Anchoring design in rural customs of doing and saying

Bidwell, Nicola J. (2009) Anchoring design in rural customs of doing and saying. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 5726 (1). pp. 686-699.

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An increasing range of initiatives aim to enable rural communities in developing regions to generate their own, non-text based, digital content to share local stories, information and concerns. Video, photos and audio offer new resources for practices that give communities’ a sense of identity and continuity and that members acquire in relationships with each other, their environment and history via speech, gesture, song, music, drama, ritual, skills or crafts. However, these contexts pose challenges for designing interactions within frameworks that have a heritage of text and indirect orality and which emphasize particular communication dynamics and structures. We seek to create new design directions based on insights into local ways of ‘doing and saying’ gained in interactions with people living under traditional law and custom in the Xhosa Kingdom of Pondoland, South Africa. This paper distils themes from an ethnography when the author lived according to local norms and constraints and cogenerated design activities, situated in the community’s priorities, customary power relations and consensus-based practice. We reflect on communication in ordinary and extraordinary activities, and sociotechnical ‘experiments’ from using social networking websites to storytelling with blogs. We describe how indexicality dynamically shares context and entwines a person’s identity with physical setting; and, how practices, such as prolonged discussion, diachronic repetition and synchronous utterance, build rapport, collective memory and cohesion. We propose that these practices inspire ways that local social structures can impact on activities to design systems of organization for information sharing, with occasional reference to our observations of other rural peoples in north Mozambique and north Australia.

Item ID: 11485
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1611-3349
Keywords: rural; Africa; localizing design; identity; ethnography
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2010 02:55
FoR Codes: 08 INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES > 0806 Information Systems > 080602 Computer-Human Interaction @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970110 Expanding Knowledge in Technology @ 100%
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