Symbai is a project in collaboration with Dr Shakti Lamba who studies the evolution of sociality and culture in humans. She collects detailed networks of knowledge, prestige and friendship in villages with contrasting cultural structures in rural India.

Symbai is a solar powered Raspberry Pi/Android anthropological research tool allowing Shakti and her field assistants to work collaboratively in areas with no power or internet connectivity. Data collected is synchronised automatically at the end of each day, and includes hundreds of photographs for people to identify each other (in places where names are used differently to western culture), audio recordings of verbal agreements (a requirement in preliterate societies), and information of who knows who.

We use a low power Raspberry Pi computer as a central syncronisation database for multiple android tablets. The system allows the android application to be updated remotely without changes required for the Raspberry Pi software. The system is closely related to Mongoose 2000, and all the source code is free software, and is available here.


FoAM digest - Winter 02015

Greetings from FoAM’s wintry studios. The weather is still chilly outside, but the atmosphere at FoAM is warming up ...

Navigating the Anthropocene

A short update on FoAM’s recent initiatives entangling environmental and techno-social phenomena, including a trip to the Russian Arctic ...

Symbai field test in India

Some photos from Shakti Lamba who is currently testing Symbai in the Chhattisgarh state in north eastern India. Symbai is ...