Context and culture in human computer interaction: usable does not mean senseful

Abdelnour-Nocera, Jose ORCID: (2002) Context and culture in human computer interaction: usable does not mean senseful. In: Cultural Attitudes towards Technology and Communication (CATAC) 2002, 12-15 July 2002, University of Montreal, Canada.

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Computers and their interfaces are part of the spaces from which social reality emerges. They are indicators of direct and indirect cultural negotiations between the networks of production and consumption of these technologies. Technology is thus conceived as not only a product, but also as part of a cultural process of encoding and decoding. This implies a new concept of the Human-Computer relationship that breaks the prevalent idea of symmetry between human and computers as abstract information processing entities, i.e. it re-humanizes users as persons and re-locates computers and its interfaces as tools in real sociocultural settings. The paper briefly discusses the main theoretical strands that study the shaping of computer systems design and use by context and culture. These are Situated Action, the Semiotic perspective, Scenario-based Design, Activity theory, and the Systems-Management approach. Further, the role of ethnography, qualitative methods and intercultural studies are discussed as important contributors to a better understanding of the significance of context and culture in computer use and design. The Hermeneutic approach of Gadamer and Winograd and the idea of technology as interpretatively flexible text shaped by specific genres and tastes, serve as the main cornerstone of this discussion. A starting theoretical framework composed of three cultural dimensions (workplace, tool-related, and personal background) is proposed for researching the role of culture in systems and interface use and design. The main reflection from this discussion is that the question “Does this technology make sense for them?” is rarely made in pursuit of successful systems design. Therefore, the direction for research presented here tries to answer the question of how people situated in concrete cultural configurations make sense of computer systems.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Computing
Depositing User: Rod Pow
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2012 15:00
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:16


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