Hello. While reading my class notes, I see the following: “How make culturally good interaction?” I’ve spent some time thinking about this, but I’m still not sure what it means. Or what it looks like. Any ideas?

Edited September 10, 2010

Hi Nina, thanks for your response, it helped me think about this question more deeply.  So here are some more thoughts…

Understanding good cultural design means understanding the particulars of a place. Such things as what languages are spoken, what kinds of technologies exist within a place, and who uses and has access to those technologies. Another important thing to understand is why it is people act the way they do. How people interpret and understand and relate to the world around them. If one fails to have some understanding of these things, then a design could fail as a result of that lack of understanding, so I would say that all good cultural design comes from some kind of knowledge of a place and how that place works.

For an example of cultural design you can look at McDonalds and how they change their menu to fit the place where they are selling their food. In America they sell the American Beef Burger, but in India where beef is not 100% as popular they have other food items, such as the McAloo Tikki, and other vegetarian sandwiches.

Another example relevant to cultural design can be seen in the film based on the popular American comic X-men. The name of this film is “X-men Wolverine Origins.” In this film, the traditional image and character of Deadpool, established within the comic, was greatly altered for the film, angering the sub-cultural fan base built up around that character and his particular mythos.

So, I would say another potentially important part of design involves understanding the symbols and characters that exist within a culture’s consciousness, so you can design in a way that goes with their expectations of what a character is and does.

Then, when you have a strong understanding of a culture’s idea of who and what a character is you might gain the ability to design outside of expectations, changing or emphasizing certain aspects of that character in such a way that it sheds light on little explored traits and qualities and relationships that the character possesses.

Of course these two examples don’t capture all of the aspects of cultural design, but I believe they present two areas of importance to think about when designing for culture. First, the more obvious aspects of cultural design: spoken and written language, food and clothing, what technologies people have and are using. Second, exploring the more hidden aspects of cultural design, such as the ideas and feelings that surround an object, and that sense people have about what a thing is, and what is appropriate for that thing to be and do.

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