September 18, 2003
When You Think About How Alexander Graham Bell Designed the Telephone To Talk to Ghosts It All Kind of Makes Sense Again

Just today, I was on the phone disputing the Connecticut prostitution fees that appeared on my American Express bill. Seriously. While talking to the AmEx rep, it wasn't until I said something funny that her voice broke and I could hear the Indian accent. The image of a woman in Gurgaon investigating the guy who grabbed my AmEx and went on a hooker spree in Fairfield Connecticut is a pleasing one. There's a radio play in there somewhere.

We're seeing more and more about call-center India and globalization, about how the rest of the world is now America's IT department. It's complicated, it's kind of ok and it's kind of not ok, depending on whether you feel one of those jobs is more properly due someone you know here in the States. Which you might not. Globalization is as globalization does, or as it is done to. Due to. OK.

But if it was difficult to put a face to the call center when it was in Salt Lake City, it's even harder when its in Delhi. This article from the Times of India brings it to life a little bit. There is an emerging argument that the call center employees are "cyber-coolies," doing the dirty work associated with colonial labor. But Gurchuran Das suggests that instead -- from an Indian perspective -- the "root of the dispute is ownership of the English language" and that India is in a way just learning how to make a far greater impact on the world. If you think about all the college learnin' about cultural appropriation and revoicing and like that, it's a persuasive argument. There's a long and interesting first-hand exchange about it here.

So Indians are becoming fluent in the languages (Windows as much as English) of first-world transactional superstructures. That sort of is what it is until you realize that they are also staffing the Republican Party Fundraising call centers.

The latest State of the Union address reads:

"With unemployment rising, our nation needs more small businesses to open, more companies to invest and expand, more employers to put up the sign that says, ``Help Wanted.'' (APPLAUSE)

Here in '03, Republicans are outsourcing their fundraising to Noida and Gurgaon, to make sure they can give that same speech in four years time. Applause. Applause. We got to blog this shit because in a thousand years we could never write it.

Posted by kevin slavin at September 18, 2003 09:23 PM
Comments

a few months ago I was reinstalling Windows on my landlord's computer. You who know me will realize how little he knows about Windows if I'm reinstalling it. At some point, around the third time I try to install it, we call up Dell support, and after a while get a nice, affable man. I read the papers; I know where he is. So I ask him, where are you? And it's clear he's not allowed to tell me, by Dell Regulations. But he wants to tell me. So he says, Can you guess where I am? And yes, I guess right, India. He's in Delhi; maybe it was Mumbai. (Sorry, Indians, I get those mixed up.) And he giggles, so happy that he can now talk about his city, his place, that I've broken the rules for him. I ask him, is it big? is it dirty? is it exciting? He says, well it is dirty.

Posted by: dbrown on September 18, 2003 11:28 PM

just this past wednesday my microsoft wireless bluetooth keyboard stopped working. they patched me through to tech support for this product which was somewhere in india. while going through all of the possible problems, the female tech person asked me to "slap the batteries." I said, "you want me to slap these batteries?" she asked for me to hold a moment. she came back and explained it as "exchanging the batteries" but i think she meant to use the word swap instead of slap.

Posted by: cary on September 19, 2003 08:40 AM

She meant slap.

Posted by: Kevin Slavin on September 19, 2003 10:26 AM

and she didn't mean batteries

Posted by: dbrown on September 19, 2003 10:27 AM

Global Smobal

your usage of the "my card got used in a prostitution spree" excuse is just as lame as "my dog ate my homework"

hope wifey buys into it

Posted by: on September 19, 2003 10:33 AM

Obviously someone knows how much I favor the ladies of Fairfield. As opposed to, uh, my wife.

Posted by: Kevin Slavin on September 19, 2003 11:56 AM

BACKLASH.

CIO magazine, September issue.

SPECIAL REPORT, OFFSHORE OUTSOURCING THE POLITICS
"This is about our jobs, our homes, our families," he tells the group"

Posted by: Kevin Slavin on September 21, 2003 04:24 AM
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