Representations of knowledge in Africa

Professor Heike Winschiers has presented her interesting work at the Università della Svizzera italiana. Of German origin, she lives in Namibia since 20 years and conducts research on Human Computer Interaction in Africa.
Why is HCI different in Namibia compared to Europe or the U.S.? Because our thinking patter is different, as already proposed in 2005 by Pauleen and Murphy in “In praise of cultural bias” Published on MIT Sloan Management Review.
Heike and her team in Namibia are experimenting culturally friendly knowledge repositories. What does it mean? Look at the picture below:
on the left-hand side a typical German interface (produced by a German designer). Clean, clear, based on keyword. Too bad the rural Namibian people could not use it because they don’t generally use keywords or ask questions, and there are issues with the spelling of words (which could be spelled in many different ways).
Solution? On the right-hand side of the picture you can see a more culturally appropriate solution with images and videos.
Together with Kasper Rodil they are experimenting the use of visual approaches, in particular with the reconstruction of the local village in a 3D envirorment and embedded videos. Find out more on their website Namibia Knowledge Portal.
Heike Winschiers at USI
References:
Kapuire, G. K., Winschiers-Theophilus, H., Chivuno-Kurio, S., Bidwell, N. J., & Blake, E. (2010). Revolution in ICT, the last hope for African rural communities’ technology appropriation.
Rodil, K., Winschiers-Theophilus, H., Bidwell, N. J., Eskildsen, S., Rehm, M., & Kapuire, G. K. (2011). A new visualization approach to re-contextualize indigenous knowledge in rural Africa. In Human-Computer Interaction–INTERACT 2011 (pp. 297-314). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

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