Rethinking Digital Cultures and Divides: The Case for Reflective Media

  • Srinivasan R
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Abstract

Research exploring the means by which new media technologies can shape development within marginalized communities worldwide has began to move away from discussion limited to technical and infrastructural, to consider the interactions, beliefs, and values of local communities. Yet most projects continue to focus on enabling communities to access external information, rather than on the possibility of using media to catalyze community reflection and thereby developmental activity from within. This article shows how this promise can be actualized by providing an overview of an experimental project that made available a set of video cameras to a carefully selected group of community members in a ritualized, largely nonliterate village in Andhra Pradesh, India. It concludes that policymakers, researchers, and practitioners would benefit from considering the possibilities that reflective media hold to generate collective action and consensus building, and that these possibilities can synergize with the need to develop scalable projects. Research exploring the means by which new media technologies can shape development within marginalized communities worldwide has began to move away from discussion limited to technical and infrastructural, to consider the interactions, beliefs, and values of local communities. Yet most projects continue to focus on enabling communities to access external information, rather than on the possibility of using media to catalyze community reflection and thereby developmental activity from within. This article shows how this promise can be actualized by providing an overview of an experimental project that made available a set of video cameras to a carefully selected group of community members in a ritualized, largely nonliterate village in Andhra Pradesh, India. It concludes that policymakers, researchers, and practitioners would benefit from considering the possibilities that reflective media hold to generate collective action and consensus building, and that these possibilities can synergize with the need to develop scalable projects.

Author-supplied keywords

  • ICTD
  • appropriation
  • development
  • digital cultures
  • networks
  • new media
  • social media

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Authors

  • Ramesh Srinivasan

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