internet Access in Rural Areas: Solving the Economic Sustainability Puzzle”, Sustainable Access in Rural India, SARI- TRR-2002


[13] T. Perkins, "Entrepreneurial Fiends and Honest Farmers": Explaining Intravillage Inequality in a Rural Chinese Township, Economic Development and Cultural Change, Vol. 51 no. 3, pp.719-752, April 2003

[14] N. Rangaswamy and K. Toyama, “Sociology of ICT: The Myth of the Hibernating Village”, Presented at, 11th Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, Las Vegas, NA, July 22-27, 2005

[15] R. Srivastava, “The Fantasy of Heritage”, Art India, Vol. 10, issue 2/2, 2005

[16] Technology for Emerging Markets, Longitudinal study of Internet Kiosks, On-going study, Microsoft Research India, 2005

[17] K. Toyama , K. Kiri, M. Lakshmi Ratan, A. Nileshwar, R. Vedashree, R. Fernandez MacGregor, Rural kiosks in India, Microsoft Research Technical Report, MSR-TR-2004-146, July 2004.  

[18] World Summit on the Information Society, Final report of the Geneva Phase of Summit, WSIS-03/GENEVA/DOC/0009 (rev. 1) Geneva, 10-12 December, 2003

Available: http://www.itu.int/wsis/documents/doc_multi-en-1191|0.asp

Dr Nimmi Rangaswamy holds a PhD in Social Anthropology, 1999, from the University of Mumbai, India.

She has taught in colleges at New Delhi and Mumbai, 1988-19993 . She held a National University Grants scholarship in India while doing her PhD, 1993-1997. She was part of the editorial team, The Economic and Political Weekly, Mumbai, 2000-2001.

Some of her recent papers include

Rangaswamy, N. and K. Toyama. (2005) Sociology of ICTs: the Myth of the Hybernating Village. HCI International 2005 (Las Vegas), July 2005.

Rangaswamy, N. (2004) Disruptive IT in South India. Sarai Reader 03: Shaping Technologies, March 2003.

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