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The ‘Short Message Service’ Authors: Authoring Social Media in India

Nimmi Rangaswamy


We aim to unwrap emerging mobile social networking patterns in India through a case study of SMSGupShup, [GupShup means gossip in Hindi] the largest social media networking site with 40 million Indian subscribers. While GupShup is touted as a micro-blogging site, a set of user behaviours seem unique and unparalleled. The purpose of this talk is to consolidate disparate patterns of usages around authoring and content management. It highlights the various modes of authoring practices to publish and manage a network profile on GupShup. While GupShup allows people to originate and nurture groups by creating and sharing content, publishing as an author-driven practice is often a case of borrowing content from indeterminate sources. Authoring in the form of posts, updates, replies or messages adopt a set of practices that borrow content from secondary sources, usually with no attribution or crediting originations. These can range from breaking national/local news, sports highlights, to haiku-style pop and folk poetry, none of which authored by the publisher but borrowed from secondary, sometimes even untraceable sources. A group owner on GupShup can post all his messages without citing its origination and no incumbency to site a source. Neither do posts emanate from the account holder’s personal ruminations, reflections, status updates, commentaries or reviews. What then are these publishers posting and for who? We foreground on the culture of authoring practices and dwell upon issues related to what makes for authorship and content management on the SMSGupShup platform.


Publication typeInproceedings
PublisherType the publisher's Digital media and learning conference, Long Beach, March 3-5, 2011name
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