New Media Characteristics and Internet Adoption
Access to the Internet presented the old-timers with new challenges, both when the village was still standing and even so more after it had been razed. The first challenge of access was overcome with the introduction of mobility. Internet service was available in the village prior to its demolition through 3G cellular modems. It was crucial for the villagers to provide access to their children, so they would not feel inferior to their friends they went to school with in nearby Rahat. However, some of the villagers were initially reluctant to go online. The mental transition they made demonstrates the role contemporary media play in their lives as a result of the features that differentiate them from traditional media. One illiterate interviewee described the qualities of the Internet first and foremost in terms of its abundant content and storage capabilities, which made it a tool for developing memory: “It’s like a book that you lay on the shelf and open when you want to see what you did ten and twenty years ago.” He then described its interactive quality, as a means for time shifting: “It is better than TV or radio because you don’t have to wonder when the news will be on; when it comes on, you watch it,” and also, as a device that closes distances: “You see America, you see England.” Another illiterate resident of the village considered the Internet an occasional source of news; he would ask friends who had a laptop computer to let him know about important events when they were written about online. Indeed, from his perspective the role of information and channels and their abundance, as well as that of multimediality, was crucial. Yet, contemporary media contributed not only to information richness but also to a communicative presence. As one interviewee explained, his adoption of new media technologies was motivated by the fact that they allowed him “to communicate with people,” though he was hesitant to use them at first.