Representations of knowledge in Africa

June 26, 2013
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
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.

Digital pen (and interactive paper)

December 15, 2010

At the University of Lugano, faculty of Informatics, we just had a nice talk about pen and paper computing, by Nadir Weibel. An ETH gradate, he’s currently a post-doc at UCSD in California, at the Distributed Cognition and Human-Computer Interaction Lab.It seems a great place to be for Human computer Interaction research, experimenting on innovative input devices.

He used his digital pen and interactive paper for giving his presentation and brought a few samples for the audience. They are inventing/testing new applications of the electronic paper: you write with a normal pen (well, it looks normal, but it has a camera and sends the information to the computer or to the mobile) and your writing or drawing is recorded and/or sent to the computer, depending on the model of digital pen you have.

They use it for example for sharing sketches via mobile on fecebook, as an input device for very large wall displays, for interacting in a group, etc.

I could imagine to use it in a collaborative setting, where every person in the meeting can add its contribution… but still my sketching skills are a problem 😉

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