‘Mental Kartha Hai’ or ‘Its Blowing my Mind’: Evolution of the Mobile Internet in an Indian Slum
This paper is an ethnographic exploration of on-line practices of teens in a slum in Hyderabad, India to develop concepts for building a novel user model in a unique socio- technical ecology. With little to spare upon ‘always on’ Internet enabled devices, they lead digital lives accessed on mobile phone piece meal and apportioned among peers in everyday communicative behaviours. The mobile internet has allowed the leapfrogging digital technologies, as they participate in and re-characterize the genre of virtual life: a leap discontinuous and disruptive, revolutionizing the media ecology of these teenagers. Indeed, for many of them the mobile phone is the inaugural personal gateway to a world of multi-media communications, entertainment and sociality. The paper examines contexts of youth-technology practices to identify and represent habituations of the mobile internet. These are anchored in the following contemplations: 1. the imagining of an ‘on demand internet’ rather than ‘always on’ internet 2. the forging of ‘persisting internet’ rather than ‘perpetual internet’. Our story is also about alternate infrastructures modifying constraining ecologies to endowing ecologies.