The Mobile Media Actor-Network in Urban India

Nimmi Rangaswamy and Neha Kumar


Building on a growing body of human-computer interaction

(HCI) literature on information and communication

technology (ICT) use in the developing world, this paper

describes the vast, growing mobile media consumption

culture in India, which relies on the ubiquity of informal

socioeconomic practices for reproducing, sharing, and

distributing pirated digital media. Using an Actor-Network

Theory (ANT) based approach, we show how piracy not

only fuels media consumption, but also drives further

technology adoption and promotes digital literacy. To do

this, we first uncover the role of piracy as a legitimate actor

that brings ICT capability to underserved communities and

reveal the heterogeneous character of the pirated mobile

media distribution and consumption infrastructure in India.

We then emphasize the benefits of an ANT-based theorydriven

analysis to HCI’s efforts in this arena. In particular,

ANT enables us to one, draw attention to the ties in the

pirate media network that facilitate the increased

decentralization of piracy in India; two, highlight the

progressive transition from the outsourcing to the selfsourcing

of users’ media needs as this network evolves; and

three, recognize the agency of human and non-human

entities in this inherently sociotechnical ecosystem.


Publication typeInproceedings
PublisherACM Sig CHI 2013
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