Dots and connections – Internet explained through rangoli

by Nayantara Ranganathan

Remember we had begun to use rangoli as a way to explain networking concepts? We have turned that exercise into a video now! Well, some parts of it — watch it here.

With the support of Greenhost and the Totem Project, we made an explainer video that goes into what internet’ means, how information travels on the internet and more!

Narratives around information and communication technologies would have us believe that technology looks a certain way (high-end and hard to understand), experts look a certain way (suited men and in important meetings all day), and that together, high-tech and experts will change our lives — always for the better.

But the rest of us are not only users of technology, but often also creators and dabblers in our own right. Indeed, this has been the premise of hacker and maker cultures. That creative reinterpretation and tinkering of objects and ideas is something that many people do on the regular. Of course, it’s another thing that these subcultures in turn have been criticised for being homogeneous and often misogynistic.

With this video, we explore how we can speak about technology in a way that is not alienating, but that is instead encouraging experimentation and participation? In the process, we want to center women as carriers of knowledge, and important nodes in many networks.

What’s rangoli?
In this video, we have tried to do that using rangoli, a form of art that is practiced across many parts of India and South Asia, where designs are drawn outside houses — mostly first thing every morning. This is always a woman’s job — a part of women’s domestic duties of keeping the house welcoming and decorated.

Designs are passed on either by practice, or by notebooks kept by women. In the last decade or so, compilations of designs are being published as well. However, it is common to also improvise and come up with new ones. Given that this is a form that many women feel very comfortable around, it is a useful way in which networking logics can be explained.