Informality and Invisibility: Traditional Technologies as Tools for Collaboration in an Informal Market


This paper explores how actors in local markets in the Global South adapt traditional communication technologies to successfully collaborate to sustain the markets and their business practices. Drawing on ethnographic observations at a local technology goods market in Bangalore, India, the study details the use of a landline telephone intercom system as the primary tool for business communication in the market. Through analyzing how the intercom system relates to informality and physical space, the paper argues that it bridges the formal with the informal, and helps facilitate informal business practices while also allowing them to remain hidden from the formal regulatory gaze of the state.

Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems