World-Information City Bangalore
"The globalized IT industry in India is an international island of privilege in a sea of local despair", said Indian writer and critic Arundathi Roy at the World-Information City conference, the concluding session of a one-week programme of events that took place at Bangalore 14 - 20 November, 2005. Speaking a short distance away from Bangalore's IT corridors, Roy stressed the parallels between the technologies of the colonial period, roads and railways, and the contemporary expansion of IT into the rural areas. Corporatization of agriculture, public subsidies for the IT industry, slum clearance and biopiracy combine into a scenario of extreme violence: "Since 1994 something like 26,000 farmers have committed suicide. And in cities such as Mumbai and Delhi, 400,000 people will simply be evicted over night".
Surveillance expert David Lyon views Bangalore call centers as the sites of "social sorting", the automatized hierarchisation of social standing according to criteria of profit generation, as in database marketing. Clouded by a rhetoric of service and privacy, political accountability is being eroded by invisible streams of data.
However, as Bangalore-based feminist and historian Lata Mani pointed out, "The logic of capitalist globalisation is not the only logic at play. The sheer magnitude of the cultural and class difference between the smash and grab globalisers, and their culturally Other neighbours who vastly outnumber them make the former dependent on the hospitality of the latter" - a statement that finds an empirical grounding in Solly Benjamin's work on urban land conflicts, also presented at the conference.
With unheard of stories from the grey area between the global and local economies, young researchers from Sarai Media Lab analyzed the cultural fissures of IP legislation, the language politics of Multiplex cinemas, and tactics of underground cable networks.
Examples of the latter were presented in villages of Karnataka and in Bangalore, where Shaina Anand's "World-Info TV" went into operation in one neighbourhood of the city, meeting with great interest of the local population and of commercial cable operators.
Many of the artworks that formed part of the World-Information City Exhibition addressed cultural and identity conflicts surrounding the rise of the information economy, be it in the form of installations, objects, performances, or films accessible to the public at different points of bustling Bangalore
In the city's streets, the World-Information City campaign caught passers-by by surprise through its infiltration of the city's ad-dominated visual infosphere with billboards, posters, stickers, and even flower arrangements, questioning the politics of IP in places usually dominated by unquestioned commercial imperatives.
With this mix of locations, media and technologies, World-Information City was able to catch the attention of a vast audience even outside of the closed spaces of the conference and the various exhibitions, workshops and performances. Featuring well over a hundred speakers and artists, dozens of collaborating organizations, institutions and individuals, World-Information City was the largest of all World-Information.Org presentations. "It lead to a great expansion of networks and to many new insights, opening new paths of enquiry and pointing the way for future projects", said World-Information.Org director Konrad Becker.
A documentary video of World-Information information city will be made available on the internet and be announced in a separate communication.
INFOPAPER ON IP AND THE CITY RELEASED
In connection with the programme at Bangalore, World-Information.Org released an info-paper on intellectual property and the city. The paper, produced with the financial assistance of UNESCO, brings together concise and to-the-point contributions on the politics of intellectual property and urban change. Authors include Joseph Stiglitz, Saskia Sassen, Mike Davis, Peter Drahos, James Love, Lawrence Liang, Solly Benjmain, and other scholars and activists. The paper was specifically produced for distribution at the WSIS in Tunis, as well as for World-Information City Bangalore. It is available as pdf-download at the site stated further below. Requests for hard copies should be directed to email@example.com.
World-Information City Bangalore
Infopaper IP City Edition Download