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Local knowledge: the design and innovation of tomorrow’s services (DoorsEast 1, Ahmedabad, India, 2000)

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The purpose of DoorsEast 1, a memorable week in Ahmedabad, was to accelerate the exchange of people, knowledge and experiences among Indian and European designers and internet entrepreneurs. We wanted to know: what can western interaction designers learn from Indian design and internet culture? and, what are the prospects for future joint work between the two communities?

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Within a single week we discussed scenarios for using all manner of internet tools in different Indian contexts: producer and consumer cooperatives; smart distribution systems; horizontal markets; vertical nets ; enhanced information flows; auctions; reccer systems; desert-based WAP applications; cows with unique IP addresses. Name any internet fad: someone in Gujarat discussed it during our visits.

These were not sentimental or fanciful discussions: questions of access, and cost, cropped up repeatedly – but most of our Indian hosts believed technical solutions were feasible. Barriers were likely to be institutional, not technical. they said. And the best way to break down institutional barriers, we all agreed, was by showing policy makers working prototypes or persuasive simulations of the services we had in mind.

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Our week in Ahmedabad lit a flame: it led to the Doors of Perception events we have done in India since….

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