Technology as a Cultural Practice - UX Australia


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How do you design a mobile money service for people in rural Uganda who’ve never had a bank account? How do you test the usability of a mobile phone’s address book for users in rural India who’ve never had an address… yet alone an analog address book?

As cheap PCs and inexpensive mobile phones flood the global market, usability and user experience professionals will encounter more and more questions like these – questions that challenge not only our research tools and methodologies, but our fundamental assumptions about how people engage with technology. In this talk, Rachel will share insights she’s gained through creating experiences that must scale across vastly different cultures. She’ll share her thoughts on the challenges and opportunities designing for global markets will present to the user experience industry in the years to come.

Published in: Design, Technology, Business
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  • I do wish I could have seen you actually present this. I know what you’re getting at, but the slides are simply a tease to a much, much richer discussion. This is no way a small shift in the current techology/design thinking of today, although I do recall inklings of this from folks such as Laurel, Weiser, Buxton and Mau in the past. BTW *love* the McLuhan references! :)
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  • As testament to my self-imposed UX rehab, using the UX process/problem-solving approach wasn’t working for me.
  • Courtship, dating, friendship, marriage, divorce
  • Birth, sickness, illness, aging and death…
  • Personal and Social, professional, international
  • Technology has become a part of the fabric of society… and while we may want to think of people’s experiences with technology having a universality –it doesn’t. Just like culture, the ways that people experience technology is distinct and presents itself in profoundly local ways.In ways our current UX tools and practices do not capture…
  • Anna Wintor -
  • Whenever I think of people present work about illiteracy around the world, there is always the token staggering statisitc slide… According to the most recent UIS data, there are an estimated 774 million illiterate adults in the world, about 64% of whom are women. (1 in 5)
  • Big numbers = big problem to solve… right.? Baked into this big number is an assumption. Every time you see this big number, underneath it is the assumption that there is a strong relationship between illiteracy, information asymetry, and poverty. Everybody uses mobile phones – and iIf you can’t read, it’s really hard to use a mobile phone. And the idea at play here or the “problem to be solved” is that if you make a phone that a person who can’t read can use, you might have a chance at making an impact on the fight against poverty.
  • So I was part of team that sent researchers to rural India to interview people in the field about mobile usage in order to understand how this problem could be solved…. What we realized was that literacy is really a work around for a poorly designed phone. Mobile phones are not easy to use – for literate or illiterate people. People who can read can simply work around poor design choices with greater ease.
  • On button, one action
  • Beyond icons - Metaphors didn’t make sense -
  • Phones are not a disposable object in India… strong culture of repair
  • Colorful, vibrant culture
  • Means by which people make data tangible – sometimes symbolic… sometimes visual cues
  • As computers, mobile phones, cellular and ad-driven networks get driven into every crevice of society throughout the world – they not only touch on culture… they reflect it, they inform it, they can shape it, and they can even change it…. In ways we can predict… and ways we cannot.
  • As computers, mobile phones, cellular and ad-driven networks get driven into every crevice of society throughout the world – they not only touch on culture… they reflect it, they inform it, they can shape it, and they can even change it…. In ways we can predict… and ways we cannot.
  • As computers, mobile phones, cellular and ad-driven networks get driven into every crevice of society throughout the world – they not only touch on culture… they reflect it, they inform it, they can shape it, and they can even change it…. In ways we can predict… and ways we cannot.
  • Correlation – poverty/illiteracy/information asymetry. There is a nuance to these numbers and a story behind them that we rarely hear…. That is that for a lot of people throughout the world, illiteracy is not as big a problem as we make it. There is not the same level of social shame and economic hardship associated with illiteracy as we think in the western world.
  • Joseph – entrepreneur I met in Uganda. He describes himself as primarily a fisherman….
  • Owns 100 head of cattle, real estate in the local village that he rents out, three fishing boats, grows coffee
  • Pineapple, banana, 3 boda bodas and 2 markets where he sells supplies like household goods and charges phones…. Joseph is 44 years old and by all measures of Ugandan society, he is successful. In Ugandan society, he would be considered more successful than the Phd candidate from the university in Kampala who accompanied me and translated interviews during this research study. Joseph is illiterate.
  • More important and significant trend that is at play - we’re living in a world where the primary mental model of computing is shifting from one of a computer as a tool
  • To one of computers as media….
  • As mobile phones are being shoved into every crevice of society – we are inherently changing how media is being delivered…
  • This last topic I wanted to speak about is in reference to another McCluen theory – the review miror.
  • Ethnography and fieldwork…
  • Two different ways to approach art and they are both true. One of them is that the world is a beautiful place and it’s full of highlights, and sparkles, and dawns and dusks and human mystery. The other one is that there is a structure behind it. There is a math, and a science, and an architecture to it. The difference between them is sort of two different ways of looking at the world.  It’s sort of the difference between whether you are reaching out to touch the world, or whether you are allowing the world to touch you.
  • Technology as a Cultural Practice - UX Australia

    1. 1. Rachel Hinman Senior Research Scientist - Nokia Research Center Technology UX Australia 2011 as a Cultural Practice
    2. 2. Title 90 Mobiles in 90 Days
    3. 4. NPR slide
    4. 5. NPR slide
    5. 6. NPR slide
    6. 7. NPR slide
    7. 8. NPR slide
    8. 9. NPR slide
    9. 10. NPR slide
    10. 11. NPR slide
    11. 12. NPR slide
    12. 13. What are we doing wrong today, Don?
    13. 14. NPR slide UX as Problem Solving
    14. 15. Mobile
    15. 16. Rapid Evolution “ The rapid development of cell phones is killing early cell phones much faster than it's killing any of the early, older legacy technologies. I think that is a real principle... something you have to understand if you're going to be in this line of work. It's very romantic. It's very fast moving. You are building dead lumps of plastic. When people come out and they show you an iPhone, or an Android... they are showing you larval versions of something much more sophisticated. The world you are building right now is the ground floor for something much larger -- and the soil beneath that ground floor is violently unstable.” -- Mobile Monday Amsterdam – November 2008
    16. 17. Title 90 Mobiles in 90 Days
    17. 18. What are we missing?
    18. 19. We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us. Marshall McLuhan
    19. 20. Hypothesis vs. Agenda NPR slide What are we missing?
    20. 21. What are we missing?
    21. 22. Central Idea: Technology is a cultural practice
    22. 23. Central Idea: The time has come to stop thinking of our work solely as “ problem-solving” and start thinking of it is as a form of cultural expression.
    23. 24. Cultural practice?
    24. 25. Everyday life rituals
    25. 26. Social practices
    26. 27. Medical treatment
    27. 28. Forms of artistic expression
    28. 29. Governance, leadership, and conflict resolution
    29. 30. Power Relationships
    30. 31. Cultural Institutions
    31. 32. Housing
    32. 33. Religion
    33. 34. <ul><li>Cultural Practices: </li></ul><ul><li>Everyday life practices </li></ul><ul><li>Social practices </li></ul><ul><li>Medical treatment practices </li></ul><ul><li>Forms of artistic expression </li></ul><ul><li>Religious and spiritual practices </li></ul><ul><li>Governance and leadership, conflict resolution </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Power relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Housing and construction </li></ul>
    34. 35. What does technology and user experience have to do with cultural practices?
    35. 37. Hypothesis vs. Agenda
    36. 38. Hypothesis vs. Agenda
    37. 39. Edges worth tracking
    38. 40. Clifton Evans via Boxes & Arrows “In some ways, Interaction Design, the practice is a field that seems obsessed with process over product.”
    39. 41. Jack Shulze of BERG: Some people (they are wrong) say design is about solving problems. Obviously designers do solve problems, but then so do dentists. Design is about cultural invention. There are some people who want to reduce the domain of design to listable, knowable stuff, so it’s easy to talk about. Design is a glamorous, glittering world and this means they can engage without having to actually risk themselves on the outcome of their work. This is damaging. It turns design into something terrified of invention. Design is about risk. We all fear authentic public response to our work, but we have to be brave enough to overcome.
    40. 42. “ What I often see is that people are frightened by fashion, and that because it scares them or makes them feel insecure, they put it down…    There is something about fashion that can make people very nervous .”
    41. 44. <ul><li>CHI 2010 - 2011 Themes: </li></ul><ul><li>Feminism in HCI </li></ul><ul><li>HCI and Politics </li></ul><ul><li>Inclusive Design </li></ul><ul><li>Design for Emerging Markets </li></ul><ul><li>Designing for Social Impact </li></ul><ul><li>HCI and the Environment </li></ul>
    42. 46. Signals
    43. 47. Uganda: Mobile Money
    44. 48. Hypothesis vs. Agenda
    45. 52. “ How does it work?”
    46. 53. 1. Create an account with authorized dealer
    47. 54. 1. Create an account with authorized dealer 2. Download Mobile Money application to mobile
    48. 55. 1. Create an account with authorized dealer 2. Download Mobile Money application to mobile 3. Transfer funds – Passcode, recipient’s phone #
    49. 56. 1. Create an account with authorized dealer 2. Download Mobile Money application to mobile 3. Transfer funds – Passcode, recipient’s phone # 4. Recipient retrieves funds from authorized dealer (if they have the cash)
    50. 58. ?
    51. 60. Gestalt: Figure Ground
    52. 61. McLuhan believed that to fully grasp the effect of a new technology, one must examine figure (medium) and ground (context) together, since neither is completely intelligible without the other. McLuhan argued that we must study media in their historical context, particularly in relation to the technologies that preceded them.
    53. 70. India: Mobile Literacy
    54. 71. Hypothesis vs. Agenda 774 Million* *UNESCO Institute for Illiteracy
    55. 82. Hypothesis vs. Agenda
    56. 83. Hypothesis vs. Agenda
    57. 84. Hypothesis vs. Agenda 774 Million* *UNESCO Institute for Illiteracy
    58. 85. Hypothesis vs. Agenda Literacy
    59. 86. Hypothesis vs. Agenda
    60. 88. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society.
    61. 89. Hypothesis vs. Agenda
    62. 91. Technology delivers media.
    63. 92. <ul><li>Technology delivers media. </li></ul><ul><li>Media shapes: </li></ul><ul><li>What can be said </li></ul><ul><li>How it can be said </li></ul><ul><li>Who can say it </li></ul><ul><li>Who can receive those messages </li></ul>
    64. 93. Literacy = Price of Entry
    65. 94. Empathy
    66. 95. Hypothesis vs. Agenda Mobile presents an opportunity to invent new ways for users to interact with information and each other. Opinion!
    67. 96. Opinion!
    68. 97. EMPATHY
    69. 98. ✔ User Research
    70. 99. Empathy is Difficult
    71. 103. Empathy is Difficult
    72. 104. Hypothesis vs. Agenda
    73. 105. ✔ User Research
    74. 108. How can I apply this idea to my daily work?
    75. 109. Hypothesis vs. Agenda Less of this, more of that
    76. 110. Hypothesis vs. Agenda Get out of the UX Echo Chamber
    77. 111. Cultural Relativism
    78. 112. Reaching out and touching and shaping the world… allowing the world to touch and reshape us. Reuben Margolin
    79. 113. Thanks!
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