IRC17, Bengaluru, March 03-05, 2017


19. #DigitalIdentities
The Translation of Digital Identities into, from, and between Kannada, Tamil, Hindi and English

Last updated on Oct 31, 2016.


Description of the Session

The key focus of the session is to share findings from our research on user interpretations of digital identities. From Aadhaar to Facebook, we see digital identities as a critical topic. There are numerous discussions around Aadhaar, but very few from the end user perspective – the young college-goer or the anganwadi worker, for example. How are interpretations of digital identities constructed in different Indic languages; how do they morph between these languages and how are they interpreted both by the interviewer working in this area, and by the interviewee sharing their thoughts and behaviours on digital identity? Are there differences between languages, and if so what are they? “Digital identity” is often a cohesive term, subsumed in debates on privacy, data mining and/or surveillance but identity is diverse, fragmented and performed, even more so linguistically.

We believe the session will therefore address all three provocations.

  • How does the becoming-digital of the research objects challenge our current research practices, concerns, and assumptions?

    Our research addresses this because we will be asking questions of research “objects” around digital identity – the definition of this will be phrased and interpreted by themselves (as well as interpreters, coders and researchers) so will address practices, concerns and assumptions.

  • How do we appreciate, study, and theorise the functioning of and meaning-making by digital objects in Indic languages?

    The meaning-making of digital identity is hard enough in English. A core aspect of this research will be how is has been interpreted in the languages of the “research objects” (and again, through our interpretation also).

  • What research tools and infrastructures are needed to study, document, annotate, analyse, archive, cite, and work with (in general) digital objects, especially those in Indic languages?

    While we will conduct interviews and transcribe them, we also aim to take still photographs and short video. It will be interesting in these interactions to analyse portrayals and performances of digital identities. We will also discuss from a practical, research prospective, what it is like to work with data in multiple languages.

Session Plan

At present we are envisaging two potential formats – one is a roundtable/discussion with some of our interviewees and key informants interviewed on user perceptions of digital identity, with a linguistic focus.

The second, which would be less interactive, would be paper presentations but we have no written outputs yet as research is just beginning. We are scheduled to have initial findings by mid-February.

Documentation Plan

We will use a shared etherpad. We can discuss the post-conference essay/documentation but we suggest posting documentation on the IIITB and Caribou Digital websites (to be decided), in agreed languages.

Paper Abstracts

Not applicable.

Details of the Team

This session will be convened by IIITB and Caribou Digital.

Dr. Janaki Srinivasan is an Assistant Professor at IIITB. More details here

Dr. Savita Bailur is Research Director at Caribou Digital. More details here and here

Emrys Schoemaker is Research Director and Strategist at Caribou Digital. More details here and here

Dr. Jonathan Donner is Senior Director, Caribou Digital. More details here

Dr. Sarita Seshagiri is a Research Fellow at IIITB. More details here