Technology is a social tool that requires understanding of social and cultural factors for it to be a driver of equality. Failing to incorporate an anthropological perspective into tech design, development and policy risks increasing social inequalities driven by digital exclusion. It also makes it more likely that your product or service will fail. Digital connectivity and data mediate culture, systems and life today. Failing to take into account the importance of “small data” in a world of big data risks boxing people into categories of belonging which inaccurately represent their lives, hopes, fears and desires in this world.
Although I’ve often been heard to sigh and groan that “technology hates me”, just like any other self-respecting anthropologist, in this post I want to consider just what we might be missing out on if we choose to totally avoid extending our minds into cyber-infinity and beyond.
In this wide-ranging conversation, Dr. Assa Doron talks about India’s waste, both liquid and solid, and the physical and institutional infrastructures that handle it--or fail to, plus the transformative effects of cheap mobile phones on India’s poor, how trash turns back into treasure, how to write anthropology that’s both “appealing and authoritative,” and where to find schnitzel on the Subcontinent.