Questions 1 - 5
Sarai’s areas of interests include media research and theory, the urban experience in South Asia: history, environment, culture, architecture and politics, new and established media practices, media history, cinema, contemporary art, digital culture, the history and politics of technology, visual/technological cultures, free and open source software, social usage of software, the politics of information and communication, online communities and web-based practices.
Sarai has a regular programme of screenings, discussion, talks & workshops. People from Sarai also speak and present at other venues in Delhi, and elsewhere. Generally, anyone can come to Sarai events. Occasionally, workshops with specific themes may be by invitation. Admission to Sarai events, including film screenings and talks (except for ‘Masterclasses’ and ‘Summer Schools’) are free. A modest non-profit fee may be charged for participation in Masterclasses and Summer Schools; this covers the cost of course materials and food.
The monthly calendar on the Sarai website gives detailed listings of all events at Sarai. Our monthly newsletter is emailed to subscribers, can be accessed online, and can be sent by post to those who prefer to receive it on paper. To subscribe, write to email@example.com
New media represents a convergence of two separate histories: media technologies and digital computing. Since digital media in reality is most often used in conjunction with computers, the two ideas became conflated.
Historically, people first developed technologies that automated media construction: a photo camera, a film camera, tape recorder, video recorder, etc. These technologies allowed the accumulation, over the last 150 years, of an unprecedented amount of media materials: photo, film and audio archives. These innovations in turn led to new demands - the need for technologies to store, organise and efficiently access these media. The computer made possible processes of digital archiving, hyperlinking, electronic filing/indexing systems, and software for content-based search and retrieval.
A new media object (such as a website) is not something fixed permanently. It can exist in different (potentially infinite) versions. ‘Old media’ involved a human creator who manually assembled visual, textual or audio elements (or a combination of these) in a particular sequence. This sequence was stored in a determined order. Numerous identical copies could be run off from the master. New media is characterised by variability. Stored digitally, media elements maintain their separate identity and can be assembled into numerous sequences; they can be recreated and customised.
At Sarai, we are interested in ‘new media’ because we see digital and electronic media as becoming a vital part of the transformation of our urban landscapes, and also because they straddle issues of culture, economy, intellectual property. labour, democracy, political control, information management, surveillance, freedom of expression and censorship - all of which characterize the nature of our contemporary realities. At Sarai we also see the phrase ‘new media’ to mean ‘new ways of working with media forms’ - this involves strategies of combining established and recent media forms in new ways, or simply evolving experimental methodologies of public communication. This means that we remain invested in print, film, analog, textual and oral cultures just as much as we are interested in the digital media, computers, software and the internet.
The expression 'Public Domain' refers to cultural material and knowledge resources that are freely available, or are commonly shared without any access restrictions. The ‘public domain’ can be seen as a free and open public space in a knowledge/culture based environment. Specifically, In the context of Intellectual Property this term refers to knowledge that is beyond the realm of protection of IP rights.
At Sarai we see this space as being one that is neither dominated by commercial interests, nor monopolised by the state. Apart from publicly accessible information, active public participation is a distinctive characteristic of the public domain. The public in part determines the design and content of this new public space. The public domain is owned by everyone and no one. It involves the use of existing public media channels, as well as the use of new forms of media practice that aim at an active involvement of ordinary citizens in the new information/communication environments. Interactive media such as the internet are characterised by the fact that they are participatory media and not merely oriented towards passive media consumption. In a participatory medium the user also becomes a provider of content, individually or in cooperation with others.
The Sarai Reader 01: The Public Domain describes this entity as "real and imagined territory that comes into being whenever people gather and begin to communicate, using whatever means that they have at hand". Our commitment to the public domain includes regular publications that are freely downloadable, the presentation of research at frequent workshops, conferences and seminars, and a concerted effort to render knowledge resources and cultural practice in a manner that makes it accessible to a variety of publics.
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