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A case study of internet cafés

A case study of internet cafés -...

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Rangaswamy ICT for development and commerce: A case study of internet cafés in India Proceedings of the 9 th International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries, São Paulo, Brazil, May 2007 ICT for development and commerce: A case study of internet cafés in India [Research in progress paper] Nimmi Rangaswamy ([email protected])* Microsoft Research labs, India B-104 White House Lake Side IIT Bombay Powai Mumbai 400076 Abstract The paper, drawn from on-going studies of internet cafés in India, reports interesting localization of information and communication technology (ICT) offerings in shared public spaces. These are in some disjuncture with the ideology of digital inclusion striving to integrate hitherto excluded and ‘information poor’ communities. We find context specific and commercial localization of ICT services contributing to their immersion in underserved contexts, introducing technology as significant part of everyday commerce. If ‘non- developmental spaces’ using ICT are more open to entrepreneurial activities, multiple players, especially the government, could creatively engage with them to promote ICT interventions in everyday civilian life. We indicate some curious and interesting examples strictly belonging to the commercial realm nevertheless bearing the potential for expansion of ICT services. Keywords: ICT, Internet/cyber café, ICT for development, Localization, * The author would like to thank, Dr Kentaro Toyama, Microsoft Research Lab India Private Limited, Rahul Srivastava, The Research Forum, Goa, for valuable comments, Amit Vasudeo for field ethnography and data collection. This material is based upon work supported by Microsoft Research Lab India Private Limited, "Scientia", 196/36, 2 nd Main Sadashivnagar, Bangalore -560 080 India
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Rangaswamy ICT for development and commerce: A case study of internet cafés in India Proceedings of the 9 th International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries, São Paulo, Brazil, May 2007 ICT for development and commerce: A case study of internet cafés in India [Research in progress paper] 1. INTRODUCTION The paper, culled out of research in progress, looks at a particular configuration of ICT’s to provide critical accounts of developmental initiatives in India. We report from an ongoing ethnographic study of urban and peri-urban internet cafés and rural PC kiosks. We have covered, thus far, 12 villages in rural Western India hosting a PC kiosk and ten cafés distributed amongst the suburban Mumbai metropolis, the city of Surat and Alibag town, all in western India. Our initial findings are pointing towards interesting localization of ICT offerings in these public spaces and are, probably, in some disjuncture with the ideology of digital inclusion integrating hitherto excluded and ‘information poor’ communities.
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