Monday, May 10

The Technology : Use & Applications

Technology evangelist Sam Pitroda tells in an interview:
* Technology in India is urbane, elitist, exotic, intimidating and sexy

* What is needed is that it should reach the rural masses

* There are two reasons we need telecommunications and IT. They not only can only help Indians create wealth, they can also create wealth of their own. Unless we have both, we have no future as a nation

* High technology can put unequal human beings on an equal footing. But this whole information revolution has not been clearly understood by people in India. They think they are somehow not going to be affected by it.

On the other hand, Genevieve Bell, an anthropologist employed by Intel Research, has visited 100 households in 19 cities in seven countries overr the two years, in Asia and the Pacific to study how people use technology
Some of what she learned in the field will be folded into Intel's design process, passed on to industrial designers and engineers and perhaps eventually embodied in a device. But many of Bell's findings also raise deep questions about the meaning of technology in an interconnected world.

Her fieldwork project began four years ago with the insight that Intel might have a misconception about the potential users of its products elsewhere in the world.

"We thought, there's a group of people just like us all over the world who will buy the technology and have it fill the same values in their lives," Bell said. "I was fairly certain that wasn't going to be the case. I'm an anthropologist. Culture matters."

Bell, 37, who received her doctorate in anthropology from Stanford University with a dissertation on American Indian boarding schools, joined Intel in 1998. She is working on a book for MIT Press about her Asian research.

Bell's project sent her to seven countries: India, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea and Australia. She found that in some places, "It's harder for some forms of technology to get over the threshold of the home" -- not simply for economic reasons but for religious ones as well. For example, she said, values of humility and simplicity may make technology less welcome in some Hindu homes in India or some Muslim homes in Malaysia and Indonesia.
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