The potholes are the size of craters on the roads of the Indian city of Bengaluru. So, artist Baadal Nanjundaswamy put actor Poornachandra Mysore into a spacesuit to "moonwalk" on them.
Bengaluru, we have a problem. Read the rest
The JNU Data Depot is a joint project between rogue archivist Carl Malamud (previously), bioinformatician Andrew Lynn, and a research team from New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University: together, they have assembled 73 million journal articles from 1847 to the present day and put them into an airgapped respository that they're offering to noncommercial third parties who want to perform textual analysis on them to "pull out insights without actually reading the text." Read the rest
Factor Daily's Gautham Shenoy (who reviewed the Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction) reviews Magical Women, a new Indian feminist science fiction anthology edited by Sukanya Venkatraghavan. Read the rest
Pepsi has confirmed that it has files lawsuits against four farmers in India who grew a variety of potato that was registered as being for the exclusive production of the company's Lay's potato chips. Read the rest
Millions of tons of e-waste -- much of it from rich countries like Australia -- are recycled in India, in "markets" with terrible, dangerous working conditions and equally awful environmental controls. Read the rest
Facebook loves "zero rating," when an internet provider takes bribes from online services to exempt them from data charges on their networks: Facebook says that having a roster of (Facebook-approved) services that are free-to-use benefits the poorest people in a country (and the fact that this also makes "Facebook" synonymous with "internet" for whole nations is merely incidental). Read the rest
I still have Indian dust on my shoes from the city of Bangalore, where I spent almost a week at the international literary festival.
I was mind-boggled at the scale of this national Indian event: literature, politics, activism, feminism. There was music and even street art, but what a crowd. Sixteen thousand highly literate participants, roaming from one outdoor stage to another, and engaged with every atom of their souls.
Literary culture persists in this part of the world, where people still believe that leafing through books is a transformative spiritual experience that can change the world.
Authors of the first world, beset with Internet and economic crisis, often seem like plastic vanity-toys kept past their sell-by date, but maybe what they lack most keenly is a creative readership. As a passionate reader, I often claim it is more difficult to read a book well than it is to to write one. As a less passionate writer, I know that even one ideal reader is enough to motivate a decent book.
The beautiful literary carnival -- held on the broad, leafy grounds of one of Bangalore’s finest hotels, an oasis of glamor and privilege -- contrasted with the crooked streets of Bangalore where the sacred cows, pariah dogs and torrents of honking traffic live with a passion for survival. This was not my first visit to India, so I was ready for the epic scale of grandeur and abject poverty, but it was still a culture shock.
The jet-set’s digitized skyscrapers tower like phantoms over vast bazaars seething with a seize-the-day human vitality. Read the rest
There is a conspiracy theory that Pepsico's Kurkure corn puffs -- developed and sold in India -- contain plastic; there's a much wider discussion in which people are making fun of this dumb theory (while simultaneously pointing out that Kurkure might as well be made of plastic, given their nutritional value and flavor). Read the rest
A new report from the Institute For the Future on "state-sponsored trolling" documents the rise and rise of government-backed troll armies who terrorize journalists and opposition figures with seemingly endless waves of individuals who bombard their targets with vile vitriol, from racial slurs to rape threats. Read the rest
The "next billion" are the holy grail of tech and mobile companies -- the next billion users to come online, from the poor world, whose preferences and norms regarding technology have yet to be formed. Read the rest