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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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