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Hello India!

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It has been a dazzling week in Bangalore India. Gijs and I (Loes) arrived at the hotel in Electronics City at 7 in the morning and decided to go again and taste some India straight away by heading to breakfast. That would be the first of 20 amazing Indian meals we’d have that week. The food alone is a great incentive to visit India. However, we were there with a long list of to do’s, places to visit and people to meet.

Our partners at Fields of View

On of the first things on our list was to meet our partners at Fields of View, and incubator/research lab at IIIT-B that focuses on issues that all big metropolitan areas encounter: issues like participatory decisionmaking, education and city planning. All topics that require spaces where individuals and groups can come together and question, debate, discuss, and ideate. Spaces that are open and equal. Space that allow for participation, immersive learning and informed decision making. Fields of View does research using games, simulations and visualisations to find thorough and new understandings of such issues.

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Discussions with Sruthi at Fields of View

We’ve partnered up with FoV to do a project together with Cisco, dealing with women’s safety in public spaces. In this mirrored project, two teams – one in Bangalore and one in Amsterdam – will be researching this city and develop interventions/solutions/socio-cultural probes on the same topic but for a radically different context. Sruthi (left in the picture) is project coach for the Bangalore end of the project and will be guiding two students from Amsterdam (Bauke and Marissa), and two Swedish interns (Mosa and Rufael) for the next 20 weeks. Every month, the teams will exchange methods, strategies, ideas and findings with each other. At the end of the project they will both present a research paper and a working prototype. During the process, the project coaches will work on a whitepaper detailing all the findings regarding challenges and incentives to design ‘across cultures’.

Meeting Jasmeen Patheja

Meeting with Jasmeen Patheja, founder of Blank Noise

Getting the project on track

This week was all about getting the project on track and getting the team initiated. After a few days, Bauke and Marissa arrived from Amsterdam. They were whisked into India-life straight away. They have discussed the project with a sociologist, an activist, social researchers and technologists. From all these very different views, they concluded that the problem and the Indian context are deeply entangled, and very complex and delicate to grasp for a fresh import from the Netherlands. It will be a challenge, but the students are in exquisite hands: Sruthi and her team organised discussions, games, brainstorms straight away, and together we went on a city tour to experience as many sides of the city as possible. We visited the bustling city market, took a bus across town (women on the left, men on the right please!), strolled through commercial street, drank milk from a fresh coconut that was cut before our eyes, gawked at the cows, were in awe of the skillful driving in the insanely chaotic traffic and ended up at a glitzy mall where bauke showed off some moves on the shiny marble floor.

Meeting many people at Shrishti School for Art Design & Technology

Meeting many instersting people at Shrishti School for Art Design & Technology

Strengthening Dutch-Indian ties

A second goal for our visit was to investigate how the MediaLAB can strengthen her ties with Bangalore. This Indian technology hub has a very high concentration of IT and engineering students, which makes it interesting to foster possibilities for exchange and collaboration between universities. To this end we’ve had conversations with a number of people from IIIT-B (the International Institute of Technology), as well as Shrishti (School of Art Design and Technology) and Shrishti Labs  to discuss logistics for exchange, shared research interests and brainstormed  interesting research questions for future projects. We’ve had the pleasure to meet many interesting people with inspiring visions on current issues and the role that medialabs can play.

Bangalore, you’ve been an inspiration and a pleasure. Hope to see you again soon!