Enrolling in BCM320 ‘Digital Asia’ I did not think I had any preconceived ideas of what the subject would entail. My background (currently in the final year of an IT degree) didn’t really afford me any insight into the innerworkings of a BCM subject either. However, upon scrolling through the Moodle site on week 1 I discovered an innate bias, realising that I had made a de-facto assumption thinking that within the scope of this subject “Digital Asia” was really going to be shorthand for “Digital China”. From that somewhat dim starting point, the move away from typifying Asia as a collective same in the realm of digitalisation was a marked shift. As I had never really considered Asia’s digital scape under any form of scrutiny, be it personally or within a uni subject.
In the first week, I found myself incredibly responsive to the screening of Hao Wu’s The People’s Republic of Desire (2019). The cultural paradigms being challenged and the social dynamics at play felt far more personal than I had previously expected. I suppose I had figured that this subject would leave me feeling in a somewhat removed position from such content. But in considering the film I could see many similarities to my own life here in Australia and our US dominated Internet and media scape. Outside of this initial reaction, through the screenings of India in a Day, Alpha Go and Under the Dome the overarching themes that I found myself considering and reconsidering is as Athique observed, the infrastructural turn in Asia, the push towards ‘virtual’ business models and the subsequent socio-cultural effects of such rapid digital acceleration. Athique notes in reference to digitalisation and the level of infrastructure developed that regional differentiation in autonomy and capacity can be clearly seen.
Nowhere has this been more apparent to me than within the film India in a Day (2016). Directed by Richie Mehta, produced by Ridley Scott and funded by Google. The film consisting of over 16,000 videos shot by the public weaved a tapestry that depicts everyday life across India. Upon viewing, it became increasingly evident of the regional differentiation within India (never mind the rest of Asia). That of the technological development in the metropolitan areas and the lack of infrastructure present in rural India. The social, political, and economic divides on display in the film are in turn, typified by the digital divides presented. Beyond the screening I found that the continued push to increase digitalisation by the state has been bolstered by the effects of the pandemic which has seen greater numbers of businesses moving to digital platforms (Sharma & Sengupta, 2020). However, this shift has also exacerbated rising tensions surrounding technological in-equalities (Jain, 2021).
Going forward in the subject, I think I’d like to delve into the social ramifications of such rapid and inconsistent technological development across class and geographic location in greater detail.
Jain, M., 2021. Why India’s digital divide is hampering vaccine access. [online] Devex.com. Available at: <https://www.devex.com/news/why-india-s-digital-divide-is-hampering-vaccine-access-99943> [Accessed 27 August 2021].
Sharma, A. and Sengupta, H., 2021. COVID-19 has accelerated India’s digital reset. [online] World Economic Forum. Available at: <https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/08/covid-19-has-accelerated-india-s-digital-reset/> [Accessed 27 August 2021].